Want to get the most miles out of your chain and sprockets? Clean and lube your chain regularly. It's that simple.
The most thorough way to clean your chain is to remove it from your bike and soak it in something like kerosene. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, I do the second best thing and clean the chain while it’s on the bike.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
A picture’s worth a thousand words:
- newspaper or cardboard for catching drips
- kerosene (as specified by the SV650’s owner manual; I used to use WD-40, but I’m not too proud to have my mind changed by reason: Chain O-ring WD-40 exposure effects study and results)
- container to hold dirty kerosene
- brush (I use a Grunge Brush and a toothbrush)
- shop towels
- chain lube (I prefer Dupont Teflon dry lube)
- rear stand (optional, but makes this and other tasks so much easier that you really ought to get one right now if you don’t have one)
Step 2: Go For a Ride
Get your gear on and take a short ride. Five to ten minutes would be perfect. The goal is to get the chain warmed up, but not so much that it’s too hot to handle.
Step 3: Scrub
Park and put your bike on the stand. Put it in neutral so you can spin the rear wheel. Lay your drop paper down from the engine all the way to the rear axle. Here’s your target:
You’ll have to forgive me for the blurry pictures as I was taking them with the camera in one hand. Bad photographer!
Pour a little kerosene into your container, dip your cleaning brush into the kerosene, and give that chain a good scrubbin’.
I use the Grunge Brush to quickly scrub all the sides (top, bottom, both sides) of the chain. Then I use the toothbrush for a more thorough scrubbing.
Once you’re done scrubbing the chain and the front and rear sprockets, your kerosene will end up looking something like this:
Step 4: Wipe Clean
I use shop towels to wipe down the chain.
Don’t forget the sprockets!
Not bad for almost 9000 miles on it.
Step 5: Lube
Take a scrap of cardboard and hold it up behind the chain so the overspray from your lube doesn’t contaminate your rear tire.
Bonus Tip: I use a sharpie mark the chain so I don’t have to guess when I’ve gone around it completely.
Apply the lube to the chain so that all the joints are covered. Pay particular attention to the rollers and the points where the links are pinned together. The goal here is to apply just enough lube to cover the parts that will rub together. Too much lube leads to fling-off which usually means lube on your rear tire. Not ideal.
Step 6: Rest
Most spray lubes need at least 30 minutes to set. When in doubt, follow the directions on the can. Why not relax and have a nice beverage, knowing that your job is done — at least until another 600 miles roll by and you have to do it all over again.