One of the most common criticisms of many modern motorcycles is their reliance on chain final-drive systems which, although now more sophisticated than ever, still require regular adjustment and lubrication.
Without the latter, especially in winter weather, they’re liable to corrode, seize and, as a result, not only wear faster and impede performance but ultimately, be a safety risk, too.
At the same time, lubricating your chain using conventional sprays is often an irritating and messy chore and, if you’re on a long tour, one you may have to attend to in a hotel car park or roadside services.
Which is why aftermarket, automatic chain oilers have proved so popular. These are usually little gadgets that apply a stream of lube to the chain, either automatically or on demand, which not only remove this routine chore but also improve the performance of your bike and lifespan of your chain.
Related: Best motorcycle chains and sprockets
Leading brand Scottoiler is by far the best known, with a variety of systems but there are others, too, and with prices and specifications to suit all requirements and budgets.
But what’s out there, what do they deliver and how much do they cost? Here’s our pick of the current best to help you decide...
Scottoiler eSystem V3.1 Electronic Oiler
Scottoiler is by far the leading brand when it comes to automatic motorcycle chain oilers and its latest eSystem is its top-of-the-range, award-winning offering. Voted MCN Product of the Year, the eSystem, as the name suggests, is an electronically pumped oiler that works off a small feed from the battery.
It’s claimed to be easy to fit in under an hour yet has a sophisticated control system that, even without complicated wiring or tapping into systems, gives the rider complete control of the flow rate of lubricant onto the chain via an LCD digital display and allows precise adjustment according to the conditions.
Top of the range model
Sophisticated electronic metering
Scottoiler CR-01 Off-Road
Although not an automatic chain oiler like Scottoileru2019s v, e and x road-bike systems, this manual lubrication system is worth including here as itu2019s intended for off-roaders, which get notoriously abused and dirty, and makes the vital task of lubricating their chains much easier.
The system comprises two handlebar grips and a C-shaped reservoir. The left-hand grip has an integral pump which, when squeezed, lubes the chain. It’s simple to fit, works great and should be on any off-road rider’s wish list.
Purpose-built for off-roaders
Affordable and effective
Less sophisticated than road systems
Scottoiler vSystem Chain Oiler
The second of market-leader Scottoileru2019s three chain oiling devices is the vSystem oiler which, as its name suggests, instead of using electricity is operated by the engine vacuum. The result operates automatically whenever the bike is started and has the secondary advantage of not absorbing any power.
Another advantage is that it’s much more affordable than the eSystem, too, although on the slight downside it is trickier and more time-absorbing to fit, taking on average between one and two hours. It’s a long-proven product that is RiDE Recommended by MCN’s sister magazine, again extends the life of your chain and comes with enough lubricant to last 1500 miles.
Driven by engine vacuum
Can be tricky to fit
Cobrra Nemo 2 Automatic Chain Oiler
Although less well-known than Scottoiler systems, the Cobrra Nemo is nevertheless a well-rated chain oiler that has further advantages of being affordable and requiring no electrical connection. In simple terms it comprises a pressurised chain-lube reservoir thatu2019s mounted to your bikeu2019s handlebars and feeds the chain.
Turning the cap then delivers a measured amount of lube to the chain with the rider deciding when that’s appropriate depending on conditions. It’s also easy to fit and durable.
Easy to fit
Cheaper than some
Lubes when required
Requires rider control
Scottoiler Magnum HCR
Although not a chain oiler per se, this product is an almost vital addition to your Scottoiler. u2018HCRu2019 stands for u2018High-Capacity Reservoiru2019, which increases the oil capacity of the standard system from just 50ml to a whopping 400ml, so providing enough volume to give a claimed 4-6000 miles between refills (depending on flow-rate setting).
As such, it’s ideal for bikers who travel long distances or, conversely, who wants to simply minimise how often they have to refill the standard Scottoiler system.
Great Scottoiler accessory
Hugely improves range between refills
Extra costs you could do without!
Motobriiz Wind-Powered Automatic Chain Oiler
Another less well-known brand and design of motorcycle chain oiler yet also one that is completely automatic thanks to being powered by the wind! As your bikeu2019s speed builds, air travels up the inlet tube, pressurising the oil which then forces oil down the discharge tube onto the chain via an applicator pad.
It’s a novel system with few moving parts, is easy to fit and impressively affordable, too, if not as precisely adjustable as other systems.
Simple to fit
Less sophisticated than some
Scottoiler xSystem 2.0 Chain Oiler
The third of leading brand Scottoileru2019s current chain-oiling products is the mid-priced xSystem. Claimed to be the easiest to install and most user-friendly of its products, itu2019s a super-compact electronic design without a separate control panel that is powered by the bikeu2019s battery.
It's motion-activated and has a simple adjuster on the oil reservoir for flow rate. The result is simple to fit, simple to use, as with other Scottoilers extends the life of your chain and yet is decently affordable, too.
Easy to fit
Not as sophisticated as some
Tutoro Chain Oiler Patrol Kit
Finally, another automatic motorcycle chain oiler from a brand you might not have heard of, especially as theyu2019re not widely sold, but one definitely worth considering nevertheless. The Patrol is British brand Tutorou2019s entry-priced offering, is a clever system which requires no wires or vacuums and starts automatically when you ride and turns off automatically when you stop.
On the downside, fitting can be a bit fiddly and the system’s standard lube capacity of just 600-1000 miles depending on flow rate selected isn’t the greatest, but it’s definitely worth considering.