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  #1  
Old 01-11-2013, 06:52 PM
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Default Chain life discussion

There seems to be a lot of question and wondering about the life span of a chain, when to replace it, what to get etc.
So thought I'd start a thread on what I've found to work.

Maintenance is the key to a long chain life. It needs lubrication to do just that; and also to keep water and dust from getting inside the link rollers. If that happens dust will turn to grinding paste and water will turn to rust. So lube has to penetrate to where it is needed help keep that stuff out as well. Lube belongs inside the links not all over the cover plates and rear wheel..

To effectively oil inside the links it helps greatly if the chain is warm and rotating... so the oil can get inside those sealing rings easier, and be effective. The ideal time to oil a chain is after a ride but if it needs it before one do it then too.

Correct adjustment is very important too. Too tight is worse than too loose. About an inch of free play is somewhere close to spot on when raising the top of the chain from the rear of the chain slipper, in Neutral not in gear!

The Versys also has no centre stand so squirting chain lube at a stationary chain is a right hassle and messy as hell, not to mention the chain guard being in the way too and having to keep rolling the bike forward and not missing a link. Remember that a chain is only as good as it's weakest link.





The following methods are in my personal order of preference and ease. Though I made my own stand to make life easier for me.

1. Buy an automatic chain oiler like a Scotts Oiler etc.. They will effectively lubricate that chain while your riding and increase the life of that chain out of sight and longer than anything else. The longest chain lives I've seen have used one of these. Mine too but they need monitoring to make sure over oiling isn't happening because that will get all over the rear tyre. I don't have one at present but it's next on my list after suspension stuff.
An auto oiler will require a lot more outer chain cleaning and the respective areas that the oil fling too and then gathers dust. ie. side stand pivot area and rear wheel hub etc. But we all love a good bike detail to keep it shiny eh?!

2. Get or make a paddock stand so you can oil a moving chain on your own.
If you make one be sure that the bottom pivot is slightly in front or forward of the top pick up point so it locks the bike in the air and won't vibrate off its resting place and dump the bike.

3. get a mate to help you and pull the bike onto the side stand enough to raise the rear wheel while running at idle in first and have the second person oil the chain. I do this on dirt bikes all the time and it is easy but the Versys is heavier so require some effort. I did test how hard it is before posting this and its easy enough.

4. remove the chain from the bike soak it in kero to clean it, put it in the sun to let it dry and warm up then soak it in clean engine oil for a good while. Then remove and hang up to drip dry, then wipe dry with a rag to clean the outer surface so not to attract dirt, re-install chain making sure the link cir-clip is with opening end facing rear of the forward rotating direction.

If replacing the chain, replace the sprockets too as they all wear together. A new chain on old sprockets will ruin the chain. Steel sprockets last alot longer than Aluminium ones. Don't get me wrong I love anodized Ally. Just stating the facts.

When choosing a chain buy a good brand and decide on what level of quality you want to spend. Most good brands will have a diagram of life expectancy between the different models. That is very varied as a marketing tool mostly I feel, as the main difference in these chains is the sealing rubber ring not the metallurgy of the links itself. Feel free to correct me if that's wrong.. Chain care will be the biggest factor to it's life span not the type of sealing ring.
I have 30,000km on my original RK O ring and it has no sign of impending replacement yet.

If you are finding the chain needs constant adjustment then it it also wearing the sprockets too. As the chain lengthens it wears a scallop into the sprockets to try and keep itself in the groove and that can be seen quite easily on your hands and knees. It won't look dramatic but if you can notice a slight wear difference in the shape then it is actually quite severe in relationship to what it should be like and they will both wear at each other trying get a "normal" placing together.




