GlobeRiders “Tips From The Road” – Chain Maintenance

Helge Pedersen, famed adventure rider and author of "10 Years on 2 Wheels," took some time during GlobeRiders" recent ‘Africa Adventure,’ to film a handful of informative ‘Tips from the Road.’ In this installment, Helge explains the fundamentals of motorcycle chain maintenance, including proper chain tension and lubrication intervals.

Stay tuned for the next GlobeRiders ‘Tips From the Road’

Everyone has his or her own ideas about motorcycle chain maintenance. Here’s what Helge Pedersen thinks in this GlobeRiders Tips from the Road video filmed in Africa.

  • Proper chain maintenance (lubing and adjustment) is key to the safety and longevity of the chain and sprockets.
  • Lubrication of the o-rings of the chain is the most important part.
  • Proper chain tension on a BMW F 800 GS motorcycle is 35mm – 45mm.
  • Over tightening of the chain is the most common problem on the long GlobeRiders tours.

So there are many different theories about chains. I met some guys that think you can go without lubing and some people that lube every day. What I am going to say, take with a grain of salt and make up your own opinion but I have my own little theory to it. I think you should lube it. You don’t need to be totally anal about it but the whole point is the o-rings. Every little joint here in between is a little o-ring and those are the ones that we really want to get some moisture too.

One thing is to lube it, another is to keep the chain tight. It says here "Chain tension without load – 35 to 45 millimeters". So I hold that on the lower part there. Now take it up. So if that had come above the knife that would be 45mm. So this is good. I think the biggest problem we see on our tours is people keeping it too tight because normally you don’t have too much luggage on your bike and we are bottoming out or getting very close to the bottom a lot and if it’s tight there, it’s just going to stretch it and then you tighten it up and it’s going to stretch it and stretch it. The more you stretch it, the more it’s going to eat up the teeth on the sprocket. These are sprockets. A sprocket here, a rear sprocket and front sprocket and what happens when they eat up, eventually when it’s really bad the whole chain slips and it doesn’t spin the wheel anymore. It has no grooves to go into and then that’s it – you’re finished, done for. What they say too – you should always change the sprockets and the chain at the same time when you do service. It’s a really cheap insurance I would say, for going on a big tour.

Another thing that I didn’t mention – you have a slider here. If you don’t put oil on it… If you were going dry, what I’ve seen people that are stubborn and don’t like to put oil on, then it get dry here and it melt through and I saw one guy, there’s a slider here and there, he just actually on a XR600 Honda he carved through his swing arm, the aluminum. It just wore through and he didn’t see it because it made a groove and he compromised the structure of the swing arm. So that’s another point by doing lubrication because it’s sitting here on these two carries of plastic of some kind.

-Helge Pedersen, GlobeRiders