How to Clean and Lube a Motorcycle Chain ๐Ÿโ›“

How to Clean and Lube a Motorcycle Chain ๐Ÿโ›“

Hi. I’m Dave and welcome to the Canyonchasers garage. One of the more sensitive components on your motorcycle, for
maintenance, is your final drive chain. If you neglect it, your chain and sprockets
could wear out and become unserviceable in as little as 3,000 miles. But with
proper care and maintenance you can see as much as 30,000 miles out of a quality
set of steel sprockets, and a high-quality chain. The key to getting
the most out of your chain and sprockets is to clean and lubricate it regularly.
The schedule that we’ve adopted is that we like to clean our chain every time we
wash the motorcycle or at the very least every time we change the oil. You should
be lubing your chain every three to five hundred miles, or every other tank
of gas, depending on your riding conditions. If you ride in dusty or wet
conditions, you’ll need to increase the frequency of your maintenance
accordingly. Water actually strips chain lube away from the chain, so you should
be lubing your chain after every time you get caught out in the rain. What’s
more, a properly lubed chain will not only be quieter, but it will slightly
increase your fuel mileage as well. In fact, a properly lubed chain reduces
rolling resistance enough that it can actually be seen as a slight increase in
horsepower on dyno runs. And now for the safety message. Do not, please, please,
please, do not, under any circumstances, start the engine, put it in first gear,
and let the motor spin the rear wheel, while you perform any kind of
maintenance to the chain. I personally know more than one person who has lost
fingers to this practice, and if you need any further convincing, and if you have a
strong stomach, do a few internet searches on the subject. Too many people
have lost fingers and have mangled hands from trying to save a few seconds. It
only takes a fraction of an instant for something to get snagged, and get drawn
in between the chain and the sprockets. So, please keep the engine off and the
bike in neutral. Now with that out of the way, for the sake of clarity, we’re going to start by cleaning the chain first. Despite all that you’ve heard, WD-40 is
actually not a very good product for cleaning or lubing a chain. It can
actually displace the grease behind the O-rings, or the X-rings, in an o-ring chain. But more than that, it’s actually
probably the slowest and most time-consuming method because there are
other products available that do a much better job of cleaning the chain. There
are lots of products on the market that are designed just for cleaning a chain,
and they are, certainly more effective than WD-40. Now, we’ve tried many of these
chain cleaners and they do an okay job. They certainly work better than WD-40,
but they still can’t hold a candle to the product that we’ve been using for
decades, which happens to be the product that chain manufacturers have been
recommending. And that’s Kerosene. For clarity, Kerosene is not the same as camp
fuel. Camp fuel is what’s known as white gas and it’s extremely volatile and a
pretty harsh solvent. Kerosene is entirely different. Typically, but not
always, kerosene will come in a blue can and camp fuel will come in a red can.
Don’t use camp fuel. It’s so volatile that it can be ignited by a hot fart, and
as we mentioned it’s so harsh that it can actually do damage to your chain.
Kerosene, on the other hand, is much more gentle, and it’ll actually clean your
chain to looking brand new so quickly that you won’t believe your eyes.
Something else to consider; chain cleaners like this one cost around $10,
and will clean about three to four chains. While the kerosene does cost $20, a bottle like this one will last us about three years. To get the most out
of our kerosene we will employ a generic spray bottle, available in most grocery
stores, so we can spray the kerosene directly onto the chain. But whatever
cleaner you choose to use, we encourage you to avoid any kind of degreaser. We’ve
seen people use really harsh stuff like parts cleaner, the aerosol parts cleaner,
and carb cleaner and and things like that. And yeah, they do a great job of
getting the grease off the chain but they’re just far too brutal. They damage
the o-rings and as soon as those o-rings crack or fail, then any of the lube
that’s actually inside the chain from the manufacturer just comes out. Even
