Rapid chain wear/replacement. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Rapid chain wear/replacement.

Hello everyone,

I’ve had a strange run with chains on my 17” Versys. I’m at @ 18,000 miles and on chain number 3 which is stretching quite often and it’s unknown how long it’ll last, probably not long like the previous two.

First one was replaced at @9000 miles on the way up to Alaska, it was completely toast. Sounded like a can full or rocks and squirrels tumbling down a hill by the time I got it replaced in Prince George B.C. Unfortunately they replaced it with all they had in stock, the same DID o ring chain that comes stock with the bike, can’t recall the model. Fast forward @5k miles and that one suffered the same fate even quicker and was replaced with a cheap EK SRO6 in Kalispell, Oregon on the way back. Which brings me to today having ridden back from Alaska to NY and then down to Alabama where I’m relocating. That chain has about 4k miles on it now and has stretched to about double the max spec (35mm) three times at around 50-70mm when checked. I adjusted it back down to 35mm each time.

You’ll be curious about my chain maintenance and adjustment I’m sure. First off this is my 4th chain drive bike having owned a KLR650, Tiger 1050 and a Vstrom 650 in the past and putting about 75k miles on chain drive. All adjusted and maintained isn’t he same manor as this one, lube every 500 miles or so and adjusted with the adjuster marks and a motion pro chain alignment tool. On this versys the adjusters are pretty close but i’ve used a 50/50 mix of adjusters and the motion pro tool to make sure I’m not screwing something up. I use a chain slack measurement tool from motion pro to measure the slack and set it at the slack end of the spec.

So am I just unlucky? I should note the bike has the original sprockets on it as they’re wearing pretty well. So what I’m going to do is replace all of it, and use a higher quality EK x ring chain and see how that one fairs. In the past I’ve gotten between 15-30k out of my chains so it’s pretty shocking having these wear out so fast.

I should note both the DID’s ran very hot, like hot to the touch after checking, in comparison my fathers NC700 was much cooler to the touch going the same highway-ish speeds pace. Both were a bit “purplish” as if from high heat. I ran into another Versys owner with a gen 3 in Whitehorse whose chain failed quickly like mine with the same discoloration. Is something strange with the stock components on these? The EK shows no such coloration, it’s just stretching more than I’d expect, it’s also a 45 dollar chain so that could be why.

These are 520 114 link chains.

Have any of you run into this?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 07:59 PM
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Maybe experiment by running the chain a bit looser on your next one. I feel like the tight end of spec of just over 1" is too tight, I put mine there for a few thousand miles on a new chain and fear it has greatly accelerated wear on it. Its much quieter and smoother at 1.5" of slack, and thats not so loose its going to jump off the sprockets. The stock chain is terrible so a higher quality one will help too

I have 16,000 miles on my 2016 and am 4000 miles into the 2nd chain and am hoping it lasts for another 10000 miles, but doubtful. Will be trying to clean/lube it more often like one of the super-mods here who easily gets like 30,000 miles from a chain with only WD-40, but uses mid-day stops to lube the chain on long rides. Not just end of the day or every 400 miles like me

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 08:10 PM
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Just a guess on my part, but I think you will have much better results with a new quality chain and quality sprockets x 2. Keep us posted.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 01:48 AM
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Get an EK 520 ZZZ with EKís proprietary Zero Stretch Technology (ZST) which virtually eliminates initial chain stretch, and an OEM rubber damped countershaft sprocket, along with new rear steel sprocket.

This makes my chains last very long: https://www.maximausa.com/product/syn-chain-guard/
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 06:23 AM
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Forget checking chain slack by the book. Iím positively certain the book is wrong. Iíve been wondering if the book has specs for another bike like er6n or ninja?

With the help of a friend, get the bike upright and loaded such that the front sprocket, swing arm pivot, and rear axle are all in a line. Then check the chain slack. A little slack is all you need at this point.

I bet that once you unload the bike and check slack by the book, you will have what appears to be significantly too much slack. Your chain will be very slack, similar to a dirt bike. But you know that you have just enough slack, so donít worry about it!

At least this has been the case with my V650. Prove me wrong.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee R View Post

I should note the bike has the original sprockets on it as theyíre wearing pretty well.
Three chains stretched beyond acceptable wear and you are running the original sprockets?
You will have the same problem again unless the sprockets are replaced.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by 16VGTIDave View Post
With the help of a friend, get the bike upright and loaded such that the front sprocket, swing arm pivot, and rear axle are all in a line. Then check the chain slack. A little slack is all you need at this point.
Dave is correct. As you compress the rear suspension the chain slack will tighten up to the point where center of the front and rear sprockets are in a strait line with the swing arm pivot point when viewed from the side of the bike. This is where the chain will be at it's tightest point. You should have some slack here. If the chain is tight at this point it will cause excessive chain wear and can lead to premature failure.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 09:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asphaltaddict33 View Post
Maybe experiment by running the chain a bit looser on your next one. I feel like the tight end of spec of just over 1" is too tight, I put mine there for a few thousand miles on a new chain and fear it has greatly accelerated wear on it. Its much quieter and smoother at 1.5" of slack, and thats not so loose its going to jump off the sprockets. The stock chain is terrible so a higher quality one will help too

I have 16,000 miles on my 2016 and am 4000 miles into the 2nd chain and am hoping it lasts for another 10000 miles, but doubtful. Will be trying to clean/lube it more often like one of the super-mods here who easily gets like 30,000 miles from a chain with only WD-40, but uses mid-day stops to lube the chain on long rides. Not just end of the day or every 400 miles like me

I think Iíll try running it at 45mm. Iím 275lbs so itís possible it likes to run a bit loose AND Iím heavy and it needs a little more slack to account for that. At 55mm it starts to shift poorly and lurch a bit from the slack being taken up so thatís probably too far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjcintucson View Post
Just a guess on my part, but I think you will have much better results with a new quality chain and quality sprockets x 2. Keep us posted.

Iíll keep an update here after some miles, I didnít know about the ZZZ but Iíll give that shot with some new sprockets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by invader View Post
Get an EK 520 ZZZ with EKís proprietary Zero Stretch Technology (ZST) which virtually eliminates initial chain stretch, and an OEM rubber damped countershaft sprocket, along with new rear steel sprocket.

This makes my chains last very long: https://www.maximausa.com/product/syn-chain-guard/


Quote:
Originally Posted by 16VGTIDave View Post
Forget checking chain slack by the book. Iím positively certain the book is wrong. Iíve been wondering if the book has specs for another bike like er6n or ninja?

With the help of a friend, get the bike upright and loaded such that the front sprocket, swing arm pivot, and rear axle are all in a line. Then check the chain slack. A little slack is all you need at this point.

I bet that once you unload the bike and check slack by the book, you will have what appears to be significantly too much slack. Your chain will be very slack, similar to a dirt bike. But you know that you have just enough slack, so donít worry about it!

At least this has been the case with my V650. Prove me wrong.
Good point, I should try a few settings and see which one fitís this, I think itís probably 45mm. Good chance the factory spec is too tight for how much I weigh, iím Probably compressing the shock more than most unless theyíre two up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiley View Post
Three chains stretched beyond acceptable wear and you are running the original sprockets?
You will have the same problem again unless the sprockets are replaced.
Crazy right? I generally replace the sprockets with a chain, sometimes not the rear sprocket but always the front. In this case I was on a road trip to Alaska when both chains were replaced at dealers who had no sprockets in stock. To be fair they do look pretty good! Definitely going to shorten the life on the EK chain, but itís a 45 dollar chain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkerjet View Post
Dave is correct. As you compress the rear suspension the chain slack will tighten up to the point where center of the front and rear sprockets are in a strait line with the swing arm pivot point when viewed from the side of the bike. This is where the chain will be at it's tightest point. You should have some slack here. If the chain is tight at this point it will cause excessive chain wear and can lead to premature failure.
Iím going to experiment and see what setting works for me. Itís probably a bit more slack than Kawasaki specíd on the swing arm. I was already setting it at the loose end of that spec cause Iím built like Sasquatch and wanted to account for that.


Other than this chain shenanigans Versys is a pretty great bike. I am tempted by an NC750x or a Tracer 900 for the next set of wheels, or additional set. Iíll probably have 50k miles on this one in 2-2.5 years. How long do these things typically go for, 100k? Iím expecting a stator to burn @ 50k.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 04:45 PM
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...I ran into another Versys owner with a gen 3 in Whitehorse whose chain failed quickly like mine with the same discoloration. Is something strange with the stock components on these?...Have any of you run into this?....
It appears that the chains on the "made in Thailand" bikes are pretty junky. On my '08 (made in Japan) I got 56,xxx miles on the OEM chain, lubed ONLY w/ WD40, OFTEN!!!, and LOTS of dirt-road miles.

My Gen 3, a '15V650 had the chain replaced at 23,187 kms (14,408 miles), after being lubed the SAME way as the '08 chain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 16VGTIDave View Post
...With the help of a friend, get the bike upright and loaded such that the front sprocket, swing arm pivot, and rear axle are all in a line. Then check the chain slack. A little slack is all you need at this point....
IF you do this, I'll BET that you'll have 1 - 1.4" of slack.

