I give up. Which chain oiler should I get?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Jamie Z, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    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?

    Jamie
    #1
  2. Langanobob

    Langanobob Been here awhile

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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.
    #2
  3. ABHooligan

    ABHooligan The Flying Mythos

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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.

    Brent
    #3
  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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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.

    Jamie
    #4
  5. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

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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.
    #5
  6. justanotherider

    justanotherider justanotherider

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    Jamie:

    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.
    #6
  7. Mista Vern

    Mista Vern Knows all - tells some.

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    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.
    #7
  8. vatrader01

    vatrader01 vatrader01

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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:

    http://www.vstroma.com/ChainSuperLinks.html

    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.
    #8
  9. TonyT

    TonyT Been here awhile

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    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.
    Cheers,
    Tony
    #9
  10. Motopapillon

    Motopapillon Eppur si muove

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    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.

    M-P
    #10
  11. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

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    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.
    #11
  12. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    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

    Jamie
    #12
  13. ABHooligan

    ABHooligan The Flying Mythos

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    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.
    #13
  14. peterhively

    peterhively Been here awhile

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    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 tension...it 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.

    Peter
    #14
  15. Night_Wolf

    Night_Wolf Long timer

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    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
    #15
  16. Bayner

    Bayner Long timer

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    I'd be tempted to assume that it's still running too tight. I'd try as per above, with the fat guys on it, (or remove the shock) and see what you have for slack at various points of suspension travel to be sure it doesn't tighten up near the end of the swing. Those suspension links may make a difference in slack...
    #16
  17. fordjd1

    fordjd1 n00b

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    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?
    #17
  18. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

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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
    #18
  19. Powerslave

    Powerslave n00by tires that would be

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    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.....
    #19
  20. men8ifr

    men8ifr Been here awhile

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    Can you find a llink to that - I can't find it.
    #20