Four wheeler chains take abuse from riding in mud, dirt, and dusty conditions. Ask 10 riders what the best ATV chain lube is and you will get 10 different answers.
It is impossible to say one lube is better than the other without standardized laboratory tests by a third party — otherwise it is highly subjective and anecdotal.
Which chain lubricant is best?
In my mind, it may be more important to just keep the chain clean and lubed according to your owners manual and local riding conditions.
That said, I recently needed chain lubricant. I pulled together a list of eight chain lubes for ATVs, dirt bikes, and motorcycles I found on Amazon.
This is not a comprehensive list of lubricants. It lists lubes I have used and ones mentioned and recommended on various Internet forums — in no particular order:
Liquid Wrench L711 Chain and Cable Lubricant
Lucas Oil 10393
DuPont Chain Saver Self Cleaning Lubricant
Motul Care Road Chain Lube
PJ1 Blue Label Motorcycle Chain Lube
Bel-Ray Motorcycle Chain Lubricant
Motorcycle chain maintenance: By the book …
The repair manual for my Suzuki DL-650 says to use kerosene to clean the chain and heavy weight motor oil as lubricant.
Kerosene is great for cleaning, but it is flammable and is not a substance I keep around the garage.
As much as I would like to follow the dealers recommendations for motorcycle chain maintenance, I do not in this instance.
The extra time spent cleaning a chain (and mess involved) is not worth the extra thousand or so miles of chain life, in my opinion.
I normally lube the chain with a Teflon chain lubricant and skip cleaning. (I have been using Liquid Wrench L711, which works well but can be a bit messy.)
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Is chain wax better than sticky lube?
Sticky lubes make a mess and require constant cleaning. They attract dirt, which will stick to the chain.
In turn, the dirt will work its way into the chain and causes a gritty, grinding pasty mess — causing the chain to wear prematurely. Dirt is the enemy.
I avoid anything that’s sticky and has the possibility of attracting dirt, which is why I am not a fan of motor oil. Also, motor oil may be flung off the chain at speed.
No lube – Can you use WD-40 on ATV chain?
I have read where people won’t even use lube. Some argue that the x-rings or o-rings have enough grease in them to last until the chain is worn. I have never tried it and do not know how true it is.
I have never used WD-40 multi-use product on chains. But, I have also read where people use it.
To me, WD40 is more of a solvent, which evaporates quickly and does not leave enough lubrication behind to be effective. I am not sure how effective it would be on motorcycle chains with O or X rings because it is not a true lubricant.
Automated lubrication system
Some folks swear by self-lubing systems on their bikes.
An automated system provides a constant drip of lubrication when the bike is operating. It keeps the chain lubricated and any built up lube is cast off.
A few thoughts about reading chain lube reviews
As mentioned, chain lube is highly subjective; however, here are a few items to think about when reading motorcycle chain lubricant reviews.
- How effective is the lube — Was half the bottle used in one application?
- How much does it cost — how much are you willing to pay?
- How efficient is it — does it spray half the swingarm and tire or is the spray concentrated?
- How easy to use is it?
- How sticky is it — does it attract road grime and dirt easily?
- Does it stick to the chain and fling-off on the swingarm and wheel?
- How long does it last — does it last 100 miles or 1000 miles?
- Is the product easily available?
When is a good time to lube?
The owners manual provides the frequency at when to lube. Location and riding conditions may dictate when to clean and lube, as well.
For my bike, I have been doing it every 300-500 miles — about every couple tanks of gas.
Before spraying my bike down with lube, I warm the chain up by going for a short ride, which helps with better penetration.