The answers to when and how often to use dirt bike chain lube depend on several factors, including riding frequency, operating conditions and chain type. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, follow these guidelines when maintaining your dirt bike chain.
- Lube the chain prior to each ride/race
- Lube the chain after every wash
- Clean the chain periodically to prolong life
O-ring and X-ring dirt bike chain maintenance
O-ring and X-ring chains are great when trail riding through mud and water.
On the former, tiny rubber O-rings between the inner and outer side plates help prevent dirt and other abrasives from infiltrating the chain pivot points and scouring away the metal. The rings are literally in the shape of an “O” and distort to flatten on two sides when compressed, creating a seal that keeps the lubricant in and contaminants out.
An X-ring chain is designed similarly, except the tiny rubber rings are in the shape of an “X”. When compressed between the plates, two smaller faces seal against the plate. This configuration provides the same great sealing action, except with reduced friction for more power to the ground. As such, X-ring chains are more expensive.
Despite lubricant being sealed inside the pins, the rollers on an O-ring and X-ring chain still require lubrication, as do the side plates and other components to prevent corrosion.
Non O-ring chains need dirt bike chain lube more often
Motocross riders lean toward non O-ring and X-ring chains since they’re lighter, which maximizes power to the ground.
The added power comes at the expense of chain protection, however, since dirt and abrasives are free to migrate into every nook and cranny in the chain. This translates into a need to clean and lubricate the chain more often.
Use dirt bike chain lube before each ride and after every wash
Apply a dedicated chain lube that’s designed to avoid attracting dirt to the chain before each ride or race.
Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions. For trail riders using an O-ring or X-ring chain, lubing the chain at the start of the day is sufficient. If you’re riding motocross, you probably want to lube the chain prior to each race.
Periodically clean the chain
You’re not riding right if you’re not getting dirty. That means your chain is going to get dirty, too.
Cleaning your chain periodically to restore it to like-new condition can significantly increase its life, which is great considering they don’t give these things away.
If there is heavy buildup on the chain, use a soft-bristled brush to work it loose. Then, using a non-caustic, non-abrasive soap, such as Dawn dish detergent, carefully wash the dirt and debris from your chain on an as-needed basis.
If you use a pressure washer, take care not to direct high-pressure water on the chain for long periods, especially on O-ring or X-ring chains since the water can ruin the seals.
Check out the proper way to wash your dirt bike here.