some of your real gentle degreasers, like simple green and purple power; they’re
still just far too harsh for the o-rings. So we encourage you to just stick with
kerosene, and as soon as you use kerosene and see how well it works you’ll be sold.
The final thing we recommend you obtain before you start as a grunge brush. It’s
less than 15 bucks and you should be able to find it at your local motorcycle
dealer, and if not it’s readily available online. Another great little product that
will make the job easier is this spiral brush made by Tirox. Available for
about the same price. To best clean your chain you will
need to get the rear wheel off the ground so the rear tire spins freely. We
suggest covering the work area with towels and even a catch tray is a good
idea. The point is you want to prevent getting chemicals onto your rear tire. A
little bit of cardboard can go a long way. Use your chain cleaner of choice, and
liberally spray down the chain, being careful not to spray this stuff onto the
tire, and let it soak for a moment before taking your grunge brush and scrubbing
down the chain. To check your progress take a rag and wipe the chain down
removing all the black gunk the chain cleaner has released. Depending on how
dirty your chain is you may need to repeat these steps several times before
your chain looks sparkly and brand new again. We also advise that you
occasionally remove your front sprocket cover and clean out any build-up that
may have collected in there. You can also take this opportunity to clean any other
chain lube buildup on the top of the swing arm, near the rear sprocket, or
anywhere else chain lube may have been flung. Depending on how dirty your chain
was, and how big of a mess you made, when you cleaned everything off, you may want
to take the bike outside and rinse it off with a low pressure garden hose.
Again, no high pressure, because high pressure water can also do damage to the
o-rings. Once the chain is clean and dry, then we can move on to lubing the chain.
We strongly encourage you to opt for a motorcycle specific chain lube. Right now
we’re a big fan of Motul Factory Line chain lube. For lubing the chain, we
found this amazing product that needs to be in every motorcyclist garage. It has a
silly name, but we cannot speak highly enough of the Grease Ninja. This awesome
little product can be ordered at and cost a mere fifteen
dollars, and it comes in three different sizes to fit your specific chain. The
Grease Ninja does a fantastic job of placing lube directly over the pins and
rollers of the chain without wasting any lube, and preventing overspray. Plus, we
can attest that our chains have lasted longer and held up better since we
started using the Grease Ninja several years ago. We want to take our chain lube
of choice and take the little hose and put it into the top of the Grease Ninja
block, and then the copper wire wraps around the can so that we can hold it
with one hand leaving the other hand free to rotate the wheel. We want to lube
the chain on the inside of the chain so when the wheels spinning the lube
actually gets drawn towards the outside. It draws the lube in between
the plates and the rollers. If we were to Lube the chain on the outside,
as soon as we started riding, the lube would just fling off the chain and go
everywhere and make a mess.. The ideal time to lube your chain is after a ride
when the chain is warm, but in this situation, where we’ve cleaned the chain
and there’s no lube on at all, we want to lube it right now. Slowly rotate the
wheel, allowing the Grease Ninja to slide across the top of the chain until you
have a nice light coating all around. Be careful not to over lube the chain. Too
much lube will attract dirt and grit and actually cause the chain to wear faster.
When you are finished, you should see two little beads of lube directly over the
chain o rings, between each of the plates. Well, there you have it; a perfectly
cleaned and lubricated chain. Thanks so much for watching we hope you’ve enjoyed
this and learned something from it. Be sure to check out Canyonchasers dot net for
more travel-logs, how-to videos, product reviews and much much more.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I used up all my kerosene so i had to wd40 to clean my chain. You can use wd40 to clean. Just dont use it as a lube. Wd40 has kerosene in it

