DT Garage: Time to tackle the worst bit of being a biker
But at least I get an excuse to wear rubber gloves
There's a lot to love about motorcycling. Actually, almost everything about it is sublime. From the thrill of nailing a corner faster than ever, to the sensation you get when the front wheel goes light when you've got the throttle pinned wide open. Or perhaps just the feel of knowing you're the fastest thing on the road. Biking is bloody fantastic.
However, even the Queen has to cut her toenails, and so it is that biking isn't all dank wheelies and sun-drenched roadtrips. My least favourite bit of biking is, without a shadow of a doubt, chain maintenance.
I'm pretty happy cleaning the rest of my bike – I just hate doing the chain…
Most bikes have a tough ol' chain connecting the engine to the back wheel, and because it spins at the same speed as the back wheel, it needs regular cleaning and lubrication to prolong its life. Ignored chains can go rusty, or stretch faster than you'd like (which really ruins the throttle connection to the back wheel), or – in the very worst cases – snap and chop your foot off. It happens, apparently.
Here's the before shot… a chain that's not been cleaned since the bike left the factory in Italy a year ago. Whoops.
Sadly cleaning a chain is a filthy, long job that requires a good half hour kneeling on the cold floor outside my house, when I'd really rather be inside sleeping or killing zombies on my sofa. However, with some help from the folks at Liqui Moly I made a proper attempt to make it as painless as possible. Here's how I did it – my journey of becoming a grown-up and actually looking after my Ducati properly.
Unsurprisingly, the right tools really help
In a previous life I'd clean a chain using a generic water-displacement spray and a toothbrush, using an old towel to rub the chain clean. It took forever and sucked. So I stopped doing it.
This time, I spent a fiver on Amazon to get a proper chain cleaning brush, which came with thick rubber gloves. These are very much needed, because old chain lube sticks to your hands like the smell of nachos.
Next, I grabbed some of Liqui Moly's brake and chain cleaner, and some of their chain lube – because once you've cleaned a chain you need to re-lube it to keep things running smoothly.
Why was it never this easy before?
With a bit of cardboard slotted between my Ducati Hypermotard's chain and tyre to stop me lubricating my tyre (not advised unless you enjoy hospital food), I started by squirting the Liqui Moly chain cleaner onto my chain, spinning my back tyre (with the bike on a stand) to clean the whole chain.
Look at the filth that's accumulated in just 1,200 miles… oozing all over the cardboard
I've used chain cleaner before, but there's something about the Liqui Moly stuff that blasted eight months of road crap and grease straight off the chain. A quick scrub with my new brush and I was left with a chain that looked brand new – I was seriously impressed at how easily it came up sparkling.
One cleaned-but-unlubed chain. You could eat your dinner off that, if you're weird
I left my chain for 15 minutes to dry and then sprayed the Liqui Moly chain lube on – again, it coated the chain really easily. It's transparent, too leaving no ugly sticky splatter. With some brands of chain lube you're left with a sticky mess that attracts grit and quickly turns into a grinding paste to destroy your chain's rubber O-rings. Not ideal, and the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.
Give it a go!
A quick squirt of lube and job's a good'un
I know we're sponsored by Liqui Moly, but their chain cleaner and lube are honestly brilliant – I was surprised just how quickly the chain cleaner blasted away crap without much scrubbing at all. What used to be my least favourite job now feels like a quick and easy task – and one that should save me replacing a chain for a good few years.
Liqui Moly sells plenty of other motorbike products
The German lubricant giants are best known for car lubricants and fuel additives – but they sell just about everything you can think of for all ages of bikes too. Whether you're putting an old classic back on the road (and thus need their engine flush to cleanse your motor's innards), or simply need a foolproof and effective visor cleaner – they've got it covered. Check out Liqui Moly's range of products here. And think of me next time you're on your hands and knees cleaning your bike.