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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a few questions for experienced, seasoned riders of chain-driven motorcycles.

What is the best way and least hassle to deal with chain drive if one wants to use it as a daily rider in all weather?

How much should I be worrying about maintaining the chain if I'm riding on wet roads and/or rain? In other words, I've been sort of avoiding riding my bike to work if there is rain in the forecast simply because I feel like I'll need to immediately deal with cleaning and lubing the chain every time. Am I over anxious about this, or, for instance, if I ride to work in the rain, is it okay to wait till I get home to deal with the chain 9 hrs later, or is this something that needs to be done every time the chain gets wet? Or, alternatively, can I just follow the regular chain maintenance even if I'm riding in the rain regularly?

I guess the more basic question is...is a wet chain a bad thing or is it okay for the chain to get wet and dry a few times in between cleaning and lubing?
 

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The truth is, water is the leading problem to chain wear, not milage. Also, It should be lubed as needed, never by milage. Basic oils are not good cause they are thin, they seep, collect dirt and easily fling off. The best thing to use is chain wax it lubes and also doubles as a protective layer/sealer. Only problem with it is that it can get everywhere. Use a little extra time applying and drying and it will be fine. You will be surprised how little as often you reapply.
 

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I wouldn't worry about taking it to work. Deal with it when you get home.

Chains aren't all that expensive. If you have to replace at 15k instead of 20k, no big deal.

Ride and enjoy, that the way to own a bike.
 

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I use Honda Chain Lube spray with Moly after a day's ride. Its clean, easy to apply, and wipes off fast for any over-spray I might do. I spray the 1/3 I can easily see each time. Because of the principle of randomness, that means the entire chain is lubed every 3 days.
I think there is much paranoia around here about chains, IMHO.

Ride Often, Ride Safe
f
 

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I use Honda Chain Lube spray with Moly after a day's ride. Its clean, easy to apply, and wipes off fast for any over-spray I might do. I spray the 1/3 I can easily see each time. Because of the principle of randomness, that means the entire chain is lubed every 3 days.
I think there is much paranoia around here about chains, IMHO.

Ride Often, Ride Safe
f
When I owned chain-drive bikes in the past, I did the same thing, but each time I filled up with fuel. Having some water, paper towels, and garbage available at the gas station makes it really convenient to spray down the exposed chain. It'll all get cleaned/lubed over time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks for the feedback everyone! I'm learning alot and your replies give me lots of ideas and things to consider as far as what to do and what to use to make this process as easy and quick as possible on a regular basis.

I decided to ride to work yesterday despite the heavy rain forecast. It was wet roads in to work and steady rain on the way home. So I had a messy bike when I got home (well I guess it was messy, but it was so dark, and I had parked in a spot where I couldn't see the underside of the bike as well as I thought I would be able to, so I just kind of wiped it down blind).

I'm not really prepared equipment wise to totally take care of the chain. All I've got right now is Motul chain lube (I think with Moly), so I simply dried off the chain and sprayed some of that lube on there when I got home; wiped off the excess on the outer side of the chain and spun the wheel around a bunch to help spread the oil all over the chain. Don't really know if this is considered enough as a hasty precaution or not. I'm just kind of winging it.

Originally, I had purchased some chain cleaner and a chain brush and some Motul Chain lube. When I ran out of cleaner (which I didn't really like dealing with, because I didn't like the extra step of having to rinse and dry the chain but am not sure if this is something that is a must or not), I started using kerosene and a rag to clean the chain, sort of as a solvent, based on someone's recommendation on here. I don't like the brush. It was a cheapo at Cycle Gear, and it doesn't do much to help clean the chain, and the bristles aren't holding up. A rag seems to work better for me.

Any suggestions on cleaning before lubing? How often? What to use? Must I rinse the chain, then dry, then lube, or is it okay to clean with something like kerosene and go straight into lubing?

