CHAIN MAINTENANCE AND TENSION
Clean every 600 miles of normal riding or more often in dusty/wet conditions.
Here are various postings on chain maintenance. The first is my personal preference, your's may vary. Important thing is to
keep chain well maintained to prolong it's and the sprockets life.
- Quick Tip: Warm the chain, lube every 500 miles, don't
get any on the tires, ride bike right after to work it in, and remove excess after your first ride.
- Your chain doesn't need much cleaning if you just ride
on normal streets. WD-40 and a rag is about all you need and even then not very often.
- If you use gear oil, oil the warm chain after your last
ride of the day using a brush (not an oil can). Put something under the chain to catch the drips and wipe off excess with
a rag. Let sit overnight. Any fly-off will be minimal.
- If you use WD-40, spray on warm chain any time. Give it
a couple of minutes to drip off or wipe off excess with rag. Ride anytime. Fly-off is moderate. If you don't have a centerstand,
use WD-40 to clean the chain and sprocket using the rolling method (apply to chain, roll the bike back, apply to chain, roll
the bike back, etc. until complete chain is done). After 50 miles or so, spray WD-40 on a clean cloth and wipe down any areas
of your bike that may have chain lube on it. Wax these areas lightly (like your chain guard, fender, etc., and you're good
for about 600 miles.
- If you use spray-on lubes, be sure to spray onto a warm
chain. Do not over saturate. Spray it on the inside of the chain. That way on your next ride it will be slung outwards, through
the chain. Lube the chain every several hundred miles or when it looks dry. If you are going to use an aerosol chain lube,
consider using PJ1 in the blue label.
- For O-ring chains, bring the bike home hot and throw it
up on the centerstand in neutral. Then spray PJ1 Blue Label chain lube directly at the center of the rollers at the rear of
the rear sprocket. Move the rear wheel slowly and continue to apply until the entire chain has been coated. Then park the
bike for the night and let it dry. In the morning the rollers are all nicely lubricated and the bike is ready to ride off.
Be sure to wipe off any excess before you ride and then after you come back after the first ride. The lubing of an O-ring
chain is mostly for the sprocket's life as the lube for the chain pins is sealed inside the chain by the O-rings.
- Clean-up: Oil and WD-40 are the easiest to clean up/off,
but also can create the biggest fly-off mess. PJ lubes or Chain Wax leaves the least amount of fly-off, but can build up on
the chain itself. It's a nasty cycle of lube & cleaning, lube & cleaning.
Chain lubing is another of many reasons
why you shouldn't buy a bike without a centerstand
Use kerosene or WD-40 and a rag or soft bristle brush to clean the chain. Then
take the bike on a 5-10 minute ride to get the chain warmed up. Use a good chain wax or oil as per directions on the product.
I use Maxxim Chain wax and it doesn't sling off of the chain much as long as you let it sit for at least 30 minutes after
applying like the label says. I have heard good things about the Honda brand and PJ-1 chain wax.
Your chain has O-rings that seal the lube in the chain rollers and seal out dirt
and moisture. Your lube you apply mainly keeps the chain rolling smoothly and prevents rust.
Don't worry about the outside of the chain. The two places that must be lubricated
are the pin/inner surface of the bushing and the inner surface of the roller/outer surface of the bushing. On an O-ring chain
the lube is sealed in between the pin and the inner surface of the bushing so you don't have to lube this area. You do still
have to get lube in between the inner surface of the rollers and the outer surface of the bushings however. To do this ride
the bike far enough so that the chain is fully warmed up and then put the bike up on its centerstand and get directly behind
the rear sprocket with your can of chain lube. Turn the rear wheel very slowly as you apply a very small amount of chain lube
between the inner surface of the inner side plates and the rollers where it travels around the back side of the rear sprocket
so that it seeps in between the inner surface of the rollers and the outer surface of the bushings. Squeeze the button on
the chain lube very slightly so the lube is just oozing very slightly out of the straw and apply only the equivalent of a
few drops at each roller and then move on to the next roller. Do this on both sides of rollers. You will see the chain lube
being drawn right in between the rollers and the bushings if the chain is warm enough, just like solder when you sweat copper
water pipes. The reason lube is important between the inner surface of the rollers and the outer surface of the bushings is
because what really happens as a chain travels around a sprocket is that the rollers stand still in relation to the sprocket
and rotate on the bushings. Watch an individual roller as it travels around the rear sprocket when you turn the rear wheel
slowly and you will see this in action.
