Can You Use Engine Oil To Lube The Motorcycle Chain?

Can you use engine oil to lube the motorcycle chain up

Lubrication of motorcycle chains will avoid minor as well as serious major problems. An optimal chain condition will give you desired performance, without causing an unstable riding experience. Choosing the right lube and maintenance intervals for your motorcycle chain will play a critical role in the bike’s long-term chain condition. But is it efficient to use engine/motor oil to lube motorcycle chains?

Engine/motor oil is not designed to be in contact with the atmosphere due to its high ignition point, as it will attract way more dust, dirt, and pollutants on the engine oil because of its strong sticky nature. Damage to the chain will be caused due to abrasion by pollutants, so you can’t use engine oil to lube your motorcycle chain.

If you are riding a motorcycle in a city where the pollutants and dirt are minimum then you can use it, but we still recommended to use proper chain lube or the alternative which we tell later in the article. And if you are off-roading then stay away from using engine oil as a chain lube.

In this article, we will talk about the disadvantages of using engine oil to lube the motorcycle chain and what chain lube exactly does. We will also talk about using gear oil to lubricate the chain and which is the optimal chain lube and chain cleaner.

Disadvantage Of Using Engine Oil As Chain Lube

Chain lube and engine oil are designed to serve their specific purposes. The engine/motor oil job is to keep the engine components like Piston, Piston Ring, Camshaft, Bore, Connecting Rod, and other moving parts well lubricated. As you know that engine oils have high viscosity and tolerance to high engine temperature, which means it also comes with a high ignition point resulting in oil being sticky. 

The biggest disadvantage of using engine oil as chain lube is the stickiness of engine oil combined with exposure to the outer atmosphere which makes the oil highly susceptible to attract more dirt and debris on the motorcycle chain.

These small particles of debris will cause friction between the dirt particles and motorcycle chain, which will lead to damaging effects such as more vibrations, chafing of the chain over time if proper maintenance is ignored damage to sprockets teeth, and harsher gearshifts. These are the most common problems a rider will face if he uses engine/motor oil to lube his motorcycle chain.

Gear Oil For Motorcycle Chain

Motorcycles don’t have separate gear oil unless it’s moped, the engine oil works in both ways of lubricating the entire engine as well as the gears. But can we use gear oil for lubricating the motorcycle’s chain?

Gear oil can be used to lubricate the chain and its rollers. 75 to 90-grade ( i.e 75W-90) are thicker and won’t splatter at a higher rate. Rust on inner-outer plates, rollers, and chains as a whole will be prevented due to its high lubricative properties. Gear oil will last longer on your motorcycle chain and should be cleaned every 300 miles / 500 kilometers.

If your riding on a road that is dusty or any kind of off-road track, make sure to clean your chain whenever it’s necessary. No chain lube in the world can keep dirt completely off from your motorcycle chain, its job is to lubricate essential parts of the chain and prolong its life by avoiding the formation of rust which can cause some serious problems.

What Does Chain Lube Exactly Do To Motorcycles Chain?

Proper lubrication and a long life span are what we want to achieve by using chain lube on our motorcycle’s chain. But more often than not people don’t know what does the chain lube exactly does to our motorcycles. So what does the chain lube exactly do?

Chain lube reduces wear between the sprocket and the walls. It also avoids corrosion by forming the layer between the chain and the outer atmosphere. Drying of seal rings (i.e. O-rings, X-rings), around the roller, inner-outer plates & chain as a whole will the avoided with regular application of chain lube.

Modern motorcycles come with per-pack grease from the factory itself. So the chain lubes job is to lubricate around the chain and penetrate around it. As you know the inside part of the roller is already greased and sealed with seal rings ( O-Rings, X-Rings, Z-Rings ), so the chain lube works around this part and doesn’t have to penetrate or lubricate it. 

Proper evenly applied lube on the chain will definitely reduce the wear and abrasion. Your motorcycle’s chain might rapture if it’s dry and not lubricated, so follow healthy maintenance of your chain to enjoy your smooth rides.

Which Motorcycle Chain Cleaner Is Right For You?

Occasional chain cleaning combined with a cleaner which is not optimal for your motorcycle is one of the worst mistakes a rider could make. Choosing the right chain cleaner also plays a crucial role. Here how to choose the right chain cleaner for your motorcycle.

Use water-based chain cleaners as they have a fast-action cleaning mechanism, where the chemicals work on dirt and grit to go soft and to come off easily. Avoid any kind of de-greasers, as they tend to be too harsh on the seal rings and can cause damage. Plain Kerosene can also be used as it’s one of the prime active ingredients in most chain cleaners.

Here’s a tip if you’re going to use kerosene as a chain cleaner, don’t overspray it on the chain till it’s dripping. Apply a thin coating on the chain let it sit for few minutes then clean it. If you see your chain is still a little dirty use the spot cleaning technique ( Use a little brush apply it on the spot then clean it ). 

Using too much kerosene on the chain might cause it to seep through seal rings. So be careful as kerosene is one the best chain cleaners if it’s used properly.

Avoid chain cleaners that are not tested properly. Cheaper and less known products will often cause damage to the seal rings which will let the grease inside the roller come out, which will compromise the fluid movement in the chain.

Here are the top 3 chain cleaners, which are great at doing their work.

  1. Ipone
  2. Muc-Off
  3. WD-40

Ipone Chain Cleaner

ipone chain cleaner

Ipone is a multi-position diffuser that makes it easy to manage the power and the amount of spray used at each pressure/spurt. It allows pulverizing a wide or precise spray to effectively remove all the greases and dirt embedded between the links (sand, dirt, oil, grease). Its ultra-degreasing formula is compatible with O-rings.

Its retractable rod is fixed on the spray, which folds and unfolds in a single gesture. No more rod lost in the workshop after 2 uses!

For near-perfect and proper degreasing of your chain, we recommend using a three-sided chain cleaning brush. It is the essential accessory for a deep cleanse and to unclog all greases and soiling.

Once the chain is clean, we strongly recommend greasing it with X-TREM CHAIN ROAD SPRAY for road bikes or the X-TREM CHAIN OFF-ROAD SPRAY for all-terrain bikes (especially Dirt Bikes).

Features & Benefits

  • Pulverizing Spray Action To Get Between The Links.
  • Ultra Degreasing Formula.
  • Compatible with O, X & Z Rings.
  • Single Gesture Retractable Spray Rod.

Muc-Off Chain Cleaner 

Formulated to quickly and safely remove dirt, lube, and heavy chain grime using advanced solvents. Its unique biodegradable formula breaks down oil and grease to leave the entire chain sparkling clean and free from contaminants. Now with Watermelon fragrance!

Features & Benefits

  • Rapid Grease Shedding Formula.
  • Water Soluble & Biodegradable.
  • Suitable For Standard O, X, and Z-Ring chains.
  • Safe On Rubber, Metal, & Carbon Fiber Components.

WD-40 Multi-Purpose

WD-40 Multi-Use Product protects metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck parts, displaces moisture, and lubricates almost anything. It even removes grease, grime, and more from most surfaces.

Features & Benefits

  • Displaces Moisture To Prevent Rust & Drying Out Of Electrical Systems.
  • Penetrates To Loosens Stuck Parts.
  • Lubricates To Make Equipment Run Smoothly.
  • Removes Oil, Dirt, Grease & Grime.
  • Protects Metal Surfaces From Rust & corrosion.
  • Easy To Use.


As you know by now you can only use engine oil as a lube under dire situations, but keep in mind proper routine or urgent cleaning of the chain is a must. If you are an off-road rider or specifically drive dirt bikes, avoid using gear oil on your precious chain. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts