How Often To Replace Motorcycle Chain? (5 Signs)

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A chain is an essential component of a motorcycle drivetrain that transfers power from the engine to the wheel. It should be free from wear and well-maintained for a smoother and hassle-free riding experience.

So, how long does a motorcycle chain last? Generally, a good quality motorcycle chain lasts 15,000 to 20,000 miles (24,000 to 32,000 kilometers) when well-maintained. Moreover, premium Gold X or O-ring chains last over 20,000 to 30,000 miles (32,000 to 48,000 kilometers).

If the motorcycle chain isn’t cleaned and lubricated regularly, it catches rust, wears fast, and should be replaced under 5000 to 10,000 miles (8000 to 16000 kilometers). Otherwise, it may disrupt power transfer to the wheel, ruining your riding experience.

In this guide, I’ll tell you the various signs that indicate the end of the lifespan of your chain drive, and they should be replaced immediately.

I’ll also provide some practical chain maintenance tips to increase the lifespan. So, don’t miss out on reading the whole article.

Motorcycle Chain Sprocket

How Do You Know When To Replace Motorcycle Chain

Inspecting your motorcycle chain and sprocket is part of your regular motorcycle maintenance routine.

You should replace your chain drive if you notice any of these worn motorcycle chain symptoms:

1. Overstretched Chainlink

Motorcycle Chain

As you know, the metal deforms over time when put under continuous tension. A motorcycle chain is always on tension, so the chainlink deforms and increases its length.

The first sign of a worn-out motorcycle chain is overstretched chainlinks. You should replace your chain if it’s overstretched.

Overstretched Motorcycle Chain

To check this, park your motorcycle on the center stand and grab the chain on the rear sprocket.

Now, try to pull it off toward the back, and if you can see the daylight between the chain and sprocket teeth, it means your chain is overstretched and must be replaced.

2. Chain Is Noisy

A good chain-drive should smoothly transfer the power from the engine to the motorcycle’s rear wheel without any noise.

But if your chain is rattling or squeaking, it’s a sign of a dry chain, which needs your attention. You should clean and lubricate the chain immediately.

You must replace your chain if the rattling noise or squeaking sounds disappear after lubrication.

3. Chain Is Rusted

Rusty Motorcycle Chain

The motorcycle chain will catch rust if it’s not lubed or well-maintained. This happens because the chain is located near the ground and is exposed to dust and moisture.

For smoother power transfer, your motorcycle chain should be lubed and rust-free. A little rust on the outer surface doesn’t mean your chain is ruined completely.

However, if any roller or pin is rusted, the seal is bad, and the link isn’t strong. In that case, the chain must be replaced.

4. Any Link Is Kinked

Kinked Motorcycle Chain

The chain link should be flexible and must grab the sprocket teeth for a smoother riding experience.

Due to excess chain tension and irregular maintenance, the chain link kinks and doesn’t sit on the sprocket. A kinked chain should be replaced because it creates a jerk when you ride the motorcycle.

5. Any Roller Is Cracked

Motorcycle Chain Roller Wear

You must inspect your chain rollers every 5000 miles. If any chain roller is cracked, it will wear your sprocket teeth.

If any roller is cracked, you should replace your motorcycle chain because it can endanger you at high-speed racing.

How To Maintain Your Motorcycle Chain For Longer Lifespan

Motorcycle Chain Lubricate

Regular chain maintenance is very important for smoother rides. You should clean and lubricate your motorcycle chain every week, or 200 to 300 miles.

I wipe my motorcycle chain after coming from a long ride and give a good chain spray to extend its lifespan. You can also develop this habit too.

If your motorcycle is exposed to rainwater, wash it with fresh water and lubricate the chain to keep it rust-free.

If you’re storing your motorcycle for winter or more than six months, don’t forget to apply a good quality chain lube to keep it protected.

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So, these regular maintenance tips extend your motorcycle chain lifespan to 20,000 to 30,000 miles.

Is It Okay To Replace The Chain Without Sprockets?

Many complained that their motorcycle chain was worn only after 5000 to 6000 miles despite regular maintenance and lubrication.

When I asked if you had replaced your sprockets, too, when replacing the chain, most of them answered no.

A general rule is to replace your sprockets when replacing the chain because a worn sprocket will wear the new chain faster and reduce its lifespan.

So, replace both sprockets for minimal wear whenever you change your motorcycle chain.

If your motorcycle chain isn’t lasting long, replace your sprockets and use good quality chain lube.

How Dangerous To Ride A Motorcycle With Worn Out Chain?

All engine horsepower transfers to the rear wheel via chain and sprocket assembly. Riding a motorcycle with worn-out chains and sprockets is highly unsafe, especially at high speed and uphills.

If the chain breaks, you might lose control of the throttle bar and have a major road accident.

The broken chain could wrap around the rear sprocket and lock the wheel. You’ll lose your control, leading to an accident.

The broken chain could also wrap around the front sprocket, damaging your motorcycle and leg.

So, I would advise you to check the signs of a worn motorcycle chain and replace it whenever necessary.

How Long Can You Ride On A Stretched Chain?

A stretched chain will create a rattling noise, but you can ride 300 to 500 miles and reach a motorcycle repair garage with proper lubrication.

But I would advise replacing both your sprockets and chain as soon as possible. Else, it could break and lead to a major road accident.


The lifespan of a motorcycle chain and sprocket depends upon maintenance. A regularly maintained chain lasts longer and gives a smoother riding experience than a dry chain.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Let me know if you want further information about my motorcycle chain maintenance schedule.

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