How to Clean Motorcycle Chain

How to Clean Motorcycle Chain


March 24, 2022

Different parts of the motorcycle require different types of maintenance.

Generally, however, keeping your bike clean is one of the most effective maintenance steps. There’s hardly any part of the bike that is immune to dirt.

Because of how the bike operates, it gets dirty very often. Unfortunately, dirt doesn’t just affect the motorcycle’s appearance; it severely limits its performance. Whether it’s the engine or the chains, dirt can reduce the lifespan of parts of your bike.

Keeping your motorcycle chain in good condition is necessary if you want your bike to last as long as possible. Being one of the parts of the bike most prone to dirt, freeing the chain from every kind of debris is an essential motorcycle maintenance procedure for those who wish to keep their motorcycle serving them well.

There are two ways the motorcycle chains exist in the bike, although the most common are the non-sealed chains. Motorcycle manufacturers have developed techniques that make it more difficult for dirt to stick to them, and the type of chain determines how frequently cleaning would be required.

Non-sealed motorcycle chains typically get dirtier but are easier to lubricate. Sealed chains like X-ring, Z-ring, and O-ring have seals that prevent dirt from having free access into the chain. However, it also requires occasional maintenance and cleaning as it soon runs out of internal lubrication.

Eventually, you’ll have to clean your motorcycle chain. Whether you want to know what best to use, as you could make your chains worse by using specific cleaning agents; or you want to know how to clean motorcycle chains, we’ve got the perfect manual on how best to keep your motorcycle chains rolling effectively to keep them at their best.

The motorcycle chain is that part of the bike that transmits the motor’s power from the engine to the rear wheel, which ensures there is motion with the motorcycle.

When the chain is adequately lubricated, and in proper shape, it allows easier transmission and seamless movement. When it is dirty, its ability to keep the motorcycle rolling is greatly diminished.

So, keeping the chain clean every time is one of the most important maintenance steps you can take to ensure your bike stays on top of its game.

Before we go on, let’s look into why we need to keep the motorcycle chain clean.

Why Do You Need to Keep the Motorcycle Chain Clean?

How to Clean Motorcycle Chain

The answer is, “why not”?

Keeping the motorcycle chain clean has no disadvantage. Meanwhile, let’s look at what you stand to gain.

Cleaning prevents wear and tear.

If you don’t regularly clean your motorcycle chain, it will lose its efficiency. When dirt accumulates, it prevents lubrication and leads to wear and tear. If this is unattended to, the chain would soon be ruined.

Dirt has an affinity for the motorcycle chain.

Motorcycles can quickly get dirty. Sadly, one of the spots that accumulate the most dirt is the chain. Keeping dirt around your bike is not suitable for its functionality. As a result, you must always have it in mind to clean your motorcycle chain frequently.

Chronic debris reduces the lifespan of the chain.

When dirt is allowed to build up in the chain over time, it ultimately reduces its lifespan. First, the rings that hold the chain together are susceptible to breakage, and the debris can also cause unwanted friction.

Remember that it is the chain that transmits power to the rear wheel. Once friction increases within the chain, the motion is reduced. Over time, the chain ultimately breaks down.

Dirt leads to chain rust.

Chain rusting is common in bikes that have dirty chains. When the chains are not properly cleaned, the accumulated dirt can cause them to begin to rust. Nothing reduces the efficiency of bikes like chain rusting.

What to Use for Motorcycle Chain Cleaning

What to Use for Motorcycle Chain Cleaning

Now that you know the importance of cleaning your motorcycle chain, note that not all cleaners are ideal for your bike chain. It may indeed clean your bike chain well, but you should also note that it could hurt the chain if there are corrosive properties.

Because many cleaners are acidic, you may innocently do more harm than good to your bike. Therefore, we recommend that you never use such substances as bleach or vinegar because they have properties that can weaken or even destroy the chain.

Although some experts have recommended using kerosene as motorcycle chain cleaners, we advise this should only be used when it’s difficult to lay your hands on chain cleaners. You shouldn’t also use petroleum-based cleaners, as they can damage the chains. When washing, always remember to use soft brushes and not wire brushes.

So, what can be used for cleaning the motorcycle?

First, you’ll need these:

  • Chain cleaner
  • Grunge brush, bristle brush
  • Cotton rag/towel
  • Motorbike stand
  • Large tray
  • Water
  • Hose (optional)

There are different types of chain cleaners available in the market. As long as you avoid the acidic washers mentioned above, your bike is good.

Remember, it is always best to clean your motorcycle chain before each lubrication. However, that doesn’t mean that you should only clean the chain before lubrication. Regular cleaning is recommended to reduce wear and tear and improve performance.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Chain Cleaning

How to Clean Motorcycle Chain

While some people prefer to ride the bike for ten minutes to get it warm and make it easier to get the grime off the chains before cleaning, we believe whatever the bike’s temperature, it won’t prevent a thorough job if you’re using an effective motorcycle chain cleaner.

However, the best time to clean your motorcycle chain is preferably after a ride. It is easier for accumulated grime to give way when it’s warm.

The best time to inspect your motorcycle chain is just before cleaning it. Before you begin cleaning, you should also run a quick inspection. You want to look out for wear and rust. If you feel the chain is not in good shape, what you need may be a replacement and not necessarily a cleaning.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a motorcycle chain.

Step 1: Get your bike on its stand to ensure that you have greater access to the rear wheel. Also, it should be able to rotate freely.

Step 2: Depending on the instructions on your motorbike chain cleaner, prepare the solution. It may require dilution in a bucket before transferring it to a spray bottle. Other substance might already come in a spray bottle, without the need for dilution.

Step 3: Place the large tray under the chain on the floor. This is to prevent the floor from becoming messy.

Step 4: Liberally apply the chain cleaner to the motorcycle chain, rotating the rear wheel as you do to allow the solution to permeate the entire chain structure. You must be careful at this point. You want the chain cleaner on the chain and not on any other part.

Step 5: Use the soft brush to remove any dirt around the chain. The grunge brush should be used at spots where bigger debris is encountered. The idea is to let the cleaner work on the chain for about five minutes. While using the brush on the chain to remove dirt, some parts may have started drying up. You can apply some more cleaner onto the chain at that point.

Step 6: Use the dry cotton rag or towel to clean the chain. You may as well soak the towel in a solvent just before wiping the chain with it.

Step 7: If you’re close to a good water source and have a hose, you can then wash off the cleaned chain in clean water. While washing with water, if you observe any debris that is harder to remove, you may then repeat step 4 for that portion of the chain. Otherwise, you have completed the procedure.

How to Clean Motorcycle Chain new


The maintenance of the motorcycle chain is one of the most critical steps to a long-lasting bike. If motorcycle parts could talk, they would all claim superiority.

But very few would dispute the importance of the chain. That’s why bike riders want to do everything always to keep the motorcycle chain happy. Any slight hiccup with it, and the motorcycle grinds to a halt.

Cleaning the motorcycle chain is one of the vital maintenance procedures every bike rider must carry out regularly on the bike. Knowing how to clean motorcycle chains is not only important; it is easy, and requires little tools.

If you take the steps seriously, you would not only prolong the life of your bike but would also save money that would have been spent on unnecessary repairs.

Reference articles


Jeffrey Bryce is an experienced motorcycle rider with years of experience caring for motorcycles. His natural fondness for motorcycles have made him come up with, which is dedicated to answering and teaching you how to care for your bike with the care it requires. LetsGoForARide is the one of his important lifework in reaching out to communities of motorcycle enthusiasts on how to take care of their bike and choosing the correct spare part.