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Ducati - D.I.Y - simplified
A motorcycle chain is an efficient method of transmitting engine power to the wheel resulting in forward motion (fun!). With current generation O-ring type of chains (X-ring and Y-ring too) you can expect relatively long life from your motorcycle chain. Let’s examine the components of a chain as well as what actually “wears” to understand why a chain and/or sprockets require replacement.
A chain is a continuous assembly of (alternately) roller links and pin links. The roller links contain the rollers which engage the sprockets and creates the driving force. The pin links hold the roller links in place: When operating, the outer surface of the pin and inner surface of the bushing rub against one another, creating wear. (Frequent cleaning and lubrication reduce the wear, but will not eliminate it). This wear of the pins is the major component in the aging of the motorcycle chain. As the pin is worn away from contact with the bushing the strength of the pin is decreased. The problem is the wear of the pin. As the surface of the pin is reduced, the rigidity of the pin decreases and eventually fatigue failure may result. The typical failure is a broken motorcycle chain which can wrap around the drive sprocket damaging engine casings ($$$$) or get caught in the rear sprocket causing an immediate (and dangerous) rear wheel skid.
Another type of failure is the chain just falls off and the motorcycle coasts to a stop leaving you stranded. Nothing good results from the motorcycle chain failing. Other parts of the chain are moving and wearing at the same time. The roller is moving against the bushing from contact with the sprockets and the side plates (roller link plate and pin link plate) are moving against each other. The outer components of the chain are easy to lubricate: Getting the lubricant into the area between the pin and the bushing is more difficult.
The breakthrough of the O-ring Motorcycle Chain is the lubricant is sealed in the pin/bushing area by the O-ring. Therefore care in cleaning is important: the wrong solvent used can deteriorate the O-ring and deplete the lubricant: accelerating wear. Typically, chains require the most frequent maintenance of any part of your motorcycle. It is rewarding in both mileage and security to buy quality components for the drive system: the chain and sprockets. There are two main types of chains available for motorcycles: the O-ring chain and the non-O-ring chains. Most modern motorcycles come with O-ring chains. The designation refers to the fact there is a little O-ring (X-ring or Y-ring, etc.) seal between the side plates of the chain and the roller pins (The pins going through the chain).
The purpose of this O-ring is to keep the grease (or other lubricant) sealed in and the dirt out: effectively providing superior lubrication and reduced wear over the life of the chain. Care must be exercised when deciding which cleaning methods used. O-ring chains provide the longest life for the least amount of care. In spite of this advance, chains still require a certain amount of attention to provide trouble free riding.For street riding an O-ring chain and steel sprockets will give maximum service life for the least amount of effort. Keeping a chain clean and lubricated is the simple way to get 15k miles or more out of your chain.
A Worn chain will accelerate the wearing of the sprockets and the reverse is true: worn sprockets will accelerate the wearing of the chain.
MOTORCYCLE CHAIN CLEANING
A chain should be cleaned and lubricated about every 200 miles or so. Some of the newer motorcycle swing arm designs make changing a motorcycle chain a very laborious process, so it pays to keep the chain clean and lubricated to help make it last as long as possible. Correct chain adjustment is also crucial to the longevity of your motorcycle's chain, but is covered in a later section. A clean motorcycle chain and sprockets allow for proper visual inspection. What is the best way to clean a motorcycle chain? Many recommend using kerosene and a brush. Kerosene is one of many cleaners available: excellent results can be obtained using any of several spray chain cleaners.
Choose your cleaner. Sometimes it is a matter of personal choice so grab the preferred one and start cleaning. In addition to your favorite cleaner an assortment of brushes and rags is essential. Pictured with the brushes is a cookie sheet to help contain the mess of cleaning a motorcycle chain. Newspaper is also a good way to catch the drips.