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Old 04-11-2010, 10:02 AM   #1
Jamie Z OP
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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?

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Old 04-11-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 04-11-2010, 03:12 PM   #3
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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.

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Old 04-11-2010, 03:25 PM   #4
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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.

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Old 04-11-2010, 03:45 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 04-11-2010, 04:16 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 04-11-2010, 05:11 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 04-11-2010, 06:11 PM   #8
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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.

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Old 04-11-2010, 04:42 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:58 AM   #10
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Question A finger on a can of Bel-Ray Super Clean works well

I tried a couple of solutions on my V-Strom 1000 and what works best is my finger on a can of Bel-Ray Super Clean chain lube. The way I look at this situation is you'd better look at your bike every 500 miles or so anyway, what's 3-5 min spinning the wheel on the center stand?
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:00 PM   #11
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in my owners klr manuel there was nothing bout alining the chain..tension yes. it's pretty easy to do,and god knows there's a sh*t load of tools tha tsome supplyer is more than willing to sell you. but if you just get behind the bike and sight down the chain. the idea is to make sure the chain is runnung straight as it passes over the sprockets. if it isn't then adjust. the stamped axel marks are usually off, so don't count on them unless if your happy with your current relation ship with the chain supplyer
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:18 PM   #12
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Good timing....

I'm sort of in the same boat. My chain makes serious crunchy noises (at ~ 21k mi) - bad enough now I can no longer ignore it. I've been a big idiot and adjusting my chain on the centerstand (Doh!) to the lose side (1.2") of the specs. IF I remember correctly this makes it even looser when i measure on the side stand.....maybe too lose a chain is bad too. I'm not suffering 14K but I thought I would get longer. Sprockets look ok to me but the side to side slop in the chain seems excessive (whats the tolerance/limit on this). Maybe I'll slop more lube on too (that's what she said). Last time i measured the stretch it was ok.....but crunchy crunchy crunchy.

Without trying to highjack (I have no bombs in my shoes).

1) Does anyone use a "heavyweight oil" to lube their chain (like 5w-30 or so - I see ATF mentioned). Got a lot of excess (not old) motor oil - seems like in town why not use this and save the spray for the road? I think the shop I used last time did it this way based on looks......Any ideas on best application? This would similar to oil in the automatic oilers no - or ATF is?

2) Where is best place to get chain, what type etc. Some stuff on ebay but worried on origin / quality.....see vstroma one in earlier post.

3) Any good links to discussions on chain tools etc. (I'll go search.....but still...) last time i changed a chain I was a wee kid popping wheelies (with the aid of the slanted sidewalks) riding the back of my banana seat with a sweet gold flake metallic helmet....grinnin like a MoFo.

4) This site rocks.....

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Old 03-02-2011, 09:41 AM   #13
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PDoiler Installation and Evaluation

Install of the Brian Stokes PDoiler

As promised, I would post if I decided upon a chain auto-oiler. Well here it is.

I wanted an auto-oiler. Set it and forget it. Mission accomplished.

I've used my Weestrom for the most part for long-distance touring. It's proven to be an excellent comfortable and highly economical mount for that purpose. I've gotten excellent life out of my chain/sprocket sets by servicing w/Dupont Teflon lube but have wanted to lower my maintenance time yet increase life.

Further, I'm absolutely not interested in chain maintenance at the end of a 500 mi day, nor at the beginning of another. Call it what you like -- it is what it is. So, I researched auto-oilers ad nauseum. I wanted something simple, reliable (set it and forget it) and inexpensive. Most of them were very expensive and w/many moving parts. Others were very simple and gravity fed. I thought these too irreliable.

I finally settled on the PDoiler (Positive Displacement Oiler).

I bought it directly from the maker through his online ebay store. Interestingly enough, virtually all the oilers I found on the market came out of Europe and usually England. There was too the Chamelion chain oiler out of Quebec (basically a gravity unit w/an electronic valve), but I determined the PDoiler was a better value and is a positive feed (my preference) not gravity

The price was $106 usd and arrived at my door in 2-weeks.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow.

The hardest part proved to be where best to mount the resevoir/dispenser.

I finally settled on the right just aft of the rear brake fluid reservoir behind the subframe fairing on the Weestrom

Controller - adjust to meter out oil between 30sec (#9), 130sec (#1) intervals

I didn't see any need to mount the controller near the handle bars. Once you determine what oil amount you want, it's basically set it and forget it. So, I decided to bundle it near my fuse accy box -- wired to a ignition switch controlled circuit per the instructions

It's important to mount the chain supply line in a way that it's least suseptible to swing arm movement. I ran the line down and to the front of the swing arm pivot then underneath the swing arm. Plenty of self-adhesive anchors are supplied to secure the oil line. Here it is partially installed

Next comes a very critical part of mounting the wick type end. It's critical because you don't want chain wip or the sprocket teeth yanking the line away. I mounted mine closer to the rear sprocket than Brain's recommendation thinking the closer to it the less likely the wick to be hit by chain wipping/slop and my other thought was that oil hitting the sprocket would be forced into the chain centrifically

Next came cutting the wick to the adequate clearance from the chain

The unit is self-priming but I primed the line so I could observe the performance straight away.

I was really suspect of this delivery system in particular that wind and what have you would splatter oil everywhere else and the chain. I've always thought that it would be better to deposit the oil onto the sprocket as some of the others I've seen. But, this simple delivery system is proving to work better than I expected in several hundred miles.

80wt gear lube is the prescribed lube but Mr Stokes says any lube oil will do in a pinch. The 75-90 I'm using is working very very well.

Here's post install views of the chain with the timer set to max 9. There's no oil slung all over the place or puddles on the ground after being parked. Just a moist wick and moist chain. I've dialed it back to 7 now that the chain has a good initial moistening. I figure in a few more miles I should be able to determine what is optimum

My only gripe so far is servicing. The unit hold 100cc and is serviced via a dip tube. I used a large syringe. The instructions expect you to use an oil can. I found servicing rather clumsey with the syringe particularly finding a fit to the blue servicing tube provided. Next I'll source a suitable prescribed oil can that will be easy to carry on those long trips. A full service is supposed to last up to 5k mi.

There's a "dip tube" cap affair that fits in the tube when in use. You remove that and insert this blue tube to service the unit.

In my opinion, this unit is an excellent value and works exactly as advertised. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for very efficient chain oiling system. I think this is a must have for any chain driven long-distance motorcycle. The vendor appears responsive to customer needs.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:32 AM   #14
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Thanks for the post and pics, Allonsye.
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