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Do Modern Motorcycle Chains Have an Appetite for Chain Lube?

Do Motorcycle Chains Need Lube?

Motorcycle chain drive has been around for eons. And, after more than a century it’s still the most efficient way to get power to the ground. But don’t think today’s motorcycle chains are the same as they were back in the day; chain design has come a long way, baby! Better metals, tighter tolerances, improved efficiency and big improvements in durability have kept chain drive at the top of the game. Some “sealed” or “o-ring” chains, even keep themselves lubed for life. So, with all of this refinement, do chains still need care and feeding? Like any final drive system, the answer is, “yes.”

What is a “sealed” chain?

Unlike traditional non-sealed chains that allow lubricant (and, yes, contaminants) to easily flow in and out of the chain’s vital pins and bushings, the sealed chain uses flexible seal rings to contain the original grease within the critical areas of the chain, protecting the pin and bushing for life. These chain designs significantly extend the life of a chain—provided the seal-rings able to keep that grease inside (and contaminants out). 

Even sealed chains need love

While sealed chains are designed to provide lube for life, the life of that sealed chain is limited to the life of the rings themselves. Keeping seals clean, lubricated and elastic will repay you with long, reliable performance.

Selecting a high-quality chain that uses high-performance original grease and is manufactured to assure a seal can last a lifetime is strongly recommended. Sunstar® chains, for example, are internationally recognized for their precision and performance and are trusted by top racing teams.

Feeding your chain

All chains benefit from regular lubrication. In addition to preserving o-ring seals and fighting corrosion, regular cleaning and greasing minimizes wear between sprocket teeth and chain rollers, and between rollers and bushings. Here are three simple steps to nourishing your chain for a longer, healthier service life.

1. Clean it

Prior to lubricating, clean the chain thoroughly. Use only mineral-based, o-ring-safe chain cleaning products designed specifically for motorcycle use. DO NOT use kerosene or WD-40 as a cleaner or lubricant for sealed chains. And NEVER use a wire brush—it can destroy those precious o-rings.

2. Inspect it

With the chain cleaned, visually inspect the entire chain, including the condition of o-rings. For more information about what to look for, check out our prior blog, “Chain of Lies.”

3. Lubricate it

Using a chain lube designed specifically for motorcycles, target the spray between the inner and outer link plates (where the seals are located) and over the rollers (where the sprocket engages the chain). There’s no need to over-lubricate the chain; a little goes a long way. Wipe off any excess lube with a lint-free cloth.

Modern chain designs and quality-manufacturing have significantly enhanced performance and driveline longevity. A regular feeding of lube and a little chain love will assure your chain will do its job for life.

For a complete list of quality chains and sprockets designed specifically for your bike, visit Sunstar-Braking.com. Or reach out to us via email.

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