I know some think I'm making too big a deal of this but other than a few Youtube videos and you guys, I've got nothing to go on as far as how to proceed; how much is overkill; and how much is careless ownership. I'm trying to take it all in and decide how much time, effort and money I'm going to spend on this process going forward, and I appreciate everyone's' take on chain care.
 

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I have an O-ring chain on my Kawasaki and I clean and lube it every 400 miles (or if needed after rain). Clean with kerosene (spray on), wipe off excess, allow to dry, then apply lube, wipe off excess. Use a grunge brush if necessary to clean off dirt, etc, but I seldom get it dirty enough for this step. BelRay regular and BelRay SuperClean lubes are great. No fling and I tend to use more than I should. I've also used the Kawasaki lube. It sprays on clear, but it does fling off some. I've recently started using the Dupont wax lube and no fling. Sometimes I'll use 90 weight gear oil per my owner's manual suggestion, but it tends to fling off. I got 32K miles on my original chain with this method. Many say to avoid using WD-40 to clean chains, but there is debate on that one...Once you get used to doing it you can do it quickly and it won't be a hassle. I use a Pit Bull stand on my Kawi and the Honda to lift the rear wheel. Makes it a lot easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have an O-ring chain on my Kawasaki and I clean and lube it every 400 miles (or if needed after rain). Clean with kerosene (spray on), wipe off excess, allow to dry, then apply lube, wipe off excess. Use a grunge brush if necessary to clean off dirt, etc, but I seldom get it dirty enough for this step. BelRay regular and BelRay SuperClean lubes are great. No fling and I tend to use more than I should. I've also used the Kawasaki lube. It sprays on clear, but it does fling off some. I've recently started using the Dupont wax lube and no fling. Sometimes I'll use 90 weight gear oil per my owner's manual suggestion, but it tends to fling off. I got 32K miles on my original chain with this method. Many say to avoid using WD-40 to clean chains, but there is debate on that one...Once you get used to doing it you can do it quickly and it won't be a hassle. I use a Pit Bull stand on my Kawi and the Honda to lift the rear wheel. Makes it a lot easier.
Thanks for the feedback and sharing your experiences.

I much like using kerosene, but I've got to get more of it. I put it in a spray bottle, and it seems to do a good job cleaning if I soak the chain in kerosene, and it didn't make sense to rinse using kerosene with water since it's such an oily solvent, and I liked that idea as well, but I wanted to get a few more opinions on using it and cleaning without rinsing with water. I tend to get little particles of crap on the chain and soaking with kerosene seems to do a good job or rinsing off those particles than anything else except the specific chain cleaners, but then those require rinsing, and I just don't like the idea of purposely getting the chain soaking wet.

I'll take a look at Dupont and BelRay. The Motul stuff I'm using doesn't fling off much but what it does fling off is really, really sticky and hard to remove from the other MC parts. Probably any wax-type lube would be like this, so I've got to make sure I get off the excess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Someone on another thread stated to always lube after riding when the chain is warm.

How big a deal is this? That's a pretty big inconvenience for me. Doing a good cleaning and lubing when I have time on the weekend is what I prefer, but I'm not the type person just to go riding for fun or so I can lube the chain. I ride mostly for the purpose of getting somewhere that I need or want to go. That's my preference.
 

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I use Honda Chain Lube spray with Moly after a day's ride. Its clean, easy to apply, and wipes off fast for any over-spray I might do. I spray the 1/3 I can easily see each time. Because of the principle of randomness, that means the entire chain is lubed every 3 days.
I think there is much paranoia around here about chains, IMHO.

Ride Often, Ride Safe
f
I read thru my ops manual and see that there is a section on chain care.
It shows how to check the slack and what ranges the slack should be for normal operations. It talks about lube very little, though its there. It goes on to show what you should look for for chain wear and replacement.

Not that I am against taking care of things but it kind of seems to me that in reading the posts in this forum its turned in to a do or die job. I will seek advice from the many people that ride here at work and friends also, but to have ridden to work in a rain and have to lube immediately seems overkill in my book. That being said, I have not read the service manual which may go more in to depth about the chain.

