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How Often Should You Clean a Motorcycle Chain? Reasons, Facts, & FAQ

Cleaning a motorcycle chain is vital to keeping your motorcycle running. The combination of dirt and grease will make the chain rub excessively, reducing the chain’s life. If you don’t clean the motorcycle chain, you must change it more often.

You should aim to clean the chain every 750–1,000 miles. You should also always aim to clean the motorcycle chain before lubricating it, which may be more often than this.

Generally, you can’t clean the motorcycle chain too much. Therefore, if you have a chance to clean it, you should clean it.

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How Often Should I Lube a Motorcycle Chain?

Motorcycle chains should be lubricated every 400–800 miles. Generally, the more you lubricate it, the better. While you can overlubricate a chain, cleaning and lubricating the chain should be done as often as possible. Aim towards the lower end of this range to ensure that you don’t end up going too long before lubrication.

If you aim for every 800 miles, missing a cleaning can be serious. However, if you aim for every 400 to 500, then missing lubrication isn’t upsetting, as you still have some time.

With that said, road bikes generally need less cleaning than off-road bikes. Your location also matters. Places with more dust may need more lubrication and cleaning than those without dust.

We recommend cleaning every time you lubricate. However, this isn’t always necessary, especially if you lubricate sooner rather than later. If you wait until 800 miles to lubricate, though, then you will need to clean your chain at the same time.

motorcycle chain
Photo Credit By: dennisflarsen, Pixabay

How Often Should Bike Chains Be Cleaned?

Bike chains are slightly different than motorcycle chains. In this case, we recommend lubricating and cleaning them at least every month. However, if you want to do it more, you can. It also depends on how often you use your bike.

If the chain appears dirty, then you probably want to clean it. If you take your bike off-roading or live in a dusty area, you may need to clean and lubricate more often.

Your bike’s chain is the dirtiest part of the bike so you’ll need to clean it far more often than other parts of your bike. Generally, the more often you lubricate and clean a bike chain, the better.

Is Motorcycle Chain Cleaning Necessary?

You should clean your motorcycle chain as much as possible. This is truly an important part of maintenance. Otherwise, your chain will become worn out faster and must be changed more often.

Furthermore, other parts of your bike will wear faster if the chain is dirty, such as the sprockets. Therefore, this part is extremely important if you want to keep your bike in tip-top shape. It isn’t just something that needs to be done on heavily used bikes but all bikes.

locking plier fixing motorcycle
Photo Credit By: itthiphon suangam, Shutterstock

Do You Need to Lube a Motorcycle Chain After Every Wash?

If you wash your motorcycle, all the lubricant will likely be removed. Therefore, you must relubricate your motorcycle chains every time you wash them. Preferably, you should be lubricating more often than washing, however.

We recommend lubricating every 400 miles and washing every 800 or so. You may want to lubricate after 400 miles, lubricate and wash after another 400 miles, and then start the whole cycle again.

This way, you can keep up with your motorcycle’s maintenance and still have some wiggle room to miss a cleaning or lubrication.

How Do I Know if My Motorcycle Chain Needs Lube?

If your motorcycle chain needs to be lubricated, it may look dirty or rusty. If it becomes very dirty, then it may look like a gooey mess. If you add too much lubricant, it may attract extra dirt. Therefore, just add as much as you need.

You don’t want to continuously add more lubricant if you don’t clean the old off, though. If you add more lubricant for a second or third time between a wash, we recommend cleaning the chain as well.

BMW Motorcycle
Photo Credit By: Ma Chi Tai, Pexels

Is it OK to Use WD-40 on a Bike Chain?

We highly recommend that you lubricate your chain with WD-40. Because WD-40 is a water-based lubricate, it will lubricate the chain and keep it rust-free. In this way, you can ensure that the chain lasts a pretty long time. It will prevent wear and tear as well as a commercial, made-for-bikes lubricant.

However, some other lubricants may be more useful. You can purchase a commercial lubricant if you wish. However, if all you have is WD-40, it will work well on your bike.

Can You use WD-40 to Clean Bike Chains?

You can use WD-40 to accomplish many maintenance tasks on your bike. For instance, it can clean gunk and dirt off of your bike. It is also a useful degreaser, which may be necessary for bikes with excess lubricant.

However, you should also degrease the chain in soap and water, as WD-40 isn’t suitable for cleaning on its own.

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We highly recommend that you clean your motorcycle chain regularly. At the very least, we recommend that you clean the chain every 750-1,000 miles. However, you should preferably clean the chain when you lubricate it.

Lubricating the chain should be done more often. We recommend every 400-800 miles. This ensures the chain isn’t worn down, which can happen if it isn’t lubricated and cleaned regularly.

Therefore, if you lubricate and clean simultaneously, you will clean more often than technically “recommended.” However, as long as you’re cleaning as directed, you can’t really clean it too often.

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Featured Image Credit: H_Waii, Pixabay


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