The chain is a crucial part of your dirt bike, and its quality directly affects the bike’s performance. It’s important for safety reasons, but a worn-out bike chain can also damage the motorcycle. However, most riders are unsure as to how often they should replace a dirt bike chain.
You should replace your dirt bike chain every 700-5000 miles, depending on how well you maintain your bike and your riding style. It also depends on the overall quality of the chain, and so taking good care of a high-quality dirt bike chain will make it last longer.
In this article, we will talk about everything related to dirt bike chains and clarify everything that you should know if you are a bike owner. First, let’s take a closer look at how often you should replace a dirt bike chain, and the factors that affect it.
How Often Should You Replace A Dirt Bike Chain?
As mentioned, you should replace a dirt bike chain somewhere in the range of every 700-5000 miles. However, if you are not sure how long have you driven with your current chain, there are three signs to look for that your chain is in a bad condition.
Rust is the primary reason to replace your dirt bike chain. However, it doesn’t mean that you absolutely need to replace it if you notice a little rust. Take a look at the seals and pins, and if they are rusty, then you should replace the chain because it’s no longer reinforced. These are the critical parts of the chain.
It’s okay if your chain makes some noise, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should replace it. However, if it makes a strange, creaking noise, it’s probably too old or worn out, which means you need to replace it.
It’s Too Tight
To check if your dirt bike chain is too tight, give your chain a slight wiggle with your hand. If it doesn’t move at all, you might need to replace it. However, make sure that you haven’t tightened the chain too much, in which case, the chain might still be in a good condition, and it just needs loosened.
The Chain Is Weak Or Jumps
If the chain is very loose and you can easily move it, it means that it’s probably weak. Also, if the chain constantly jumps and stays unstable, it’s either weak or in a bad condition. In both cases, if these issues aren’t resolved by tightening the chain, you should replace it.
Maintaining A Dirt Bike Chain
By maintaining your dirt bike chain, you will ensure that it lasts as long as possible. However, not every rider knows how to do it properly. Maintaining your dirt bike chain will save you lots of money in the long run.
Check It Regularly
The most important thing to do is to check your chain before every ride. Look for the common signs above, and also check the strength of your chain. The slack of a dirt bike chain should be between 35 and 50 millimeters and 30-40 millimeters for a street bike chain.
Clean Your Chain
You should clean your dirt bike chain every 700 miles. The good thing is it only takes about 10 minutes to do this. Place your bike in a convenient location and clean it with a brush and some warm water. If it’s really dirty, clean its inner parts properly, although it might take some time and patience.
Make sure to never use detergents when cleaning your dirt bike chain. Water will do the job, and after cleaning, you should apply some lubricant. Doing this regularly will boost the chain’s performance and make it last longer.
Oil The Chain
Oiling your dirt bike chain will ensure that you get the best performance out of it and a smoother ride. However, make sure to oil it only after the ride, not before. If you oil it regularly and apply our maintenance tips, your chain will last closer to the 5000 mile mark before needing replaced.
How To Install A Bike Chain
If you do need to replace your dirt bike chain, you need to know how to install a new one. To start, it’s crucial that you have a copy of your bike’s service manual. It contains all the instructions and specifications that you need to complete the job. Also, before getting a new chain, you need to ensure that the sprockets are in good condition.
If your sprockets are worn out, your new chain will wear faster. You should also inspect components like the chain slides and rollers. If they are in a bad condition, you should replace them as well.
You can check the condition of your sprocket visually. Simply look at the sprocket teeth, as when they wear out, they start to bend slightly. In severe cases, some teeth might be shorter than the others,which definitely means that you should replace your sprockets, too.
To check the chain, it’s a good idea to put your bike on a stand. Then, rotate the rear wheel and inspect its condition visually. Also, as you rotate the chain, try to find any possible tight spots or links that might be stuck together.
You should also try to pull the chain away from the most rearward part of the rear sprocket. If you can pull the chain for more than half a sprocket tooth’s length, it’s time for a replacement. Also, if the chain moves a lot from side to side when pushed on the sprocket, you should replace it.
Before you order a replacement chain however, there are a few things that you should consider. First, you need to choose the type of master link connection, and you need to decide if you want a standard chain or a sealed chain.
Master Link Connection
The master link connection can be either clip type or rivet type. Clip-type connections are very popular, mainly because they are easy to install. They can be installed with no special tools. However, they are not as strong as the rivet type.
Rivet-type links require a special tool to install, but they are stronger than clips. Note that sometimes the chain will come with both connections, and sometimes only one. Be sure to know what you are buying before you order!
The difference between a standard and a sealed chain is that a standard chain doesn’t use any type of seal. Sealed chains have an O-ring that retains lubricant and reduces wear, therefore prolonging the chain’s life.
Removing The Chain
How you remove your dirt bike chain depends on what type of master link connection the chain has. For clip-type connections, the master link plate usually wears enough during use and can easily slide off the link. If the plate is too tight, you can drive it out with a hammer or a chain breaker tool.
Chains with a rivet-type connection require pin grinding to remove one of the links. First, grind the rivets, keeping one of the links flat, and then push the link out using a hammer or a chain breaker tool.
Before you start the installation, make sure to resize the chain if necessary by removing the appropriate number of links. You should count the number of links on the old chain to make sure that the size is correct.
You can remove chain links by carefully grinding the rivet flat and then driving the pin out with a hammer. If you’re not sure how to do it or don’t want to damage the chain, you can use a chain break tool instead.
Clip Type Master Link Installation
Once you install the master link, install another pair of O-rings. Note that the master link plate will need to be pressed onto the master link. You can do this by squeezing the plate onto the master link with a pair of pliers.
Make sure to press the plate far enough so that the grooves become exposed. In some cases, a pair of small C-clamps can be helpful. If you don’t have them, you can use a master link plate installation tool.
Then, install the master link clip, but make sure that it’s oriented so that the closed end leads to the direction of rotation. You should also position the master link clip in its mating grooves on the master link. A pair of pliers can be very helpful in this situation.
Rivet Type Master Link Installation
For this type of master link, you will need a master link rivet tool. If this is your first time installing this kind of chain, you should follow the instructions provided with the tool. The chain manufacturer might also provide some specifications about the amount of flare you should add when deforming the rivets.
Setting The Slack
Once you install the master link, you need to adjust the amount of slack the chain has. The service manual of your bike should have information about how to measure the chain slack and define its slack range.
You should always measure the chain slack while the bike is on a center stand. The slack is measured by pulling the chain on the center and measuring its displacement. Note that most dirt bikes require between 30 and 60 millimeters of slack, but it’s different for street bikes.
While working with chain adjusters, make sure to be careful and apply even tension on the chain.Once you set the slack, torque the rear axle nut according to your service manual. Also, make sure to check the slack after a few rides after the installation. As with everything mechanical, things can move around a little after their first few uses.
A new chain dirt bike chain can last between 700 and 5000 miles. However, it all depends on your riding style and maintenance. Be sure to always ride with a chain that’s in a good condition, because it directly affects the bike’s performance and your safety. Look after your dirt bike chain, and it should last for many years!