How To Replace A Motorcycle Chain | MC GARAGE

Tips, techniques and tools to change out a worn chain the right way.

Chains don't last forever, owners of shaft-drive bikes are quick to point out. Good thing modern chains are actually quite durable, relatively inexpensive, and easy to replace. You'll need the following tools for a streetbike swap: chain tool (motionpro.com ; $90, or rkexcelamerica.com ; $140), grinder, the new chain, and the correct master link. (High-power streetbikes should always use a rivet link.)

motorcycle chain
1 Start by grinding off the outside peened end of one rivet head. Grinding makes it much easier to push the roller pin through the chain. Doing the work on the rear sprocket makes life easier.Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
2 Assemble the tool with the appropriate pin. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for pin diameter versus chain type.Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
3 Secure the breaker head over the roller to be removed and drive the pin through the chain. Be sure to maintain alignment of the tool to the chain. No twisting!Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
4 The removed pin should drop from the back of the tool. If you encounter binding, stop and try to find the cause. Brute force could break the tool.Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
5 Separate the links of the old chain and join the new one with a master link. Use this technique to pull the new chain through the swingarm and over the countershaft sprocket—easier than wrestling with it!Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
6 Once the chain has come full circle, note where you will have to cut the new chain to match length with the old one. Repeat the initial link-breaking steps (1-4).Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
7 With the chain the correct length, prepare the new master link by sliding new O-rings over the pins. Some chains will provide a small packet of grease; liberally lubricate the link’s pins and the O-rings before reassambly. Wear gloves!Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
8 When pressing the new outer plates on, note how much of the master link’s pins should be exposed. That tells you how much to squeeze the outer plates.Photo: Marc Cook
motorcycle chain
9 Finish by using the staking tool, which has a cone-shaped mandrel to spread the open bore of the master link’s pins. Again, each chain manufacturer will specify how much the pins need to be spread. Don’t just guess. When you’re done, thoroughly clean the excess grease off the new chain.Photo: Marc Cook