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Chain Maintenance



Please excuse my ignorance on chain maintenance but my T7 is the first bike I’ve owned in 40 years of riding that has a chain.


1) generally how often do you clean your chain?

2) what do you find works best to clean and lubricate your chain?

3) do you take chain cleaning/lubricate with you on a long trip?

4) is there anything that a rookie should watch out for?  

Thanks for your help.

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On 10/2/2021 at 5:48 AM, Ainm Taispeána said:

I prefer to use environmentally friendly methods for chain maintenance.  I clean my chain with a pickle and then use biodegradable chain lube.



Would that dill or sweet pickle chain cleaner?  What is the best pickle to use?

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The OEM chain is the kind that have no O-rings? Right? So it can be cleaned without too much concern with the rubber o-rings?


Based on manual it says that is O-ring chain?!


Thank you.

Edited by NGarcia
add the manual image that talk about chain with orings
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The factory issue chain should be an o-ring chain. I say 'should be' as all the north american bikes were o-ring chain equipped. Perhaps your EU spec bike may not. You should be able to see the o-rings by carefully inspecting the chain. See the attached image comparing an o-ring chain (top) and a standard chain (bottom). You will notice the o-rings between the side plates on each link. The standard chain also is narrower as it doesn't have a gap between the side plates to accommodate the o-rings.


I think I have Yamaha disease...

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There's tons of bullcrap and alarmist ridiculousness with chain discussions, much like oil choices.  But, like oil choices (as long as you get something that's got the correct API Service Grade, Viscosity, correct JASO-MA cert and of course change it as required) it really doesn't matter at all.  There is no "best" and most people's insistence on the "best" is based on a long time using probably just a couple methods or just the first one they tried that worked, and is now clearly "best". 


For o-ring chains, the only things to keep in mind:


  • Cleaning is primarily cosmetic, unless there's something unusual on there (water, salt, lots of grit).  In most cases, it just doesn't matter.
  • When cleaning, just be aware if you've got a stiff brush, don't brush where the bristles can get to the o-rings.  Side on brushing is fine, but a stiff bristled brush can damage the o-rings and the likelyhood of that happening increases with chain age as the orings will gradually wear and become more fragile.  If you're using a spray cleaner, it's as well best to not spray directly into the orings because the last thing you want is a degreaser penetrating into them. 
  • When you're lubing a chain, it's external lubrication you're applying.  This prevents rust, repels water, and helps reduce o-ring wear, but it's not lubricating the rollers of the chain.  Thus, the actual lubricant really doesn't matter much at all, as this is mostly just a protectant and not really lubricating much.  It does help to reduce sprocket wear a little, however, though if you're getting average life out of chains, you're probably replacing the chains and sprockets as a set anyways so again, not gonna matter much.  


Chain maintenance is important, but it's really not anything worth obsessing over.  It's just important that it happens at all, really.  I mean, I get it, we all want The Best for our babies.  But as long as you pay attention to what matters for your chain (specifically, that the o-rings are not damaged and do their job keeping the grease inside the chain rollers) the rest is all just to make your baby look good.  


If you don't appreciate chain maintenance, auto oilers are a thing and they work just great.  I mean, I ride year round, including daily driving in Calgary, Alberta winters through salt, slush and snow, I didn't clean or lube my chain manually once over the 20,000kms it lasted for(and was still in reasonable condition with all orings intact), just let my tutoro autooiler keep it doused in hydraulic oil - which, incidentally, is thin enough that it also keeps the chain clean and never rusty, despite water, dirt and salt.  However, I appreciate that there's an element of zen meditation to chain maintenance, and if you don't ride a lot or in really crappy circumstances, it's infrequent enough as to not be a big deal.  As to which auto oiler, I like Tutoro's because they're dead simple, don't tie into any bike systems (electrical or vacuum), and just work automatically when you're riding.  Any automatic one (AFAIK, there's lots and I haven't personally tried all of them) work equally well.  Manual ones aren't worth the time, though, as you inevitably forget to use them, then you may as well just manually clean and lube occassionally. 


TLDR: Wipe it off occassionally, apply basically any oil or even grease (though grease may end up messier as it flings off), particularly if it's gritty, wet or salty, and be happy.  Or just use an auto oiler.  As long as you do that, it'll last a long time.  So, unless you just enjoy burning cash (which I get too - again, we all like what we feel is The Best for Our Babies) just use whatever you have on hand.  New engine oil.  Old engine oil.  Vaseline.  Spray lube.  Chain wax.  Gear oil.  Marine grease.  Whatever.  It'll be fine.


[/end preachy rant]

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