If you have old antique bikes like me and run non O-ring chains you also have to
apply lube as described above along both sides of the chain between the inner and outer side plates so that it seeps in between
the pins and the inner surface of the bushings.
Finally, grasp the chain along its bottom run with a rag and turn the rear wheel.
This will wipe off excess lube and spread a film on the side plates and outer surface of the rollers to prevent rust. You
will also get some lube on the O-rings by doing this to lubricate them.
Almost all (if not all) new bikes today come with O-ring type chains, which seal
the lube in this area so you don't have to lube it yourself. A little chain lube on the O-rings to keep them soft is all you
need so far as this area of the chain goes. Just wiping off the excess lube usually gets enough on them but if you see they
are dry, a few drops of chain lube applied to each one would be a good idea.
I use Belray Chain Lube, which is suitable for both O-ring and non O-ring chains.
Even with wiping off the excess chain lube, you will still get some splatters on
the rear wheel, chain guard and swingarm. I just wipe if off with a dry rag every 500 miles when I lube the chain but you
can wipe it off in between lubing to keep your bike more spiffy looking.
CHAIN TENSION AND ADJUSTMENT
If the tire doesn't roll freely once it's been cleaned, then the
chain may have some tight spots -- a sign of age. Once you get too many it's time for a new chain. Or the chain may actually
be adjusted too tightly. Generally, though, a chain stretches over time and becomes too loose -- sags and/or hits the swingarm
excessively while the tire is spinning. Whether tight or loose, a chain can easily be adjusted to the correct tension.
To check tension consult your owner's manual for the tension millimeter listing.
Sometimes it's listed on the swingarm itself. A chain should have about 1 inch of free play. To check, hold a ruler to the
base of your swingarm and push on the chain. It shouldn't move with more than 1 inch of play.
For a double-sided
swingarm, loosen the axle nuts of the rear wheel while on the sidestand, which allow it to move for adjustment. On the end
of each swingarm there is an adjustment bolt. Turn clockwise with a wrench equally on both sides to adjust . The tire will
move backward thus tightening the chain. The adjustment nuts only work in one direction so turn each side a little at a time
and keep checking the chain as you do. You don't want to over-tighten. It's important to match the mark-up lines on
both sides since this assures that the wheel has been moved evenly on both sides. If you've reached the last mark-up line
that means the chain is stretched out and it's time to replace.
IS YOUR CHAIN TOO TIGHT?
I noticed that
whenever I rolled off the throttle too the point of compression breaking that I picked up a very noticeable noise. The noise
is sufficiently loud that my friends standing near by noticed it right away. I think the best description of the noise would
be BBs swirling around in a double walled can (but not smoothly), or of gears that make noise because they are not meshed
tightly. If I clutch in the noise gets quiet quickly.
You will get that
noise if your chain is too tight - this can cause some seal/bearing problems for the countershaft and. of course, the chain
and sprockets and become very expensive. The pivot point of the swingarm and the pivot pooint of the chain (the front sprocket)
are separated by several inches - unless these points and the center of the wheel are aligned when you do the adjustment the
chain will get tighter as they aproach lining up - too tight and you put great strain on the parts as well as interfearing
MOST chain manufacturers
including DID, RK, etc provide a master link. This little gem will allow you to put a new chain on, without the need to pull
the whole rear end off the bike.
The instructions for installing the master link are included with the chain.
Usually, a c-clamp is all that is required. I liked the RK master link install, because the link is press-on. That means it
does not slip off, or push against the clip, once properly pressed on.
To fit the link, I took the Dremel, and ground the pins with a round stone
to get the chain to right size (measure, then measure AGAIN before cutting). Then, when I put the master link on, I used this
link ON TOP of the master link, to press against. The c-clamp presses against the back link, and the extra link, and presses
the master link (with associated o-rings) together. After this, the clip goes on easily.
Some people say to clean the clip with solvent, such as lacquer thinner, and
then use RTV silicone to glue it to master link. This might work, but if the clip is not on right, I think it WILL come off.
Make sure it is on right.