The Best Ways To Clean A Motorcycle Chain
Like internal-combustion engines, chain drive has been around for more than a century. Sure, chains were replaced decades ago on some motorcycles by shaft drive and toothed belts. And yet chains still endure. Why? They’re efficient at transmitting power to the rear wheel, package perfectly in a vehicle (i.e., a motorcycle) where motive force must move rearward from the engine, alongside the rear tire and to the sprocket. And yet… sometimes, chains are a pain. They require regular inspection and adjustment—and, occasionally, a good cleaning. Some chains, such as on dirt bikes, may be removed with little trouble thanks to their easy access and master link. But chains on big road burners are harder, since they may be “linkless,” and hidden behind exhausts and bodywork. In that case, you must clean the chain right on the bike. These products can help get you on your way.
Hardcore Chain Cleaner
When it comes to cleaning up the really awful jobs, such as dirt-encrusted foam air filters and gooey, gritty drive chains, Maxima products just flat get it done. Take this 15.5-ounce aerosol can of Clean-Up Chain Cleaner, for example. Its heavy-duty formulation bonds with and emulsifies the petrochemicals and dirt on the chain, aluminum swingarm, frame, and surrounding parts, and then, after a minute of soaking, lets you simply rinse it away with a high-pressure hose or pressure washer. That’s sure better than a half hour’s work with kerosene and a toothbrush!
Available in a variety of container sizes, from 24-ounce and 32-ounce trigger bottles to 1- and 5-gallon jugs and even a 55-gallon drum, WD-40 Specialist Industrial-Strength Cleaner & Degreaser is packaged to scale up or down for the job. Meaning, for the sake of this discussion, cleaning motorcycle chains! Positives for this WD-40 product include that it’s a nonflammable, water-based bio-solvent, which makes it easier on the environment—you know, the water running off your driveway or down the street when you wash your bike. It’s also reportedly safe on sensitive surfaces, for instance plastic and paint.
O-Ring Safe Cleaner
Regardless of whether your favorite ride has an O-ring, X-ring, or Z-ring final-drive chain—or else an old-school non-O-ring chain—this Motul Chain Cleaner will get it clean in no time flat. Just spray it on (rotating the rear wheel, sprockets, and chain helps), let it soak in for a minute or three, scrub as necessary, and then clean up. Off come all manner of unwanted material, including encrusted deposits, grease, oil, old chain lube, sand, soil, and more. Basically, this cleaner is like an executive car wash for your chain.
Way more than just drive chains get dirty when motorcycles are used for their intended purpose—which, last we checked, was getting from point A to point B with the maximum agility, efficiency, and fun! Yes, the DuPont Mechanic’s Degreaser cleans chains, but it’ll also attack and conquer gears and sprockets, driveshaft components, and stationary power equipment. It contains biodegradable ingredients including soy extracted esters, and the low VOC solvents make it safer than some alternatives. The manufacturer says no water rinsing is required after use; instead, just spray on, wipe away the grime, relubricate the chain, and ride.