What Happens If The Motorcycle Chain Is Loose?

Motorcycle Chain - Cover Page

Wondering what are the symptoms of a loose chain in your motorcycle?

This blog post here covers the symptoms and effects of a loose chain, the main reasons for it and the remedies and preventive measures that you can adopt to avoid your motorcycle chain from becoming loose.

The major symptoms of a loose chain include chain teeth skipping over the sprockets, uneven transmission of power to the wheel leading to jerky wheel movements, chain lash and the chain slapping the swindle arm, and in the final case, chain coming off the sprocket.

Let us look into each one of the symptoms when the motorcycle chain is loose.

Effects of a Loose Chain in a Motorcycle

Here are the major effects that you will face while riding a motorcycle with a loose chain.

#1 Chain skipping over the teeth

If the chain is too slack, it can skip over the tooth in the sprockets,

This skipping over of teeth leads to uneven transmission of power from the engine to the wheel. As a result, the speed of the motorcycle will unevenly oscillate without any intervention from the rider.

#2 Jerky wheel movements

Throughout the continuum of loosened chain operating, there will be uneven transmission of power to the wheel.

And since the wheel is not receiving the power from the chain properly, the speed continuously dwindles.

This uneven transmission leads to a continuous barrage of jerky wheel movements.

So, whenever you feel the jerks coming from your wheel coupled with the chain lash sound, stop the motorcycle first. Check for a loosened chain and address it immediately.

#3 Chain coming off the sprocket

There will be a chain lash and a jerky feeling when you speed up the motorcycle coupled with a chain lash sound. And after sometime, the chain will come off the sprocket.

Once the chain comes off the sprocket, the output to the wheel will not be transmitted. As a result, your motorcycle will come to a halt.

More often than not, when the chain comes off the sprocket, it will be slapping and hitting the swindle arm. One can easily hear the sound of chain slapping.

Reasons for a Loose Chain

Here are the main reasons why your motorcycle chain is loose.

  • Chain and Sprocket have worn-out: A worn-out chain and sprocket is a common cause for the loosened chain in your motorcycle. When you pull the chain away from the rear end of the sprocket and if you can see any wear and tear there, the chain has become loose because of the worn out sprocket.
  • Rust in the Chain: A rusty chain and sprocket can also be the cause of a loosened chain. Examine the entire length of the chain for any signs of rust and damage.
  • Rear axle is stripped: This is the most common cause. Inspect the threads on both the axle nut and the axle to see if they are mangled or rounded off. Another way to check axle stripping is by examining the tension of the chain while tightening.

Is it Okay to Ride when the Motorcycle Chain is Loose?

Absolutely not.

Riding a motorcycle when you have a loose chain is a bad idea.

No matter the speed at which you are driving, there is a high probability that the action will result in a massive damage both to you and the motorcycle.

Motorcycle Chain

Chances are, with a loosened chain, you are going to have jerky wheels every other second.

And if your luck ran out and the chain came off the sprocket, you are going to fall off the road along with the motorcycle.

In the case that you are riding the motorcycle at a higher speed, the potential damage would be far too much.

So, to avoid such events of massive damage – both to you and the motorcycle, it is advised to not ride your motorcycle when the chain is loose.

How to Repair a loosened Motorcycle Chain?

If the chain is loosening because of rust or because the sprockets have worn-out, then the solution is to replace the motorcycle chain with a new one.

If you are aware of the process of replacing an old chain with a new one, then you can easily do it yourself. Else, you can dial up your mechanic for the replacement.

However, if it is the new chain that is causing problems, you need to check whether the rear axle is stripped. And if it turns out, the rear axle is stripped, you need to take your motorcycle to your mechanic. The solution here varies from adjusting the slack and tightening the nuts to even replacing your rear axle.

Preventive Measures

If you do not have any chain loosening problems as of now, here are the preventive measures you can take to not face this issue.

  • Check for any sign of rust or worn out teeth in the chain and sprocket every 3 months.
  • Clean the chain sprocket with a maintenance spray frequently, specially after a long ride where you have run the motorcycle over muddy roads.
  • Lubricate the chain and sprocket regularly. The thumb rule is to lubricate for every 5000 miles you drive.
  • Ask your mechanic to adjust the chain tension whenever you take your motorcycle for servicing. Maintaining the chain tension and adjusting them whenever required goes a long way in avoiding worn out chain teeth.