Motorcycle enthusiasts know that an annoying sound coming from the chain can be a common issue. If you’re wondering why your motorcycle chain is making noise, there are several reasons why it might be happening. The most common causes of chain noises include a loose or tight chain, a worn-out chain, lack of maintenance, and sprocket noise.
One reason why a motorcycle chain might be making noise is due to a loose or tight chain. When the chain is too loose, it can slap around and cause a clunking noise. On the other hand, if the chain is too tight, it can cause a whining noise. A worn-out chain can also cause noise, especially if it’s stretched or has damaged links. Lack of maintenance can also contribute to chain noise as dirt and debris can accumulate and cause the chain to wear out faster. Sprocket noise can also be a factor in chain noise, especially if the sprockets are worn or damaged.
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Common Causes of Motorcycle Chain Noise
When it comes to motorcycle chain noise, there are a few common causes that are worth exploring. Here are some of the most frequent culprits:
Worn Sprocket Teeth
One of the most common causes of motorcycle chain noise is worn sprocket teeth. Over time, the teeth on the sprockets can become worn down, which can cause the chain to slip and make noise. This is especially true if the teeth are worn unevenly. If you notice that your motorcycle chain is making noise, it’s a good idea to inspect the sprocket teeth to see if they are worn down.
One of the way to determine if your sprocket teeth are ready for replacement is if they have the form of a shark fin. When the rollers hit the chain they pull on the same side of the teeth every time and this make the outside of the teeth pass from a triangular shape to a shark fin shape. If one of the teeth is missing then it’s pretty obvious that you need to change the sprocket. Don’t worry this is an easy task that don’t required a lot of special tools, even if you never did it it’s a pretty easy process.
Loose Chain Tension
Another common cause of motorcycle chain noise is loose chain tension. When the chain tension is too loose, the chain can slap against the sprockets, which can create a lot of noise. This is especially true when you’re accelerating or decelerating. If you notice that your motorcycle chain is making noise, check the chain tension to make sure it’s within the manufacturer’s specifications.
You can find the specification for your chain slack easily online, on some vehicle it’s written on the side of the swing arm, if you can’t find it anywhere…I’v got an easy way for you to measure it. Usually a normal tension on the chain will permit to insert three fingers side by side, so you just have to place your hand perpendicular to the swing arm and try to insert your Major, index and annular finger together between the swing arm and the chain around the mid section. If you can place your finger and there is no more space you are good to go.
Dirty or Dry Chain
A dirty or dry chain can also cause a lot of noise. When the chain is dirty, it can create friction against the sprockets, which can cause a lot of noise. Similarly, if the chain is dry, it won’t be lubricated properly, which can also cause noise. To prevent this, it’s important to keep your chain clean and lubricated.
I remmener that my girlfriend last motorcycle had been store for the winter in a place with lot of humidity. When we put back the bike on the road, we notice that the bike was jerky in the first gear and that at low speed the chain was doing a lot of noise. We where very surprised that the chain was rusted and that some rollers where completely jammed. I was surprised that even with a lot of effort and WD-40 I could not unjam the stuck rollers, we had to replace the chain and both the sprockets to fix the issue.
Misaligned Rear Wheel
If your motorcycle’s rear wheel is misaligned, it can cause the chain to make noise. When the rear wheel is misaligned, it can cause the chain to rub against the sprockets, which can create a lot of noise. To fix this issue, you’ll need to adjust the rear wheel alignment.
Adjusting the rear wheel is pretty easy if you have the right tools. I love to use the Motion Pro 08-0048 Chain Alignment Tool it’s cheap and it’s working perfectly. Just fix it to the rear sprocket and you will see if your chain is in a straight line with the sprocket.
Damaged Chain Links
Finally, damaged chain links can also cause a lot of noise. When the chain links are damaged, they can create a lot of friction against the sprockets, which can cause noise. If you notice that your motorcycle chain is making noise, inspect the chain links to see if any of them are damaged.
By understanding these common causes of motorcycle chain noise, you can take steps to prevent them from happening. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and lubrication, can go a long way in preventing chain noise. Additionally, it’s important to inspect your motorcycle regularly to catch any issues before they become bigger problems.
How to Diagnose the Problem
If you’re experiencing a noisy motorcycle chain, there are a few things you can do to diagnose the problem before taking it to a mechanic. The following sub-sections will guide you through the process of visually inspecting your motorcycle chain, listening for sounds, and checking chain tension.
The first step in diagnosing a noisy motorcycle chain is to visually inspect it. Look for signs of wear and tear, such as kinks, rust, or missing links. Check the chain tension and make sure it’s not too loose or too tight. Check the sprockets for wear and make sure they’re not bent or damaged. If you find any issues during the visual inspection, it may be time to replace your chain or sprockets.
Listening for Sounds
The next step is to listen for sounds. Start your motorcycle and listen for any unusual noises coming from the chain. A loose chain can make a rattling sound, while a tight chain can make a whining sound. If you hear any unusual noises, try to identify where they’re coming from. If the noise is coming from the chain, it may be time to adjust the tension or replace the chain.
Checking Chain Tension
Finally, check the chain tension. A loose chain can cause excessive noise and wear on the sprockets. To check the tension, measure the slack in the chain by pushing down on it in the center of the bottom run. The chain should move about 1-1.5 inches. If it’s too loose, adjust the tension according to your motorcycle’s owner’s manual. If it’s too tight, loosen it up a bit.
