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