Looking After Your Motorbike Chain - Erosion Issues

Similar to our previous article, which relates to the corrosion of your motorcycle chain, many factors can inevitably cause similar erosion issues. As tricky as erosion is to avoid, treating your bike to regular maintenance checks and following this guide will enable you to enjoy erosion-free rides for as long as possible. 

The leading contributing causes of your bike chain eroding are a lack of maintenance, corrosion, and a lack of lubrication. 

Motorcycle chains usually rust because the metal has been exposed to a combination of moisture and oxygen. Unfortunately, this cannot be helped. It can be minimised through regular maintenance, however. 

Without maintenance in the form of cleaning and lubricating, chain corrosion will occur much faster. 

Erosion can also occur due to the following

  • Debris being allowed to build up on the chain
  • Severe wear of pin and bush surfaces
  • Lack of plating for protection against the elements which cause erosion (and corrosion)
  • Formation of rust

Understanding The Term Erosion and How it's Different From Corrosion:

Corrosion is the deterioration of metal due to a reaction with its environment. When a metal corrodes, it typically forms oxide or hydroxide compounds on its surface. These compounds are often unstable and can lead to further metal corrosion.

Erosion is the process of wearing away metal by exposure to the environment. This can be caused by several factors, including weathering, abrasion, and corrosion. Over time, erosion can lead to severe problems with the integrity of metal structures, making them more susceptible to breakage and collapse.

The Main Causes of Erosion Are:

  • Chain metal has been exposed to a combination of moisture and oxygen.
  • A lack of maintenance, including cleaning regularly and lubricating the chain
  • Ignoring the start of rust spots being visible within the chain
  • Living in a humid area – exasperates the corrosion and erosion process
  • Salt damage builds up over time
  • Using sub-standard cleaning materials – quality is needed 
  • Ineffective lubrication (a lack of penetration into the chain round parts)
  • Severe wear of pin and bush surfaces 

How To Prevent Erosion From Occurring:

There are many advisable courses of action to prevent, eradicate and stop any erosion/corrosion issues. Of course, your chain is exposed to the elements and will always be susceptible to erosion. But maintenance should minimise this as much as possible.


Without a doubt, the most efficient way to prevent motorcycle chain erosion is to lubricate your chain. Lubricant acts as a barrier between the bike's chain and the elements on the exterior, thus protecting it from many erosion factors. 

Bike chains need to be lubricated to function correctly. Without lubrication, the chain will become dry and brittle, which can cause it to break. A broken chain can be hazardous and can result in a severe accident.

Lubricating your bike chain is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. But, first, you will need to purchase a good quality chain lubricant and apply it to the chain according to the manufacturer's instructions. Using the correct amount of lubricant is essential, as too much can attract dirt and grit, which can accelerate wear and tear.

Regularly lubricating your bike chain will help to prolong its life. Further information on lubricating your motorcycle chain can be found on the Renold Lubrication Advice Page

Maintain a Clean and Dry Chain:

The golden rule of protecting your bike's chain is to keep it clean and dry, especially if it is mostly around humid, moist areas. This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to keep your bike locked in storage 365 days a year but take a few minutes to clean it after you finish riding. 

Wiping off any mud and dirt and then drying the chain with a clean washcloth or towel will make a world of difference in protecting against many harmful factors.

Lubrication - Oil vs. Wax:

This is a common debate within the motorcycle world, and both lubricant types will do their job at protecting your chain and  sprockets. 

We would advise you to experiment with both conventional lube types to see which works best for you and the style you ride. Just ensure there isn't any excess lube build-up that can happen with oil and wax lubricants.

Maintenance is Key - Inspection = Detection:

First, give the chain a thorough inspection. Then, ensure it's still flexible by pivoting a few links. If the chain feels stiff or has a seized link, you may be able to loosen it up with some chain lube. However, eventually, you're probably better off replacing it without delay. 

Inspection of Rust Sightings:

Rust should be a significant red flag that your bike needs to be repaired. If you're struggling to remove motorcycle chain rust, visit your local mechanic for assistance. It's always better to replace your chain outright than to continue riding around with a rusted one. 

While you might be lucky and get away with a rusty chain for a short while, you risk the chain causing irreparable damage to more expensive components or snapping mid-ride altogether.

Implications of Erosion:

Rust on your chain is never a good element. Not only could it be dangerous, but it comes with many implications. It creates:

  • Additional friction
  • Places wear on your other drivetrain components
  • It makes the chain more susceptible to cracking and breakage
  • In extreme circumstances, too much wear results in the chain breaking

Further Assistance or Advice:

If you continue to experience a persistent issue or have more questions about any motorcycle chain topic, don't hesitate to get in touch with us here.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, you can also consult our Renold troubleshooting brochure if any further questions arise.