The Importance of Chain Maintenance

Final drive power transmission on motorcycles is currently dominated by three big concepts: chain drives, belt drives and shaft drives. Both belt and shaft drives have some major disadvantages so chain drive is still the most popular power transmission system fitted on motorcycles today. Chains are lightweight, robust, easy to install and adjust, and highly efficient

However, just like any other form of transmission, they do require care and maintenance for best results. The good news is that chain maintenance is easy and a properly cared for chain can last a long time. The bad news is that a neglected chain can become inefficient very quickly and fail early, resulting in a costly replacement bill.


A typical motorcycle chain consists of approximately 500 pieces and is responsible for the power transfer from the gearbox to the wheel. Without a chain your bike is just a very heavy pushbike. Nevertheless motorcycle chains lead a very unglamorous life and are often neglected. Once you delve deeper into the mechanics of chains and sprockets you will realise how incredible chains are and how important they are for your bike.


Chain wear is affected a variety of factors:

  • Riding conditions and other environmental impacts
  •   Chain tension
  •  Riding style and type of motorcycle engine
  •  Quality of chain and sprockets
  • Other factors such as mechanical issues, etc.

Chains wear at the point where inner and outer side plates are connected by the pin. While the pin is connected to the outer plate, the bush is connected to the inner plate. Through the rolling action of the chain pin and bush constantly rub against each other. If this contact point is not sufficiently lubricated the pin will wear into the bush, thus allowing it to sit deeper in the bush. As this usually happens over many links of a chain the chain physically becomes longer, up to the point where adjustment is no longer possible.

While chain wear is absolutely normal, correct maintenance reduces the impact of these factors and dramatically increases chain life.


Automatic chain lubrication significantly increases chain and sprocket life and saves you money on replacement parts. Remember the sticky mess that you create with traditional, tacky spray lube? This is the main reason why chains wear prematurely. If you could avoid the sticky, tacky lube you could increase your chain life dramatically. Continuous lubrication will lubricate your chain every mile of the road, eliminating the need for tacky lube that is only applied every 300 miles. This means the correct amount of lubrication at any given time. Exactly where it’s needed, when it’s needed.


There are also a number of other benefits to automatic chain lubrication;

  • It increases Drive Train Efficiency – keeping your chain properly lubricated at all times reduces the friction placed on the chain links.
  • Significantly reduces the time and hassle of maintaining your chain
  • Cleaner Transmission – The low amounts of tack additives in our Scottoil means that dirt does not stick to your chain and form a nasty thick paste

This is an abbreviated article from our FREE eBook “Scottoiler Knowledge Workshop: Understanding Motorcycle Chain Wear, Maintenance and Lubrication”. If you wish to learn more about caring for your chain and why we recommend using a Scottoiler, click here to download the Ebook.