Dirt Bike Chain Adjustment and Lubrication

Dirt Bike Chain Adjustment and Lubrication

Hi, I’m Steve Matthes, Transworld Motocross’s
Editor at large. You know, your chain is very vital to your
bike’s performance. If it’s too loose, that’s bad. If it’s too tight, that’s bad as well. And of course, you need the proper lube. So this week on Transworld Motocross’s Bike
Bandit, “How To Of The Week,” it’s gonna be chain etiquette.

So what we have here is Lutz’s bike. And as you can see, the chain is way too loose. If you have a chain that’s way too loose,
it’s in danger of being derailed as well as wearing out the rubbers on your swing arm. If the chain’s too tight, it wears out your
sprockets prematurely or worse case scenario, it could snap. So as you know, all the bikes come with marks
on the swing arms. But in my experience as a factory mechanic,
I don’t always trust those marks. They’re not always perfectly right. So I have a cheap micrometer here you can
pick up at a hardware store and basically what I’m gonna do is go off the back of the
swing arm. So right now, if you line it up, we’re at
11 millimeters. So let’s tighten that up a little bit
and measure it again. And we’re at nine. I’m gonna go around to this side of the motorcycle
and basically line it up to be nine as well. Good idea to put tension on it, put a wrench
in there. And almost there. Come back three fingers. I have kind of stubby fingers but a general
rule, three fingers on the chain block. Chain should be a little tight on you.

And when you want to tighten it up, what you wanna do is put your ten on one end to
keep it where your measurement was. Get your big end wrench, be it a 12 or maybe
an 11 on a KTM, and just tighten that up snug. We’re still a little loose. So let’s give it one turn, two turns. One turn, two turns. Put a wrench in there. Pull it tight and off the back of the swing
arm which we assume to be parallel and true, we’re at eight millimeters. Once I tighten it up, lots of tension there. And that’s how you adjust a chain.

What we have here is Maxima Chain Guard, Maxima Chain Wax, both available at Bike Bandit,
slightly different. Chain Wax stays on the chain longer, coats
it a little more. It’s best to put the Chain Wax on when the
chain is hot. Chain Guard, you can do it anytime. Everyone’s got a different theory about this,
kind of like a theory about why Ricky Carmichael was so good. You can lube the chain at the back like Brendan
Lutz. You can lube it at the front. My dad always taught me to lube it at the
front. It doesn’t get everywhere, it stays easier,
and it seems to get stuck in the rollers. So basically I go in at the bottom and I spray
the chain, slowly spin the wheel. It’s getting into the sprockets. It’s getting into the rollers. It’s promoting healthy chain. And there you go. Don’t be afraid to use some chain lube to
extend the life your chain and therefore save yourself money.

There you go, how to adjust your chain and how to lube your chain. Both very important to keeping your motorcycle
running well and something that the factory teams do all the time. And that’s been your Transworld Motocross
Bike Bandit, “How To Of The Week.”

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. lol i feel so bad for women these days with comments like the very top one and some others around the section only you people could make it sound sick minded other then a Tech tip… women deserve more respect then that worlds messed up…

  2. @cheesewedge631 sorry i like to respect people of any kind unlike the rest of the world which is sad but u could care less right?

  3. another video found on YouTube says '3 fingers' behind the rubber slider but with both wheels on the ground, this one shows the bike on a stand. Which is the correct method?

  4. Thanks bud. Was worried my chain was loose but I have 3 finger tension. And I have white lightening wax lube good thing you added that its best applied warm

  5. just picked a 89 KX125… holy hell running scared. fired right up the first time, and even in 6 degree weather, though i only rode for 5 min. the bike kicks ass. 23 yrs old. dont know the guy i got it from. craigslist deal, you know, some crazy internet person coming for some other crazy internet person's stuff. buying from someone i didnt know proved to be a great buy! specially when its up for 8 bills.
    just inspect the hell out of it!

  6. Can you provide a video of replacing the chain slider on Honda crf 450. Thanks that was some outstanding information I will take me to Ocotillo wells. I find myself doing all my buddies chain adjustment,. This will help me speed up things and eliminate any mistakes.
    Thanks and good luck to you and your riders.

  7. Hello Murdo, Grease is not recommended. You should use motorcycle specific chain lube. If you don't have chain lube you can soak your chain in motor oil. However motor oil tends to fling off quickly and attract dirt.BikeBandit has a whole assortment of chain lubes. Check our our website or give our customer service a call at 1-888-339-3888. They would be more than happy to help you out.

  8. You put tension on the chain to insure the axle is taught against the axle blocks, that way you know you are getting a true measurement on each side of the wheel.

  9. Step 1, put the motorcycle on a stand so the rear wheel is off the ground. step 2, loosen the axle nut. Step 3, watch the video, but don't put a wrench in your chain, just kick the wheel forward. Enjoyed the vid, though, thanks for posting.

