Home. Back. ...... The Gas Gas Guru. Technical Information.
Q: I'm considering replacing my chain. An o-ring chain sounds good but my buddies say o-ring chains are for street bikes and use up too much horsepower because they are so stiff.

A: For the average rider an o-ring chain makes a lot of sense, provided it will fit the confined space of your bike. When an o-ring chain comes out of the package it may seem 'stiff', but in operation they are quite pliable. O-ring chains are excellent for dusty, wet, muddy and grimy conditions (you know, the stuff we love to ride in) as they carry the bushing lubrication sealed in the chain by the o-rings. The reason most Expert/Pro riders don't use them is they are slightly heavier and those guys are into carbon fiber and titanium parts to save weight. Club riders like you and me would benefit from the increased reliability and overall cost reduction in the long run an o-ring chain provides.

Some bikes have very little clearance around the chain (and the snubber pad that takes up the slack) so some parts may need to be modified slightly for the chain, which is wider, to fit. Most older bikes don't have this problem. I run an o-ring on my 85' TY with no problems.

I've seen dyno tests on standard vs. o-ring chains and although the standard chain may very slightly outperform an o-ring at the start, when the going gets tough the o-ring transfers horsepower with a much higher degree of efficiency, and keeps getting better as time progresses.

O-ring chains require very little lubrication, and of the correct kind. That is, don't lube them like a regular chain, they can run almost dry. I've found that a light coat of something like WD40 will keep the rust off. If you do use regular chain lube, make sure it says on the container it can be used on o-ring chains, some lubes contain solvents that deteriorate the o-rings. If you slab a lot of chain lube on them (and your regular chain for that matter) you are making matters worse. You won't be lubricating the bushings, as they are sealed, and will only be creating a mixture of lubricant and grit (machinists know that mixture as 'grinding compound') on the outside of the chain. This is what contributes to rapid sprocket wear. Be sure to check your sprockets for wear before installing the chain. Never put a new chain on worn sprockets, it will cause premature wear of the chain.
Professional tuner and 'Trials Competition' writer Jon Stoodley has very kindly stepped up to the plate to answer your questions. If you're having problems, or need some advice just send an email to Jon. If it's something that could be useful to others, we'll post it on the site.
This article originally appeared in 'Trials Competition', and was reproduced with permission.
Home. Back. ..... The Gas Gas Guru. Technical Information.