Informational Guide

How To Clean & Lube A Motorcycle Chain

Every motorcycle owner should know how to clean & lube their chain. Not only does it help to remove rust, it keeps your chain in tip-top condition every ride.

The motorcycle chain allows your bike to move in the same way it does on a mountain bike. However, you must know how to clean and lube a motorcycle chain if you want it to function properly.

We review how to properly clean a motorcycle chain and how to lube a motorcycle chain.

The motorcycle chain connects the front and rear sprocket of the bike together. The front sprocket is connected to the transmission output shaft, while the rear sprocket is found on the back wheel.

Typical motorcycle chains consist of an inner and outer plate, roller and bushing. The links are then sealed together with an X-ring or O-ring. Over time, dirt and debris can get trapped in the chain, requiring you to learn how to clean and lube a motorcycle chain.

  • Standard Non-Sealed Motorcycle Chain 
    The standard roller chain is the oldest of the bunch and is commonly used on bicycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs. Most modern bikes have upgraded to one of the other chain constructions.
  • O-Ring Motorcycle Chains 
    The O-ring chain weighs more and is self-lubricating. It also does a good job of sealing out dirt and debris, but the steps to learning how to clean an O-ring motorcycle chain aren’t much different from other types.
  • X-Ring Motorcycle Chains 
    The X-ring chain features a similar profile but has a different type of seal in the links. These distort less than the O-rings and tend to retain more lubrication, but the steps aren’t much different from learning how to clean an O-ring motorcycle chain.
How To Clean Rusty Motorcycle Chain

Importance of Cleaning your Motorcycle Chain

Why do you need to know how to clean and lube a motorcycle chain? Not only will this periodic maintenance extend the life of the chain, but it also increases performance.

Over time, dirt and debris stick to the chain, thereby reducing its effectiveness. If you don’t learn how to clean a motorcycle chain at home, you could be looking at a costly replacement instead.

Why Is a Dry Chain Dangerous?

You must also learn how to lube a motorcycle chain if you want it to last. A dry chain creates more stress on the bike's engine, thereby causing bigger problems. Plus, a dry chain can damage the sprocket or wear-out prematurely.

As you ride with a dry chain, you will hear more noise, and there is a higher chance of it snapping, leaving you stranded on the side of the road.

How To Clean & Lube A Motorcycle Chain: DIY Step By Step Guide

Just as you want to know how to change a motorcycle tire and how to clean a motorcycle helmet, part of being a bike owner means you'll need to understand how to apply a chain lube motorcycle and how to clean the chain on a motorcycle. Here are the tools you will want to have handy.

1. Know the chain type

Before you learn how to clean and oil a motorcycle chain, you want to know what type you are dealing with. While the majority of the steps remain the same, you should understand what parts you are looking at.

2. Position the bike

Lift your bike and place it on a sturdy stand. You want the chain-driven wheel to be off the ground so it can rotate in place.

3. Examine the motorcycle chain and sprockets

Before you start the steps of how to lube your motorcycle chain, inspect all of the components for wear. If anything is damaged, you should replace it.

4. Spray chain with chain cleaner

Apply the wheel cleaner or kerosene to the chain. You can also use a dedicated chain cleaner. Apply this product while spinning the wheel and rotating the chain.

5. Scrub the chain

Allow the cleaner to soak in before scrubbing it. Then, use your dedicated brush to get all of the dirt and debris loose from the chain.

6. Re-spray the motorcycle chain

If there are still contaminants and debris, you can repeat the previous steps two to four times until you are satisfied with how clean it is.

7. Dry the motorcycle chain

Before moving on, you want to dry the chains completely. There should be no residual cleaner left on the chain.

8. Lubricate the motorcycle chain

Figuring out how much chain lube to use for motorcycle chains depending on what type you have. Metal chains require a liberal amount of lubricant, while the sealed chains only need a small amount. Lubricate the inside and outside of the chain.

9. Clean Up

Wipe off any excess lubricant from the bike chain and clean off the surrounding areas. Remove your bike from the stand and put away all of your supplies.

How To Properly Clean Motorcycle Chain

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can you use WD 40 to clean the motorcycle chain?

You don’t want to learn how to clean a motorcycle chain with WD40 because this product is meant to displace water, not lubricate the chain.

How often should you lube a motorcycle chain?

Figuring out how often to clean a motorcycle chain and how often to lube a motorcycle chain are one and the same since they should be done together. Typically, you want to perform both functions every 300 to 600 miles after you finished riding.

Can you use white lithium grease on a motorcycle chain?

If you want to know how to properly lube a motorcycle chain, you probably won’t use white lithium grease, although it can be used in a pinch. However, you will need to apply it more frequently.

How long should a motorcycle chain last?

The properly maintained bike chain will last 20,000 to 30,000 miles. If you have learned how to clean your chain motorcycle and how often to lube a motorcycle chain, you will be able to prolong its life.

Should I use wet or dry chain lube?

Dry lubes are ideal for clean chains in dry conditions. However, the wet lube is perfect for use all year while providing the best value.

How long does Chain Lube take to dry?

Ideally, you want to let the lube dry for a minimum of an hour. It’s best to apply it when you are finished riding for the day.


We have looked at how to clean a motorcycle chain with kerosene, as well as the steps when learning how to apply motorcycle chain lube. With these tips, you can keep your motorcycle chain in optimal condition.