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The Ins And Outs Of Motorcycle Chains And Sprocket Care

Chaparral Motorsports
March 15, 2015
Last Updated: December 12, 2020

Every motorcycle relies on its chain to last for miles, and so riders oil and clean their chains to make the bikes last. However, within due time, even the most-cared-for chain will need to be replaced. It's important to know when, why and how to check your motorcycle chain for a possible replacement.

Stuck Links And Loose Gear-Changing

Motorcycle chains tend to stretch out over time as the sprocket's teeth pull into the links every time you take off. According to Motorcycle News, as chains get stuck or changing gears become less smooth, you might want to consider lubricating your chain or getting it adjusted to have a stronger pull.

However, if you're constantly hitting tight spots, which are caused by stuck links, it could be time to change your motorcycle's chain. Your chain is one of the main elements to provide a smooth transition between gears.

Change The Sprockets With The Chain

If you determine that your chain is constantly getting stuck and lubrication is not increasing the smoothness of your ride, it's likely time to get a new chain. However, when you replace your chain, it's a great idea to replace your sprocket at the same time. According to Motorcycle News, worn sprockets with new chains cause quick deterioration on both the sprocket and the chain.

Eventually, you will find yourself replacing your chain quite often and see wear in the same spot. According to the Motorcyclist, before you get too mechanical, make sure you have the right chain rivet link tool, the correct sprocket, a master link and a grinder. Getting professional help is never a bad idea.

How To Check For A Loose Chain

If you're unsure if your motorcycle chain is in need of repair, one of the easiest tricks is to measure the chain pull length with a tape measure. According to Bike Bandit, chains should never be too tight around the sprocket because it will immediately wear down the suspension on your bike. Additionally, a tight chain is more likely to snap, which could cause a serious problem while driving.

To test the tightness of your chain, simply grab the chain at the middle point between the front and rear sprockets, and pull down. Also, it's important to remember that if your bike is slanted to the side and resting on its kickstand, the chain will ultimately be looser. Make sure the bike is fully straight up and forward to get an appropriate measurement.

For a normal chain, you should be able to pull it 1 inch down and 1 inch up. However, if the chain moves more than an inch in any direction, it will certainly need to be tightened.

Cleaning Your Chain

If the chain does not need to be replaced, but it's still causing you to skip gears, consider getting chain lubrication and a soft brush. If you have a stationary wheel holder, it's best to get the chain moving and spray lubrication along the chain as it runs. Before you add the lubrication, you should take your soft brush and clean off any debris.

Oil tends to cake on the chain, which can also cause your motorcycle to experience rough gear-shifting. If you're prone to riding in cold temperatures, leaving a bike outside can cause a lot of debris buildup on your chain and sprocket. Make sure it's clean before going on any lengthy ride.

Again, it's always a good idea to get professional assistance when you are replacing or cleaning any interior part of your motorcycle because using the wrong lubricant or cleaner could affect your parts.

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