Many a times, we overlook some of the most crucial parts of the motorcycle. Drive chain cleaning and lubricating, for example, is one of the most essential and inescapable chores for every motorcyclist. Then there is the fork oil which is crucial for correct functioning of the front suspension. In this edition of Motul All About Lubes, we will talk about the importance and steps of cleaning and lubricating an open drive chain. Moreover, we’d also speak about the importance of maintaining and replacing the fork oil at regular intervals.
Let’s start with the drive chain. What exactly should you use to clean and lube the drive chain and more importantly, how often should you use it? It depends on various factors. The type of the chain, for example, requires a compatible lube. However, new range of products which on all three – O-ring, X-ring and Z-ring – type of chains. The frequency depends on the usage and the type of terrain you ride on.
Regular cleaning and lubricating the drive chain would result in reduced friction, and protection against rust, thus resulting in a longer life and smooth, silent operation. There are a few companies which offer automated motorcycle chain lubrication system but they cost a bomb and are difficult to source, especially in India. So unless you can source one of these from an international e-commerce websites or through a friend travelling to the US, Europe or South East Asian countries, we’d recommend using the standard operation of cleaning and lubricating the drive chain.
How to clean and lube a motorcycle chain?
In order to get maximum performance from a chain lube, you have to make sure you eliminate any deposits of sand, soil and grease first. Also, make sure you clean and lube the drive chain well in advance before the ride so that the lubricant is properly soaked in.
To start with, place your motorcycle on the centre stand or a paddock stand. Make sure to cover the rear disc of your motorcycle so that none of the lube is sprayed on the brake. You can use a cardboard or polythene bag for the task. Next step is to apply the chain cleaner. Now many of you would be tempted to start the motorcycle in first gear and speed up the process. Our advice : DON’T. Not only would it result in uneven cleaning, you may injure yourself due to the moving parts. Spin the wheel with one hand while applying the cleaner with the other. Use a chain cleaning brush, or an old toothbrush to remove any dirt particles from the between the links. Use a clean cloth to wipe off all the loosened dirt, grease and excessive cleaning agent.
Next step is to lube the chain. The most important bit here is to buy the right chain lubricant. Some folks recommend using engine oil as a lubricant but it may not stick to the drive chain for as long as a proper chain lube and you’d probably have to apply it more often.
You’d be once again tempted to turn ON the engine, put the motorcycle in first cog and quickly get done with the process. However, that would result in an uneven spread of the lube and you may spread the liquid on the rear disc brake too. Slowly spin the wheel with hand while gradually applying the chain lube between the points where the inner part of the drive chain meets the rear sprocket. Do not use the liquid in excess as it may lead to the extra lube splashing on your clothes while riding. Let it settle for a few hours for the drive chain to absorb the lubricant for best result.
When is the right time to clean and lube a drive chain and how often should one do it?
As aforementioned, you’d want the drive chain to soak in the lubrication so we’d recommend cleaning and lubricating the chain at least 6-8 hours before the ride. The best time would be before hitting the sack at night as it gives enough time for the lube to set in. While there is no hard and fast rule for the number of kilometres between cleaning and lubricating the drive chain, for optimal performance, we recommend repeating the process on an average interval of 500-700 kms. Do observe the chain every couple of hundred kilometres and apply the lubricant if required.
Importance of Fork Oil
Unlike the engine oil or the brake oil reservoir, there is no specific way of checking the right level of fork oil. There isn’t any specific recommended time frame in which you’d have to replace the oil either. It all depends on your understanding of the feedback from the suspension or if there is a leak from the oil seal on the suspension.
Changing fork oil is a technical job so we’d recommend getting it done by an expert. Secondly, always use known brands, select the right viscosity and maintain recommended quantity for the best results. Substandard oil may damage the internals of the fork and damage the oil seal resulting in leakage and thus you should refrain from using anything that’s below par. Moreover, the substandard quality oil may not deliver an optimum performance from the suspension.
How else can you ensure that you don’t have to frequently visit the mechanic with a damaged fork oil seal? There are many factors that can damage the seal and will need a mandatory replacement. The biggest culprits are the dust particles. The dust particles create friction and result in a damaged fork oil seal. Buying oil seal covers would take care of the dust particles to a fair extent.
Maintenance of the drive chain and the fork oil are crucial factors which you should never overlook. Also, using the right quality oils and lubes at regular intervals would offer the best results and a prolonged life of the cycle parts of your motorcycle. Motul, the series sponsor for this informative initiative, and a global leader in lubes and MC Care has a wide range of products which would come handy for drive chain maintenance and fork oil replacement.