Motorcycle Chain Making Noise? Here’s How to Fix It!


If your motorcycle chain is making clanking noise on the road it can be unnerving. What if the chain or another part of the motorcycle goes off or breaks while you’re speeding on the highway? It could get deadly.

Luckily, a clanking noise addressed sooner rather than later is not a major problem. You probably just need to do some maintenance and in the worst case scenario replace the chain. These are the top 5 solutions you can try to get this problem sorted out immediately:

1. Lube it up real good

Chances are that your motorcycle chain is clunking because it just ain’t lubed enough. A chain should be lubed every 400 miles or so. If you’re riding in dusty or wet conditions even sooner.

When you’re lubing it also get it cleaned beforehand and adjust it. When it comes to cleaning this is a good procedure to take:

  1. Spray diesel on chain and sprockets
  2. After 30 min wash with a pressure washer (washing with water @120 bar pressure)

This is the first thing you should check because it’s the most common problem and applying lube is the easiest solution.

2. Adjust and tighten the chain

Your chain might be slacking on one side, which can definitely cause the clunking, metal noise. When it comes to adjusting the chain the procedure can be different from one motorcycle to the next.

It’s best to check the procedure found in the manual. In the manual you will also find how to measure the chain slack. One great idea I found online is to drew two parallel lines on a notecard. Then the distance between the two lines is the maximum allowable slack.

3. Inspect the sprockets

A sprocket can get worn out and cause noise as well. Remove the cover over the front sprocket and inspect the area. You will probably find pictures in the manual showing what worn sprockets look like. If a sprocket resemble that picture it should probably be replaced. In some cases cleaning the area under the front cover will do the trick.

4. Go easy on the throttle

Chain and sprocket durability depends on multiple factors:

  • proper adjustment
  • regular cleaning and lubing
  • the mass your motorcycle carries on a regular basis (passengers, luggage, extra equipment etc.)
  • How hard you go on the throttle and the brake
  • The environment (dirty and wet conditions)
Going a bit easier on the throttle is a good preventive measure for increasing your motorcycles lifespan in general, and especially the chain.

5. Ask a professional

If you’re not handy with mechanical work and can’t pinpoint the exact location of the noise it’s best to have a mechanic check it for you. I suggest implementing the 4 simple tips I outlined in this article first. If that doesn’t solve it, your reliable mechanic probably will.

Need some visual assistance? Here’s a great video tutorial for getting rid of chain noise:

WARNING: When working on your bike and especially around the chain DON’T HAVE YOUR BIKE RUNNING! If you do, you could lose a thumb or worse.

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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