How to look after the chain (offroad)

Discussion in 'Crazy-Awesome almost Dakar racers (950/990cc)' started by marcing, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. marcing

    marcing Adventurer

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    Hi,
    I would like to receive some advices about how to look after the chain if I plan about 2500miles mid-extreme trip through mud, rubble, sand... (Morocco)
    I have heard two opinions:
    1. off road designed spray (never believed in that).
    2. dry chain all the time as it is causing less damages to the chain.
    #1
  2. ColoradoBigfoot

    ColoradoBigfoot Been here awhile

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    In your case I'd start with a new one (x ring?).
    Go for a couple of short rides to wear off factory oil/grease.
    1) Adjust to specification.
    2) Lube chain via inside links with o-ring compatible oil (no fling is what I prefer...don't much like something that can get on my wheel/tire especially if riding on pavement). Don't like the wax types either due to the residue they leave. Motul is what I have been using.
    3) Wipe excess off to clean exterior of chain so that dirt does not accumulate on links.
    Go on your ride and repeat steps 1-3 as necessary. Take along rivet chain breaker and extra master link/clip. Don't forget to take a can of chain lube with you.

    Sounds like an exciting ride!
    #2
  3. Balsta

    Balsta Been here awhile

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    PLUS the most important issue: DONT EVER EVER TIGHTEN THE CHAIN TOO STIFF!!! Loose fit means MUCH longer life! When you compress the shock the chain must still be a bit loose
    #3
  4. marcing

    marcing Adventurer

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    I have a DID Xring chain (just fitted)... slack is ok.
    I have somewhere a can of Motul Off-road chain spray but not sure about it... it is like a gel...
    Thats why I have heard opinion that if you keep chain totally dry then all mud and sand goes off from between the links... if you keep chain wet then all that shit will stay between the links together with a lube...
    So I'm very confused.
    #4
  5. cjracer

    cjracer AWD please!!

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    I run my plated DID X ring chains dry. I've noticed no difference in life over lubing. 15,000 miles is good enough for me.

    After a sloppy, muddy ride, I hose the bike and chain down. Spray it WD-40 and wipe it clean with a rag.

    Chain lube is a pain if you plan to travel any where and it takes up too much room on the luggage.

    That's just me though. Maybe I'm just lazy.
    #5
  6. Boatman

    Boatman Upward and onward!!

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    Not lazy..... same ritual here with same results.
    #6
  7. DiasDePlaya

    DiasDePlaya Been here awhile

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    In my old Honda Africa Twin I used a Scottoiler, and when I went off road in the Chilean Atacama desert I just opened a little more the regulation, this way the oil was cleaning the chain continuously. Each chain kit lasted 60.000 km. I used just 2 kits before sell the bike.

    The same on the rain.
    #7
  8. cjracer

    cjracer AWD please!!

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    Bike HP might play a roll in that longer life too??? 55 HP, vs 100 HP. 1/2 the HP = 2x the miles. I would agree with that.

    Those oilers sound great for road riders, but also sound like a constant mess.

    I'd hate to see what the swing arm, sprocket area would look like in my off road use.
    #8
  9. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

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    I've always done the same with wd 40 on all my off road bikes and have had no issues.
    #9
  10. mdfehrmann

    mdfehrmann Been here awhile

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    Keep it adjusted and run it dry. Works for me as well.
    #10
  11. Zuber

    Zuber Zoob

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    40 years of experience with chains here.. They used to be real crap. The new X-Ring chains are great, they last longer than a GS drive shaft. The O-ring chains are so-so, the extra 20% in cost will more than double the miles.

    Get a Grunge Brush, cut the handle down to pack better. $13
    Fill a Squirt bottle full of cheap 90 wt gear oil. $2-4 On the road, just drain the dregs from a few bottles at a service station.

    Put the bike on the centerstand, start it, 2nd gear idle, brush off all the dirt and lube it with the gear oil. Do it when you end your ride and the chain is still hot. In the morning wipe up any excess from the bike and chain. Good for 500 road miles.

    Repeat it when you leave the dirt and are to ride on pavement for a while. It will look like new after a few miles.

    It's messy below the front sprocket, but it's just oil and dirt. Not chain glue and dirt, so it wipes off.

    Never use the chain wax, you'll get about 10k miles. Dry, you may get 12k miles. Lots of WD40, maybe 13k miles.

    I got 45,000 miles from my original 950 chain. It still was mostly ok, but had a few loose links. I inspect the chain every tire change, go through and inspect each link. These typically fail by a few loose links, usually at the master link. I replace the chain and front sprocket only, the rear doesn't wear. I've never bought a rear sprocket for my ADV bikes.

