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The Missing Link: How to Replace Your Motorcycle Chain

The average age of registered motorcycles in the UK is 14.7 years. This means that it’s likely you will need to replace your motorcycle chain sooner rather than later. 

If you haven’t checked your chain in a while, then there’s no better time than the present. We’ve created this handy guide to help you check and if needed, replace your chain. 

So let’s get started. 

How to Replace the Chain 

The average UK rider travels about 4,800 miles per year. A well-maintained chain can last 20,000-30,000 miles. On the other hand, a neglected chain can last as little as 5,000-10,000 miles. 

How long your chain lasts depends on the type of chain, your attention to maintenance, and where you ride. So ride hard and ignore your chain and you’ll need to replace it every other year. Take care of your chain, and it could last you over six years. 

Check the Old Chain 

Kneel down at the back end of your bike and grasp the chain resting on the backside of the rear sprocket. If you can pull it off parallel to the ground and see the sprocket teeth, then you need to replace your chain because it’s overstretched. 

Another sign it’s time for a change is rust. A little surface rust isn’t the end of the world. But if you see rust on the pins and rollers, it’s time for a change. 

If there are kinks in the chain, then you have weak points, and the chain will need replacement. Finally, a properly working chain should be quiet and run smooth. A chain that needs replacing will be loud and clunky. 

Check the Old Sprocket 

While you are inspecting and removing your old chain, take a moment to look at your sprocket. The teeth shouldn’t arch to one direction. If you have a cresting wave shape, you need to replace the sprocket. 

You should always replace the sprocket and chain at the same time. They are manufactured at the same pitch, so they’ll wear together. 

Remove the Old Chain 

Before you get started with your replacement, there are a few tools you should get to make the job easier.

Start by getting a rear-wheel or centre stand. This will hold your bike upright while you work. You’ll also need a chain breaker, impact wrench, and chain lube or wax.

With the bike on the stand, you’ll need to remove the sprocket cover and gear lever. Make sure you note where the position is. There’s a nut that you will need to remove. 

Have a friend press the brake or place a piece of wood in the wheel to prevent it from spinning while you remove the front sprocket nut. Then remove the rear sprocket.

For some, this can be accomplished with the rear wheel on the bike. For others, the rear wheel will have to be removed. 

Install the New Chain

If you’re replacing everything, you can find kits that sell both sprockets and the chain. Otherwise, you only need to purchase the chain. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or confirm with a dealer to ensure you buy the right sized sprocket and chain. 

Once you have the old sprockets removed, replace the front and rear sprocket with the new one. Then break the old chain, but don’t remove it. Connect the end of the old chain to the end of your new one. 

Now use the old chain to feed the new one around your new sprockets. Once the new chain is around both sprockets, separate it from the old chain. Discard the old chain and use your riveting tool to connect the new chain to itself. 

Replace and tighten the nut on the front sprocket. 

Venturing Beyond OEM 

The easiest replacement you can do is buy a direct OEM replacement for your chain and sprocket. But if you want to adjust the performance of your bike, then you can adjust the sprocket and chain you buy. 

Keep in mind that you need to understand the mechanics of your bike if you start adjusting these components. You also need to adjust them in pairs. So if you change the number of sprocket teeth, you need to account for this in the chain. 

Adjust Your New Chain 

The final step is to adjust your new chain to the proper tension. Check your owner’s manual for your bike’s specifications. 

If you fail to adjust your chain correctly, you risk it breaking or jumping off the sprockets. This will destroy your engine case should it happen. In the worst cases, it will cause a crash that puts you off the bike. 

Once you have completed your chain and sprocket replacement, take your bike for a slow cruise around the block. When you get back, check the chain and make sure it’s working correctly. 

Make Your New Chain Last 

If you don’t take care of your new chain, then you’ll need to replace it sooner rather than later. Letting your chain become dry and dirty increases the friction, which will also increase the wear and tear on the chain. 

Be sure to regularly clean and lube your chain. This will ensure your chain lasts. 

One way to automatically do this is using the Scottoiler system.

Replace Your Motorcycle Chain

If your motorcycle chain looks like it’s time for a replacement, then it’s best not to wait. Riding on an overly worn sprocket or stretched out chain can be dangerous. 

Order a new chain and sprocket kit and plan to make the change on a weekend afternoon. Take your time and do the project right, and it should take you a few hours to complete. 

Prepare for your chain and sprocket replacement by ordering your replacement parts today. 

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