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Jamie Z 04-11-2010 10:02 AM

I give up. Which chain oiler should I get?
I go through chains faster than I go through tires on my DL650. My current chain has about 14,000 miles on it, and is stiff, kinky, and makes awful noises when I pull away from a stop.

It's my fourth or fifth chain on this bike, and through experience, I've tried to be more and more aware of maintenance. I lube it every tank of gas. I clean it occasionally. I keep it the tension within spec. No joy. Every chain has failed at just over 10,000 miles. Other riders are getting twice that.

It's my first chain-drive bike, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. I don't know. I give up.

I've looked around at chain oilers; prices are all over the board. Some have electronic control, some are gravity....

Can you recommend a good chain oiler?


Langanobob 04-11-2010 03:06 PM

I got a Scottoiler on one of my bikes but don't have enough miles on it yet to form an opinion and I don't know much about other brands so not much help there. One thought on your chains, have you been replacing sprockets too? The teeth on a worn sprocket will be out of sync with a new chain and trash it in short order.

Also, chain life depends on the kind of riding you're doing. If you're in the dirt and wet and mud 10,000 miles is OK.

ABHooligan 04-11-2010 03:12 PM

Hey Jamie,
I would guess that 14k is within life expectancy for a chain in a dual-sport environment. All the dust/grit, weight, and stress, will be higher than if you're just cruising the highway.

It seems to help to lube after a ride when the chain is warm, and let the lube sit and do its thing for a while before you ride.

I've been running a Scottoiler for about 7k now. After I got everything tweaked, it seems to do pretty well. I turn it up a couple of notches if it's dry/dusty, and keep it on 1 if I'm riding street. The only problems I've noticed (and they're small problems) are that a small bit of oil slings on the rim, and that the lubing is more thorough if you're riding all day, rather than short trips.

It's not as high-tech as the chameleon, but not as costly either, and has no electrics/electronics to fail.

The last thing I'd add is that chain maintenance/replacement is a fact of life; nothing will eliminate it entirely. It's also easier to replace a chain and sprockets than a final drive.


Jamie Z 04-11-2010 03:25 PM

I mostly commute on my bike, with an occasional weekend trip, which may or may not include a few miles of gravel road. When it rains, I sometimes ride in the rain. New sprockets every time I've changed the chain.

I don't think I'm too hard on the chain.

When you guys say you have the "Scott Oiler," which do you mean? When I go to the Scott website, I see several different models.


the_gr8t_waldo 04-11-2010 03:45 PM

you might check the alinement of chain/sprockets and adjust if nessary.with the maintance you've been doing- a lot of hard riding(dirt ) and my guess 14k is in the ballpark. but hiway milage this would be below the norm.

justanotherider 04-11-2010 04:16 PM


It's hard to guess what's eating your chain without a bit more information. As others have said, off-road riding is hard on chain, and if you are doing a lot of dirt riding, 14K doesn't sound bad to me.

As for Scottoilers, while I have never used one, they are very popular in the UK, and the only complaints I've heard about them are that they can be a pain to get set up properly. Once well set up though, as Brent says, they seem to work well for folks.

Mista Vern 04-11-2010 04:42 PM


Originally Posted by the_gr8t_waldo
you might check the alinement of chain/sprockets and adjust if nessary.with the maintance you've been doing- a lot of hard riding(dirt ) and my guess 14k is in the ballpark. but hiway milage this would be below the norm.

A pretty easy way to do this is get your bike on the center stand and spin the rear wheel to see if your chain is running right in the middle of the rear sprocket. If it wanders off to either side then you need to adjust your tensioner(s) to where the chain is running true. Another tip - a loose chain is always better than a tight one. Maybe have some friends take a look and see what they think. Finally sit on the bike and have a friend check for free play, as sometimes a chain looks good when the bike is on a center stand, but tightens up quite a bit with the rider on it.

vatrader01 04-11-2010 05:11 PM

What type and brand of chain are you buying? I am on a mission to see how long I can make this chain go:

I'm running this brand and type of chain on a KLR 650. I have right at 16,000 miles on it, and no sign of wear on the sprockets, and the chain performs as it was intended. I have been running a tad on the loose side...not much, but loose enough that I am tempted to take it up a titch...but I leave it alone. It is not dangerous or overly loose. I ride about 60 / 40 on asphalt / dirt roads. Water crossings. Nasty old red clay.
I have been anal about cleaning this chain. I use diesel fuel and a parts brush with a cut out oil jug under the rear sprocket. I wash and rinse until I detect no more gritty substance on the chain. Then a two mile run up the road to heat up the chain, and I apply Automatic Transmission Fluid to the chain for lube. Everything indicates that this chain has a lot of life left in it.
Based on your description of your riding habits, I would focus on the tension aspect of the chain. With all due respect, I don't see the power available to the rear wheel of a DL650 as a given chain eater. The roads can be rough as the neighborhoods in northern Mississippi, but not Dakar tough. The enemy of a chain is dirt, heat, and tension. And misalignment.
I know a guy that has over 30,000 on his DL1000 factory chain, with no indication that there will be issues anytime soon. He does keep his chain cleaner than most peoples teeth.

TonyT 04-11-2010 05:33 PM

I use a Lube Man
On my DL1000. It's cheap, about $45.00, blazingly simple and you control the amount of lube dumped on the chain.
You squeezes the plastic bottle that contains the oil and shoot it down the tube to the chain. What could be simpler? In adverse conditions, squeeze more often, otherwise one squeeze every few hundred klicks keeps the chain nice and oily.
It looks a bit mickey mouse, but mine has held up for over 50,000 km.

