Brilliant Things to do with your Old Motorcycle Chains

Modern times have seen us move towards sustainable and eco-friendly practices. As a biking enthusiast, I realized that there were many ways to recycle old parts. Motorcycle chains are often changed when they wear out or upgraded. So how do we recycle old motorcycle chains?

  • Make it into a key-chain holder for your motorcycle keys
  • Make it into a motorcycle lock to lock your motorcycle and helmet
  • Give it to your local recycling, so they can melt it to make something new
  • Make DIY ornaments and gifts like frames, drink coasters, fruit bowls, etc.

If you wonder how exactly the above-mentioned things can be done using motorcycle chains, I’m more than happy to help you. I have explained each point in detail while adding a few tips of my own. 

This will help you become a responsible citizen and help save the planet. We have made another detailed article about recycling old helmets. There are very few people who ask this question a lot, i.e. what to do with old motorcycle helmets, read the complete article if you have an old helmet lying around your house.

Read on as I discuss the lifespan and maintenance a motorcycle chain needs. By the end of the article, you will have the knowledge needed to keep your chain in good condition and recycle it innovatively instead of just throwing it away!

Make it into a key-chain holder for your motorcycle keys

A novel way to repurpose your old motorcycle chain is by making it into a keychain holder. It does not need any expertise and will take very little time to be completed. It will also be one of those items you possess that people will definitely notice.

what to do with old motorcycle chain

All you have to do is measure the length of the keychain you want. Once that is done, remove one link to accommodate the key ring. Pass the key ring through the hole and join the open and closed ends of the chain to have your own unique keychain.

If you are someone who tends to misplace their keys, the weight of this keychain will be hard to miss, making you less susceptible to losing them or having them stolen by pickpockets. It can also be made in a number of shapes and sizes, allowing you to get creative.

Make it into a motorcycle lock to lock your motorcycle and helmet

Motorcycle chains are designed to be strong and durable. They are very hard to break and require a lot of force as well as specialized tools. This makes it a great way to secure your motorcycle or helmet when you park your ride.

what to do with old motorcycle chain
CC: MotobikeWriter

There are products available in the market that allow you to purchase these types of chain locks. However, you can take your chain lock to a local workshop and get one done for yourself.

The chains will secure the motorcycle or helmet well, ensuring increased security. These locks will also be heavy-duty, which means they will be able to withstand impacts and need heavy-duty tools to break open.

Give it to your local recycling, so they can melt it to make something new

Motorcycle chains are made primarily of steel and carbon steel alloys. A worn chain results in reduced efficiency and performance of your ride. However, this does not render the chain completely useless as the steel can be recycled and repurposed.

Most auto stores and local recyclers have a provision where they accept metal wastes. Some of these locations even pay you per pound of metal scrap you give them. As a result, this limits the damage you cause to the environment. You also make a few bucks out of it as well, making it a win-win situation for everyone.

Before recycling your chain, make sure that it has not rusted beyond usable limits. Clean the chain to remove the grease and oil that may have accumulated over its use. 

Make DIY ornaments and gifts like frames, drink coasters, fruit bowls, etc.

More often than not, we find ourselves stumped about the perfect gift for any occasion. However, using motorcycle chains, one can come up with novel ideas that can make excellent gifts for your loved ones.

what to do with old motorcycle chain

High-end motorcycle chains come with a gold finish. All you have to do is apply some polish and clean the chain to retain the sparkle. After that, you can make ornaments like bangles and bracelets, which are great gifts. The fact that you made them yourself will have additional value.

If you’re looking to make something more impersonal, there are a number of items you can make out of the chain. This includes photo frames and fruit bowls. If you have previous experience with such DIY projects, then you can even be adventurous and try to make a fully functional wall clock.

How Long do Motorcycle Chains Last?

Depending on the type, chains can last anywhere between 5000 – 30,000 miles. Chains that have seals last between 15,000 – 30,000 miles depending on maintenance and riding conditions.

Older chain designs do not have the sealing technology that prevents dirt and debris from getting trapped within the chain. As a result, they have significantly faster wear rates and are more susceptible to rust. These chains are designed to last between 5,000 and 10,000 miles on average.

Newer sealing technology has O-rings, X and Z seals that seal the chain from moisture and dirt. They also use a special lubricant to reduce the wear of the pins and rollers due to friction.

This considerably improves the longevity of your chain, giving you an average lifespan of 15,000 – 30,000 miles.

However, the lifespan of a chain depends on the environment, riding conditions, and maintenance schedules. Signs of early chain degradation include the formation of rust and overstretched chains. 

If your rides are not very smooth and your chains are squeaky, it is another indication that your chain has to be changed. 

How Long do Motorcycle Chain Sprockets Last?

Chain sprockets last for the same duration as the chain itself (15,000 – 30,000 miles). If you have broken or sharp sprocket teeth, irregular wear, or a bent sprocket, then the chain sprocket is prematurely worn out and must be replaced. 

Chains and sprockets are complementary mechanisms in the drive system. They both function in unison and come in direct contact with each other. The resulting friction at high speeds eventually wears out both these mechanisms.

Most manufacturers design the chain and sprocket assembly such that they wear out around the same time. When it is time to change your chain, that may be the right time to change your rear and front sprocket as well.

However, sprockets can wear out earlier than usual as well. The most common sign of sprocket wear is when the teeth become sharp or form a pointed structure. If you notice irregular wear on one side of the teeth which causes them to form wave-like structures, that is also an indication that the sprocket is worn out.

In certain extreme cases, an overtightened chain can lead to the sprocket getting completely bent or warped. A loose chain on the other hand can cause breakage of teeth due to sudden forces while accelerating or decelerating the motorcycle.

How Often should Motorcycle Chains be Lubricated?

Motorcycle chains should be lubricated every 300 – 600 miles. This helps keep the chain clean and ensures that the friction between the sprocket and links is minimized without damaging the sealed rings.

Chain lubricant starts solidifying after extended use due to the mixture of dirt and oil. It eventually forms gunk that can degrade the performance and life of the chain. As a result, the chain must be cleaned and lubricated again between 300 and 600 miles.

Before lubricating your chain, ensure that you clean the chain with kerosene. This helps break down the gunk and float the trapped dirt to the surface of the chain. Wipe the chain with a soft rag cloth, grunge brush, or nylon brush and allow the excess fluid to drain.

Once the chain is dried, apply the new lubricant on all the exposed surfaces of the chain. Ensure that you have not applied too much lubricant to prevent flinging into other mechanisms of your motorcycle. Once that is complete, give some time for your lubricant to act, and then take your bike for a ride.

How Often should Motorcycle Chains be Checked?

It is a good practice to inspect your motorcycle chain before every ride. Ensure that the chain is properly tensioned and there is no formation of rust.

Checking your motorcycle chain before every ride helps you to assess the condition of the drive system. There are a number of things that you can inspect depending on the time you have. However, there are a couple of basic things that you should not ignore.

Firstly, inspect the tension of the chain. Make sure that the chain is not loose and hanging, but not too tight at the same time. This will prevent damage to the chain and sprocket due to increased friction and stress loads.

The other important factor to look for is rust. This is especially true if you do not have a temperature-controlled garage or have driven the bike in wet weather conditions. 

If the chain shows signs of rust formation, remove the chain and scrub it with a wire brush. This will help prevent further corrosion and increase the longevity of your chain.

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