Learn How to Clean a Motorcycle Chain in 7 Simple Steps

This post has affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commision for puchases made through links in this post. Read more

Among all the parts of a motorcycle, the chain requires maximum cleaning. Experts often say that a clean chain is a long-lasting chain. Maintenance of a motorcycle begins with cleaning and lubricating the chain consistently.  In this article, we aim to provide a simple guide to teach you how to clean a motorcycle chain.

Most people don’t find it necessary to clean the motorcycle chain regularly. Only motorcycles that run in absolutely clean environments don’t require regular cleaning. Sadly, no such environment exists. 

Cleaning and lubrication improve the torque transmission from the engine to the axles that ultimately provide better mileage. 

How To Clean A Motorcycle Chain?  

1. Prepare The Motorcycle

Cleaning a motorcycle chain is a straightforward process. A center stand in the motorcycle makes the process easier. If you do not have a center stand, check whether the motorbike is compatible with a paddock stand. 

Even if both these stands are not available, you can still clean the motorcycle chain. Put the motorcycle on its stand and clean all sections of the chain, one at a time. 

2. Check The Drivetrain

Before you start the cleaning, check the condition of the drivetrain. See whether the sprockets are in good condition. Generally, it is the teeth of the sprockets that wear out. If the chain is very slack or too taut, then the sprockets have to be replaced. 

The bike’s manual has instructions for adjusting the chain. Complete this process before you start cleaning. It helps in maintaining the condition of the chain along with the cleaning. Replacing the chain is a costly affair, so provide regular

maintenance to your chain. 

3. Apply A Cleanser

If you think that the chain and sprockets are in a good condition, start cleaning the dirt on the chain. What to use to clean motorcycle chain depends on the condition of the chain. 

A lot of good motorcycle cleaners are available in the market today. Choosing the suitable motorcycle chain cleaner is important to ensure that you do not just wash the chain superficially, but also remove the grime. 

The motorcycle chain cleaner should have an emulsifier base that removes all the oil and grease from the chain. 

Soak the chain with the chain cleaner for long because it is hard to remove the grime even if the cleanser is of superior quality. 

4. Use Chain Brush

Once you soak the chain with the cleaner, use a chain brush to scrape off the dirt. The chain brush should be robust so that it cleans all the three sides of the chain thoroughly. Use the chain brush to clean the links and rollers of the motorcycle chain. The chain lube will only stick to the chain if you clean it well with a brush.

Even if you use the best motorcycle cleaner in the market, a single round of cleaning is not enough. After using the chain brush, soak the chain again in the motorcycle chain cleaner. It will remove any dirt left after the first round. 

5. Let It Dry

What most people do wrong while cleaning the chain of their motorcycle is not letting the chain dry up before applying the chain lube. Dry off the motorcycle chain with a microfiber towel or a blue roll. Leave the chain for some time after wiping it off with a towel. Ensure that it dries completely and only then apply the chain lube. 

6. Selecting A Lube

The choice of bike lubricant depends on the type of motorcycle you use and the condition of the chain. 

The three types of chain lubes are.

  • Wet Lubes

The lubricant which remains wet until you wipe it off with a microfiber towel is called a wet lube. A wet lube sticks onto the surface of the chain and provides waterproofing to it. Wet lubricants are useful if you ride a motorcycle in rainy conditions. 

However, since wet lubes are sticky, they attract a lot of dirt and grime. Some of the wet lubricants are viscous so they don’t let the chain move effectively. So, choose the wet lube as per the condition of your chain. 

  • Dry Lubes

Lubricants that need to be dried up before you can ride the motorcycle are called dry lubes. Dry lubricants contain Teflon or polytetrafluoroethylene. Dry lubricants seep through the drive chain and keep it lubricated without adding moisture. 

If you ride a motorcycle in dry environments where the motorcycle chain comes in contact with sand, mud, etc, a dry lubricant is suitable for your bike. A dry lubricant does not attract dirt and grease so it remains relatively clean. 

  • Wax Lubes

If you need a lubricant that can lubricate and clean the chain at the same time, go for a wax lube. A wax lubricant is very thick. You need to apply wax lubes several times to get the effect. 

Wax lubricants tend to flake off from the surface of the motorcycle chain, and might cause considerable wastage. Wax lubricants are best for use in dry conditions. 

If you only use your motorcycle for short distances, choose a wax lubricant. A wax lubricant will keep the chain lubricated and clean. Also, if you apply it well, the lubrication stays for a long time. 

7. Apply The Lube

After you choose a suitable lubricant for your bike, it’s time to apply it. To apply the lubricant, give the can a vigorous shake. Then, spray the lubricant evenly on all sides of the motorcycle chain. Wipe off any overspray. Leave the motorcycle chain with the lube overnight. 

Once the lubricant is dry, you are good to go. Take the motorcycle for a ride and check whether it needs more lubrication or not. 


In this article we learned the right way of cleaning a motorcycle chain. Anyone who doesn’t know how to clean a motorcycle chain can learn it quickly with this guide.

Cleaning and lubing of the chain are crucial for getting the best mileage out of a motorcycle. Nobody likes chain maintenance, but it is essential for a good riding experience. 

If you don’t maintain the condition of your chain, you might have to replace it and motorcycle chains are expensive to purchase. 

The following two tabs change content below.
Connie Williams

Connie Williams

Williams is an experienced motorist having participated in several biking races and such other events. Her passion for motorcycles as well as for writing drove her to set aside a professional career in engineering to write about bikes.
Connie Williams

Latest posts by Connie Williams (see all)