Motopapillon 04-11-2010 05:59 PM

Riding sanely, or even moderately sanely, mostly on pavement with a 650cc engine with fresh sprockets, your chain should last longer than 14k. Like maybe twice as long? Chains are like valves, in that loose is much better than tight. If tension and alignment are in the ballpark....

O-ring and X-ring chains are lubed "for life," unless the rubber seals get torn up by rust or grit. This is why, supposedly, people who just spray some WD40 on the chain get as good service as those who punctiliously go through elaborate and regular clean/lube procedures. There's a guy, Bill Watson (Mr. Thermo-Bob) over on KLR650.NET who shares his experience in some controlled testing of this idea. You might find it a good read.

Good luck with the problem.


East Coast Rider 04-11-2010 06:07 PM

I have a scottoiler on my klr. I run simple ATF as a lube. The scottoiler is a "fill and forget" set up, if conditions remain constant. Standard kit has an 800 mile range on the minimum setting (which is what I run). During my 10,000 mile round trip thru Canda & Alaska, the chain didn't require a single adjustment. If I was going to be in the dirt for awhile, I'd bump up the setting a few nothches. Rain? Same thing. After 17,000 miles, is it due for an adjustment. No kinks, tight spots....

Have used WD40 a few times, too. Good stuff as well. However, admit I like the convenience of the scottoiler.

Jamie Z 04-11-2010 06:11 PM


Originally Posted by justanotherider

It's hard to guess what's eating your chain without a bit more information.

I've used mostly DID chains, switched to RKA this past chain swap.

I lube with Dupont Teflon spray, though before that I used Chain Wax. I used to lube every other fill-up (roughly 500 miles) and I'd religiously lube then chain when warm and give it about 20 minutes to cool down, or I'd lube it when I got back from a ride and parked the bike in the garage.

When my last chain wore out, I was riding with A1fa, and he saw how I lubed my chain. He said, "Man, you need to use a lot more than that." I was putting the chain on the center stand and spinning the rear wheel a few times and spraying the lube on from the back. I'd stop when I could see that the whole chain was wet. A1fa showed me his way, which was to put the bike on the center stand, start it, and put it in first gear. He'd let the bike spin the rear tire and spray lube all over the chain until it was dripping off. I've used his method for this most recent chain, and I do it every fillup, or roughly 250 miles.

I ride very little offroad, and when I do it's at low speed. I ride an occasional gravel road. I don't do a lot of high-speed highway. Tires last me forever. I get 16-18,000 miles out of tires. I thought my easy treatment of the tires would carry over to long chain life, too.

The longest I ever got out of a chain was about 18- or 19,000 miles. It was on a trip through Mexico and Central America where I did a lot of off-road riding, didn't clean it, and used WD40 on the occasions when I remembered to lube it. Basically, that chain got the worst treatment of all my chains, and it lasted easily the longest.

I've checked alignment. It's right on. I adjust the tension according to the owner's manual, which is to put the bike on the sidestand, measure the slack in the middle of the chain. there should be 20-30 mm of slack, which seems like not very much to me, so I tend to run it a little looser than that... probably about 40 mm. Again, when A1fa saw my chain, he said it was way too tight. But... it's set according to spec, even looser than spec. I do have 1/2" raising links on my bike, if that makes any difference.

As I said, I'm pretty much done. I've gone through something like five chains, and none of them have performed how I expect them to, and they've lasted less than what I read others have gotten from their chains.

People who ride with chain oilers get crazy-long chain life. I don't even want crazy-long. I just want normal chain life.

You know, my roommate has had a few bikes through the years. One time a while back he saw me cleaning and lubing my chain and asked me what I was doing. His response? "You're supposed to lube the chain? I thought they came pre-lubed." He owned several chain drive bikes and told me he never once lubed or adjusted the chain tension on any of them... there are lots of people out there like that. And here I am taking meticulous care of my chain, and I get less use out of it. :baldy


ABHooligan 04-11-2010 06:31 PM

My Scottoiler was a universal kit, I recall. I bought it from Bob's BMW, who was at the time selling several on ebay, they were going for about 90 or so. Even at retail, I'd buy another one.

peterhively 04-11-2010 06:33 PM

40mm on the sidestand sounds reasonable, but you need to double check it loaded. The stock spec may not be OK with the links.

Get a big fat buddy to sit on your bike, maybe two of em, and check the may be very tight.

When your shock is compressed enough that the front sprocket, swingarm pivot, and rear sprocket line up, the chain will be about as tight as it is gonna get. You need to have a little free play at that point. Once you have a little slack fully loaded, see how much slack you have with the bike on the stand and make note of it. That's your setting from now on.

Also, there are several levels of RK chains, some of em not so hot.


Night_Wolf 04-11-2010 09:33 PM

Jamie I used a Loobman on my 05 Wee and managed to get 24,000 mi out of the original chain. I can tell you when the chain was replaced it still had plenty of life left with only 2 links that were a wee bit tight. My mech back in Toronto was impressed with the life I had managed up to that point. I primarily changed the chain & sprockets as I had them and with my move West I wanted someone I trusted doing the work. I think I'll tackle the next chain replacement myself :patch

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