This picture is from a mate who was concerned that his DRZ400 was not accelerating very well any more and may have had a clutch problem.
That is about as worn as I've ever encountered on a bike ridden daily. His chain was really something else but he just kept tightening it.
I turned the sprocket into a clock and it lives forever now

Last edited by crow; 01-12-2013 at 04:56 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-11-2013, 07:20 PM
ray h ray h is offline
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I've been concerned that I don't adjust my chain as often as others. I've put about 6000 miles on the motorcycle and have only had to adjust it once. It just doesn't seem to need it. I do clean it and lube it pretty regular, around every 500-600 miles. I clean it with degreaser and pressure washer, which removes the goop and dirt. Then I lube it with a wax type lube with the bike on a stand. As I'm lubing it I spin the rear tire (actually put it in gear and run it around while on the stand), then wipe off the excess lube to keep it from flinging.

That sprocket is crazy.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray h View Post
I've been concerned that I don't adjust my chain as often as others. I've put about 6000 miles on the motorcycle and have only had to adjust it once. It just doesn't seem to need it. I do clean it and lube it pretty regular, around every 500-600 miles. I clean it with degreaser and pressure washer, which removes the goop and dirt. Then I lube it with a wax type lube with the bike on a stand. As I'm lubing it I spin the rear tire (actually put it in gear and run it around while on the stand), then wipe off the excess lube to keep it from flinging.

That sprocket is crazy.
Running engine in gear on a stand can be extremely dangerous... I do it by spinning rear wheel by hand.
Your chain doesn't need frequent adjustment because you take so good care of it.

Last edited by invader; 01-12-2013 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Running engine in gear on a stand can be extremely dangerous... I do it by spinning rear wheel by hand.
Only if the bike gets off the stand which if designed right can't happen on it's own doing unless someone were to kick up the handle in passing or be stupid around it. I never said to run the bike on a stand at full throttle either just first gear idling is good and safe if care is taken.
If the chain is spinning along on its own you will get a good even coverage. Hand spinning is very awkward for a Right handed person too as your left hand will squirt it everywhere else more than not.

Last edited by crow; 01-11-2013 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray h View Post
I've been concerned that I don't adjust my chain as often as others. I've put about 6000 miles on the motorcycle and have only had to adjust it once. It just doesn't seem to need it. I do clean it and lube it pretty regular, around every 500-600 miles. I clean it with degreaser and pressure washer, which removes the goop and dirt. Then I lube it with a wax type lube with the bike on a stand. As I'm lubing it I spin the rear tire (actually put it in gear and run it around while on the stand), then wipe off the excess lube to keep it from flinging.

That sprocket is crazy.
Sounds like your doing a good job then if you need no adjustments. I clean my chains the same way too.

Taking care not to blast down at the O rings with that pressure washer is something i'm adding for others that may give it a go also... it will blow the grease out and fill it with water and dirt instead which can only get out by heat dissipation from running use and will get the rust started.
Re-oiling can't get past the water until its gone as it repels oil naturally..
Same goes for head-stem bearings etc don't blast at them directly

Last edited by crow; 01-11-2013 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by invader View Post
Running engine in gear on a stand can be extremely dangerous... I do it by spinning rear wheel by hand.
Your chain doesn't need frequent adjutment because you take so good care of it.
I don't think I would call it "extremely dangerous". "Extremely dangerous" to me, for example, would be riding the death road with a .15 BAC.
Letting it idle in gear while on a proper stand would be considered "a bit risky" if that.
But, we all have our own definition of extremely dangerous I guess.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:40 PM
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If you do a proper search you will find an example of what can happen if you lose concentration for a moment while lubing a chain in gear,running. He may be done mending by now but with a different perspective for playing the odds.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by BLACK DOG View Post
If you do a proper search you will find an example of what can happen if you lose concentration for a moment while lubing a chain in gear,running. He may be done mending by now but with a different perspective for playing the odds.
keep the fingers out of the way if your using a can without a stem tube.. Is that what ?he? did who is now mending?
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ray h View Post
I don't think I would call it "extremely dangerous". "Extremely dangerous" to me, for example, would be riding the death road with a .15 BAC.
This makes me think of the movie A Few Good Men - "Grave danger?" "Is there any other kind?"

http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ead.php?t=5516

This is the link for those of us who think that losing our fingers is a "danger".
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crow View Post
keep the fingers out of the way if your using a can without a stem tube.. Is that what ?he? did who is now mending?
first keep in mind that I'm not that bright so I'm not clear on how to find the old thread.
I BELIEVE it was that it was about 6 months ago that a someone posted the photos of his mangled hand ...the result of having a rag in his hand while lubing his chain while under power. It was quite a mess. I did that kind of stuff when I was a squid, now that I'm a squog not so much.