  10. the bolt is rounded off , the one you use to lock it after adjusting . so am unable to move it back to have right chain play. any ideas how i can get it off with out damaging the swing arm ??

  11. I want to like your videos and I've watched several but I am too slow and dumb to keep up with everything you are doing. I'm sure more advanced mech types love these vids.

  12. How did u get that bolt loose then tensions up the chain…? Struggling here rebuilt a 2 stroke yet can't figure out how to get this stupid bolt

  13. Totally lost respect for this guy, wonder if he lost his job and now is lubing bicycle chains for toy's r us. Only low people mention great athletes and there abilities.

  14. Worst explanation I've ever seen. Did not even show any close-ups on where to righting what nut or screw. This video is the worst help.

  15. That looks like 3 fingers of looseness.  One problem with spraying chain lube at the rear is getting over spray on the rotor.  I always clean both rotors when I'm finished with the bike. Amazing what comes off the rotor.   I soak my chain in old motor oil. The longer the better.  It gets in everywhere and  lasts and lasts. But I always have chain lube. Esp at the races.

  16. Where are you measuring your caliper from? Obviously the bolt but to the inner rim of the tire or what?

  17. When I am adjusting the length of the swing arm should I go to a certain number like 8 mm or just go until it seems right? "Three fingers under the chain" I'm on a cr125 if that helps. ??

  18. Hey, maybe you can help me out. I took out the accelerator to give it a regular maintainance and a clean, however I bought the bike second hand and when I opened it up, there was this silver sticky stuff, almost felt like clay and it certanly smelt like it, can you tell me if this is normal or should I take it to a professional? It's a Honda CRF230 Model 2014 by the way and Thank you in advance

  19. like and subbed, the 3 finger trick kept me good all last season just came back to reassure my new bikes chain is good to go

  20. hey would a clicking coming from the front spocket whilst riding and only when leaning to the right be an indication on a loose chain.

  21. 0:12 is he describing a vagina? "if its too loose its bad, if its too tight, its bad… you need proper lube" : )

  22. If you need a fucking close up of what he's doing or better explanation Obviously you have zero knowledge of a bike so I'd suggest you don't work on your bike and pay somone to do it.

  23. Couldn't really see anything you did and with no explanation, not really useful to a beginner like me.

  24. your manual will tell you the proper way to adjust your chain…apparently 3 stubby fingers are more precise than CNC machined divisional marks on the swingarm…👈🏼👈🏼👈🏼🤦🏻‍♂️

  25. Dude, this is a poor demonstration from a NOOB's perspective. What exactly are you measuring with you micrometer and the swing-arm. Your micrometer measurement clip has an open ended wrench between the chain and sprocket https://youtu.be/HsBycase5vw?t=66, yet there is no wrench at all during the previous or post clip.

  26. 1:00 that is not a micrometer it is a vernier caliper.
    And forgot to loosen the axle nut a bit too.
    A sprocket alignment tool is better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjJCLACcKWs

  27. MY BUDDY JUST LOST HIS CHAIN ON THE WHOOPS BECAUSE OF THIS VIDEO!!! BikeBandit and Transworld Motocross should be ASHAMED for posting this garbage. WTF is WRONG with you guys?!?!?!?!?! I wish I could post pics on here of the multiple older bikes that have different swing arm indentations from side to side that would throw your misuse of a CALIPER (not micrometer) in the DIY trash bin! USE THE F'N SWING ARM MEASUREMENT STAMP MARKS THAT COME FROM THE FACTORY!!! Also, your THREE FINGER RULE is complete DOG SHAT. Maybe for this Honda it got you somewhat close to a REAL MEASUREMENT but try this on a KTM, Husky, Gas Gas, Beta or a Hausenberg….that's right YOU CAN'T!!!! Not only is this three finger BS make the chain WAAAAY TOO LOOSE in real world experience, those previously mentioned bikes won't even allow you to loosen the chain that much because the chain guard won't allow the clearance to lift it that high. Doesn't this alone tell you that YOU'RE WRONG?? Take it from a VET who's been doing this for close to 30 years , use the common "TWO IN THE PINK, ONE IN THE STINK" rule to remember where to START, not where to FINISH. Two fingers under the chain is the more accurate starting measurement. Problem is, if you have to even use fingers you probably shouldn't be adjusting chains. This is more of a "feel" thing. Just take it to a shop or a friend who actually knows what they're doing. Also, ever hear the old saying, "never trust a skinny cook"? Well, the exact OPPOSITE holds true with moto ANYTHING. Don't get fooled by this donut eater, he's an editor for an F'n MAGAZINE. Get your hands dirty and figure this LIE out for yourself. FML with these people!

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