How to clean and lube a motorcycle chain featured image
Advice & Guides

How to clean and lube a motorcycle chain

17 May 2020
Updated: 21 Jan 2022 It doesn’t take long to have a chain that’ll make you proud and let your bike run sweetly. Here’s our guide on what to use and how to use it…

1. Preparation

You don’t need much for this: A can each of chain cleaner and lube, some rags and a decent chain brush will be enough for this job. Alternatively, Motul sell an all-in-one kit for less than £20 with cleaner, lube and a brush. Get yourself in a pair of overalls or scruffy clobber and it’s worth getting a pair of nitrile gloves and a pair of safety specs as there is the likelihood of splatter that’ll take a while to clean off. Have some water to hand – a hose ideally or a garden sprayer/watering can if not.

2. Stand it up

Pop your bike on its centrestand or lift it onto a paddock stand so you can turn the rear wheel freely, then get your chain cleaner can and spray it onto the section of the chain where it sits on the rear sprocket. Coat the sideplates on each side and the rollers, then use the three sets of bristles on the brush to scrub off the grime. Spin the wheel and repeat the process until you’ve scrubbed the whole chain.

3. The next lap

Repeat the process with a light spray of the cleaner and wiping with a cloth to get rid of the residue of gunge. If your whole bike needs a clean, now is a good time to do it, making sure you give the chain a good rinse as part of the process.

4. Clean up

If you’re only cleaning and lubing the chain, rinse the chain with water and wipe it dry with a cloth. Your back wheel is bound to be dirty so use the cloth to wipe it clean. Squirt some chain cleaner into the cloth to clean off stubborn chain lube overspray. After cleaning the chain and wheel (or the whole bike) take the bike for a short ride to shake out excess water and to get the chain warmed up and ready to be lubed.

5. Lubrication's what you need

Once the chain is clean, dry and warm you can lube it. Get the bike back on the stand and spray lightly where the sprocket teeth mesh with the chain, stopping once you have completed one rotation of the chain. Repeat for one rotation while lightly spraying the outer sideplates, and then another rotation to cover the inner sideplates. Don’t apply too much lube as it will attract dirt and act as a grinding paste, prematurely wearing it and negating the benefit of lubricating it in the first place. The final job is to check the tension of your chain against the manufacturer’s recommended settings.