Replace your Motorcycle Chain - When?

We often talk about keeping your motorcycle chain in good condition and at the right tension, but it gets to a point when it is not longer performing optimal – even if it hasn't got to the dangerous stage yet. So how do you know when to change your motorcycle chain, before there's potential for it to snap.

The time to change your motorcycle chain is really all about personal choice, but there's how to detect excessive wear. There are a number of ways for finding tight spots on your motorcycle chain; watching for increased waving as the rear wheel turns and even looking at the sprockets.
On a spanking new chain and fresh set of sprockets there should be no more than a couple of millimeters of lateral (side-to-side) movement over the rear sprocket. Similarly, if you grab the chain at the back and in the middle of the rear sprocket you shouldn't be able to pull is away from the dips between individual teeth by any more than a couple of millimeters. If you can do either to any degree, say more than 5mm, it basically this point?

While motorcycle chains rarely snap it occurs, the last time we had heard about a motorcycle chain snapping was about 7 years ago it was on a highly performance tuned Suzuki Hayabusa. After they had improved the performance of the motorcycle, they did little maintenance and the drive chain was never checked. It's worth remembering, though, before you rush out and buy a new chain that you'll (very likely) also need to replace the sprockets as well. Failure to do so could shag a new chain in less than 800 kilometers. If you're still not sure pop your motorcycle into a motorcycle garage, they'll see you straight (if they honest enough...).
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