Much like any vehicle, your motorbike or scooter will need regular maintenance and checkups. If you do not look after your bike, it can lead to preventable wear and/or unwanted damage.

Checking your motorcycle chain is a job you should really be carrying out regularly, and it is easy enough to do from the comfort of your home. Most chain-driven motorbikes out there are the same across the board, so learning how to check your chain should be easy enough to learn.

So with that being said, let’s get into it, shall we?

Here is our how-to guide on how to check your motorcycle chain in a few simple steps:

How do motorcycle chains work?

The chain on your motorcycle transmits mechanical power via the sprocket gear. The groves of the chain mesh with the links in the chain and pull it into action.

In order for motorbike chains to work effectively, they need to be strong yet light, to ensure the that ride is as safe and smooth as possible.

When to tighten a loose motorcycle chain

If your motorcycle chain is too loose it will move around, and in worst-case scenarios even jump off the sprocket, get tangled, or throw you off the bike.

What happens if your chain is too tight?

In the event that your motorcycle chain is too tight, it can put a strain on several parts of the bike, especially the sprockets. This can cause increased component wear especially to the sprockets and make the engine work a lot harder than it needs to be - You can even notice the suspension feels more abrupt and uncomfortable too with chain that feels too tight.

What tools do you need to tighten a motorcycle chain?

In order to tighten your motorcycle chain, you will need the following:

  • Torque wrench (or spanner)
  • Chain lube
  • Vernier calipers or Tape measure
  • Paddock stand - if you do not already have a centre stand on your motorcycle.
  • And maybe a willing spare pair of hands.

You will also need to do your research before you start moving the chain about on your bike, so get out and read the owner's manual.

Motorcycle maintenance: How to tighten your chain in 7 steps

Step 1:
Take a look in your owner's manual and find out what the slack of your chain should be. Once you know this, keep a note of it somewhere and then you can begin.

Step 2:
Next, you’ll need to get it up on its centre stand or on a paddock stand

Step 3:
Once your bike is up in the air, you can begin to inspect the area you plan to work on. Give the chain a once over and give the wheel a spin to check for any sticking.

Step 4:
With your motorbike rear wheel off the ground, you can now loosen the axle nut and then the adjusters (remembering to loosen it the same amount on each side). Once the chain is slack, tighten the axle nut (small resistance) and adjusters back up.

Step 5:
With the use of Vernier calipers, Tape measure, or even a ruler, hold it up against the chain and begin to move it up and down to test how much your chain moves, do not apply that much pressure.

It is then down to final tweaks on the adjusters to get to the correct tension for your chain, once this is done it is time to check you have found to correct tension for your chain, and it is time to check your wheel alignment.

Step 6:
When looking at the wheel alignment, most bikes will have marks on their swingarm to help you out - however, these do have the tendency to be inaccurate.
Instead, you can measure from the centre of the axle to a fixed point on the swingarm, and if they are both equal, it should mean that your rear wheel is correctly aligned.

Step 7:
Before tightening everything back up, give your wheel a wiggle to see whether the adjusters are in the correct place.

When tightening everything back up, remember to use your torque wrench to set the correct values and use your free hand to put tension on the chain.

Once everything is done, pop some chain lubricant on and give it a last check over, and then you are done!


Ready to ride!

So there you have it, here is our quick and handy guide to checking your motorcycle chain at home. We would like to remind you that we here at Lexham are not mechanics, and should any bike owners out there need any expert advice, please seek it from professionals first. - especially as this may void any insurance claims.

Last but not least, if you do need insurance on your very own motorbike, make sure to get a motorcycle insurance quote direct with Lexham!