When to Replace Your Dirt Bike Chain

When to Replace Your Dirt Bike Chain main image

When it comes to replacing the chain on your dirt bike, there are generally three key signs that indicate it’s time to ditch it in favour of a new one.

It’s super important to keep track of how your dirt bike chain, and sprockets for that matter, are travelling, as failing to do so could cause significant and costly damage to your dirt bike, or result in an accident while you’re actually riding.

Check your service manual to avoid excessive wear by performing consistent maintenance. Keeping on top of your chain tension with the chain adjuster, and covered in chain lube will increase the life of your drive train. X-ring chains and O-ring style chains are a sealed chain that is popular in motocross as there are lower chain wear and lower chain maintenance.

Back and forth movement:
Now the first sign your chain has hit its expiry date is if there is back and forth movement between the links. Chain stretch is very easy to check, as you simply just need to hold one link and pull the one either in front or behind it.

If there’s no movement, this is a good sign that your chain is still useable (as long as it passes the next two steps). If there is movement, it’s essential to replace the chain.

Space between chain and sprocket:
Generally, if there’s back and forth movement between chain links, there will be space between the rear sprocket and the chain when you pull a link backwards.

This is another way to see if your chain is good to go, or good for the bin.

If you pull your chain, or a link, away from the rear of the sprocket teeth and there’s a gap between the pair, then it’s time to replace your motorcycle chain.

Side to side movement:
The final indicator to tell if your chain needs replacing is if there is side to side movement without chain wax applied.
If you couldn’t already tell, movement between links means the chain has reached its expiry.

This test is slightly different to ones above - with this one, you’ll want to try and twist the chain. If you can twist the chain, this means the chain is still good shape.

If you can twist the chain and it moves from side to side, then it’s time for a fresh one.

Bonus tip:
A bonus tip when replacing your old chain is to replace your sprockets at the same time, even if they still have some life left in them.


Well, the sprockets have worn in over a period of time with the chain, so when a new chain is installed on old sprockets, it reduces the life of the fresh chain as will essentially ‘mould’ to the wear and tear of the previous chain.

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