Understanding Chain Lubrication

q_bgWhy is chain maintenance important?

It’s not about lubricating your chain, it’s about caring for it! Your bike chain transfers the power from the engine to your rear wheel – and without the chain your motorcycle is just a very heavy pushbike.

Chains that are neglected wear out faster, which will reduce your drive efficiency and can eventually turn them into lethal weapons when they snap. Replacing chain and sprockets can be very costly… plus workshop time if you are not doing it yourself.

So make sure you have a look now and again and give your chain some well-deserved TLC, because even though modern O- or X-Ring chains are very reliable and can last a long time, they will only last a fraction of this time if they are not properly maintained.

q_bgWith the introduction of O-Ring chains lubricating a chain has become obsolete! The lubricant is sealed for life in the pins… why should I lubricate my chain?

There are still people out there who think that you don’t need to lubricate your chain if you have an O- or X-Ring chain, because the lubricant is sealed inside the pin area, right? Wrong, unfortunately!

While the rolling action of the chain is now lubricated, the O-Rings themselves are very sensitive to any damage and need lubrication. Unless the surfaces are kept moist, the rubber will harden and crack, exposing the link-pin to dirt and wear. The resulting 'tight spot' makes chain adjustment impossible. O-Rings are made of rubber, which has a high coefficient of friction. Two kilowatts of power can be converted to heat by seal friction on O-Ring chains.  So the answer is yes, even a sealed chain needs to be lubricated!

 

q_bgWhat is the difference between conventional spray lube and a Scottoiler? And why is continuous chain lubrication better than chain spray?

sprocket

Let’s start with a simple comparison between standard chain spray and Scottoiler. Most spray lubricants contain wax or PTFE as a tack additive to assist them sticking to the chain. The Scottoiler on the other hand uses a drip system that continuously feeds oil to the chain via the rear sprocket. The original film of oil is continuously replenished and therefore the tackiness of the lubricant is less important.

Now let’s think about how chain spray works. You only have to apply it every 300-400 miles. So for the normal rider that’s maybe every week or after a weekend of serious biking… and after that you probably need to clean your bike anyway. Spraying some sticky spray lube on your chain after hosing it down does not seem to be the hardest thing to do, does it?

But: Applying spray lube every 300-400 miles means that the lubrication in between spray intervals is insufficient. Also the spray lube contains tack-additives that let the lubricant stick to the chain, unfortunately it will also collect road dirt and grime which will also stick to the chain. The movement of the chain links and their connection to the sprockets means that over time this dirt and grit from the road transforms into a very fine grinding paste that will penetrate the O-Rings and reduce their ability to seal the lubricant in the pin. Once this lubricant is gone, the chain will wear at a much faster rate.

A Scottoiler works on the basis of continuous lubrication, the oil on your chain is continuously topped up. The oil does not need to have the tack additives that make it cling to the chain and therefore dirt is less likely to stick. Excess oil will be flung off by the centrifugal forces of the chain, removing dirt and grit. The result is a much cleaner and always perfectly lubricated transmission.

Without the grinding paste that results from traditional chain sprays your chain and sprockets will last an average 2 to 3 times longer. So a Scottoiler will not only save you a lot of money in replacement chain and sprockets and labour time, but will also save the cost of chain spray and reduce the amount of time you spend on chain maintenance.

q_bgWhy should I bother with a Scottoiler; I’m not doing that many miles and spraying my chain takes about 2 minutes every month!

Even if you are not concerned about the life of your chain and sprockets there are many other benefits that come with a Scottoiler:

  • scottoilTime - A Scottoiler significantly reduces the time spend and hassle of maintaining your motorcycle. Forget about getting on your knees and manually cleaning and lubricating your chain. Check your Scottoiler now and then and refill the reservoir when it’s running low on oil. Job done - chain maintenance covered!
    Also, when your chain wears you have to adjust your chain to keep it tight. As a Scottoiler reduces chain wear it also reduces the number of times you have to adjust the chain!
  • Efficiency - A properly lubricated chain is much more efficient than an insufficiently lubricated chain. The seal between the side plates is a tight fit. It creates additional friction that the chain has to overcome in order to bend around the sprocket. Scottoiler systems keep the O- and X-Rings protected from the grinding paste and also lubricate the seal area and reduce friction. This means Scottoiler chains are more efficient which results in increased performance and petrol efficiency.
  • Cleanliness - Even though you may sometimes hear that Scottoilers are messy, most of the time this is due to poor installation, or too much oil being dispensed. If a Scottoiler is correctly installed and the flow rate adjusted properly it does not create more mess than a spray lube. The low amount of tack additives allow less dirt to stick to the chain. Any dirt on the chain will be picked up by the oil as it travels across the metal surfaces, eventually reaching the outer surfaces and being thrown off by the centrifugal forces generated by the rotating sprockets. The chain will look much cleaner than with any other form of lubrication!

When it comes to cleaning your bike it is much easier to clean your chain, chain-guard and rear wheel because Scottoil does not contain the same amount of tack additives as a conventional spray lube. Trying to clean the front sprocket cover, chain run and rear wheel after using spray lube can be a pain.

Once you have used a Scottoiler you will not go back!

CLICK HERE to view the differences between the vSystem and eSystem.