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How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain?

How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain

How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain?

Washing and polishing the chrome/paintwork of your motorcycle are part of general motorcycle maintenance. You want your ride to look great on the road and perform at its best. However, have you ever wondered how often should you clean your motorcycle chain? The chain might not be the most noticeable part of a motorcycle but it still requires regular inspection and attention.

Without a clean and well-maintained motorcycle chain, you’re going nowhere fast. Chains are one form of final drive mechanism on a motorcycle. It is not the only form of drive; some motorcycles are belt-driven or have shaft drives. Simply put, the chain transfers or “transmits” the power from the engine to the motorcycle wheel. This smooth transmission of power guarantees speed and acceleration whenever you go out for a ride.

Motorcycle Maintenance: How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain?

Should you clean your chain after each ride, or can you get away with a quick clean and lube when you notice a build-up of dirt on the chain? These questions crop up during conversations about motorcycle maintenance. If you’re looking for the answers, check out the following factors that can influence how often you need to clean a motorcycle chain and its components.

Off-Road Racing Increases the Frequency of Motorcycle Chain Cleaning

Where do you ride your motorcycle? The answer to how often should you clean your motorcycle chain depends on the type of motorcycle and where you like to ride it. For example, riding robust off-road motorcycles or dirt bikes involve racing across hills, trails, and tracks. Hitting jumps and tearing up the dirt will throw more mud and debris at your bike and chain than regular road riding.

Racing through mud and puddles is going to affect the appearance and premium performance of your motorcycle chain. Therefore, if you are into Motocross or other types of off-road racing, aim to clean the chain after each ride. If you don’t have time to do this, make sure you thoroughly clean and lube the chain at least once a week. Otherwise, it is not going to perform as efficiently the next time you hit the trails.

How Often Is Your Motorcycle on the Road?

Does your motorcycle spend more time in the garage than it does on the road? Or does it get heavy use because it is required for work purposes, such as courier services? Usage is another important factor to take into consideration if you are questioning how often should you clean your motorcycle chain. If it gets heavy use, then clean and lubricate the chain every 500 miles. You also need to remember to clean air filter of motorcycle.

In contrast, occasional motorcycle use reduces the frequency of chain cleaning. You’ll only need to clean the chain every few months. However, weather conditions also come into play. See below.

Weather Conditions Determine Frequency of Motorcycle Chain Maintenance

Weather conditions are additional factors to consider when working out how often should you clean your motorcycle chain. If you don’t want to be cleaning your chain after each ride, stay off the roads in particularly bad weather. Road surface water, muddy puddles, rain, salt and grit on the roads during the colder seasons can all affect the appearance and performance of your chain. Under these harsher weather conditions, clean the chain after each ride if it picks up mud and road salt. As well as chain maintenance, see our tips on how to detail a motorcycle.

How Often Should You Clean Your Motorcycle Chain in the Summer Season?

Rain, hail and snow are not the only elements that can affect the frequency of motorcycle chain cleaning. Hot, dry summer months also raises the question of how often should you clean your motorcycle chain. Road dust and sand can easily stick to the grease of a well-lubricated motorcycle chain. This build-up of dusty, sandy grease is going to affect the performance of your bike. Therefore, if you are covering a lot of miles at the height of a hot summer, clean your chain once or twice a week.

Note, on long road trips, it is advisable to carry a motorcycle detailing kit to ensure you have the tools and products you need to attend to the chain on longer journeys.

Different Types of Motorcycle Chains

How often should you clean your motorcycle chain? It depends on the type of chain. You can have an O-ring, X-ring or Y-ring. Modern chains are sealed but you do still need to clean and lubricate these modern, sealed chains otherwise it will adversely affect the performance of your bike over time. Be sure to use the correct motorcycle detailing products, especially when working on O-ring chains made of rubber. Regular cleaning once a month will keep these in prime condition. Unsealed chains need more frequent cleaning, see below.

Older Motorcycles with Non-Sealed Chains Need More Frequent Cleaning Care

What is the age of your motorcycle? If you have a vintage model with a non-sealed chain, then you will need to clean your motorcycle and its chain more frequently than a modern, newer vehicle. Also, the quality of the chain is a big deciding factor too. If the chain and sprockets are showing signs of wear, dedicate a little more time cleaning it to remove grease, oil or dirt build-up. After cleaning, apply a lubricant to the chain to aid its performance.

Getting Your Bike Professionally Detailed

If you want to reduce the amount of time you spend on cleaning your motorcycle chain, how about handing the dirty job over to a mobile motorcycle detailing provider? However, when you are choosing a provider, research prices to check exactly what is included in the service. Cleaning the chain may incur an additional charge.


How often should you clean your motorcycle chain depends on usage and the kind of terrain or roads you ride on. The type of chain is another factor to take into consideration. Also, remember that seasonal variations will affect how often should you clean your motorcycle chain. Get into the habit of checking your chain after each ride. If there is an obvious build-up of dirt, debris or grease, then a quick clean is advisable. A clean, well-lubricated motorcycle chain is more efficient at transferring power.

Your motorcycle chain is made up of many different small pieces, such as rollers, rings, pins and link plates. These individual parts inevitably pick up dirt and contaminants from the road. Therefore, regular chain cleaning and lubrication is recommended if you want to extend the life of your motorcycle chain and enhance the performance of your bike.

However, it is a dirty job, so why not schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts to your motorcycle professionally detailed? This comprehensive service includes motorcycle chain cleaning and lubrication to make your motorcycle road-ready once more.

Also, make sure you check out DetailXPerts’ Pinterest board on motorcycles.


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