When it comes to performing preventative maintenance on a motorcycle my favorite thing to do is absolutely nothing at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my bike – just not working on it. Of course, neglecting these things will greatly diminish the service life of a bike and eventually reduce it to an abstract piece of furniture. As cool as that would be, I prefer to ride my bike. So I diligently go about the routine maintenance required to keep it functional and running well.
One area of maintenance I’ve always struggled with is drive chain lubrication. Since I ride mainly in an area where the dirt can quickly turn to dust, coating the chain with a sticky film of oil or grease always seemed counter productive to me. Having grit, dirt, and tiny fragments of rock cling to the sprockets, chain rollers, or links always gave me the feeling that it would contribute to premature wear. So when a local motorcycle shop owner suggested I buy a high quality o-ring chain and do absolutely nothing in regards to maintaining it, I was elated. If there’s anything in this world that I’m highly qualified to do, it’s nothing.
One year and several thousands of miles later my chain seemed to be holding up well, but doubt had entered my mind. Chains (and sprockets) are, after all, a wear part. I don’t need an Aerospace Engineering Degree to recognize that metal parts rubbing together at high speeds can cause excessive heat and wear. But every time I considered lubing my chain, I thought about the different kinds I had tried with one common denominator – they attract grit. So I decided to investigate what some other local riders were using.
Asking five different riders what chain lube they prefer got me five different answers. The responses I got ranged from WD 40 to soaking the chain in gear oil, with most being adamant that their technique was the best. One thing became clear, choice of lubricants can be very personal to some people – which in no way should be confused with personal lubrication.
Just as I was about to give up and be content with my own personal favorite (nothing) I was introduced to Schaeffer’s 227 Moly Roller Chain Lube. After using it for several months in a variety of conditions, I think I’ve finally found a chain lube that I (personally) prefer. This product – from here on mentioned asSchaeffer’s Chain Lubesimply because I’m too lazy to type it out in its entirety – was developed for use on Industrial and Agricultural machinery. It’s a favorite of many Farmers to lubricate implements, including the chain on Potato Diggers – a machine that runs directly into the dirt. This turned out to be a revelation of sorts. I always assumed Potato Diggers where homeless guys picked up from the local rent-a-drunk day labor office and lubricated with a product called jug o’ wine. Apparently there’s a machine that does the actual harvesting. Go figure.
While Schaeffer’s Chain Lube won’t get you drunk and has a terrible after taste, it will provide superior lubrication with a unique combination of penetrating oil and Molybdendum Disulfide. I could go into a lengthy technical explanation of Molybdendum Disulfide but it would be intriguing to some and a quick cure for insomnia for others and I fall into the latter group. So I’ll just say that Molybdendum is a really hard and really slippery metal paste that when suspended in oil, can fill in microscopic imperfections as it coats a surface and provide superior lubrication. If you’re interested in a more in depth, mildly long winded version Bob the Oil Guy did a great jobHERE.One of the great things about this lube is that it contains a penetrating oil, which helps carry the moly in between the plates (and O-rings if you have them) into the individual rollers of the chain. But the best characteristic of Schaeffer’s Chain Lube is that it dries. After riding through the High Desert of Central Oregon’s deepest summertime silt beds and general dust bowl, chains coated with the Moly Lube remain clean. I’ve been so impressed with the effectiveness of this product that I even began using it to lubricate my cables and throttle body tube, which is something I probably should have been lubricating all along. But I’m the adventurous type and nothing brings more excitement to a Sunday ride than an ill-timed stuck throttle or broken cable.
There are a few downsides to this Lube, including the fact that it’s a little messy to apply. It shoots out of the can in a tight stream at roughly the same PSI as a fire hose, hitting the chain and splattering on the swing arm, rear tire, and rim. Using the little red tube that comes with the can help avoid excessive overspray. While it’s not hard to wipe off the bike, getting it off your skin is another matter – it took me forever to lick my fingers clean.
The other (more substantial) downside to Schaeffer’s Chain Lube is availability. You can’t pick this stuff up at most local motorcycle shops. Schaeffer’s products can be found at random retail locations across the country or you have to contact one of their sales reps; between the two they have most of America covered. Out of curiosity I did a sales rep search and punched in the zip code for the most backwards place in America that’s devoid of anyone with mechanical aptitude. Turns out there’s not one but two sales reps for Beverly Hills. Thank God – next time I visit my palatial estate there I can use their products to lube the door hinges on the 1938 Bugatti Atlantic that I converted into a bidet. For a full list of retail stores and reps check out their WEBSITE.