The seven main reasons why a chain guard would be necessary on every motorcycles are as follows:
- Keeps the chain away from your leg if the chain breaks accidentally
- Helps prevent damage to your bike in case the chain snaps
- Protects your clothing and luggage from the chain
- Keeps chain lubricant from spraying all over the machine
- It helps keep dirt and foreign objects away from the chain
- Chain guards may be required by law
- You can customize your bike with a stylish chain guard
If you’re considering removing your chain guard or would just like to find out the benefits of this part, this post is for you.
We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled all you need to know into this post!
What is a Chain Guard on a Motorcycle?
The chain guard on a motorcycle is a metal or plastic cover that partially encloses the drive chain. It’s typically mounted to the swingarm and features some rubber inserts to reduce vibration. Chain guards are often referred to as “motorcycle chain covers” or “motorcycle chain protectors” as well.
Surprisingly, chain guards are often made of plastic. Why?
This is because plastic is lightweight, cheap, and doesn’t cause damage to the chain.
Besides their advantages, plastic motorcycle chain guards are more likely to break and usually look very cheap.
That’s why the more durable and stylish metal chain guards are much more popular among riders. On the other hand, they cause more wear on the chain when they accidentally come into contact.
When the bike runs on a rough surface or the chain is too loose, it’s not uncommon for the chain to slam against the guard.
What is the Purpose of a Chain Guard?
Simply put, the main purpose of a motorcycle chain guard is to protect your body and the bike from damage in case the chain snaps. It also helps to prevent your or your passenger’s foot from touching the chain. As a hidden benefit, a chain guard helps keep your bike clean as it effectively keeps chain grease from spraying. And finally, it can keep dirt and objects away from the chain to some extent.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about these important factors in detail!
1. A Chain Guard Protects Your Body if the Chain Breaks
One of the main advantages of a chain guard is that it can protect your leg from injuries. If the chain breaks on a motorcycle it typically drops to the ground. But if you are unlucky, the chain can act as a whip causing serious injuries to your leg.
This is where the chain guard comes into play.
Since it’s mounted directly above the chain it can effectively prevent the chain from whipping.
Even if it can’t keep you completely safe, it definitely offers extra protection. And it works!
If you have doubts just do your research at online forums. There are some documented cases when chain guards saved riders from injuries.
And contrary to popular belief, even plastic chain guards offer significant protection.
Although they are not as strong as their metal brothers, since they are placed close to the chain they can effectively dampen its energy.
In other words, the chain guard prevents a broken chain from acting like a whip, so it has to withstand a much smaller amount of energy.
That’s why it’s important to have a chain guard on your bike, especially if you ride with a passenger. Don’t forget that he/she is much more exposed to a broken chain!
2. Protects Your Bike from Damage
What’s more, the chain guard can protect not only your body but your bike as well. This is because a slapping broken chain can cause very serious damage!
It can break the tail of the bike, the fairings, or in the worst-case scenario it can put a hole in the engine.
As you might assume, these issues typically lead to costly repairs, or even the end of the life of the bike.
3. Keeps Clothing and Luggage Away from the Chain
Another important reason why a chain guard is necessary on a motorcycle that it protects your and your passenger’s clothes and leg from getting caught in the chain.
Let’s face it, on a motorcycle the left leg of the passenger is located pretty close to the chain.
This means there’s always a chance that clothing accidentally touches the chain, which may end in some dirty clothes, or even serious injuries.
Fortunately, most of these accidents can be prevented by having a chain guard.
What’s more, if you carry any luggage or an extra helmet on your bike, thanks to the chain guard they are less likely to touch the chain or get dirty from the spray.
4. Helps Keep Your Bike Clean
To the greatest regret of many chain-driven motorcycle owners, the drive chain requires periodic cleaning and lubrication. Therefore, unlike belt and shaft-driven bikes, the drivetrain of these bikes requires more attention and care.
Besides the hassle of this maintenance, another complaint against the chain drive is that it sprays lubricant all over the bike.
This grime is prone to covering everything from the rear wheel to the tail, which can cause a lot of headaches.