I think I will use the common sense method in regards to the chain. Its worked for me for 47 years so why stop now?;)
 

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Yes, use what works for you. I use trip B as chain miles since last lube. I only do on a weekend and typically spray it every 300 miles or so. about 5-10 minute job with swing arm stand. I don't ride in the rain but metal with oil on it wont rust. Dirt acts like a grinding compound and is best removed with a rag or brush before oiling. I spray oil the bottom run as I rotate the rear tire. Then I wipe off excess on the side plates.

With the power and chain size, I bet 25 to 30k is easily possible with the chain. Most likely it will have tight and loose spots making chain adjustment to spec more difficult. Usually you don't put a new chain on old sprockets but they do wear differently and I have had success doing that. Before the time comes get a good chain tool as most use staked master links instead of the clip type. I got one off ebay for 18.00 new. A dremel tool with a cut off disc is how I remove a link when the time comes. Also there are several internet dealers that sell chain kits very reasonably.

at 25k it's .006 cents per mile if you go with Sprocket Center xring chain and sprocket kit for around 145.00 so not a big expense if you replace it yourself. Tires cost much more per mile.
 

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In the 70's when everything was chain driven except BMW, I would lube my chain on my bikes every 3 to 5 hundred miles depending on how much grime accumulated from rain. And I would clean the chain when it looked like it needed it (usually about 2 thousand miles. I would clean it by spraying the chain with kerosene with card board or newspaper under the chain on the floor. wipe down the chain with a rag saturated with kerosene. I would repeat the spraying and wiping a couple of times until it was clean. I then let it dry before lubricating the chain. I would change the chain out every 20K miles whether it needed it or not. I also carried a chain kit and a couple of master links. But I never need the links or kit. And I never had a chain failure. And I don't even know anyone who had a chain failure. about 6 years years ago my youngest son and I traveled to the Smokeys to do the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway. He had a 98 Honda Shadow 750 Classic. The bike had about 15K miles on the chain and bike. He had lubed the chain about 100 miles before we departed. We drove their from Ohio. Two days later, after riding the smokies and looking around the area, he said he heard a slight squeak as he was parking in a restaurant in Knoxville ( around 850 miles at this point). It was coming from his chain. He pulled a small can of lube out of his saddlebag, lubed the chain which quieted right down. We spent a couple more days riding in TN & NC. Then he lubed the chain again before we left. He never had a problem with the chain after that. And he traded the bike for a 1500 Suzuki and the Shadow had 23K on the bike and original chain. I would never get obsessed with chain maintenance. And right now I just change my gear oil once a year on my VTX, but I hope to be lubricating a chain on a CTX700N real soon. As soon as I sell my VTX.
 

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Rain or Shine, I do a quick spray down with chain wax about every 500 miles, with bikes on center stand. I use Kerosene for cleaning chain and both sprockets. I have never had to replace a chain on any bike before 20k miles (I abused that chain with hard throttle years ago). However, that has changed with the NC700X and CTX700. Both chains have flat spots about the same mileage of 10k miles.
I just ordered two new DID VX2 chains for replacement. Sprockets appear to look like new though so I am not changing sprockets at this time.
I probably could ride many more miles with the chains like this without too much concern, but I like DID and trust them, so I am doing the deed while I have time and extra money to spend. Possible cross country trip in a few months so getting this out of the way now.
I will stick with 500 miles, inspect chain for wear and spray. Clean only when I think it looks like it needs it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The biggest issue I've had with kerosene is that I was using a spray bottle, but due to the angle at which one has to spray off the chain, it's hard to keep it off the bike and also hard to keep it from spraying on other things out to the other side of the bike (either to the right or the left, depending on which side I'm spraying from. If I could just get it to spray only to the ground, I'd like it better. The WD-40 has a more finely-directed spray, so maybe I just need to find a better spray bottle that doesn't send kerosene everywhere.

