Honda CBR 1000RR Chain Maintenance

April 2005

Chain care is a vital part of the maintenance required on any chain driven motorcycle.  I've read all kinds of voodoo that different people use for maintenance on their chains.  I've heard of people saying "it's an O-Ring chain and doesn't need any lubrication".  This statement is totally false.  I've read of people cleaning the chain with all sorts of chemicals from simple green, kerosene, WD-40, and dish detergent.  I've also read of people using all manner of lubricants for their chain.  This article will attempt to address some of these issues.  I'm not saying this article is the end all be all of chain care, but if you follow my suggestions, you should not have any problems from your chain and it will live a long healthy life.

The manual recommends performing chain maintenance every 500 miles.  This is just about right as around 500 miles I notice my chain starts to look at little shiny denoting the lubricant has began to wear off and I can notice a slight difference in shifting gears.  There are a couple of mistakes that are commonly made when people lubricate their chain.  The first is that it's not widely known that the chain should be lubricated while warm, in other words, AFTER a ride, not just before riding.  Lubricating the chain after a ride and letting it set for 30 minutes or so will also aid in keeping the lubricant from flinging off the chain and all over the rear wheel. 

Take the bike for a ride getting it up to normal operating temperature which is 180F to 210F (82C to 99C) for the 1000RR.  After the warm up ride, put the bike up on a rear stand.  Using a rear stand is optional, but cuts down the time to lube the chain immensely and makes the job much easier.  A Pit Bull stand is an excellent choice.  Put the transmission in neutral.  Inspect the chain to insure there are no damaged areas and that everything appears lined up correctly.  Spin the rear wheel a few revolutions and listen for any thing that doesn't sound quite right.  Check the chain tension per the manual's specifications and adjust as necessary.  For the CBR 1000RR the chain slack should be 1 inch to 1 3/8 inch (25mm - 35mm) at the mid point of the chain.

If the chain requires adjusting, do this by loosening the rear axle nut and using the small adjusting bolts on either side of the swing arm.  Make sure the adjustment indexing marks match on each side of the swing arm and tighten everything back down, check the chain tension again as well as the adjusting marks to make sure nothing moved while tightening the axle bolt.  The axle nut should be tightened to 83 ft. lbs (113 Nm).

The second thing a lot of people neglect is cleaning the chain.  You can visually inspect the chain and tell when it's in need of cleaning.  If it's turning black, has gunk all over it, etc.  I've heard of a lot of people using WD-40 to clean the chain.  This may be an "OK" cleaner for an O-Ring chain, however DO NOT use it as a chain lube as it evaporates very quickly and isn't robust enough to provide any real lubrication to a motorcycle chain.  I personally use the Bel-Ray Super Clean Chain Lube to both clean and lubricate my chain.  If you do go with the WD-40 for chain cleaning, just be sure to wipe the chain down with a lint free cloth prior to applying your lubricant to remove any WD-40 left on the chain.

Once you've ensured the chain tension is set to the correct spec and the chain is clean, lube the chain.  There are a plethora of products on the market for this and the manual even recommends using 80W 90 gear oil.  The 80W 90 gear oil will work fine as a chain lubricant, however it will be messy.  I only recommend the 80W 90 if you ride all year around in inclement weather such as frequent rain or salted roads.  I've heard of some people using motor oil or even USED motor oil on their chain.  This will also be an extremely messy endeavor, not to mention all the crap, fuel and debris to name two, that is present in used motor oil.  I would also steer clear of any "chain wax" products as they will attract dust.  I recommend using Bel-Ray Super Clean Chain Lube.  This lube is the best I've found, is reasonably priced, and I've not had any problems with it flinging off as long as I give it 30 minutes to an hour to set up after application.

Actually Lubricating the chain is a fairly simple task.  The Bel-Ray Super Clean comes in an aerosol can with a straw that allows you to pin point exactly where lubricant is applied.  Simply put the bike in neutral and spin the rear wheel while spraying the lubricant on the chain.  I recommend putting a towel under the chain to catch any drips.  The Bel-Ray goes on a nice white color so it's easy to tell when the chain is evenly covered.  I picked up a small device that attaches to the straw and directs a stream of lubricant directly into the O-Ring crevices.  It seems to work pretty well.  Once the chain is evenly and thoroughly covered, simply wipe the chain down with a clean lint free cloth.  I know some people who put the bike on a rear stand, place the bike in first gear, and let the engine run spinning the rear tire to speed up the lubrication process.  BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL IF YOU DO THIS.  I've heard stories of several people losing fingers using this method when their finger got caught in the chain.

If you use your motorcycle as a commuter racking up hundreds of miles a week, then lubricating the chain every 500 miles may become a chore.  In that case you can look into a Scottoiler.  These small devices consist of a small 50mL reservoir that attaches to the bike with a tube leading to the chain close to the rear sprocket.  It relies on vacuum from the engine to automatically clean and lubricate the chain as you ride, and the unit has no moving parts to wear out.  The 50mL bottle is reportedly good for 500 to 1000 miles before having to refill.  There are also additional larger dispensers available that can triple that refill distance.  I've never used one of these devices, but they are common over seas as the folks over there tend to use a motorcycle as their primary mode of transportation, riding in all types of weather.


This page is part of a frame set.  If you reached this page via a search engine please click here to go to the main page.