A Complete Guide To Clean And Lube Your Motorcycle Chain

Brand new motorcycle owners should learn how to clean a motorcycle chain. Chain maintenance is the easiest type of motorcycle maintenance that you can do by yourself. Going to a mechanic for changing the oil or replacing filters is understandable. But you shouldn’t go there for a dirty motorcycle chain. Today is the day to learn, that’s why you came here. So, here’s a guide on how to clean your chain.

To clean a motorcycle chain: spray the chain with a chain cleaner and then scrub it with a grunge brush. Wipe it and let it dry. Repeat. Finish it off by applying a lubricant seal. Clean the surrounding smeared with chain lube

If you’ve seen someone do this and you just needed a memory refresh you can stop here. I highly suggest reading the step-by-step guide.

Tools You’re Going To Need

Tools You're Going To Need

You no to do this properly. Cleaning a bike chain requires a special tool and special products. Improvising with your own tools can be detrimental. Buy a chain cleaning set and you’ll be set to go.


Cleaning Motorcycle Chain Step-by-Step

Let’s get right into it, I know you’re eager to start. Quick note though, you will also want to check if the chain needs to be replaced. I’ll explain how to do that in a second, after the guide. I’m guessing most of you have relatively new or a well-maintained chain, hence the hurry.

  1. Raise the rear tire of the motorcycle. The chain sprocket is usually attached to the rear wheel. Use a bike stand to lift the bike. You want the back wheel to be off the ground and free spin in the air.
  2. Apply the chain cleaner spray while spinning the rear wheel and let it soak for a while.
  3. Using the chain brush, start scrubbing. You want to be as thorough as you can be. Be careful though, sealed chains can be damaged if you’re not gentle. So, for a plain metal chain you can scrub as hard and as much as u want. Types of sealed chains: O-Ring Chain, X-Ring Chain, Z-Ring Chain.
  4. Remove the leftover dirt with a rug. You can use any old cleaning cloth, it just needs to be clean.
  5. Is it clean enough, do you see any black gunk? If so, you can do steps 1-4 again. Make sure there isn’t any road dirt. Bits and pieces of dirt will be present after the first scrub. Cover the internal parts too.
  6. Apply chain lube. Any type of lubricant will do, check out our 5 Best Motorcycle Chain Lubes. You’ll have to be gentle with sealed chains here too. If you have a sealed chain, apply a small amount of chain wax. Don’t worry about metal link chains though, apply freely. In both cases, make sure to cover the entire chain, all the angles.
  7.  With a clean rug, clean off any leftover lube, wipe the surroundings too.

Buy The Tools

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Additional Tips

  • You can take out the chain if it’s easier to work with that way. 
  • While scrubbing, pieces of gunk may get around your hands, sometimes even your hand. Working glasses and gloves will protect you.
  • Some bikes have a flat bottom. If you don’t have a stand, you can improvise one from boards or what have you. Place the middle of the bike on the stand. 
  • After cleaning up the chain, let it rest for a while, let the lube dry off a bit. Then, take it out for a ride. A single ride will do, just to make sure everything is working alright. 

There you go, nothing complicated. Now make sure you regularly clean the chain.

How Do You Know When To Replace Motorcycle Chain

The chain is a crucial part of the driving system of the motorcycle. So, a damaged chain is a very dangerous thing. Also, chains are prone to wear and tear. You can reduce chain wear with regular maintenance but you can never stop it. Eventually, it will go bad.

Since chain wear is a thing, it’s smart to check if you need to replace the chain, each time you’re cleaning it. Let’s see what to check for.

First, a few words about the structure. The entire mechanism consists of a chain and a sprocket on which the chain is attached. The sprocket can be damaged too, so there are two things you’ll be inspecting.

  • Inspect the entire chain for wear. Check for loose pins, rusty links. The parts with wear should be recognizable from the healthy parts.
  • Inspect the sprocket, the teeth should be flat and not sharp.
  • Try the pulling method. Pull the chain towards you and the ground. You should pull the sprocket’s end that’s facing the rear tire. .A chain in a good condition shouldn’t be able to move too much. A chain that needs replacement will reveal a tooth from the rear sprocket. 

If you noticed anything wrong, you probably need to get rid of the current chain and buy a new one.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain

It depends on the type of chain you have and your riding habits. Sealed chains are not that prone to wear, it is recommended to clean them every 500-600 miles. Metal chains should be inspected regularly for dirt, chain grime, rust, etc.

How Long Do Motorcycle Chains Last

The life of a bike chain depends on how well it was maintained. A chain that was regularly cared for, cleaned, and lubricated, can last for 20 000 miles and more. Sealed chains last more than metal ones. Some metal chains last only for 5 000 miles.

What Happens If You Don’t Lube Your Motorcycle Chain

Without a chain lubricant, the gears can’t move smoothly. The friction will start grinding the entire chain. The rust will be the least of your worries. The chain will be broken beyond repair.

How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Chain Needs Lube

Cleaning and lubricating a motorcycle chain go together. A dirty chain gooey chain needs to be sprayed with lube. If your chain is regularly getting dirty, you’re adding too much lube.

How Much Do Motorcycle Chains Cost

It depends on whether you’re buying just the chain or the sprocket too. The chain by itself ranges from 20$-200$. Sealed chains are more expensive. The sprocket adds 40$-50$ to the price.


That’s it for this post fellow motorcycle riders. I guess most of you’re beginners, so I hope you learned how to clean a chain. Cheers to you for taking care of your motorcycle. I advise you to take the same initiative and make sure every part of your motorcycle is working. Learn what you can do by yourself, for the other stuff, go to a mechanic.

I think I was clear enough. Anyways, if something didn’t make sense, or you learn better from watching videos, check out this guide. Maybe visualizing things will help.