How to Clean a Motorcycle Chain
How to Clean a Motorcycle Chain


Motorcycle chains are often the dirtiest, grimiest part of your bike. Cleaning and lubing the chain is a cornerstone of proper motorcycle maintenance, and the entire process takes no more than 15 minutes to complete.

Before cleaning your bike chain, it's important to determine what kind of chain you're using. The most basic, common type of chain is non-sealed, which produces minimal friction but isn't able to lubricate internally. This will result in more aggressive wear and tear, requiring more frequent maintenance.

Another type of motorcycle chain, popular for its convenience, is a sealed chain such as an O-ring, X-ring or Z-ring chain. These types have rubber seals between the link plates and rollers of the chain which keep grease and lube cycling on the inside of your chain components while preventing dirt and grime from accumulating. Sealed chains lose lubrication over time, requiring regular lubrication maintenance to prevent drying out, cracking and falling apart.

With any type of motorcycle chain, you will need to give it care and attention to prevent buildup, wear and tear. If you find that your chain is loose or a sprocket has been worn down, it may be time for a replacement.

When cleaning your motorcycle chain it's important to use a non-corrosive cleaner that doesn't harm or degrade any metal, plastic or rubber pieces on the bike. You should avoid using vinegar because the acetic acid makes metal susceptible to rust. Additionally, bleach should never be used, because sodium hypochlorite (bleach) will corrode metals such as steel and aluminum, and degrade rubberized seals.

A safer option to harsh chemicals, Simple Green Pro HD Heavy Duty Cleaner is non-corrosive, safe for cleaning chrome, aluminum, stainless steel and other metals. The professional-grade, engine-safe formula breaks down tough grease, oil, road grime and other automotive fluids, making it ideal for cleaning your entire motorcycle, including the motorcycle chain.

Check out: How to Clean Your Motorcycle

For quick motorcycle chain cleanups, you can wipe down your chain with a rag moistened with diluted (1:3) Simple Green Pro HD Heavy Duty Cleaner to remove superficial grime before applying lubrication. You should give your drive chain a deep clean about twice a season or more, depending on frequency of use.

What you'll need:

Directions For How to Clean a Motorcycle Chain:

Check your Owner's Manual before cleaning your motorcycle chain. Always follow manufacturer's complete instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Make sure all parts of the motorcycle are cool to the touch before cleaning.

  1. Dilute cleaner. In a bucket or other large container, mix 1 part Simple Green Pro HD Heavy Duty Cleaner to 3 parts water. Add the mix to a spray bottle.
  2. Prep your motorcycle. Park your bike on its center stand or a rear stand where the washing and rinsing will fall on the ground and not run down the driveway into street and storm drain.
  3. Apply cleaner. Spray the entire length of chain with the Simple Green Pro HD Heavy-Duty Cleaner solution.
  4. Scrub. Use your chain-specific brush or toothbrush to scrub every link in the chain, paying close attention to the spaces between links and any buildup or dirt and grime. If possible, rotate the rear tire to cycle the chain's rotation, so you can access it entirely.
  5. Clean your rear sprocket. Use a rag soaked in the Simple Green solution to wipe down the rear sprocket fully. Remove any stubborn grime with the toothbrush.
  6. Rinse. Use a hose or bucket of water to rinse down the entire chain. Take your time to make sure all cleaner is rinsed from the chain. Let the rinse hit the ground – not run into the storm drain.
  7. Dry. Give your chain a good wipe-down to remove any excess moisture.
  8. Lubricate the chain. If your cleaner has done its job, your bike chain is now free of grease and grime. Now make sure to apply chain lubricant to your bike chain.
  9. Hit the road! Give your motorcycle a ride to help the lube cycle through the chain, and enjoy your next adventure!

Tip: You can easily perform this cleaning at a DIY car wash if you don't have a home area to do this job without runoff making a mess or entering a storm drain. DIY car washes have drain systems to handle the dirty runoff.


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