Motorcycle Chain Care

The average middleweight motorcycle puts about the same amount of power to the rear wheel as a small car, and all of it through the drive chain. Unless you ride a bike with shaft drive, like a Moto Guzzi, but that's another story! 


Ignore your chain and at best it'll wear out three or four times quicker than it should, knock a big chunk off your bike's performance and need adjusting a lot. At worst it'll get so worn that you'll end up sitting on the side of the road waiting for a van to take you home, or it'll break while you're riding and wreck your swingarm, engine and gearbox casings, your nice seat unit, or even your leg. 

Here’s how to keep yours in top condition: 

Chain inspection 

You should be checking your chain and sprockets for damage, wear and free-play in adjustment before every ride.

1. Check the free play on the bottom run of the drive chain, consulting the owner's handbook for advice on adjustment.

2. Look for tight spots by rotating the rear wheel. If it won’t rotate freely then you might need a new chain. 

3. Inspect the rear drive sprocket for wear, making sure that the apexes of the teeth are not curved.

4. Check for any rust spots. They are an indication of insufficient lubrication or poor corrosion protection of your chain spray.

Chain lubrication

A motorcycle chain should be lubricated every 300-600 miles to ensure peak performance and a long life.

  • Lubricate after riding, not before, as this gives time for any solvents in the spray to evaporate before the bike is used again, and lets the lubricant penetrate the links properly.  
  • Get your bike on it's centre stand, or on a paddock stand, as you'll need to rotate the rear wheel fully. 
  • Spray the chain with a thin and even coating of chain lube/grease. Aim the spray nozzle at the inside of the chain, rotating the wheel until you've covered three full revolutions of the chain. 

Always go for a specific motorcycle chain lube/grease, as other non-specialist products may not lubricate effectively.  We recommend the Muc-Off bike care range, which includes a Dry Chain Lube, for use during the spring/summer months and their Endurance Ceramic Chain Lube for autumn/winter.

Chain cleaning

The chain should be cleaned every second or third lubrication, since the combination of dirt and grit with chain lube/grease can make a 'grinding paste', severely reducing chain life. 

  • Like you would/should be doing with the rest of your bike, get something specifically designed for the job and go for a 'spray-on-rinse-off ' formula if you can - never use petroleum-based cleaners, which can damage the chain and/or seals. Muc-Off’s Motorcycle Chain Cleaner is what we use. 
  • If it's properly grimy, go over the links with a soft nylon brush or sponge. NEVER use a wire brush. We recommend the Muc-Off Motorycle Chain Brush 
  • When you're happy it's done the job, rinse off thoroughly with clean water. Avoid using high pressure jets or pressure washers, as the water can be forced inside the O, X or Z rings, and make sure the chain's completely dry before you lubricate. 

Not confident checking, changing and adjusting your chain? Our expert technicians can give your chain and sprockets a thorough inspection and overhaul. Call our service dept on: 01747 811196 (option 2) to book your bike in. Or buy a Moto Guzzi.


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