Ask MO Anything: How Often Do I Have to Lube My Chain?

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By John Burns

Dear MOby,

After reading the Comments every time you guys write about that new Yamaha Tracer GT, I’m starting to feel negligent about my old Bandit 1200’s chain maintenance. Guys on there talk about how they could never have a bike with a chain because they’d have to lube and adjust it every night in the hotel parking lot when they’re out touring.

My Bandit’s a 2006 model with nearly 60,000 miles on it now. It had a nice new gold O-ring chain when I bought it five years and 25,000 miles ago. I keep the chain clean like the rest of the bike, as much as possible. But if it’s been lubed more than six or seven times in those five years I’d be surprised, I’m still on the same can of lube. I’m pretty sure I’ve adjusted it twice, and I’ve never done either in a hotel parking lot. The chain seems to be just fine. No kinks, no tight spots, no problems. Am I a bad parent?

O-ring Curious
Midland, Texas


Good question, O-ring. I too am often remiss when it comes to chain maintenance, probably because most of the bikes I ride are brand-new and usually borrowed for not very long. My personal 2000 R1 says it’s got 20,000 miles on it now, and its OEM chain seems fine too in spite of a less than rigorous maintenance schedule. Mostly I clean it along with the rest of the bike, which isn’t very often here in sunny SoCal, then squirt the chain with WD-40 to keep it from rusting – and every now and then with actual chain lube. I’ve always been of the belief that the whole point of a sealed chain, sealed with either O- or X-rings, is that the seals are there to contain the permanent lubrication inside …read more

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