There are hundreds of quality motorcycle chain lube products on the market, but which ones are truly worth the hype? We’ve put together a handy list of the top 10 products on the market that suit a wide range of riders and all different chain types.
Your motorcycle’s chain does a lot of work and it’s often one of the most neglected parts when it comes to splashing out on care products. Riders don’t mind doing the research and shelling out on a new chain that suits their motorcycle and riding style but that enthusiasm seems to fade away when it comes to shopping for the best motorcycle chain lube out there. In all honesty, chain lubricant isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but if you treat your chain right, it will treat you right in return and you’ll feel the benefits transferred into improved performance, reduced maintenance, and seriously improved chain lifespan longevity. Check out some of these products if you want to give your chain the best lubrication that it deserves.
What Is The Best Motorcycle Chain Lube For Your Bike?
Motorcycle Chain Lubrication: Buying Guide & FAQ
Why Should You Use A Motorcycle Chain Lube?
It should go without saying that a motorcycle chain requires frequent lubrication. Since the chain is working incredibly hard to keep your motorcycle moving, it’s imperative that you keep it in tip top condition, and carefully maintain and adjust it regularly. Using a specially formulated lubricant is the best way to do this. Not a drop of old motor oil, and not a spritz of WD40 either. They might appear to do the job, but they really don’t. There’s no substitute for a properly formulated and scientifically engineered lubricant. They make your chain nice and slick, and so much more. Here are some of the benefits of using the best motorcycle chain lube you can buy.
A properly lubricated chain will deliver superior performance to your motorcycle. With the right lubrication, your chain will move smoothly and slide nicely into the teeth of the sprockets, with minimal friction. A chain that moves nice and smoothly is more efficient, and more efficiency means superior performance. And we all want better performance, don’t we?
Since your chain is exposed to the elements and is constantly spinning around near to the road’s surface, it gets caked in a lot of unwanted substances, from oil and road dirt, to gravel, loose chippings, dust, and other assorted nasty business. It gets made worse by the extremes of heavy rain or hot sun. A good chain lubricant with dirt resistant features will keep that dirt and grime build-up to a minimum, allowing your chain to spin freely without obstruction.
At the end of the day, your chain is made of metal, and metal and water doesn’t mix well if the metal is untreated. It needs protection from the elements. Water and exposure to the elements brings about wear, tear, rust, and corrosion. A properly formulated motorcycle chain lube will have adequate protection against these things, with the lubricant forming a protective coating, keeping rust and corrosion at bay. Rust and corrosion will significantly reduce the lifespan of your chain. The last thing you want is having to replace a chain when it’s not on your terms!
What Kind Of Motorcycle Chain Lubrication Is There?
Now that you know you need to have a good motorcycle chain lube in your tool box, what type should you buy? While you’d think that buying a motorcycle chain lube should be fairly straightforward, nothing’s ever easy and there are a couple of different options for you to choose from. In short, you’ve got a choice of spray lube or paste lube. These days, most people prefer the spray type, but here’s a quick overview of both types to help you make sure you get the right product for your motorcycle and riding style.
Paste-type chain lube isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be, and that’s because sprays have become so much more advanced – but there’s still a good reason to try a paste. Paste lubes are more time consuming to apply, and usually come in a tube with a brush applicator which allows for more precise and even chain coverage. Since it’s a thicker paste, you can see where you’ve properly lubricated, and see how well your coverage has penetrated. What’s more, thanks to the thicker nature of these lubes, they generally last longer and lubricate for longer, making it a great option for riders who might not have the time to service their chain as regularly as they’d like.
In summary: they take longer to apply, they’re more difficult to apply, and the thicker paste flings off more than a spray but the lubricant usually has better coverage and penetration, and lasts longer.
Spray lubes are far more popular. The reason behind this is that they’re easy to apply, take no time to use, and these days they’re just as potent and perform just as well as paste type lubricants. With a spray, you can perform quick maintenance on your chain with a simple point and shoot action, that requires minimal effort and minimal clean up. Generally, spray lubricants require more regular intervals for re-application. They need more regular applications, but they don’t take long to apply, so it’s up to you whether you see that as a positive or a negative.