    Never run it too tight, that's a recipe for toast.
    #11
  12. c munch

    c munch Destination unknown

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    "Keep it adjusted and run it dry. Works for me as well."
    and I as well.... 26k miles on the oe chain with a little wd40 now and then to keep the rust off.
    #12
  13. Fishenough

    Fishenough Team Lurker

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    I read 950, but I hear a KLR owner :evil

    Put the brush in a toothbrush holder for easy clean packing, and I've used a ketchup squeeze bottle well on the road.

    I also find that gear oil mess is far easier to clean off your bike then any the residue from spray waxes or non-fling spray lubes. Tried spray grease a few years ago, and found them to be the most useless - that was the least mileage I got out of a chain. Pet peeve of most mechanics in SE Asia; they will tighten your chain crazy tight.


    Anyone have experience with those chain lubes that penetrate o and x rings, with just one tiny drops needed for each link?
    #13
  14. Brokein2

    Brokein2 Been here awhile

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    Lubing and cleaning while the bike is running should be left to professionals...Like this guy http://bikerpunks.com/media/d32c8950111a.jpg

    Not worth it...Just roll the damn tire with your hand.
    #14
  15. Whele

    Whele Adventurer

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    I fitted a large capacity Scottoiler behind the rear registration plate. The large capacity unit holds sufficient oil for 5,000 miles of riding . To make the system robust when off-road I simply drilled a small hole in the top of the front sprocket cover and drop the oil onto the chain inside the plastic cover. Its clean (as any fling happens inside the sprocket cover) and the oil line is out of the way of off-road debris and rocks, flailing feet etc.

    When I rode from UK to Morocco I rode with it on normal setting through France, Spain and the first tarmac in Morocco . In the south, in deep sand I turned off the oil flow and wiped off excess oil from the chain. When getting back into highway I just turned it up high for 25 miles and flushed all the sand off.

    I run my chain a little looser that specified, especially in the rough with luggage on the bike where the swinging arm movement is close to maximum. The last chain lasted more that 25,000 miles, during this time I only adjusted it 5 or 6 times.
    #15
  16. Gregster

    Gregster Been here awhile

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    That's dangerous advice there friend. I've got 30 years of chain experience myself and have heard some horror stories about guys getting their fingers sucked in with the bike idling. Bad idea in my opinion. I always lube by rotating the back wheel by hand with the bike shut off and in neutral.

    Some Google finds:

    http://www.zrxoa.org/forums/showthread.php?46268-How-NOT-to-lube-your-chain!-Warning-graphic-pics!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk-PME37URI
    #16
  17. Motomedic

    Motomedic Long timer

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    I'm with Gregster on the danger factor in using the engine power to rotate your chain, but I'll go a step further and say that's not only dangerous but incredibly stupid.

    Too many people have lost digits to chains. Engine off in neutral is the only way.

    Having said that, I'll also say that on my 6mo/25k mile odyssey around the States, I carried a small can of PJ1 black label, and used quality chains/sprockets. My lubing schedule was/is sporadic, from every day in the sandy stuff to almost never. :D I typically average around 15k miles on a chain on the 950.
    #17
  18. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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    I went to school with a guy named Kenny K., he had a KZ200. It was up on the centerstand, idling in gear while he cleaned the chain with a rag. A KZ200 has no torque. His fingers stalled the engine. It took the fire department to get him out. This was in 78 or so. I don't recall if he lost fingers, or if they were just pointed in different directions after he did it. Kenny, are you reading this?

    Back to chain durability and life. I've found that if you use the highest quality chain, you will have no issues. And to me, the highest quality (and most expensive) chain is the DID ZVM. I use them exclusively, my KTM has the nickel plated one, my Ducati has the gold one. And a steel, or steel over aluminum sprocket. And I use factory made or sold fronts. No issues. The Ducati went 20,000 plus miles, I happened to have a spare set so I replaced them. The KTM chain was getting kind of hinky at 10,000, I put the nickel DID on just for peace of mind.

    I use WD40 to clean them off, some old wives tales about WD eating the orings seems to be false, I've never had a problem. What will kill that chain is dirt grinding things up. I'd suggest carrying WD and cleaning that sucker whenever it gets coated with grit. What else can you do? Don't use pressure washers on them, it will force water past the orings. Keep it as clean as you can, you should be good to go. As long as your points and Amal carburetors don't give you issues (inside joke, sort of.).
    #18
  19. Brokein2

    Brokein2 Been here awhile

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    And my reply was overlooked by everyone? No running bikes...
    #19
  20. Zuber

    Zuber Zoob

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    That's good advice if you can't keep your fingers out of the moving parts.
    #20