How To Clean Motorcycle Chain – A Detailed Guide

Lubricating and cleaning the bike’s drive chain is the most crucial step to maintain its performance. If you are a new biker, you might find it challenging to do and decide to take it to a motor shop. Do you want to do it yourself to save money? Yet, it is not as easy as it seems. 

No worries. This article will give you detailed instructions on how to clean motorcycle chain. Keep reading to learn this skill and help your favorite motorcycle.


Why Do We Need To Clean The Motorcycle Chains? 

When you clean and lubricate the motorcycle’s drive chain and sprockets, your bike will operate more efficiently and extend its lifespan. Given that dirty sprockets and chains can hinder the engine’s capacity to effectively transfer driving power to your rear wheels, draining the power.

Thus, this part will quickly break if you don’t lubricate it regularly because of the grit and grime from the road being thrown at it when you’re riding.

A good motorbike chain should provide you with 15,000 – 20,000 miles (about 24,000 – 32,000 km) of trouble-free riding if maintained properly, while premium Gold X or O-ring chains will last 20,000 – 30,000 miles (32,000 to 48,000 km).


Step-By-Step Instructions: How To Clean Motorcycle Chain


  • A toothbrush or a specific brush for cleaning chains
  • Rag (old clothes)
  • Lubricant
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • A good-quality cleaner (Ex: Simple Green Pro)
  • A bucket or a big container

Step-By-Step Instructions


  1. Dilute the cleaner: Mix 1 part of the cleaner to 3 parts water in a prepared bucket or container. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture.
  2. Get your motorcycle ready: If you want the washing and rinsing from your bike to fall to the ground (not affecting the engine), park it on the center stand or the back stand.
  3. Use cleaner: Spray the solution that you put in a sprayer (in step 1) along the whole length of the chain.
  4. Start scrubbing: Scrub each link in the chain with the specific brush or your old toothbrush, paying particular attention to the gaps between the links and any accumulation of grime and dirt. If you can, rotate the back tire to reach the entire chain.
  5. Clean the motorcycle’s rear sprocket: Completely clean the back sprocket by wiping it down with a towel dipped in the cleaner solution. Use the toothbrush to get rid of any tough dirt.
  6. Rinse: Rinse the chain with water using a bucket or hose. You need to make sure that it has been thoroughly washed. Moreover, let the rinse strike the ground instead of making the water run into the storm drain.
  7. Dry: Use a rag or old clothes to wipe down your chain thoroughly to get rid of moisture. Do not forget the links.
  8. Lubricate the motorcycle chain: When the cleaner has completed its job, no grease or grime is on your chain now. Yet, your motorcycle needs lubricant for smooth operation. Thus, it’s time to apply lubricant to this component.
  9. Time to ride: Enjoy your upcoming journey while giving your motorcycle a ride to let the lubricant circulate through its chain.

Bonus Tips To Properly Adjust The Chain

The drive chain’s free-play has to be properly adjusted, and as you clean and lubricate it, you’ll get a sense of how it feels. This part can stretch and feel loose over time when it ages and wears.

Moreover, the chain can sometimes wear unevenly, leaving some areas feeling more “wriggly” than others. The tops and sides of the teeth on the sprocket will change their form.

Chains don’t tighten themselves, but they might be misaligned. If you frequently clean the chain on your motorbike, you will know when you need to tighten or release it. 

The size and design of your motor, as well as the quality of the chain, determine how long your chain and sprockets can last. However, regular cleaning and lubrication may significantly increase the lifespan of any chain.



How Often Do You Clean Your Motorbike Chain?

Both a clean and well-oiled chain are essential. Ideally, you should clean it after each ride. Even a brief wipe with a clean towel may make a significant impact, but not many of us do this.

Thus, the recommended number for cleaning your motorbike chain is every 400–800 miles. However, depending on how you use your bike, you may need to clean the chain less frequently on a road motorcycle than on an off-road one.

If 400 or 800 miles is challenging for you, try to have this part cleaned every 750 to 1000 miles.

Before lubricating, you should clean the chain since grease/lube and dirt together can form a “grinding paste,” which drastically reduces its life.

How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Chain Needs Lube?

When lubrication is necessary, your chain will let you know. When you’re riding, if it’s dry and squeaky, it’s time to lubricate. This is probably going to happen after a very rainy ride or if you’ve never lubricated your chain before.

Can You Over-Lube A Motorcycle Chain?

No. The key to chain lubrication is to use less.

Indeed, over-lubricating your chain can irritate your motorcycle technician and is terrible for its performance. Extra lube will let dirt and dust buildup, resulting in unsightly drivetrain congestion. This can potentially damage your drivetrain more quickly than a dry one.

If you use too much lubricant, you need to remove it. To do this, you need to wait five minutes after lubricating the chain, spin the drivetrain a few times, and then wipe off any extra oil with a dry cloth.

BMW Motorrad M Endurance chain 1

Last Words

This article has provided you with a detailed guide on how to clean motorcycle chain and valuable tips. Remember to clean it regularly (every 400 – 800 miles) to help it operate smoothly and effectively. 

Moreover, do not over-lube it since it can cause congestion that damages the chains.

Further Reading:

4.6/5 - (5 votes)