Quote:
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...How long do these things typically go for, 100k? Iím expecting a stator to burn @ 50k....
My '08 is already at 85,219 miles, w/ MANY more still in her - suggest you change your REGULATOR to a 'series' regulator, and you MIGHT NOT need to replace the stator EVER, which is a BONUS!

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 07:34 PM
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IF you do this, I'll BET that you'll have 1 - 1.4" of slack.

Like I said: Prove me wrong. No wager required.

I canít measure the slack in my chain by the manual. It touches the swing arm before all the slack is taken up. But once Iím on the bike there is much less slack.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 12:09 AM
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Your weight will make no difference in the chain slack adjustment. The rear wheel moves above and below the center line of the front sprocket, swing arm pivot and rear sprocket point. The chain is the tightest at that point. If you have too little slack when the sprockets are in alignment you are putting too much tension on the chain, and that is before you add the tension of driving the bike.

New chain with worn sprockets will result in a worn out chain much faster. With a worn sprocket the chain links are not sharing the load so they wear faster.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 01:40 AM
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 09:25 AM
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Lee R, you sound like you understand chain drives just fine and have more experience than I do.

My guess is a big factor is the lousy OEM chain. Mine went about 8000 miles. I replaced it with a good EK chain and new sprockets. I could feel and hear the difference immediately.

I do wonder about your lubing. The rollers need lube to get inside underneath. Maybe your lube product isn't flowing in well enough?

Finally, maybe a 520 chain isn't hefty enough for your riding style?

For me, I replace the sprockets when replacing the chain. I can't really see a big difference between a worn sprocket and a new sprocket, so I think for me it is difficult to know when a sprocket is worn out. It is cheap enough to put new sprockets on when changing the chain.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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The above video is how i check slack, with the motion pro tool which is pretty handy. Iíve been setting it to 35-40mm.


Iíll update this thread once i replace the sprockets and chain with some fresh quality parts and see what happens. I may even go nuts with the wd-40 like fast Eddie.

I used a honda lube on the way up to alaska and motul and then maxima chain way on the way back for those curious daily at about 450-500 mile intervals. I lube it once a week here commuting to work which is about 50 miles by the end of the week, but i typically hit a chain with lube at the end of the week.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 10:40 PM
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With an o-ring, x-ring chain you do not get any lube under the rollers. ie sealed chain. They are pre greased and sealed with the rings. Agressive cleaning or harsh chemicals will damage the seals and let the grease out then that link pin will wear. That is one way that you get uneven wear and pulsating noises from the chain. The lube we put on our chain now is more to keep the seals lubed not the rollers. It is also to clean dirt and debris away from the seals. That is why WD 40 works so well, it keeps the chain clean. Think of the seals as the rubber boots on an axle CV joint. The joint will last a long time until the boot rips and the lube is thrown out.

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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 09:37 AM
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With an o-ring, x-ring chain you do not get any lube under the rollers. ie sealed chain. They are pre greased and sealed with the rings.
My understanding is that the hinges are sealed but the rollers are not. The rollers are on the outside of the hinges. Sorry for the non-technical description. As I have been learning more about chains recently it has changed my thoughts on lubes. We need something thin enough at first to penetrate under the rollers and then stay there to lubricate.

Fortnine did a quasi-scientific comparison of lubes including a friction test. Plain oil did extremely well, probably because it seeps into those tight rollers. There is a good description in the first 3 minutes of the video, but here he shows exactly where our manual lube needs to get into.


In this diagram, part 5 is the roller and it rolls around part 4 (and the barrel on part 2). The lube needs to be in that tiny space, and it gets there when we apply lube manually. The sealed lube is between part 3 and the inside of part 4. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_chain



The cross section in this article shows another view. 1.3.2 Sealed Roller Chain



And in this drawing the green and blue barrels are rollers. You can see the x and o rings don't trap lube for the rollers, just in the hinge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O-ring_chain

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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 06:48 AM
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Please stop saying that we cannot lube behind the seals nor under the rollers. That's just wrong.


Rusting (swelling) pins are the reason why kinks appear. If water can get past the rings, so does lube. It may be because the seals are damaged sooner or later, but that doesn't matter.

You want lube to be the first to have the opportunity to get past the rings. Neglect will kill your chain, and dry seals will fail faster too.

As for rollers, they are obviously not sealed, you can see it with your own eyes. These are the ones taking the pressure, while the pins take the tension.
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