  2. i always use kerosene but it always leave gassy smells in my garage and i always get headaches. itโ€™s like im in chernobyl

  3. hey! You know your stuff! I've been doing things right all along, but great to hear from a pro doing this stuff daily! Keep up the fine work!

  4. Great Vid Thank you!! Should i just replacea rusted chain or will kerosene clean that up as well – how do i know if i need a new chain? Tx Ed

  5. To amplify the need for chain maintenance: for the last forty years, all of my chains that I acquired new have gone at least 45,000 miles. The last one, a DID VX on my ZX1100E, was past 54,000 miles when I sold the bike last year. It was still within wear spec and had no kinks or noisy links.
    The chain was lubed every 350-400 miles plus every time it got wet, which was frequent as the bike was ridden in all kinds of weather for almost 110K (with absolutely no repairs, either!)

    Incidentally, I think the first time I cleaned that chain was around 40K. Never was much for that, maybe I should change.
    For all this time, I've used PJ1 Blue Label. I guess I believe in it.

  6. Just did my first clean+lube job using today and used your method and tools. Such a breeze! THANK YOU.
    BTW what kind of a rear stand is that? I like it. Seems like it runs through the axle?

  7. The white plastic block is a great idea, it can be useful for me as a service technician. On some machines I service it can come in handy, especially on single / dual 10B chains.

  8. Your so wrong about wd40 being bad at cleaning a chain! Nothing removes chain lube like wd40. Its brings the chain up spotless and is safe on everything apart from tyres and brake pads and discs.

  9. I had a friend loose a finger trying to lube a chain on his 305 Scrambler in the late 60s. He found a fast way to lube it, unfortunately he had an accident, lost a finger. But I had friends that lost digits due to grease guns and compressed air. Be careful out there.

  10. I have been cleaning my chain with kerosene and just using chain wax, not grease on my new chains. My RSV4 came with a heavy grease on it, is the chain wax acceptable, or should I be using grease?

  11. Quick question, please answer: Do you NOT lube the rollers on the chain? Do you really just let the sprocket dents in contact with the rollers without grease or anything between both? Full metal to metal contact? Thank you.

  12. ๐ŸŒน ๐ŸŒน ๐ŸŒน ๐ŸŒน ๐ŸŒน ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—

  13. My own farthe got his fingers chewed up in the cain while cleaning. He didnt loose them but there scared for life. He learned that lessons when he was 17.

  14. I agree with all the tips. Pity about the 600 dislikes….either don't like to be told or they've got plenty of money to replace chains and sprockets.

  15. For those that does not live in the US : The kerosene referred to, we know as paraffin (these two are not the same in the US though).

  16. ฮฒแžแŽชแŸแฆ แŽณแŽชแ†แŽฌแ’ า’แŽฌแŽชแ†แŒแ’แŽฌ says:

    Brilliant info. Can you use the kerosene on any other part of the bike

  17. At high torque, high full throttle speeds, lucky to get 6000 kilometers out of a chain and sprocket. Proper and frequent cleaning and oil or waxing is a must

  18. I just winterized my bike. Used chain cleaner and after that wax and lubricator. Question is , in spring do i remove wax and lubricant ? And use just libricant? Or it should be all good to go?

  19. Hahahaha! Had to do 3 takes there to confirm yep he did say โ€˜can be ignited by a hot fart!โ€™ I canโ€™t stop laughing! Great video again! Thanks so much, awesome presenter.

  20. Great video. However, I have seen videos that don't recommend you pay 3x as much for chain lube when 80-90 gear oil does the same thing. I like the tip about using Kerosine to clean and those other tools.

  21. "It is so volatile it can be ignited by a hot fart". And didn't skip a beat, crack a smile or even smirk. That made it even more hilarious. I can imagine reading this in the service manual under a CAUTION label.

  22. Exactly the way I've been maintaining my drive chain's since 2005 and I always get huge miles out of my chain's and sprockets. Bel-ray chain lube (super clean) is by far the best I've ever used.

  23. I never use WD40 for anything due to is a bad product.. It only lubes for a few minutes and its dry again.. There are way better things to use than it.

  24. Great information but you forgot probably the most important bit of advice. Leaving the chain lubed up just attracts more grime, dust and grit.
    Simply after lubing wipe off excess with rag with bit of kerosene, leaving the lube only where it should be… between the side plates and the rollers…

  25. Hello, I ride about 500-600 kilometers per week. Do you recommend to clean and lube my chain every week? Or lube it every week and clean it a couple times a month? Here doesn't rain and is not very dry.

  26. thanks for the video it's really helpful! I just wonder if the kerosene makes a mess in the garage and how you guys clean it up?

  27. Kerosene will get down into the o-rings and degrade the actual grease down in there. Don't use fuel for cleaning your chain, and don't spray it with chain wax or any of those products. Wipe it down with a rag and WD40. The part of the chain that actually needs lube, is INSIDE the O or X rings, which NONE of the spray on chain greases or waxes, get down into. If you get a solvent like kerosene down into the rings, you are actually destroying the one area of lubrication that's actually needed.

    Wipe it down with WD40 to keep gunk and dirt off of it, and to keep surface rust at bay. That's all you need. Anything else is snake oil at best, and could wear your chain out faster in the worst case…

  28. This video was very helpful I'm about to buy my first chain driven bike. Was told by some YouTube gurus to use dry lube. I like the idea of the Ninja but for long trips small can of dry lube might be better.

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