How To Clean Motorcycle Chain [A Step By Step Guide]

How To Clean Motorcycle Chain

Cleaning and lubricating the motorcycle chain can be a troublesome task. On one hand, it takes time, requires some tools, and a certain level of expertise to crack the task efficiently. On the other hand, a dirty and dry motorcycle chain can disrupt a smooth bike ride.

However, you need not worry. Mastering some simple skills and knowing the right techniques can make you finish the cleaning process effortlessly. In fact, you can do this task all by yourself at home only if you know the tactics.

If you are searching for a step-by-step guide about how to clean a motorcycle chain, then you have reached the right place. Because in this article, I am going to disclose all the secrets of effectively cleaning the motorcycle chain at home along with some other crucial information. 

Are you ready to learn the tactics? Let’s hop in!

A-List Of Tools You Need To Clean The Motorcycle Chain.

First, you would need to accumulate the tools and materials that you need to clean out the dirt and slime from the motorcycle chain. So, look into the list below and collect them before you go with the cleaning process.

  1. Chain cleaner
  2. Chain scrub or grunge scrub
  3. Piece of cloth
  4. Water
  5. Hose
  6. Microfiber cloth
  7. Chain lubricant 
  8. Gloves
  9. Cardboard

You must not compromise with the quality of the cleaner and lube. Try to choose the best one in the market to ensure a top-notch condition of the chain and get a smooth ride. 

8 Steps Of How To Clean A Motorcycle Chain.

Now let us jump into the steps of cleaning a motorcycle chain. I am going to talk about the steps to make it easy for you so that you won’t get confused. So, hang on there and go through the article. 

Step 1- Determine The Chain Type Of Your Motorcycle.

Determining the motorcycle chain type can help you decide how to clean it out. In today’s time, most motorcycle chains are sealed chains. However, some bikes have plain chains as well, especially the older ones. So, what are the differences? 

  • Plain chains– The small chains in a plain chain are attached with metals only. The gaps between the chains are prone to attract dirt and substances. This means you need to clean plain chains frequently to keep the vehicle going.
  • Sealed chains– Sealed chains are similar to plain chains but the linking between the inner and outer chain parts is done by rubber seals. These seals are capable of keeping the grease in place for a longer time and don’t let the dirt settle in.

While sealed chains are better in terms of performance, you need to be careful while dealing with them. You must work on gently while cleaning the sealed chain. But with a plain chain, it is okay to clean out a bit roughly.  

Step 2- Stand The Bike Stably.

Now that you know the type of chain you are dealing with, let us come to the point of cleaning.

First, you need to stand the bike in a position so that you can examine it properly and clean it out easily. 

Use the center stand to stand the bike in a stable position. You may use the rear stand too. Make sure the bike is in a static position and the bike is in neutral.

Want an expert tip? To make the cleaning process faster and easier, try to clean out the motorcycle chain after a bike ride when the chain is heated. This would help the dirt and sludge to loosen from the chain faster. 

Step 3- Examine The Condition Of The Sprocket And Chain.

Now is the time to examine the condition of the sprocket and the chain. This would help you decide how much effort you would need to clean out the chain. 

Sprocket checking is important as this is responsible for keeping the chain in a good condition. Check if the tips of the sprocket are flat. If yes, then your bike sprocket is not worn out. If the tips have turned sharp, it is time to replace the sprocket. Otherwise, the chains would be get damaged. 

Now is the time to check the chain. First, look for rust and broken bolts, joints, rollers, or plates. If you see such damages, you must replace it for your safety. If you see gunk and dirt on the chain, cleaning it up would suffice. 

Here are some ways to check the chain condition:

  • The easiest way is to check the manual and see the maximum length mentioned for a given number of chain links. Now measure the length of the chain. If the length exceeds the mentioned length, the chain is worn out.
  • You can check the sliding capacity of the chain-link under compression and tension. The link must show negligible variations if the chain condition is good.
  • Check the master link of the chain. This link is a bit different in appearance from the other links in the chain. This is the main joint that holds the whole chain. Check if it is undamaged. 

Step 4- Apply Chain Cleaner On The Chain.

Now that you know all the basics, let us start with the cleaning process. I would like to remind that use a good quality chain cleanser to be applied on your chain. 

You may use kerosene too if you want to go for a cheaper option. 

You need to spray the chain cleanser evenly throughout the whole chain. If you are using kerosene, then spread it nicely on the chain. Make sure that the chain is fully wet with the agent. This would help to loosen the sludge quickly and make the further steps easier. 

You need to use a cardboard for this spraying process. Hold a cardboard below the chain and spray the agent. This would make sure that the wheels and other parts of the bike don’t come in touch with the agent. Therefore, don’t miss out this safety measure.

Also, wear hand gloves to stay away from the agents.

Step 5- Time To Scrub The Chain And The Sprocket.

Now that the chain is fully soaked in the cleansing agent, this is the time to scrub the dirt off the chain and sprocket. Use a chain scrub (available online and in bike shops or garages) to scrub the chain and sprocket. 

I prefer using a grunge scrub specialized for this purpose. This helps to clean out all the sides of the chain easily with a single stroke. 

