Simple––if not downright crude––yet efficient, it’s essentially a long string of machined bearing surfaces that lives in a harsh wilderness of water, dirt, infrequent adjustment, and insufficient lubrication.
Beneath its often greasy exterior lie vital clues to ensuring its survival and longevity. Virtually all drive chains for street bikes use some sort of flexible ring to seal grease in the gap between the pin and the bushing, where the load on the chain is highest. The first such seals were called O-rings because their cross-section is round, but now some chain manufacturers use rings whose cross-section resembles an X or a Z.
When a solid O-ring is compressed between the side plates it puts pressure on the chain joint, and can wear into the side plate over time. X- and Z-rings bend or twist when they’re installed between the side plates, so they put less pressure on the joint, wear more slowly, and seal better. If the sealing ring breaks, the grease leaks out and that particular joint heats up, dries out, and becomes contaminated with water and rust, elongating the pin-to-bushing fit. (Chains don’t actually stretch; their internal clearances just get bigger.) This puts more load on the adjacent joints, and on the sprocket teeth.
Sealing rings rarely break, but if they do, you should consider your chain toast; it’s time for a new one. Savvy maintenance is the key to chain survival.So how do you do this…
Opinion varies as to how often you should clean and lube your chain some say every 200 miles, some say weekly basically if it looks mucky it’s time to clean it ! What everyone agrees on is it’s best to do it after a ride when the chain is still warm.
Put your bike on it’s centre stand or use a paddock stand
Protect your bike and the floor with some cloth or newspapers – it’s going to get dirty
Spray with chain cleaner or other “high flashpoint cleaner” (that’ll be paraffin to you and me !)
Make ABSOLUTELY sure not to get any on your tyre (hence the cloths / newspaper)
Use a chain brush to remove the muck working in sections until it’s all done. Make sure you turn the wheel so the chain moves away from your fingers (you’ll only do it once as it hurts like…)
Now clean the rear sprocket faces
Spray chain lube do o-rings – rollers – o-rings
Finally leave to dry – JOB DONE
Simple as that – what to watch someone else have a go ? Check out the video’s on the right…
HERE’S A SELECTION OF PRODUCTS THAT WILL HELP YOU LOOK AFTER YOUR CHAIN…