You really think you drive that well w/ a phone in your ear?
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Mursili View Post
This makes me think of the movie A Few Good Men - "Grave danger?" "Is there any other kind?"

http://www.kawasakiversys.com/forums...ead.php?t=5516

This is the link for those of us who think that losing our fingers is a "danger".
thanks for that link I thought it would be one of those. He learned the hard way.

A mate did that also in his first year of apprenticeship trying to find a faster way to clean chains while the boss wasn't looking over his shoulder with instruction how he wanted it done... he only lost right index at knuckle 2.. seems to be a bad idea grabbing a moving chain..

Now that we've found that link lets keep this on topic please.
Not about every dangerous theory involving stands.

If you don't like option #2 because of impending doom then lets try #1 or #4 or just the old way of static can aim and wheel bike forward.

Last edited by crow; 01-11-2013 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:52 PM
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Ok, I wasn't even thinking about getting fingers caught up in the sprocket, I thought the "extremely dangerous" part was the danger of the motorcycle somwhow coming off the stand.
I don't get my fingers or anything else anywhere near the running chain.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:27 PM
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I spray WD40 onto my warm chain while the V is on a rear stand - I spray about 6" of chain, move the rear tire BY HAND to the next 6", spray and repeat till it's all wet. Then I spin the tire with my foot against the tire, several times, then manually wipe it down with a rag.

So far this has worked for 40,000 miles on my '08....

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Old 01-11-2013, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crow View Post
So lube has to penetrate to where it is needed help keep that stuff out as well. Lube belongs inside the links not all over the cover plates and rear wheel..
There's already lube inside the links. When we oil the chain I think it's mostly to lube the chain/sprocket interface. OTOH I've read that we oil the chain when it's hot so that cooling of the chain will draw some of the lube past the o-rings. Maybe there's some truth there, but primarily we're lubing the outside.

The part about the automatic oiler seems right. As far as I can tell, get the chain as oily as you can without getting oil on the tire. The oil lubes the chain, and the fact that the chain is slinging dirty oil everywhere (except the tire. If it's getting on the tire, reduce the flow) cleans the chain.

On the Versys, my 1st chain lasted 12000 miles, and I was trying to clean and lube it every 500 miles. I also rode through last Winter which can't have helped.

I'm running the second chain with an automatic oiler. It's gone 10000 miles without being cleaned, and it's only been adjusted once (after 8k miles). The only maintenance I've done other than that one adjustment was adjusting oiler flow, and topping up the oiler.

I'll be switching to biodegradable motor oil in my chain oiler. Hope that works as well as the synthetic gear oil I've been using.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:51 PM
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davidg you have taken that out of context. that line was a precursor to how to get the lube in there properly and why it's important to do so.

On your new chain did you find lube coming out from inside the link when you cut off the excess links to make it fit? or did someone else do it for you? because a new chain needs oiling straight away as the waxy stuff all over in the packet is so thinly spread it does nothing but make your hands sticky..

you agree a Scott oiler works best? thats because it's lubricating "inside" the links as effectively as anything could,
and keeping the water and dust out in doing so..

If there doesn't need to be lubrication inside the links because its "already there" then why do chains wear out prematurely. It has nothing to do with the chain roller on the sprockets. They wear out from the inside out not the other way.

