Author: James Oxley

How to maintain your motorcycle chain

After a long day of riding during a motorbike tour, it’s easy to park up and forget about your bike while you crack open a cold beer, cook up some food, and spend the evening reliving mountain passes and dirt trails with fellow riders.

While we certainly advocate the cold beer, food and tall tale sharing, it’s important to remember that your bike has had a tough day too, perhaps covering hundreds of miles of road and trail in different weather conditions.

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By spending a few minutes inspecting and maintaining your chain every 300 miles or so, while on tour or riding at home, you’ll be extending the life and performance of both your chain and sprockets, as well as greatly reducing the risk of that worst case scenario – snapping!

Trust us, we’ve had a chain snap on an isolated military road high in the Alps, and you don’t want that happening…

This is why we’ve teamed up with motorcycle tool and care product manufacturer Tru-Tension to help you keep your chain clean, lubed and at the perfect tension, helping you to cover the those big miles day after day.

Inspect it

Try getting into the habit of looking at your chain every time you ride, keeping tabs on how dirty it is, on any rust spots that may have appeared (a sign lubrication is needed) and how much play there is in the tension.

A regular check will allow you to spot issues early and carry out the maintenance needed to give your chain and sprockets a long and happy life.

Clean and lube it

Always ensure you clean your chain before lubing it. Put your bike on its centre stand and make sure it is in neutral. Place a piece of cardboard or similar behind the chain to catch any excess cleaner.

Next, spray your chain with a specialised cleaning product like Tru-Tension’s PrimeShine chain cleaner, while spinning the back wheel. Then take a brush and scrub the chain clean. Next, wipe down the chain with a cloth to dry it and also wipe away any dirt and crud on the rear sprockets.

With your still bike on its centre stand and the piece of cardboard still in place, spray your chain with a specialised motorcycle lubricant, aiming for the overlapping portions of the chain links on the lower rung, as you spin the rear wheel with your right hand. A couple of revolutions of the chain will do fine.

If you don’t have a centre stand, do the same as above but one section of chain at a time, moving your bike forward to rotate the chain. It’s a little more time consuming but the result will be the same.

Adjust it

Read your owners manual to ensure you know the correct chain tension for your bike as the slack on each model will differ. Too loose and the chain could move around and jump off the sprocket, too tight and it could wear out your chain and sprockets early.

You can use a ruler or tape measure to calculate slack by pulling your chain up and down at the underside of the swing arm, midway between the sprockets. Alternatively, use Tru-Tension’s Chain Monkey tool which makes it quicker and easier to precisely tension your chain. The video above explains how to use it.

Whichever method you use, make sure you loosen your axel nut, and then tighten the adjusters on the swingarm by the same amount each side until you have the correct chain tension.

Next, you’ll need to make sure your chain is correctly aligned by tightening and loosening the adjusters on the swingarm until the chain is true. Tru-Tension’s Laser Monkey is the ideal tool to help make this adjustment precise. Once this is correct, make sure you do your axel nut up using a torque wrench to the correct value set out in your users manual.


Tru-Tension manufactures tools and care products designed to help keep your motorcycle in top condition. Its innovative tools and lubricants are ideal for riders and mechanics when conducting the important task of drivetrain maintenance.
By providing the precise amount of tension every time, the Chain Monkey and Belt Monkey products ensure optimum performance and extend the life of chain, belt and sprocket sets.
Tru-Tension’s lubricants and cleaning products provide the highest quality of care for moving components in all road and race environments.