Not that I'm going to do this, but I thought of probably the most perfect chain cleaner. Home made biodiesel. A gallon of biodiesel can be made on the kitchen stove with any kind of vegetable oil and a few other products, but is not economically feasible to make it this way as a fuel substitute, so I've never done it. Rather, if someone were going to make his or her on fuel, he or she would need to acquire used waste oil from restaurants; clean and dry the waste oil via a 2-step process; build or buy a biodiesel reactor; buy other products used for making biodiesel in bulk; and then use the reactor to make it for fueling vehicles or equipment. But for a cleaner, making a gallon at a time using pure vegetable oil would make economic sense.

It is oil based but has a solvent property. In other words, it can pull dirt out of a material without pulling out the oils. Seems like it would be perfect for o-rings. Kerosene has a solvent property but not as strong. Diesel fuel has even less. When biodiesel is first used in older, existing fuel tanks of cars and trucks, it can clog fuel filters, because it will draw out all the crap from the bottom of the tank and fuel lines. This makes me think it would be a better cleaner than kerosene or diesel fuel, because those fuels do not suck the crap out of tanks. And biodiesel is non toxic and biodegradable if some is left on the ground. Of course it's not necessary to have the perfect chain cleaner; a good chain cleaner will do the job, but it would be kind of neat to make my own just for fun!

The next thing would be what could I do with the left over glycerin by product.

Any thoughts? Should I give it a try.
 

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LOL, sounds interesting! I have never heard of anyone doing that, but it might attract dogs!
 

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kerosene chain cleaner response

The biggest issue I've had with kerosene is that I was using a spray bottle, but due to the angle at which one has to spray off the chain, it's hard to keep it off the bike and also hard to keep it from spraying on other things out to the other side of the bike (either to the right or the left, depending on which side I'm spraying from. If I could just get it to spray only to the ground, I'd like it better. The WD-40 has a more finely-directed spray, so maybe I just need to find a better spray bottle that doesn't send kerosene everywhere.

Any thoughts? Should I give it a try.
I like this: Motorex Chain Clean 611 for $8/aerosol can. Can't remember if I found it online or in a store, but easy to direct spray where you need it. WebBikeWorld has an article on it and other chain cleaning products. Check out www.webbikeworld.com

 

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Chain Cleaner (update)

Today I bought two chain cleaners at Cycle Gear which are both popular sellers. I'll bet both will be fine. Bought Maxima Racing Oils CleanUp Chain Clearner and Motorex Chain Clean--Degreaser.



 

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I guess I am lazy, put on stand, rotate wheel and wipe off chain with paper towel for about 2 go rounds, spry new lube on, wipe off excess. repeat every 300 miles or so. 5 minutes max. About $140 for new chain and sprockets so 20k=.0070 per mile 15k=.0093 per mile. The difference is 11.50. If I do this every 300 miles then I will do it 50 times and if I spend 5 minutes I will have spend just over 4 hours. Can you make all that biodiesel in 4 hours ??? I never made biodiesel so I don't know. So I will ride more and not spend any more time cleaning my chain cause I bet I can get 15k out of it.

Gregsfc, I will be interested when you change your chain. You might ever set a record for the longest CTX used chain the way you are going. More power to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I guess I am lazy, put on stand, rotate wheel and wipe off chain with paper towel for about 2 go rounds, spry new lube on, wipe off excess. repeat every 300 miles or so. 5 minutes max.

Gregsfc, I will be interested when you change your chain. You might ever set a record for the longest CTX used chain the way you are going. More power to you.
Believe me, I'm not going for a record or seeking perfection. If I get 10K, I'll be happy, but I had a real problem and was inquiring about what caused it and how to fix it. I don't know if other owners have run into major chain issues like I saw, because I'm new to chain drive and for some reason I'm having trouble relating the severity of the problems I was having and some think I'm just being picky. Due to some posts on here by some on this thread and on some other threads, for a while I was thinking that extreme measures were supposed to be taken for proper chain maintenance. I didn't dream up alot of unnecessary hassle and don't desire it. I've taken everything in that's been posted, and think I have a pretty simple way to proceed, even though some think I'm still over thinking it.