Last edited by crow; 01-11-2013 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 01:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crow View Post
On your new chain did you find lube coming out from inside the link when you cut off the excess links to make it fit? or did someone else do it for you? because a new chain needs oiling straight away as the waxy stuff all over in the packet is so thinly spread it does nothing but make your hands sticky..
I've never shortened a motorcycle chain. Are you saying that when you shorten an o-ring or x-ring chain, there's no lube inside the link you open?
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by davidg View Post
I've never shortened a motorcycle chain. Are you saying that when you shorten an o-ring or x-ring chain, there's no lube inside the link you open?
sweet bugger all mate ..
It's up to you to look after what you buy, they assemble it for you but don't give any warranty or any life span to expect given any kind of riding conditions or HP or even a maintenance schedule to follow .. they know the VAST majority of riders don't look after the chain as well as they could.. and they rely on it. That's how they profit... by selling chains

It is beneficial to them in the long run for you buy a cheaper model, not look after it properly.. ie. only oil it every 500 miles, then need a new one, decide you needed a better one and buy the next "grade" up. By the time you've gone through the second chain you've got a different bike... Generally speaking... i'm not here to teach marketing strategies so it's in a nut shell.

If every single rider had an auto chain oiler the sales of chains world wide would slump drastically and due to some sudden financial global crisis their prices would need to hike to even further ridiculous proportions..

Chain manufacturer's don't make money if you don't need to buy them... they rely on a whole range of marketing ideas such as superior sounding XW ZZZ etc sealing rings gold links etc... and... here's my favourite bit; the basic knowledge most people won't look after them properly anyway...

In my personal opinion only of course, I believe are that an adequately lubricated low end EK O ring chain and a top end ZZZ ring chain will last just as long. Not a single chain manufacterer has shown a test that runs an O ring with constant oil to a XYZ chain and given the stats publically to prove the extra life span. It's just a pretty graph on a box we take for granted..

I can find no evidence or reasoning to prove otherwise... except than a XW ring for example will keep the muck out better over a shorter term than an O ring chain given that it has 3 channels for water etc to penetrate to the internal roller except for 1 thicker one. But when they wear smoother and flatter over a long period of not enough oil and dry running in the heat and wet they deteriate the same way... that's when the water and dirt has gotten in to do it's natural work.

That's how I think things are in the big brand name market but i'm open to debate of course.
But it still stands that if you look after a quality brand name chain from new it will look after you for a very long time...
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:22 AM
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Obviously maintenance plays a huge part in the lifespan of a chain (and sprockets) but I think the way you ride does as well. If your riding style is such that you are constantly on the throttle and engine braking hard, you will be stretching and distorting the chain and wearing sprockets at a higher rate.

Last edited by ray h; 01-12-2013 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:06 AM
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Default Chain wear

Interesting thread,
Was just reading about the introduction of the Z1 in 1972,
Paul Smart and Gary Nixon were testing the new bike at Willow Springs and Talladega in Alabama.
"They were holding it wide open for an entire tank of gas,doing about 140mph."
They were going through drive chains around 3000 miles,twice the rate it consumed rear tyres.
Incredible!,
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:54 PM
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Obviously there are a lot of different opinions on how to maintain the chain. Everything Crow has said is pretty much opposite of what I believe.
Auto-oilers are a farce.
There is grease behind the o-ring (try assembling the rivet link without the grease one time and see how long it lasts).
Maintain the chain in such a way as to keep the O-rings in good shape.
Don't park it for the night with a wet chain. Dry it and oil it.
Clean your chain after riding off pavement.
1" is the minimum up-down play measured at the mid-point with the bike on your paddock stand.
Speaking of the stand, you should probably just buy one, you'll use it a lot. But don't use it to remove your chain for cleaning, that's just not sensible.
Rivet links are better than clip links.
You don't need a mate to properly maintain the chain when on a trip. Bring a prop.
Use a light, non-sticky oil like Tri-flow, apply it to the top of the bottom run of the chain (inside) when the chain is warm. Wait a bit, then wipe away the excess.
Clean occasionally with kerosene and a Grunge brush.
Realize that chains and sprockets are consumables on a bike.
If you go through tires and fuel at a quicker than normal pace, chains and sprockets will be used up faster as well.
Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth to you.
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