By following these steps, you can diagnose the problem with your noisy motorcycle chain and take the necessary steps to fix it. Remember to always refer to your motorcycle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions on adjusting chain tension or replacing parts.
How to Fix a Noisy Motorcycle Chain
If you’re hearing a lot of noise coming from your motorcycle chain, there are several things you can do to fix the problem. Here are some steps to follow:
Replacing the Chain
If your chain is worn or damaged, replacing it may be the best solution. To replace the chain, you’ll need to:
- Remove the old chain by breaking it at the master link.
- Install the new chain by connecting it with the master link.
- Adjust the chain tension.
Replacing the Sprockets
If your sprockets are worn or damaged, replacing them may be necessary. To replace the sprockets, you’ll need to:
- Remove the old sprockets by loosening the bolts that hold them in place.
- Install the new sprockets by tightening the bolts.
- Adjust the chain tension.
Adjusting Chain Tension
If your chain tension is too loose or too tight, it can cause noise. To adjust the chain tension, you’ll need to:
- Loosen the rear axle nut.
- Adjust the chain tension by moving the rear wheel forward or backward. Usually done with two small bolt and a jammed nut on your swing arm.
- Tighten the rear axle nut.
Cleaning and Lubricating the Chain
If your chain is dirty or dry, cleaning and lubricating it may help reduce noise. To clean and lubricate the chain, you’ll need to:
- Clean the chain with a chain cleaner and a brush.
- Dry the chain with a clean cloth.
- Lubricate the chain with a chain lubricant.
I think it’s better to use special product to clean your chain, here are some link to special products and tools you might need.
By following these steps, you should be able to fix a noisy motorcycle chain and enjoy a smoother, quieter ride.
Preventing Future Chain Noise
To prevent future chain noise, it is important to perform regular maintenance on your motorcycle chain. This includes proper lubrication, avoiding overloading the motorcycle, and checking chain tension regularly.
Regular maintenance is essential to keep the chain in good condition. This includes cleaning the chain and sprockets regularly, inspecting the chain for signs of wear and tear, and replacing the chain if necessary. It is recommended to clean the chain after every ride, especially if it has been exposed to dirt, dust, or moisture.
Proper lubrication is crucial to prevent chain noise. A dry chain can cause excessive wear and tear, leading to noise and even chain failure. It is recommended to use a high-quality chain lubricant and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Over-lubrication can attract dirt and debris, which can cause more harm than good.
Avoiding Overloading the Motorcycle
Overloading the motorcycle can put excessive stress on the chain, which can cause it to wear out faster and make noise. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum load capacity and avoid carrying more weight than necessary. This can also help improve fuel efficiency and reduce wear and tear on other parts of the motorcycle.
Checking Chain Tension Regularly
Checking chain tension regularly is important to prevent chain noise and ensure the chain is in good condition. A loose chain can cause excessive noise and wear, while a tight chain can cause damage to the sprockets and other parts of the motorcycle. It is recommended to check chain tension every 500 miles or so, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
By performing regular maintenance, proper lubrication, avoiding overloading the motorcycle, and checking chain tension regularly, you can prevent future chain noise and keep your motorcycle chain in good condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes a motorcycle chain to make noise?
There are several reasons why a motorcycle chain can make noise. One of the most common causes is a loose or tight chain. A worn-out chain can also make noise. Lack of maintenance and sprocket noise are other reasons why a motorcycle chain can be noisy. In some cases, the chain slider can be damaged, causing chain noise.
How do I know if my motorcycle chain needs lubrication?
A motorcycle chain needs to be lubricated regularly to function properly. If the chain is dry or rusty, it needs lubrication. You can also check the chain tension. If the chain is too tight or too loose, it needs lubrication. A dry chain can cause excessive wear and tear on the chain and sprockets, leading to costly repairs.
What are the symptoms of a loose motorcycle chain?
A loose motorcycle chain can cause several symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is chain noise. The chain may also jump or skip on the sprockets. The bike may feel sluggish or unresponsive when accelerating. A loose chain can also cause excessive wear and tear on the chain and sprockets, leading to costly repairs.
Can a worn front sprocket cause chain noise?
Yes, a worn front sprocket can cause chain noise. The sprocket teeth can become worn or damaged over time, causing the chain to skip or jump. A worn sprocket can also cause excessive wear and tear on the chain, leading to costly repairs.
How do I adjust my motorcycle chain tension?
To adjust your motorcycle chain tension, you need to loosen the rear axle nut and adjust the chain adjusters. The chain should have about 1-2 inches of slack when the rider is sitting on the bike. Make sure to tighten the rear axle nut to the manufacturer’s recommended torque specification.
What are the consequences of not fixing a noisy motorcycle chain?
If you don’t fix a noisy motorcycle chain, it can cause excessive wear and tear on the chain and sprockets. This can lead to costly repairs and even a broken chain while riding. A broken chain can cause serious injury or death. It’s important to fix a noisy motorcycle chain as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure a safe ride.
Meet Simon, the 46-year-old aficionado behind YourMotoBro. With a lifelong passion ignited by motocross dreams and a Canadian Tire bicycle, Simon’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. From coaching underwater hockey to mastering muddy terrains, he’s an authority in thrill and adventure. Certified as an Off-Road Vehicle Excursion Guide and trained in Wilderness First Aid, Simon’s love for bikes is as diverse as his collection—from a robust BMW GSA R1200 to the memories of a Harley Davidson Night Train. By day a respected telephony consultant, by night a motorcycle maestro, Simon’s tales are a blend of expertise, resilience, and undying passion. 🏍️✨