A few weeks back, I really did have a bike that had lost 11 mpg for no apparent reason. I had a bike that was experiencing rough shifts. I had a sticky mess all underneath the bike, even though I continued to clean and lube the best way I knew how, the chain was loud, and the bike was harder to push, which pointed to added friction. I really don't have a high standard here for lubing and cleaning and high expectation for super-long chain life; only to keep it under control as it is now. I now know that my main problem was an over slacked chain, even though I can't get some to believe that was the main culprit. The second problem (I think) is that I was lubing too often and too much and that helped lead to the sticky mess I was having. I don't know if an over slacked chain exasperated the mess, but it seemed like it did. As far as wiping off the chain, I was not doing this at all, because I had read nothing about it, and that one little tid bit has helped me simplify things a bunch, even though some on here disagree with even doing that.

Thanks for everyone's help and input. I've learned alot about how I think I should proceed, even though I now know that this is a very controversial topic; sort of like engine oil choice, and that no method is totally agreed upon by everyone. I now know that I must develop my own beliefs and have my own practices about chain maintenance to some degree. Below are the beliefs I have at this point but that may change over time.

(1) O-ring chains have sealed lube built in. I did not know that before beginning this thread, so now I realize that lubing is just a way to keep the chain supple and that I was stressing too much about that at the first of this thread. From now on, I'm going to spray a little chain wax on the inside every few hundred miles and every second or third time, I'll wipe a little on the outside. I'll always wipe off the excess. When convenient, I'll lube while the chain is still warm. That's it. I'm not going to worry about it much. I'm going to err on the side of under lubing rather than over lubing.

(2) Even though some disagree, I think in my situation, where I'll be getting the chain wet very often due to when I ride, I'm going to wipe it off when it is dirty and wet, which usually happens at the same time, right after I park the bike. I think this will prevent rust and prevent corrosive substances from drying on the chain to the same degree and will actually reduce the amount of total time I'll be spending on chain care. I won't necessarily worry about lubing right away; just at the next convenience.

(3) There will be times where my chain will need a major cleaning more than just wiping off, i.e. road salts and other corrosive substances have and will get stuck on the chain or sprocket. I'll determine by visual inspection and friction when I need to do this. Since I'll be getting the chain wet regularly anyway, I'm going to stop worrying about getting the chain wet for cleaning purposes. I figure that even though water may be bad for chain life, it can't be worse than substances that have gotten on there causing lots of friction. I may or may not use a cleaner that requires rinsing and I'm going to quit worrying about getting the chain wet when cleaning underneath the bike periodically. When I do soak the chain with water, I'll wipe it off and then go for a long ride to dry it. And then lube it at my next convenience.

(4) Chain slack. I don't have a warm and fuzzy, but I've got a pretty good idea of how much tension it should have. It's not the same measuring as I thought as per the manual. The 1 3/8 don't work for me, because the chain comes up against the guide before that point. I'll just wing it until someone shows me more.

I don't think my way of dealing with the chain will result in long chain life; probably less than average, but I've got to proceed with something better than what led me to what I had a few weeks ago.

As for biodiesel, that's just for fun. I've always wanted to make it but to make it for fuel is too much trouble, can be dangerous, is expensive to set up, and is not recommended in higher than 20% blends for modern diesels like my car. The vegetable oil costs too much to make several gallons. But to make it for a chain cleaner, that would give me a good excuse to make it on the stove. It takes about 24 hrs to make it but only about an hour of my time. Most of the time is letting the jars sit for the glycerin to settle to the bottom. I think there are many good uses for glycerin. Makes a good cleaner or soap that I can use elsewhere. Probably not something I'll continue to do, but I think I'll try a small batch.
 

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I had a guy tell me once he only used WD40 on his chains because it was easy, soaked in and dispelled moisture. He had 23k on his original chain on his 1988 Honda. I never thought of WD40 but I use it in my shop all the time.
 
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