Cleaning and Lubing My Chain and Sprockets

The chain and sprockets are one of the most important parts of a motorcycle. They essentially put power to ground and allow the motorcycle to move. I’m not going into any crazy engineering on how the system works but it is fairly simple and very reliable. However, this system has to be maintained like everything else on a motorcycle and they can wear out over time. While living in Colorado and Minnesota fine dust was often the biggest enemy to chain and sprockets and for the most part you could get away with using a thicker chain lube. I preferred Motul’s C5 chain paste, it went on fairly easy and the attached applicator brush kept everything nice and clean and you didn’t have to worry about excess lube getting all over your bike. The C5 chain paste had very good longevity and it didn’t really seem to collect to much dirt or grime. It was my go to lube for my Yamaha XT225 as well as my Kawasaki KLR 650 since they had older style chains. For riding in Colorado and Minnesota it was great but once I moved to South Carolina I noticed that its thick nature attracted a ton of sand and we all know how abrasive and rough sand can be on metal parts.

Spitfire was quite dirty and the chain had quite a bit of grime built up

It wasn’t until I picked up the Triumph that I really started to get serious on what to use for chain lube. The Triumph Tiger uses modern X ring or O ring chains that are preloaded with grease in the rollers and don’t need a thick lube. I asked several local riders and it seemed like it was a mix of using a light coating of gear oil or a thicker tacky compound. Personally, I felt kind of lost so I turned to the one person that could point me in the right direction, Ari Henning. Some of you may know of Ari through his work at writing for Motorcyclist magazine or from his video series where he’s often paired with Zach Courts and they discuss several different motorcycle related topics. During the pandemic Ari has had a weekly stream on Instagram and YouTube through Revzilla’s Common Thread where he’s discussed numerous maintenance topics. With a background like his I figured he might offer some great advice. I sent Ari a message on Instagram outlining my issue and he came back with the recommendation of using Motul C3 off road chain lube. Ari mentioned that the C3 lube is thinner and intended to fling a bit so it doesn’t attract sand or grime on the chain and that it would be perfect for an dual sport or adventure bike.

Everything I used to clean and lube Spitfires chain

I figured after being pushed through some muddy trails and sandy roads that last few days that Spitfire needed a bath. After scrubbing the bike down for quite a bit I used Motul C1 chain cleaner and a motorcycle chain cleaning brush to get all of the dirt and grime off my chain and sprockets. Using those two products stripped my chain of any old lube as well as any remaining grime.

Spraying on Motul chain cleaner

Now since my Tiger doesn’t have a center stand I placed my Zeny motorcycle jack under the bike and lifted the bike up until the rear tire was off the ground. Once that was done I applied a light coat of the Motul C3 to the chain and sprockets as I rotated the rear wheel and that was it.

The Motul C3 lube goes on nice and light

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