Dirt bike chain maintenance is one of the most important aspects of your bike’s lifespan. What people most commonly do is only wipe their dirt bike down after riding in muddy terrains, but that’s not how you properly maintain a dirt bike. If you’re looking forward to riding that dirt bike for many years to come, then you have to make sure that you clean it properly, especially your chain because it prolongs the life of the dirt bike and it prevents unpredicted accidents from happening. That’s not the only field where a properly maintained chain takes part, it also prevents premature wear and tear. An unattended chain also causes distress to the rider which can have a very bad outcome causing damage to other parts of the bike.
What you will need
Before you get started with anything, you gotta make sure you have everything you need. The way that I clean my dirt bike chain requires only four things, a wire brush, a grunge brush, a lubricating spray, and a degreaser. I don’t think that I need to tell you this, but don’t work on your bike while it’s turned on, you gotta make sure the engine is off because you can hurt yourself in the process of cleaning if it’s turned on. It’s also important to note that damage sprockets play a huge role when it comes to your dirt bike’s chain, but we’ll get to that later in the article.
Cleaning the chain part 1
The first thing that you are going to be using is the brush. Grab the brush and start removing dust and mud particles from the chain as you rotate the back wheel slowly. It may take some time doing this, but it’s a necessary step you have to take in order to clean your dirt bike’s chain properly. Assuming that you’re brushing the mud particles and dust from the chain, once you get your desired results, start spraying the lube slowly and that’s about it. It’s an easy process that takes little time but has a great impact on your chain’s longevity. If you do this every time you clean your bike, you will have nothing to worry about when riding, because the most important parts are maintained as they should be. If you feel like the chain is no longer usable, it’s important to replace it to ensure optimum performance and longevity. To do that, you can check the chain slack and see if one part or side leads to an inaccurate outcome.
Identifying the chain type
Not all chains are the same, various dirt bikes have various chains which tell about the nature of the dirt bike. There are mainly two types of chains, plain chains and sealed chains, whereas plain chains are made of metal chained links, sealed chains use a rubber seal which aid in the longevity of the chain aside from ensuring accessibility when cleaning. In addition, sealed chains differ mainly because they come as an O-ring chain or X-ring chain. They have some differences in between, for example, X-ring chains are more durable than O-ring chains, however, they do come at far more expensive prices, but they’re definitely worth the money. To continue, sealed chains boast a unique design which makes sure that the grease is kept inside the chain meanwhile eliminating dirt in the form of mud and dust out of the chain. The way that you clean your dirt bike’s chain depends on the type of chain that you’re using, therefore, you need to identify it. For delicate chains, you shouldn’t use a steel brush, a nylon brush with soft bristles would be just fine.
Cleaning the chain part 2
To remove dust and mud particles completely, you have to soak the chain, and it’s a good thing for you because it reduces the force of scrubbing excessively and it reduces the chances of the chain getting damaged. If you notice that the dust has become grime, you will need to use a chain cleaner. When it comes to the water pressure that you need for cleaning, I don’t recommend high-pressure water because most of the time that’s how riders cause damage because the water gets into the sealed bearings. What I’d recommend you to do is to use a hose and then apply soap to it after washing, a soap that is aluminum safe. Assuming you’ve reached this step, now what you have to do is to scrub the chain using the grange brush, or another type of brush depending on the type of chain that your dirt bike has. For rusty chain, I’d recommend a steel brush, whereas for delicate chains you should use a nylon brush, but the guideline is, make sure you remove sticky dirt while constantly spinning the rear wheel. If you notice that the chain still contains dust and mud particles, you can redo the process, or use the steel brush to clean off the remaining unclean parts. Lastly, let the chain dry off for a couple of minutes, or if you can’t wait, just can simply wipe it with a dry towel.
This is the last thing you’ll have to do to finish off the chain cleaning process. Although, make sure that the chain is completely dried off, if it isn’t, use an old cloth or a dry towel to dry it off because you can’t apply lubricant to a wet chain. Assuming that the chain is dried off, you can safely apply your preferred lubricant which will ensure electrochemical bonding which will enhance the chain’s performance and make it eligible for riding. If you don’t have any lubricating products for chain, what I’d recommend to you is the Motorex Care Chain Lube on Amazon. It’s a great product that I’ve been using for quite some time, and it comes with a couple of extra features for cleaning as well. Lubing needs to be done between the rear and front sprockets, and it’s crucial that you also lube both sides of the chain, including the outer part. After you’ve done that, make sure you wipe away the excess lube on the chain because it attracts dust. Assuming that you’re done with the lubing, you have to make sure that the chain is at its right position to ensure optimum performance.
How to check dirt bike chain tension
To do this, I usually like to go through easy to follow steps. It’s the best way that allows you to check the dirt bike’s chain tension easily. The steps are as follow:
- Make sure that the front sprocket, swingarm pivot and rear axle are in line with each other. To do that, you’ll need to compress the rear suspension by using a tie-down, and using a string that is attached from the center of the front sprocket to the rear sprocket, and you can easily identify it. What you should see after doing that is the maximum stretch point of the chain.
- Step two requires you to measure the movement in the middle of the chain. Take note, the chain must have at least 20mm of slack.
- One way to do it: To check the chain tension, you can place your three middle fingers one on top of the other between the chain and the back of the rubber chain guide on the front of the swingarm. This will not always be accurate because some people will have larger fingers, but the point is, if those three fingers fit, then the chain is good. Also, while doing this, you should have the bike’s rear-wheel off the ground.
How to tighten a dirt bike chain
To tighten your dirt bike chain, you have to take three easy to follow steps as well here. The steps are as follow:
- You have to loosen off the axle nut to the point where it’s lightly tightened. Wind out the chain adjuster blots evenly on both sides until you feel like the tension is decent. One thing that you will notice as you wind out the adjuster bolts is the chain rise.
- Assuming that you’ve reached your desired tension, you have to also make sure that both sides are evenly spaced. Hold the chain firmly against the swingarm using your hand, and with the other hand tighten up the axle nut.
- Tighten up the chain adjuster lock nuts, and that’s pretty much all, exactly as easy as it sounds. After doing that, you should have your desired results and your dirt bike ready for a wild ride.
Sprocket setting all depend on where you want to ride your dirt bike, is it on tight bush trails, supercross tracks or motocross tracks, that way you adjust the sprockets to alter the low-end power or top speed of the bike. To get this done as easy as possible is to change the front sprocket. This adjusts the final drive, or as you might call it the gearing of your bike. To get better results, you might want to change both, but that’s entirely up to you. It’s important to note that if you change 1 tooth size on the front, it means changing 4 teeth on the rear, that’s the equivalent you’ll need to know.
This article pretty much includes every step that I take, and everything that I do to maintain my dirt bike’s chain properly. Cleaning the chain the right way plays a huge role in the chain’s longevity, and getting the most out of your dirt bike’s chain and sprocket settings is doing the following steps after the cleaning. I hope this article was helpful to you, and if by any chance I left any questions that are related to this topic unanswered, feel free to contact me and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.