For those that have a chain drive Harley or other motorcycle, chain lube maintenance is one of the most important yet often neglected procedures. For those with belt drives, take this opportunity to inspect your belt for proper tension, and read on… because you never know when a riding buddy with a chain drive will need your assistance.
Few people are fortunate enough to have their chain or belt break while close to home, so a few minutes spent lubing your chain is cheap insurance. First, some personal advice regarding lubes. Step away from that can of WD-40!
Use the right product for the job. You wouldn’t wash your car or bike with a household solvent, so don’t use penetrating oil in place of chain lube. WD-40 is a water dispersing penetrating oil meant to repel water. don’t let the word “oil” fool you. Almost 60% of this solution is an aromatic corrosive solvent designed to penetrate, with a suspended paraffin lubricant designed to remain upon evaporation. There are rumors that WD-40 will actually eat away at certain metals and rubber, but the fact is that WD-40 is NOT a CHAIN LUBE.
Start by cleaning your chain with a mild degreaser. Something like Simple Green (diluted) is sufficient. A good time to do this is when you are washing your bike. Thoroughly dry the chain with an absorbent towel. Compressed air can be used but be careful not to blow grease all over your bike’s finish. An alternative is to buy a can of compressed air used for computers. This is just strong enough to blow off any debris. Chain lube always applies better to a warm chain so a brief ride around the block may be in order.
Some people use gear oil on their chains, but if at all possible stick with an actual chain lube product. Use a clean paint brush and brush the lube onto your chain. This is easier if you can elevate the rear wheel so you can rotate the chain. Spray type chain lube may also be used (did I mention WD-40 is not a chain lube?). Wipe off any excess with a rag and allow the lube to fully soak in before riding.
Take your bike out for a low speed ride to get the lube worked in and also to allow any excess to fly off. If you did a good job of soaking up the excess with a rag then this should be minimal.
For those with o-ring chains you should always use a chain lube specified for this type. Many are compatible but check the label first. It is important to apply the lube to a warm chain when dealing with the o-ring style chains.
While some may think it excessive I always recommend lubing your chain every 500 miles. This will insure that your chain remains strong and lasts.
Don’t forget to check your chain’s tension while you are cleaning and lubricating.
Enjoy the Ride!
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