How To Clean a Dirt Bike Chain

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Cleaning the chain on your dirt bike is a comprehensive, involved task that requires a thorough attention to detail if it's done correctly.

You'll need a host of tools and cleaning supplies, some extra help and a lot of spare time. Many riders bypass this part of clean-up and leave it to a professional chain cleaner. And, don't get us started on the lubricating process. So much work!

Actually it all takes about five minutes.

Place your bike on a stand, grab a grunge brush or wire brush, a can of degreaser and your favorite lubricating spray. Use the brush to work away debris, turning the rear wheel as you move down the links. Rinse and repeat, as needed. Once clean and dry, spray on the lube. Done and done. Cleaning the chain is one of the easier jobs and usually it's half clean by the time you've worked through everything else on the bike, anyway.

Mechanic's Note: Don't use a wire brush or degreaser with O-ring style chains.

However, those muddy days offer a bit more challenge and sometimes requires removing the chain if you're having trouble extracting a stubborn piece of debris or grime. Or, if you're the meticulous type and enjoy getting into the nooks and crannies of your dirt bike then go right ahead and take the chain off.

How to Remove a Chain

Removing a dirt bike chain is a bit tricky at first because it requires disconnecting the master link. You'll need a pair of pliers. (Some riders use screwdrivers but we don't recommend it.) This applies to both standard and O-ring style chains. Once you get the process down it's quite easy and takes all but five seconds. Use one end of the pliers on an adjacent link as leverage while squeezing the closing end of the pliers to push the master link out.

Once removed, clean the chain using the grunge brush (or any stiff brush) and/or soak inside a container filled with degreaser. Don't forget to hose off the degreaser before applying lubrication! Replace the chain by wrapping around the sprockets and re-attaching the master link.

This is a bit more work than the five minute job above but a definite positive to removing the chain is getting a better visual for any wear on the chain, master link and the sprockets especially if you're getting close to the manufacture's recommendation for replacement.

You don't need to remove the chain very often for cleaning. Most of the time, probably 99.9 percent of the time, cleaning the chain is the more simple process as noted above. Brush any debris off, remove the dirty grease and oil then spray fresh lubricant. But some riders enjoy spending the afternoon tinkering with their rides and really giving their dirt bike a once over especially if it's been a while or a big race day is ahead.

So, if the mental fight is half the battle in a Motocross race think of the confidence you'll gain knowing the time and effort you put into a full detail cleaning of the shiniest dirt bike chain at the gate.