In summary: modern spray chain lubricant formulas can perform just as well as paste types but they require more regular applications. The actual application, however, takes next to no time at all. There’s no denying that this is the most popular kind of lubrication on the market.
If that wasn’t enough to worry about, you also have the choice of using either wet, dry, or all-purpose lubrication types. Here’s a very brief overview of those types.
Wet lube is exactly what it sounds like it is: a wet lubricant that keeps your chain wet to protect it from the elements. It’s a viscous lube that keeps your chain nice and moist, which offers the best protection in wet and humid places as it stop water droplets from sticking to your chain and damaging it. If you live in a humid or wet place, this type of motorcycle chain lube is worth considering.
A dry lubricant is applied like a wet lubricant, but rather than staying wet to the touch it quickly dries instead. After drying, it leaves behind a protective film or coating that protects your chain, resisting dust and debris, keeping your chain unclogged and clean. It’s formulated to work best in dry environments, and works particularly well in high dust areas.
All-purpose lube is most likely the type that you’ll need though. If you’re not sure what kind of environment that you’re riding in, or you’re not 100% sure about what kind of lubrication or protection your chain needs, buying an all-purpose motorcycle chain lube is a safe bet. This kind of lube can either be a liquid lube or a chain wax, and will quite happily work on a wide range of chains from motorcycle and bicycle applications to more heavy-duty industrial machinery. However, it’s recommended that you learn which chain lubes work best for your equipment and riding style rather than just rely on the fact that all-purpose chain lubes will probably work.
What To Look For In A Motorcycle Chain Lubricant
While we’re on the subject of what type of lubricant to buy, it’s also worth looking at what other features your desired product has to offer. Most lubricants have advantages and disadvantages when compared with other products on the market. While there are many variables that make one lube better suited to one motorcycle owner over another, there are a few fundamental features that all motorcyclists should be looking out for when shopping for the best motorcycle chain lube for their ride.
It’s important to search for a product that’s easy to apply – or rather, within your skill level to use. Most riders will want something that’s easy to apply, requiring no tools, and no time wasted. A quick spray is a good choice for those who don’t like to spend time on maintenance. However, if you’re leaning towards a paste that may offer superior protection, ask yourself if you have the time to spend applying it. It’s more difficult than a spray, but not if you know what you’re doing. Find something that’s easy to apply or appropriate for the level of effort you’re willing to put into the task!
Chains are made of metal and metals can rust and corrode. Keeping you chain free from water should hardly bear repeating because it’s so important. It’s imperative to use a motorcycle chain lube that’s formulate to keep water at bay without getting washed away in the process. A good water resistant lubricant will protect your chain over and over again without having to be re-applied after every single rain shower. Water resistance is super important, and the more water resistant a product is (particularly if you live in a rainy and wet area) the better.
Dust and debris resistance is another crucial factor. While it’s a bigger issue for those who live and ride in dustier and dryer conditions, it should be something you consider at all times. Dust and debris can get stuck to your chain and gum up your lube. If you’ve got a sticky wad gunking up your chain drive, you’re going to lose performance, and worse, it’s going to attract more nasty stuff to stick to it, which will cause more problems in the long run. If you get a gummy chain, you’re going to have to clean it off and lube up from scratch too, which isn’t a particularly fun or enjoyable task.
The Mess Factor
This is a two-pronged factor that focuses on the actual act of the application, and the immediate aftermath of the application. Firstly, you should check to see just how much mess applying your desired motorcycle chain lube will make. You might need cloths, towels, or rags, and you may need to do it somewhere where you can handle a few unsightly stains on your floor. Some lubes are easy to handle and make no mess at all. Others can be unwieldy to say the least. And then there’s “anti-fling” factor. An anti-fling lubricant promises not to fly off your chain and all over the place as soon as your back wheel starts spinning. Most lubricants promise this, but not all deliver. Definitely check reviews from customers with first-hand experience before committing to a purchase!
There are even more details that you can worry about if you want to go mad. You can wonder about the differences between solvent-based lubricants and water-based lubes, but that’s not particularly important for the average rider – just read the instructions, and if it sounds like your kind of product, then give it a go. If not, then don’t. It will take a few goes before you buy the best motorcycle chain lube for your bike but luckily, buying a few different cans or tubes of lube isn’t going to bankrupt you in the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is motorcycle chain lube?
Motorcycle chain lubrication is a special lubricant chemically engineered to provide the best lubrication to your chain, protecting it from dirt, grime, and water whilst simultaneously reducing friction, improving performance, and extending the working lifetime of your chain. It is specially designed to perform these functions and more, with different products being tailored to fit different motorcycles, riding environments, riding styles, and mechanical skill levels. Proper chain lube goes a long way and it’s imperative that you take chain lubrication seriously!
How to lube motorcycle chain?
Ideally, you should be asking how to clean and lube motorcycle chain areas. Cleaning your chain first helps your lubricant work more effectively. To clean your chain you’ll need a degreasing product or plain kerosene, and liberally spray it onto your rear sprocket and chain. This dissolves the old lubricant and flushes out grime and dirt. If you keep your bike clean, all you need to do is give it a wipe over whilst turning the rear wheel, and the job is done. If you have a dirty chain, take a brush and give it a scrub. Take care to use an appropriate brush for your chain type. Once you’ve brushed it, give it another spray of kerosene or degreaser, and make sure you thoroughly dry your chain afterwards or your new application of lubricant will not be effective.
Once clean and dry, it’s time to lube it up. This differs depending on what type of lube you’re using. Most spray lubes can be sprayed directly onto the chain. It’s best to aim at the rear sprocket and have the liquid find its way into the chain links whilst you gently turn the wheel. Once the inside of the chain is done, repeat the process aiming at the side of the chain, and then again from the top of the sprocket aiming up into the chain links. Finally, apply another coat from that awkward angle between the wheel and the chain, lubing up the remaining face of the chain. It’s important not to over-lube your chain, so make sure to gently remove the excess with a rag. Finally, you may have to wait for up to 15 minutes for your lube to tack before you’re ready to call the job done.
Different lubricants have different application methods but they all require you to take your safety seriously. Always ensure that your motorcycle is switched off before attempting to clean or lubricate your chain, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
How often to lube motorcycle chain?
About every 300 miles is good. For optimum performance you should lube your chain after every single ride you take – but that’s just impractical. Unless you’re a competition rider with nothing but performance in mind, then lubing up after every ride makes sense. For the rest of us, with lives to live and things to do, somewhere between 300 and 600 miles should be the kind of lubing interval to aim for. If you haven’t lubed it in a while but haven’t accumulated that many miles, then give it a lube up anyway. It doesn’t hurt to maintain your chain too regularly.
Can I use engine oil to lubricate my motorcycle chain?
Technically, yes but it’s not recommended. Regular engine oil does indeed tick many of the relevant boxes for lubing a motorcycle chain. It’s slick, it will happily remove and dissolve dirt, dust, and grime, and it will keep your chain nice and wet to reduce friction and help it move freely. In an emergency situation it certainly will do the job. For most riders, these emergencies are very rare indeed. That’s why it’s best to use a properly formulated motorcycle chain lube that does all that regular motor oil can do…and more.
Specially developed chain lubricants won’t just lube your chain, they’ll protect them from the effects of water and other elements, prevent dirt from sticking and getting gummed up in your sprocket’s teeth, and keep other contaminants at bay whilst improving the overall longevity of your chain’s life. Sure, engine oil will work, but it may cause more harm than good.
Can I use WD40 as a motorcycle chain lube?
No. WD40 is a fantastic product with many uses but lubing a chain isn’t one of them. Namely its namesake Water Displacement. It’s there to remove water from places where water shouldn’t be. While it does have some mild lubricating properties, it’s not heavy duty enough to lubricate a motorcycle chain. If you’ve got a stubborn lock that won’t turn or a noisy hinge, it’s the right tool for the job. On a chain? Not good enough. It’s good for the cleaning stage of chain maintenance, but not for lubrication. Always remember that the WD in WD40 stands for Water Displacement…not lubrication!