Oct 23

Motorcycle Chain Maintenance – Lubrication

Motorcycle Chain Maintenance, part 2:
So many motorcycle chain lube choices,
what works best for your ride?

by Mark DT

 

This is a follow-up to our Motorcycle Chain Cleaning article.  If you haven’t read it you may wish to review it first before continuing here, especially as it is somewhat counterproductive to lube a motorcycle chain that is really dirty.  Additionally, if you choose to change the motorcycle chain lube that you are presently using for a new one, it is essential to clean your chain first.  Chain Wax or Dry Lubricant shouldn’t be applied to a chain that still has traditional chain oil on it.  To get the best performance out of any lubricant, take the time to start with a clean chain.

Now assuming that your chain is already clean and shiny it is time to consider lubrication.  There are many different special motorcycle chain lubes on the market.  Most work well but there are a few things to consider.

What to use? Traditional chain oil, dry lubricant, or chain wax?  What is a Scottoiler?

Initially, chains were simply just oiled.  There are numerous excellent chain oils out there.  Oil’s primary advantage is that it is generally inexpensive, long wearing, and easy to apply and maintain.  However, oil has a greater tendency to fling dirt off the chain and onto everything else (rims, garage floor, even riding gear).  For this reason the industry started to introduce chain oil alternatives that fling less to keep the bike’s exterior parts cleaner.  However, these modern tech dry or wax based lubricants while excellent for road bikes tend not to be favoured for those who ride off-road.  Most motocross riders prefer to have an oiled chain over wax or dry lubrication.

Frequent oiling with an inexpensive basic chain oil is better than infrequent use with an expensive product.  Failure to keep your chain properly lubricated will lead to premature wear and tear, and even potential failure in extreme cases. On my first motorcycle, a chain driven Vulcan 500, all I used was the cheapest spray on chain oil bought from the local automotive big box store.  It did the job just fine, but it was a little on the messy side compared to using wax or a Scottoiler.

Here is a closeup look at the Scottoiler mounted onto my old 2007 Kawasaki Versys.

A smart farkle for your ride is to install an aftermarket reservoir based automatic chain-oiler such as the Scottoiler.  These consist of a reservoir which contains a special clean formula chain oil, and a drip mechanism to the rear sprocket that is normally powered off the vacuum from the fuel injection or carburetor.   The device allows you to set the drip rate from a scale of 1-10 depending on your riding conditions.  For those in clean dry areas and can safely run the unit at its lowest drip setting, it is not unheard of to get more than a few thousand kilometres before needing to refill the reservoir.  Refilling the reservoir is a two minute job that can be done with the bike on its side stand.

I had a Scottoiler on my previous motorcycle, (2007 Kawasaki Versys),  and absolutely loved it.  The chain was clean and silent all the time and I never needed to put the bike up on a paddock stand to service the chain.  The Scottoiler isn’t faultless though.  While it is much cleaner to use than aerosol or liquid chain lube, it does still in my experience fling very small amounts of oil to the rims.  I found I was wiping down my rear wheel rim frequently when touring.   While you may need to wipe the rims off more frequently than with using chain wax, the long intervals between having to refill the reservoir, and the fact that the chain always has just the right amount of fresh lubricant means the Scottoiler is a highly recommended solution for motorcycle chain maintenance.

Full Scottoiler kit

The Kawasaki Versys, Ninja 650, ER6 and ER6F all have an under slung exhaust which makes adding a centre stand difficult if not impossible.   On bikes like these or for any rider who likes to tour long distances with a chain driven bike, a Scottoiler is the perfect solution to minimize time spent on maintenance and protect the chain thoroughly.

No centre stand for the Versys with this exhaust.

 

Next up is dry lubricant.  Normally, it is a spray containing Teflon or white graphite, which is extremely slippery, yet dry to the touch once applied.  Dry lubricant’s strength is that doesn’t fling off so your rims and garage floor stay clean.  It also doesn’t attract dirt as the lubricant is dry and not sticky to the touch like traditional chain oil or in some cases wax.  I have zero experience with using dry lubricant as I have heard from riding buddies that used it that it doesn’t stand up that well in wet rainy conditions.  As I live on Canada’s West Coast, and we get very rainy fall and winter weather, I have opted to avoid using this style of chain lubricant so far.  Next summer though I may switch for a few months just to be able to know first hand if this is a better option than chain wax.  For those that use dry lubricants your comments are welcome to be added after this article.

Chain wax is the next upgraded chemical technology level for chain maintenance.  Chain wax is applied to a warm chain and takes about 15 minutes to set up.  After that time, it is dry and both resists flinging mess, and in theory will better protect the chain from the elements as the wax provides additional protection to your precious links.  However, chain wax isn’t perfect either.  It should not be applied to a previously oiled chain until it has been thoroughly cleaned as described in part one.  Cleaning a waxed chain can also be a little more challenging than an oiled one, as the waxed surface clings much better than oil and hence is more difficult to remove than a surface that is simply oiled.  I have used both spray oil, and spray chain wax, and despite the extra cleaning effort my personal preference is chain wax.  I have been using Maxima Chain Wax on my Triumph Tiger 1050 SE, and find that re-application every 500-600 km is sufficient to thoroughly protect the chain.  It is the cleanest solution I have used to date provided you follow the instructions on the can.

I have provided links to the best online prices I could find at publishing time for all the following products below.  Farkle My Ride does not sell anything, but does get small compensation if one of our users clicks these links as a thank you from the retail business for bringing a customer to their site.  That is what covers our website costs.  If you found the above information useful please consider using one of these links or visiting our shopping page next time you are ready to start your farkling journey.

To purchase a Scottoiler the best online pricing we found was on eBay.  Click here to view pricing.

To purchase Chain Wax or Dry Teflon based Lube,  the best prices I found when this article was published were from the links below.  For traditional motorcycle chain lube, or motocross suitable chain oils visit either our Shopping Page or Price Comparison page.  The dry lubricant featured is branded by Honda, but is suitable for all O-ring and non-O-ring chain drive motorcycles of any manufacturer.

We hope you have found this guide to motorcycle chain maintenance helpful.  If you have tips or suggestions to other users, please enter them in the comment section below.

 

Maxima Chain Wax Maxima Chain Wax
Exclusive parafilm penetrates into the chain and sets up as a soft wax Lubricates from inside out Safe on X and O-ring chains Aerosol






 

 

Pro Honda HP Chain Lube with White Graphite Pro Honda HP Chain Lube with White Graphite
Contains White Graphite for superior lubrication.Compatible with both O-ring and non-ring chains.Works at both high and low temperature extremes.No-fling formula.Contains no chlorinated solvents or CFCs. 11 oz.









 

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