How Long Does a Motorcycle Chain Last?

The last thing you want to happen when you’re riding is to look down and see that your chain has Broken or fallen off. This could actually go severely wrong if you’re unlucky, with the motorcycle chain snapping and ripping right through your crankcase.

If you’re wondering how long a motorcycle chain lasts, it’s hard to give an exact answer. There are a lot of variables involved, including motorcycle chain maintenance, overall quality, and using the best motorcycle chain you can find for your bike.

Generally, you can expect a motorcycle chain to last between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. Just to reiterate, it just depends on maintenance, brand, lubrication, and some luck as well.

did motorcycle chain with automatic oiler

Factors That Determine How Long a Motorcycle Chain Lasts

Chain Lubrication and Maintenance

One of the most important factors when it comes to extending the life of your motorcycle chain is lubrication and maintenance. It’s a good idea to regularly clean your motorcycle chain and keep it lubricated.

This helps to prevent the chain from kinking and also prevents rust and debris from building up. While rust isn’t necessarily the worst thing, you definitely don’t want any kinks or debris building up.

Motorcycle chain kinks can eventually cause it to break from stress. The problem with debris is that it will wear the chain down faster as well, shortening its lifespan.

Make an effort to lube your motorcycle chain every 200-400 miles. Take the time to clean it every 500-600 miles if you want to increase its lifespan the most.

Type of Chain (Brand, Quality)

The longest lasting motorcycle chains are the O-ring type. These also happened to be the most popular and are found on the majority of motorcycles.

The benefits of these is that they are essentially sealed. There is an O-ring that seals the lubrication between the chain links and helps to keep out dirt and debris.

Most O-ring motorcycle chains will last more than 30,000 miles. On older bikes you’ll find different types of chains, which won’t last as long, but can be easily upgraded.

When you’re shopping for a new chain, always go with a reputable brand. Read reviews online so you can see what other people are having luck with.

Type of Riding

Another important factor that determines how long your motorcycle chain lasts is the type of riding that you’re doing. This relates to your riding style and the different conditions you’ll be riding in.

If you’re going to be riding a lot in the rain or dusty conditions then you need to pay more attention to change maintenance. Those of you that don’t ride regularly won’t need to worry about this as much.

Don’t forget that you need to check that your chain is the proper tension as well. This helps to prevent kinking and is another important part of basic Motorcycle Maintenance.

Signs of a Bad Motorcycle Chain


One of the most tell-tale signs it’s time to replace your motorcycle chain is that it has kinks. This is when the chain is bunched up, or kinked, and the links aren’t able to move freely.

It’s easy to tell that your chain is kinked with a visual inspection. There’s also the possibility that the bike won’t feel the same, especially in first gear or when you’re accelerating heavily.

Once you notice the chain is kinked, it’s probably time to replace it. While there are some remedies to fix a kinked motorcycle chain, replacing it is the easiest and safest option.

If you’re wondering how to prevent a motorcycle chain from kinking – make an effort to stay on top of your chain maintenance. Keeping it lubed and clean is one of the best ways to prevent this from happening.


While rust isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a sign that you are neglecting your motorcycle chain maintenance. It’s a good idea to regularly check for rust and clean it off if it’s discovered.

Cleaning the rust off your motorcycle chain is easy. Use your motorcycle chain cleaner of choice along with a chain cleaning brush or similar tool.

Kerosene can also work removing rust from the motorcycle chain. With your preferred cleaner, soak the chain and then clean it vigorously to remove all of the rust.

This is another point where it’s a good idea to start keeping on top of chain maintenance. Following this strategy you’ll be able to prevent it from happening again in the future and can keep your chain in prime condition.

Missing O-Rings or Damage

Consider replacing the chain if you notice any of the O-rings are missing or damaged. While it doesn’t need to be replaced immediately, this is a sign that the chain could be failing.

Alternatively, it needs to be replaced immediately if you notice the chain is damaged in any way. You do not want to be riding with a damaged chain and replacing it needs to be a priority for you.

What Motorcycle Chain Lube Should You Use?

For starters, I recommend checking out our post on the best motorcycle chain lube. This will give you a good starting point on some recommendations.

Otherwise, it ultimately boils down to personal preference. The main thing here is that you are making an effort to regularly clean and lube your chain.

This is going to make a bigger difference than the type of lube that you use. As long as you get into the habit of cleaning and lubing your chain on a regular basis, you’ll be on the right track for having it last a long time.

Your Questions, Answered

Should You Change Sprockets and Change at the Same Time?

Yes, it’s definitely recommended to change the chain and motorcycle sprockets at the same time. The sprockets will develop a wear pattern based on the chain.

Changing them separately can lead to premature sprocket wear or chain wear depending on how long either component has been used. For the price, you’re better off changing them both at the same time and keeping up with maintenance for the long run.

How Long Do Motorcycle Sprockets Last?

As we just mentioned, it’s a good idea to change the chain and sprockets at the same time. This means you can get anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000 miles from a set of sprockets.

Another key part of motorcycle maintenance is regularly inspecting the sprockets. This way you’ll be able to determine if they need to be replaced or if you can keep riding with them.

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