Chain lube intervals

As I was recently cleaning the chain lube off my chassis it occurred to me…Why do I lube the chain every run? I don’t lube my motorcycle or bicycle chain every time I ride! The general thinking I have encountered here as well as my local track, is lube every run, but why? Chain lube seems to cling better if applied the day before a race, but applying shortly before a race most of it ends up everywhere but the chain. So, is once a day enough?

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I have seen 219 chains blue after one run without lube, so I have always lubed every session.

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motorcycle chain has oring that Kart chain do not have. Bike bike do not need to handle 5k rpm and 300lbs of weight. My chain snapped on me once on the grid which is really embarrassing bc I did not lube enough before hand.

On your bycicle you’re probably not spinning it fast enough and generating enough heat to where it needs to be lubed all the time.

As stated here already - Motorcycles and even most of the guys in TAG classes run o-ring chains and the purpose of that o-ring is to hold the lube in the chain allowing longer service intervals. However, o-ring chains add friction into the mix thus reduce efficiency and power that actually gets to the tires.

If you value ease of operation over performance you can certainly move to an o-ring chain which would allow you to lube it much less.

As others have stated, I went out one test day and tested carb settings to where I’d run 5 laps, come into the pits and mkae a change, run 5 more laps…make another change. We did this all in quick succession and ran probably around 50 laps really understanding what the carb would do and how it effected performance everywhere and at the end of that test my chain was blue / purple from heat and not enough lube. Lesson learned.

I got into the habit of living the chain before I put it to bed. This has been working well for me. YMMV.

I bought an O-ring chain for a kart I’m building. That said, the gears are going to cause external wear, so still need to lubricate at regular intervals.

I lube after every run instead of before. Just the first run of the day gets a shot then after each time. Chain is warm at that point, so lube will penetrate into the links better. Also was turned onto Chain Wax a few years ago and what a difference it made. More stays on the chain and not slung off all over the place.


Thanks all for the feedback.

Oring chains are a little perplexing to me. I have one and like you feel it has more resistance and less efficiency, however if you read the manufactures description they claim 4% more efficient when running.

I use wax over the last 4 seasons and have had excellent results very very good on something with low power like an 206 and will work good but will need to replace chains (aka re-wax) much more often as power/rpm increases.

Kart chains are not like Bicycle chains or Motorcycle chains as both of those are Roller Chains and Karts use Bushed Chains.

They are lying to you O-Ring chains make less power.

I’ve been using a WD-40 product designed for chains as it claims it won’t “fling off.” I have found that statement incorrect for the most part, but not a bad product for the price. I was recently at the track and saw our local race kart builder guy using something like PJ1 or something simular. I noticed the lube did like a webbing action between the chain and sprocket as it was moving. Superior sticking power to say the least so I’ve decided to switch to that.

I’ve been applying chain lube between every session, I’m not sure it that’s over kill or not for 219 chain on a 4 stroke?

Riddle me this. I rode Kawaski Ninja’s for years, and I only oiled my chain maybe twice a year. Why so much more often on karts? Is it the friction/ heat, or are the chains less hardy and thus more prone to maintenance?

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Is it a question of geometry? The gears in a ninja are physically larger with a bigger radius? Wouldn’t that wider arc be less “frictiony” for want of a better word?

To be more concise, wouldn’t the chain have to suffer more stresses going round a tiny front gear disc of a go-kart?

Chains don’t make power, they transmit it. Further, the frictional losses induced by O-ring v. std chains is like the difference between using oil v. grease to lube axle bearings: purely academic.

You need to consider the relative loads, gear sizes & speeds involved to determine the difference in tension & frictional wear. It’s true that a shorter chain running on smaller gears will revolve more frequently.

In the case of an O-ring chain, the links have trapped grease; the wear will occur externally on the gears, so that’s where they’ll need lubrication.

Karts can be very hard on chain for several reasons. Much of that comes from the environment they run in. Especially with two strokes, the axle sprocket is usually a large diameter and runs very close to the ground. This is where most of the dust and grit is (thrown up by the tires, wind gusts and even static attraction). It sticks to the sprocket and chain and works its way to the chain and teeth. This is what causes most of the wear. The other issue is the small sprocket on the engine. The chain has to rapidly “turn the corner” when it goes around that small sprocket. The links make a large angle change in a very short time. This creates a lot of friction/heat. Plus it’s doing that while having the force applied to it at crazy high rpm. If you could run a larger engine sprocket chain life would go way up but that is not possible with the ratios we need to run. The diameters and approximate to the ground explains why Shifters and four stokes have a (usually) much better chain life. Larger diameters and farther from the ground.

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Makes alot of sense. I never considered the fact that they are so close to the ground. Plus all the debris/ rocks coming off the track must be torture on them.

Compared to single speed motor classes, shifters run larger diameter countershaft & smaller axle sprockets. I think a significant part of the lifespan difference is attributable to the 428 chain size.

The maximum allowable force on a 219 chain is 220 lbs, as seen on page 2 of the following specification from DID who make kart chains:

An X30 coming out of a corner with 10/86 gearing accelerates at .8g. That requires 320 lbs of force, which with a 5.5" radius tire requires 150 lbs*ft of axle torque. The radius of an 86-tooth driven sprocket is 4.27", so the chain force is 425#, or double the maximum rating of any 219 chain you can buy.

That’s before you de-rate the maximum allowed chain force for going around a 10 or 11 tooth sprocket, so you can see why we throw away a chain every other weekend in TaG!

I’m assembling a 206 kart this week. I’m going to try running one of those cheap thin-strip-of-plastic chainguards underneath the chaindrive, from bumper to seat, and see if it keeps grit out of the chain effectively.

220kg or 500lb. And this will be for continuous rating not 1 hr running.
Not saying chains aren’ t highly stressed!