Chain maintenance 101

Motorcycle chain maintenance is one the most vital elements on your maintenance checklist. Cleaning and lubing your chain isn’t that hard and it’ll help ensure you can get the most mileage out of your drive chain. A stiff, dirty and dry chain will not only look appealing but will also wear down your sprocket set prematurely. The following steps are the basic fundamentals of proper motorcycle chain maintenance. Also make sure you check your owners manual for specific manufacturer instructions for your model, as some chains have unique requirements from the manufacturer.

Chain Maintenance 101

How often should I lubricate the drive chain on my motorcycle?

Generally, most motorcycle manufactures will provide an estimated timeframe which is somewhere between 800 kms to 1,000 kms for chain lubing. However, in our experience this seems a bit too long of a duration especially if you’re doing a long ride across different terrains in India. Our suggestion would be that it’s best to spray chain lube anytime your chain looks or sounds dry. It’s important that you don’t leave your chain to run dry for too long since the friction would cause accelerated wear on the sprocket set.

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What’s the best bike chain lube for my motorcycle?

There’s a lot of options out there, from petroleum-based to silicone-based, and from traditional lubes like WD40 to synthetic lubricants. So which is best? The truth is different chain sprays will work best in different environments. So if you ride in the rainy wet regions around hill stations or monsoon off-road adventures, you’ll need a different chain lube to a person who rides in dry dusty regions.

How to lube my bike chain?

You’re going to need a few things to get this done,
●  Couple of rags
●  Chain Cleaner (O-Ring Safe)
●  Chain Cleaning brush
●  A paddock (if not equipped with a center stand)
●  Chain lube
●  Piece of cardboard box
●  Latex gloves

The first step would be to put your bike on the centerstand to get the rear wheel of the ground.

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Now since your chain is going to be dirty, you’re going to want to clean it first. If it’s not too nasty you can get away with spraying some chain cleaner on a clean rag and wiping it down. However, if it’s really dirty, you should douse the chain in a chain cleaner and then scrub it gently with a chain cleaner brush and then rinse it off with some water. Again, there’s plenty of options for brushes out there however, our expert riders suggest that the Muc-Off chain cleaning brush works best with its 180 bristles.

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Once you’ve got your chain all clean, it’s time to lubricate it. Just to be clear, its the overlapping bits of the chain that need to be lubricated and not the entire chain necessarily. Place the piece of cardboard behind the chain (So the lube doesn’t fall onto your exhaust ), rotate the chain and start spraying lubricant on the inner side of the links. After about 1 entire revolution, move to the outer side links for 1 entire revolution.

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It is extremely important that you DO NOT attempt to clean your chain with the bike running and in gear. The chances of losing finger(s) are too great. Additionally, applying lube on a chain that’s bouncing around would make it difficult to apply it evenly.

Once you’ve applied the lube, give it a few minutes to settle in and then wipe off the excess lubricant. It’s important not to spray too much lube as well since it would become rather messy and would effectively cause more dust to settle on the chain thereby drying it out quicker.

You can watch our tutorial video to help you understand this better. Click here to watch it.

What does lube really do?

The misconception about lube on modern day chains is that it keeps the chain smooth and makes it free spinning by causing less friction. In a way, there is a certain degree of truth in this, however, your chain doesn’t need to be doused in oil for this. The elements that are most susceptible for wear are covered with grease and sealed with rubber O-rings. Most modern day chains are sealed with either O rings or X rings that are sandwiched between the side plates and bushing and roller. So when you’re spraying lube on your chain you’re really looking to do is keep those O-rings moist and to lubricate the rollers.

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What are the best chain cleaners and lubes available?



Putoline Tech Chain Lube (500ml)


Motorex Moto Quick Cleaner (500ml)


Motorex Chain Lube Adventure Spray (500ml)


Motorex Chain Lube Road Strong (500ml)


Muc- off Off-Road Lube (400ml)


Muc-Off Dry chain Lube (400ml)


Putoline Tech Chain Lube (500ml)


How do I know if my chain is worn out?

If your chain is rusty and your sprocket teeth are thin and kinked, it’s probably a good idea to swap them out for a AFAM chain set. No amount of lube will restore worn out parts of a motorcycle. Using a chain that has been stretched beyond the maximum limit leads the chain to ride up the sprocket teeth. The force provided by the chain is passed solely via the top of the tooth, rather than the entire tooth, causing damage to the tops of the chainwheel’s teeth. The chainwheel suffers as a result of this. We’ll cover how to replace your chain and sprocket set in another.

How to buy Motorcycle chains and chain essentials on Custom Elements?

If you’re looking for affordable motorcycle maintenance equipment, it might be a good idea to buy your set from a reputed online marketplace like Custom Elements. You can find an array of top chain and lube manufacturers ranging from AFAM chains to Putoline, Motorex to Muc-Off chain lubes. There are also a couple of search filters that you can use to navigate and narrow your search. Once you find the right tyre, proceed to check out. Avail of discounts and offers if you use Snapmint Easy EMI.


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Disclaimer: The views & opinions put forward in this blog are purely from a personal perspective of the author & do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever.

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