Do this gently. Slowly scrub all the portions of the chain so that the muddy and sticky layers are cleaned out properly. You can spray the cleansing agent again after scrubbing for better results. The same process would work for the sprockets. 

Step 6- Rinse Off The Dirt With Water.

I recommend using a hose to slowly remove the dirt with water. The water pressure must not be too much. Gently use the water hose to clean the chain and get rid off the sludge that have been scrubbed. Use water hose to rinse off the sprocket too. 

Step 7- Clean Out The Residues And Dry It.

The basic cleaning process is done. Now you must dry out the chain and the sprocket. Use a plain cloth or a microfiber cloth to rub and wipe the chain and sprocket. 

Microfiber cloth is my preferred choice as it effectively soaks the water and makes the drying process faster. Therefore, try using a microfiber cloth to clean out all the residues from the chain and sprocket after the cleaning process.

Step 8- Don’t Forget To Lubricate The Chain.

Don’t compromise with the quality of lubricant. Buy a reliable lube after reading online reviews. You may use chain wax as well. 

Spray any lubricant nicely all over the chain on all the sides. If you are using liquid spray instead of wax, hold a cardboard below the chain to avoid spreading it to other portions. 

However, for a sealed chain, you just need to apply the lubricant in the O-rings. This would be enough to keep the chain rust-free and greasy and smooth. 

After applying, slide the chain once on the sprocket to check if you have done it correctly or not. The chains must shine by now and the movement of the chain should be smooth and effortless. 

Remember not to apply excess lubricant as it would make the chain slippery and risky. 

Why Do You Need To Clean The Motorcycle Chain?

Now that you know how to clean motorcycle chain, you may wonder, why in the first place, you need to clean the chain and sprocket? Why should you take the trouble of doing this task? 

Well, here is the answer:

  • The dirt and sludge can damage the links of the chains and rings that keep the chain in place. These can break or crack the chain thus making it risky to use.
  • The metals are prone to rust. This means the portions of the chain may get damaged due to the water, sludge, and particles that settle over time. 
  • If the chain is dirty, the motorbike would not function properly. The overall efficiency would be considerably reduced as the chain won’t be able to move and slide properly.
  • A damaged sprocket is dangerous. A worn-out sprocket damages the chain as well. Therefore, you must clean and check the sprocket to avoid accidents.
  • Last but not least, a dirty and sludgy chain would reduce the longevity of the vehicle. The whole motorbike performance would deteriorate and the bike would get damaged quickly if you don’t maintain the chain properly.

All these problems can be avoided only if you clean the motorbike chain and sprocket regularly. 

Therefore, consider checking the chain and sprocket frequently to ensure that they are in good condition. Also, don’t forget to lubricate after you clean the chain and sprocket. 

How Frequently Should You Clean The Motorbike Chain?

This is a legitimate question which you must learn. You don’t need to panic each week about the chain condition if you know the answer to this question.

Usually experts recommend cleaning out the chain after riding 750-1000 miles. However, lubrication should be done once in 500 miles of ride. This keeps the chain in good condition. 

Therefore, you don’t need to take hassle about it. Check the chain and sprocket condition after riding 750- 1000 miles, clean out the slime and particles, lubricate the chain, do necessary replacements, and get ready to enjoy a seamless ride again. 

Besides, if you notice any problem or damage in between, immediately take it to a mechanic for repair. Don’t ignore any chain issues as this would be risky for your ride. 

5 Expert Tips On Motorbike Chain Cleaning.

Are you up for some precautions and tips regarding effective chain cleaning? Here are some simple tips to make the process faster and effective:

  • Prepare prior to cleaning. You must accumulate all the tools before starting the process. This would help to minimize time and complete the process in a single sitting. Go through the checklist above and gather them.
  • Don’t keep the engine on while cleaning. However, you may keep it in neutral mode. Don’t try it if you aren’t used to the processes of the motorbike. To make the process risk-free, turn off the engine.
  • Clean the bike after a ride. This is because the chain remains hot and warm after the ride. This makes the process way faster and easier as the dirt comes out quickly. 
  • Now that you know how frequently you can clean the chain, you must follow it. Don’t clean the chain more than it is needed. If you see any damage or dirt, only then clean it before the predetermined period. For mild dirts, just wipe it off. Don’t overdo as it can reduce the strength of the chain.
  • Use the right agent for cleaning and lubricating. Remember different agents may act differently. Rigid agents might be for mild uses while mild agents may require to use in high-pressure. Select an agent carefully and use it according to the instructions for the best results.


Now that you have become a pro about how and why to do motorbike chain cleaning, what are you waiting for?

Follow the steps and expert tips mentioned above and get ready for a fast and furious ride!

Mahbobur Rahman

Mahbobur Rahman is a motorcycle enthusiast who loves to ride and share his experience with others. He has learned a lot from his own experience and wants to help others do the same. If it's your first time on a motorcycle or you're looking to improve your skills, Then Candy Outdoor is the right solution for you.

One thought on “How To Clean Motorcycle Chain [A Step By Step Guide]

  1. Pingback: Can I Use Grease On a Motorcycle Chain? – Candy Outdoor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts