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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Due to neglect and daily riding, I just had my chain and sprocket replaced after only 6,000 miles. I live in Southern California. How often should I clean and lubricate? Oil change? Any details about how to clean and lubricate are much appreciated. This is my first bike and I'd like to do a good job at maintaining it.
 

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Jacques said:
Due to neglect and daily riding, I just had my chain and sprocket replaced after only 6,000 miles. I live in Southern California. How often should I clean and lubricate? Oil change? Any details about how to clean and lubricate are much appreciated. This is my first bike and I'd like to do a good job at maintaining it.
With that short of life I would suspect it had been over-tightened at one point or another. Either that or it has been riden/shifted in a herky-jerky manner.

Lubrication interval depends upon the lube. Personally, I think it's more important for the chain to not get gunked up (with those awful "no-fling" chain lubes) than it is for it to have lube on it at all times. If you use 90W gear oil it would be ideal to apply it every 100 miles but that is not really practical and 300-400 mile intervals will work well. I've had good luck alternating 90W gear oil with very light sprayings of WD-40 which seems to help keep it clean without having to manually clean it. That's what I used last chain/sproket set, sometimes it saw 600 miles or more without anything and it still lasted 18,000 miles. If you do use WD-40 on your chain, do not apply too much in one application or it can seep behind the o-rings and dillute the built-in grease.

Right now I'm experimenting with DuPont Teflon Lube (about every 250-350 miles) but the initial results don't look too promising. It's a wax based lube (with Teflon added) and it attracts more dirt than I like to see. By the time I wear out this chain/sprocket set I will probably be ready to switch back to 90W and WD-40 but I'll keep using the Teflon lube in the interim just to see how it fares.

But everyone has different chain care habits and preferences. You just have to pick a lube and a schedule and see how it works for you.
 

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I've been using a teflon spray for aprox 4K out of 5K on my bike, and am not convinced it will retard rust, as the inner plates seem to adopt a rusty tan colour between applications. It's called Jiggalube with teflon, which is easily avaialble at Crappy Tire in Canada. I also tried a "dry" lube from Liquid Wrench with teflon, but it left an unsightly light blue residue. I haven't seen the Dupont brand yet. I am very happy with the wear so far, ie tension once in 4K, but am concerned about rust.

I too believe it's the lack of "grit" which is the most important factor in extending chain/sprocket life assuming proper tension. I am fastidious about keeping my chain/sprockets clean, ie 5 minutes of maintenance every 200-300 miles or so should get one 20+K miles. I also yank the countersprocket cover every oil change and clean up the grit behind it as well. In this regard, teflon spray keeps the chain *very* clean making maintenance a breeze.
 

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Forget about Teflon - it's useless as a chain or sprocket lubricant. Teflon has a compressive strength of 350 psi meaning it'll just extrude out from between two surfaces when the force exceeds 350 psi. Zinc is a good extreme pressure lubricant, as is molybdenum disulphide. Moly has a compressive strength of over 400,000 psi and is a great engine oil additive (but that's for another thread).

Bel Ray Super Clean chain lube is mostly zinc and it works very well. It dries to the touch and is non-sticky. Chain wax and no-fling sticky stuff attracts and holds dirt and grit and should be avoided in my opinion. In the old non o-ring days it had its place.

If you want to get your chain as clean as new use a Kettenmax. Used with a little light oil or kerosene, in 2 minutes the chain is absolutely spotless. It has maybe a dozen brushes inside which catch all the edges and rollers and nooks and crannies. Don't want to miss those crannies.
 

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ST4R said:
Forget about Teflon - it's useless as a chain or sprocket lubricant. Teflon has a compressive strength of 350 psi meaning it'll just extrude out from between two surfaces when the force exceeds 350 psi. Zinc is a good extreme pressure lubricant, as is molybdenum disulphide.
I've never seen anything to indicate a modern o-ring chain NEEDS or even BENEFITS from an extreme pressure lubricant. Think about it. The rollers take all the pressure and they are free to turn, lubricated inside by the sealed grease. As long as the exterior of the roller and sprocket are clean, it shouldn't matter if there is metal to metal contact because they do not slide on one another (that's what the rollers are for). IMO, it may be an advantage for these components to mate clean and dry because when they are under high pressure there will be no movement that can create micoscopic galling of the surfaces. My observation is that a clean chain that is run essentially dry with just a bit of WD-40 to lubricate the o-rings will develop rollers that are highly polished (mirror finish) and the sprocket contact areas will look similar. This implies to me that very low wear is happening on these metal-metal contact areas compared to the slightly dull sheen they take on when they are well lubricated with a thicker lubricant.

Exterior lubricant on a modern o-ring chain serves two purposes. Protecting against rust and keeping the o-rings lubed to reduce friction and binding of the links. Neither of these purposes require an extreme pressure lubricant. That's why I decided to try the DuPont Teflon spray although had I known it left a waxy film that attracts dirt, I would have avoided it. My other observation of this lubricant is that it has a thin solvent carrier that evaporates after application. This indicates that it should only be applied very lightly, otherwise it may seep past the o-rings and dilute the permanent grease inside.
 

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ST4R said:
Bel Ray Super Clean chain lube is mostly zinc and it works very well. It dries to the touch and is non-sticky. Chain wax and no-fling sticky stuff attracts and holds dirt and grit and should be avoided in my opinion. In the old non o-ring days it had its place.
+2 on the Bel Ray, I got a can from a friend, had been using chain wax. Never go back.
 

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I have now read conflcting reports as to whether or not the new Teflon lubricant keeps the chain dirt free. I hope those using it will give us periodic reports on its longterm effect on the chain.

I personally lube every 500 miles with PJ1 Black and clean every 1,000 miles (sometime postponed if on a road trip) with kerosene. My chains typically last about 16,000 miles.
 

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I just think about those sprockets spinning round and round at whatever rpm, and the chain rollers slamming into the sprocket tooth again and again and again. And all the force at that point of contact. That's two surfaces pounding on each other. I like the idea of something cushioning that impact, and an extreme pressure lubricant is just the ticket in that application.

When I see shiny surfaces where two metals are in contact, I think to myself "what motion would result in that shiny surface?". Rubbing.

So with all the impact, and all the rubbing, I like something on the chain and sprockets. Zinc or moly is good. Moly is black and hard to wash off your skin. Zinc is white and easily removed with soap and water. And the Bel Ray lube is dry and doesn't attract dust or dirt. And it keeps the o-rings pliable.

One thing about chain lube and engine oil - everyone has a favorite. Let's keep the information flowing! Some good stuff.
 

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ST4R said:
I just think about those sprockets spinning round and round at whatever rpm, and the chain rollers slamming into the sprocket tooth again and again and again. And all the force at that point of contact. That's two surfaces pounding on each other. I like the idea of something cushioning that impact, and an extreme pressure lubricant is just the ticket in that application.
Actually sprockets are round and the chain approaches the sprockets tangentially so it's not a slam as much as it is a gradual mating of surfaces.
When I see shiny surfaces where two metals are in contact, I think to myself "what motion would result in that shiny surface?". Rubbing.
The mirrored surface is created by the two clean surfaces being pulled tightly together under pressure, if there was much sliding going on the surface would be galled, not mirrored. IMO, the lack of lubrication is what STOPS the sliding around, that's why the rollers are on permanently greased bushings (so they can rotate with the sprocket, not slide).

So with all the impact, and all the rubbing, I like something on the chain and sprockets. Zinc or moly is good. Moly is black and hard to wash off your skin. Zinc is white and easily removed with soap and water. And the Bel Ray lube is dry and doesn't attract dust or dirt. And it keeps the o-rings pliable.
The o-rings do need lubrication but not so they remain pliable, it's so their sealing surfaces are free to move against the side plates. Modern o-rings are made of a synthetic substance that is not going to harden or get brittle unless you are applying some pretty caustic stuff to your chain. They are impervious to normal petroleum products and even many common solvents. But most of those sticky "no-fling" chain lubes will gum them up in no time which causes them to deform and lose the "permanent" grease they are designed to contain.

The more I observe chains/sprockets and try different lubricants, the more I come to the conclusion that the ideal chain lubricant keeps the rollers clean and dry but still provides adequate lubrication to the o-rings. Even the motorcycle manufacturers do not specify an extreme pressure lubricant for chains. Motor oil and even 90W gear oil applied every couple hundred miles is not going to withstand the pressure between the rollers and sprockets but that is exactly what has been recommended by many manufacturers since the advent of o-ring chains. Interestingly enough, Ducati recommends a Teflon based chain lubricant in my owners manual.
 

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I am liking this chain thread: I have a 10 day, around 2500 plus mile trip planned from Wisconsin to South Caralina and back. So what does one take and do on the road with the chain?
Bruce
 

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bjclay said:
I am liking this chain thread: I have a 10 day, around 2500 plus mile trip planned from Wisconsin to South Carolina and back. So what does one take and do on the road with the chain?
Bruce
I clean my chain every 1,000 miles with kerosene, and I certainly don't want to take that on the road. I just lube my chain in my usual manner (every 500 miles with PJ1 black) and save the cleaning for when I finally get home. They say lube the chain when it is hot, so I do it after I am done riding for the day. The bike will need washing when you return home , so you might as well set aside a sunny afternoon, like I did yesterday (Saturday), and do both jobs at once.
 

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Good information Mike. As far as shiny surfaces and galling - I see shiny surfaces on the cylinder walls, on the valve stems, the clutch pushrod... but I don't see serious galling on these rubbing surfaces (it happens, on a microscopic level especially during break-in).

Galling results from excess friction, when the two surfaces literally weld to each other and then that weld breaks resulting is a rough surface and more galling. A lubricant could prevent that welding, and an extreme pressure lubricant would be even better (in my opinion).

When I apply and release the throttle, I would imagine there's a lot of force on the chain and sprockets. I just can imagine a close up of that contact point, in slow motion, when you're going 60 mph and you release and re-apply the throttle! The rollers help but in that instant I would think there quite an impact.

But anyway, I'll probably be replacing the chain and sprockets next year and will give them a good examination to see what the zinc spray has been doing over the past couple of years.

I agree with everyone about the need to keep grit off the chain and sprockets. I've always cleaned my chain with kerosene, and my chains have lasted longer than most.
 

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I noticed that reference to teflon spray in the owner's manual as well, but as usual, can't find the recommended Shell product to read the label. The spray I've been using has acetone in it, and dries up very quickly, removing water on contact. Upon closer inspection, there were some minor rust spots on the outer plates which easily rubbed-off. Never thought about the o-rings possibly drying up, hmm. I'll keep an eye open for that Bel-ray chain lube product, as I like the idea of it being dry and keeping the chain clean.

I don't know too much about polishing, but my guess is the difference between a dull and a shiny finish would be related to the size of the "grit" and the amount of "buffing". I can't help but wonder if shiny chain rollers/sprockets are a sign of wear from *more* grit sticking to the mating surfaces and being milled-down to a fine "polish" over time, as opposed to a dull finish which could be the sign for cleaner, surface with less grit "milling"/ polishing?
 

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About 3 years ago, I made my own chain oiler for my ST2. Heck, I knew it was "a keeper" after all... I use ATF, and a VERY LOW drip rate. So low, that I did not have to fill the 0.5l reservoir for over 2 years.

27,000 miles on the OEM chain and sprockets.

There's pics and a write-up in the archive section of DUCATI.MS I don't recall if it's in the ST area, or the H.O.W. area. Do a search for "chain oiler".
 

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ST4R said:
Galling results from excess friction, when the two surfaces literally weld to each other and then that weld breaks resulting is a rough surface and more galling.
Except there will be no galling unless there is movement between the parts while they are under high pressure. IMO, if the exterior of the rollers and chain are clean and dry, each roller will mate into the cutout between each sprocket tooth (by rolling on the internally greased bushing) and stay put until it exits the sprocket the same way. The pressure on the roller/sprocket does not rise to high levels until the roller is in place. I would rather have it clean and dry so it doesn't attract dirt and doesn't squirm around under high pressure.

I know we agree on the cleanliness part, the only part we disagree on is whether an extreme pressure lubricant is beneficial. IMO, once there is extreme pressure on the roller/sprocket interface, you don't want ANY movement so why lubricate with a type of lubricant that will encourage the two parts to move in relation to one another once they are highly loaded? It doesn't make sense. That's why all manufacturers recommend a low pressure lubricant like motor oil or ATF (or Shell Teflon spray in the case of Ducati) and save the high pressure stuff for the area inside that takes the load AND moves in relation to one another. That's what a sealed ROLLER chain is all about (putting the high friction surfaces inside where they can be kept clean and greased). If we didn't have ROLLER chains then we would NEED an extreme pressure lubricant between the sprocket and chain.

Bill, when I get a chance later this week I'll post some photos of my chain after I used the Dupont Teflon spray with a waxy base. I can't recommend this stuff to anyone because of the way abrasive dirt clings and embeds itself into the rollers. And to answer another question, no, this does not result in a mirror like polish because, as long as the lube is present, new dirt will constantly be introduced into the high pressure areas. If you have ever removed material using abrasives you know that 80 grit works a whole hell of a lot faster than 1600 grit which will give you nearly a mirror like finish (not quite) but isn't going to polish out even a shallow scratch unless you rub non-stop for many months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Mike said:
With that short of life I would suspect it had been over-tightened at one point or another. Either that or it has been riden/shifted in a herky-jerky manner.

Lubrication interval depends upon the lube. Personally, I think it's more important for the chain to not get gunked up (with those awful "no-fling" chain lubes) than it is for it to have lube on it at all times. If you use 90W gear oil it would be ideal to apply it every 100 miles but that is not really practical and 300-400 mile intervals will work well. I've had good luck alternating 90W gear oil with very light sprayings of WD-40 which seems to help keep it clean without having to manually clean it. That's what I used last chain/sproket set, sometimes it saw 600 miles or more without anything and it still lasted 18,000 miles. If you do use WD-40 on your chain, do not apply too much in one application or it can seep behind the o-rings and dillute the built-in grease.

Right now I'm experimenting with DuPont Teflon Lube (about every 250-350 miles) but the initial results don't look too promising. It's a wax based lube (with Teflon added) and it attracts more dirt than I like to see. By the time I wear out this chain/sprocket set I will probably be ready to switch back to 90W and WD-40 but I'll keep using the Teflon lube in the interim just to see how it fares.

But everyone has different chain care habits and preferences. You just have to pick a lube and a schedule and see how it works for you.
Thank you for the info. I do tend to down shift to slow down. I need to reconsider this habit.
Any other specific tips on how to apply the 90W or WD-40? I.E. with a rag vs spraying, how long to wait before/after riding. I am a true novice. Thank you.
 

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Wondering how bicycle chain lube would work? Some is Teflon based and non-aerosol drops. It also dry's pretty good.
Bruce
 

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Keeping the chain clean a properly tensioned are probably the biggest contributors to prolonging chain life, and likely more important than what lube you use. My own very unscientific chain maintenance looks something like this: I very lightly lube the chain often, say every 100-200 miles. Just a quick light spray while it's hot when I park it in the garage. I don't like a bunch of lube on there flinging off and getting everything dirty. I keep the chain clean with a little WD40 sprayed onto a tooth brush, lightly brushing the links while rotating the wheel, then wiping dry with a rag. I can clean it thoroughly in about 1/2 hour and do that probably at least every 1,000 miles, maybe a little more if I feel like it. On a recent 1,100 mile trip I took a small can of lube with me and gave it a light spray at each gas stop, about 150 miles. My chain always looks clean and was checked recently by my dealer. At 11K miles and they said no problems.
 

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Jacques said:
Thank you for the info. I do tend to down shift to slow down. I need to reconsider this habit.
Any other specific tips on how to apply the 90W or WD-40? I.E. with a rag vs spraying, how long to wait before/after riding. I am a true novice. Thank you.
I spray WD on a rag, then wipe it down.
 
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