CHAIN AND SPROCKET LONGEVITY
Keeping your wheels a-rollin’ is easy!
(Courtesy of Dirt Rider 2007 Buyer’s Guide)
The chain and sprocket connection (commonly called the drive system) on any motorcycle is its lifeline. Without a healthy and direct path between motor and wheel, the bike is idle worthless and dead.
This is why it is so important to keep the links and teeth of your bike clean, lubed and properly adjusted. Here is a simple system to ensure your bike continues to roll easily under its own power. Seriously, it is easy. Do it!
Cleaning your chain and sprockets is not done at the car wash or with a pressure washer. Doing that will force water into the chain rollers and prematurely rust the beans out of the components. Instead, use a stiff wire brush and some chain-specific cleaner (like Motorex Chain Clean). Clean all the debris off the chain and the entire build-up of gunk off your sprockets before you relube. Lubing dirt does absolutely no good! Make sure you clean and lube every time you wash your bike, at least but preferable after every ride.
After your drive system is clean, lube up with a high-quality choice from your favorite Moto-Chemical brand. There are a gabillion chain lubricants out there, but we recommend sticking to lighter, cleaner lubricants such as Maxima Crystal Clear or a similarly lightweight product. Such lubes are heavy enough to not fling off but light enough so they don’t leave a gooey mess on your swingarm and garage floor. Lube the chain, top and bottom, in the middle of the swingarm. Doing this should keep your sprocket clear of any excess spray, which could coat the sprocket and attract dirt, making it harder to clean.
It is important to lube your chain when it’s warm, not cold, to ensure good penetration into the chain rollers. Take a lap or two with a clean chain and then come back and lube it quickly, before it cools.
Since it’s so easy, adjusting your chain to the proper tension should be an automatic maintenance check every time you ride. Riding with a chain that’s too loose will wear out sprockets faster and increase your risk of DNFing due to a broken or thrown chain. Check your manual for the proper free play in the chain and remember it. Usually, if three fingers fit under the chain on top of the swingarm, you’re good to go. Remember to recheck your sag after adjusting your chain as you are essentially changing your wheelbase when you tighten your chain.
I TOLD YOU IT WAS EASY!
CHANGE OR CLEAN YOUR AIR FILTER EVERY RIDE (AT LEAST LOOK AT IT):
Ignorant to this tip, I had gone a couple of months without changing my air filter. Needless to say, after I swapped it, I could actually feel the increase in horsepower out of my little two-stroke.
The added control you have on the bike with your elbows up is absolutely amazing, getting you around the track much quicker. Plus, I looked like less of a goon the ore I learned to keep my elbows up and out.
LOOK THROUGH THE TURN:
I can’t stress this one enough. Why? Because you are way faster around the track when you do it; plus, you’re more aware of what’s going on. Just try this test: Go into a turn and stare at your front tire while you go through it. Then do the same turn again looking through to the finish of the turn. You will be three times faster, at least, and you won’t look like an idiot.
WARM UP BEFORE YOU SPEED UP:
I used to get on the track and go crazy right away. After a few crashes, I learned that it’s much better to ride at least 10 laps or 30 minutes before picking up my pace to top speed. It gives you time to balance, acclimate and acquaint yourself.
SIT ON YOUR GAS CAP:
This puts weight on your front tire, giving you traction and control and preparing you for whatever is next. Nothing good can happen while riding on the back of your bike. Trust me – I’ve been there – ouch!
LEARN ON A SMALL BIKE. EARN THE RIGHT TO RIDE A BIG BIKE:
This forces you to really learn to ride a motorcycle, keeps you humble and makes you feel like a champ when you pass 450s on your 125! Nothing feels better than winning a race against a bunch of guys on 450s.
STAY WITHIN YOUR OWN RIDING ABILITY:
Just because that guy can jump the triple doesn’t mean you can or should. I’ve crashed hard a few times, and it’s only because I was trying too much too soon. So I reverted to learning turns. Now I win some races because I’m faster on the ground than in the air.
Use them! Stand more than sit. When braking and going through the whoops and bumpy turns, squeeze the bike with your legs. Your leg muscles are bigger and stronger than your arms, and you’ll last twice as long if you use them correctly.
Having ridden for seven months (285 rides), I don’t know of a sport that gives me such a sense of empowerment, happiness, accomplishment and an overall feeling of just being alive. I am forever indebted to Jimmy Lewis and Dirt Rider for cluing me in on the best sport in the world.
OUR ARCHIVED TIPS:
Dirt Rider – Buyers Guide 2007 Tips – written by Daryl Osswald