How long do motorcycle chains last?

How do I know when it’s time to change my motorcycle chain? Do they last for years, or is the service interval mileage dependant

Motorcycle chains take a lot of punishment, the strain from acceleration, grime and debris from the road, and getting wet. The chains lifespan is around 20,000 miles if it’s maintained. 

How do you know when your motorcycle chain is worn out?

An experienced rider can often tell by looking at how much slack is in the chain. A quick tap with the tip of your boot will indicate the condition of the chain.

Have you taken care of the chain by keeping it clean and lubricated? If you have allowed crud from the road surface to build up over time and ignored lubrication, your chain may need to change after 5,000 miles.

A telltale sign of your chain coming to the end of its useful life is you need to tension the chain more often. If you are frequently noticing the chain has gone slack after tensioning, you need to replace the chain.

Look for other signs, are the sprocket teeth looking worse for wear? This is an indication that the chain needs to be replaced; the excess wear on the chain is damaging the sprocket teeth.

Sprocket teeth should not look like a breaking wave caused by slack and wear from the chain.

It’s worth saying at this point, you change your chain and sprockets as a set to prevent premature damage to the chain.

How long do modern motorcycle chains last?

It depends on the mileage you are doing. If you are a fairweather rider, your chain will last a considerable time if you lubricate it and prevent rust from forming.

The life for a well-maintained chain that has been clean and lubricated with the correct tension applied is around 20 to 30,000 miles.

However, it is good practice to change your chain with a complete sprocket set at the lower end of the expected lifespan, 20,00 miles.

If you have ignored all the signs, your motorcycle chain is covered in dirt and rust, and the tension on the chain is not correct, you can expect the chain to break within 5 to 10,000 miles.

The last thing you need is for your motorcycle chain to break while travelling at speed and run the risk of the chain locking the back wheel.

Chains can cause physical damage to the leg of the rider with deep lacerations if not wearing boots and is a hazard for other motorists.

How much does it cost to replace a motorcycle chain?

It depends on the engine size and the make and model of your motorcycle. Chain prices range from 25 pounds for a small motorcycle to almost 200 pounds for a 1000 cc motorcycle.

Don’t forget to attract another 20% for VAT on top of these figures.