The vast majority of motorcycles use a chain to carry drive from the output of the gearbox to the rear wheel. Sure, there are shaft-driven bikes – notably BMWs – as well as belt-driven examples but the humble chain is by far the easiest and most reliable when it comes to moving torque to the rear wheel.
One disadvantage of a chain though is it requires maintenance; regular cleaning and lubrication to minimise wear on both the chain itself and the two drive sprockets – front and rear as well as checking and adjusting the tension.
Chains also have a finite life, depending on how well they have been looked after and will, eventually, require replacement. Note that it is accepted practice to change both sprockets at the same time, as wear in the chain is usually accompanied by wear in the sprockets as well.
There are several types of chain depending on the design of the links themselves and there are also different types of links that are designed to allow the chain to be replaced.
Some, often known as quick release, will have a spring clip on one side of one link that allows the side plate of the link to be removed and the link with two pins to then be removed, effectively splitting the chain.
Related: Best motorcycle chains and sprockets
Other chains won’t have a single ‘master’ link but use a system where you must push a link pin out to split the chain then effectively remake the link you just removed by ‘riveting’ the link pins back in place, much like a traditional rivet is formed, by rounding over the end of a straight pin.
There are various tools available to help you in this task, ranging from DIY handheld devices to heavier-duty versions aimed more at professionals. But here is a selection of what is available to help look after your chain.
Looking like something you might have made in your first metalwork class at secondary school, this
Weu2019ve tried various tools from British manufacturer Oxford before and have been impressed, so
While itu2019s always possible to release a spring-clip link that tends to be common on off-road
These pliers will locate on the edges of the rearmost link pin and the front of the spring clip and pop it off, allowing the retaining plate to be removed – either by hand or with persuasion from a screwdriver – and the chain split. It can then be used to easily fit the spring clip to the new link once assembled.
This tool from Laser will be invaluable when it comes to compressing the ends of a new chain
This is another process that you may be able to achieve using normal pliers or by hand but again, it’s the right tool for the job and acts as a third hand – always useful in the garage or the workshop.
This kit from tool expert Draper is a more professional-style version, which while taking on all
Once that has been achieved, the rivet tip spreaders flatten the head over to ensure the link remains together. The unit uses hex-head fittings so you can choose how long a spanner to use to get the right amount of leverage and force.
A variation on a theme, this chain breaker will remove the u2018softu2019 pin from a chain link by
You would need another tool to be able to do this so you might be better off buying one that includes all three functions to remove and replace a chain link.
Not strictly a chain-replacement tool but once you have replaced your chain and sprockets, then
Simply use it to put the required tension in the chain by introducing a ‘kink’ and then adjust the rear wheel position until the chain has no slack in it. Then, when the Chain Monkey is removed, the chain is at the correct tension.
When adjusting chain tension, it is crucial to move the bikeu2019s rear-wheel adjusters u2013 one
This fixes to the rear sprocket and in this case, uses a steel rod to highlight if the chain is running straight and the wheel is correctly aligned. There are also devices available that use a laser that runs along the chain.