But thanks to the design of the chain guard, it significantly reduces the amount of this lube spray.
This is a great advantage, as it helps keep the bike as well as the clothing/luggage clean!
5. Keeps Objects and Dirt Away from the Chain
As its name implies, a chain guard can also protect the chain from foreign objects and dirt.
It’s a great feature especially on dual-sport and ADV bikes!
On these machines, the rear tire is continuously throwing dirt and mud at the chain, so it makes sense to protect it as much as possible.
6. Motorcycle Chain Guard Legal Requirements
Although a motorcycle chain guard is not a legal requirement in many states and countries, local laws vary widely. So contrary to popular belief, chain guards may be required by law under certain circumstances. For instance, if the bike is street-legal and features passenger footpegs, it probably means that it has to be equipped with a chain guard as well.
Again, laws differ a lot so to stay safe and legal double-check local laws, especially if you’re considering removing the chain guard from your bike!
7. A Chain Guard Can Customize Your Bike
Last but not least, installing an aftermarket chain guard is a great way to customize your bike. They come in many shapes, materials, and colors, often in a set with sprocket covers or even mud guards.
What’s more, some bike-specific chain guards come with laser-cut detailing, which can even be of the same type of the given bike.
They look pretty good!
But if you are looking for something unique, you can consider making a custom chain guard for your bike!
FAQs About Motorcycle Chain Guards
Do You Need a Chain Guard on a Motorcycle?
To keep your bike clean and your leg safe, best practice is to have a chain guard on your motorcycle. If your bike is manufactured without a chain guard, you may want to consider getting an aftermarket one. If a model-specific guard is not available, you can also choose from many different universal motorcycle chain guards.
They come in many shapes and sizes, but it’s good to know that mounting them can sometimes be tricky.
What’s more, if your bike features a plastic guard, you can also consider replacing it with a more durable stainless-steel model.
Why do Some Motorcycles not have Chain Guards?
In the past chain guards were much more prevalent on motorcycles to block the lube spray. Virtually all vintage bikes featured regular chains, which were very dirty. To keep the machine and the riders clean, a chain guard was a must on these bikes. In contrast, modern motorcycles usually have a sealed chain, which is much cleaner. Another factor is the presence of passenger footpegs on new bikes. If a bike features passenger footpegs, it’s typically equipped with a chain guard as well.
Since chain guards are not required by law in many states and countries, whether a motorcycle is equipped with this addition always depends on the manufacturer.
Should you Remove the Chain Guard on Your Motorcycle?
Keeping safety in mind, removing the chain guard from your motorcycle is definitely not recommended. It’s there for a good reason! A removed chain guard leaves your foot and the bike unprotected from the whipping chain in case the chain snaps. What’s more, you would be faced with a much dirtier rear wheel and tail as well.
Despite the risks, some riders take off this protector from their bikes.
Are you wondering why they do this?
Disadvantages of a Motorcycle Chain Guard
In a nutshell, the disadvantages of motorcycle chains guards are as follows:
- Makes chain maintenance harder.
- Makes the rear wheel more difficult to remove.
- A chain guard is usually very dirty (as it collects mud, grime, brush, or even small animals).
- Creates annoying noises when the chain touches it, especially on rough terrain.
- Requires some attention – a chain guard is prone to loosening, breaking, or even falling off.
- Adds extra weight to the bike (even if it’s often marginal).
- Aesthetic issues – some riders prefer a naked look.
Again, even if it has some disadvantages, you shouldn’t remove the chain guard from your bike!
Do You Need a Chain Guard on a Dirt Bike?
In most cases, dirt bikes don’t feature chain guards as they are hardly ever ridden with passengers. Another issue is that a dirt bike’s chain would pack a lot of mud on this guard, which could cause the chain to move harder. On top of that, the chain on dirt bikes typically has more slack and the bike is ridden on harder terrain, which results in more movement in the chain. If a dirt bike were fitted with a chain guard, the chain would probably hammer its surface all the time.
It would not only be very annoying but it would wear out the chain and the guard much faster.
Instead of a regular chain guard, dirt bikes are typically equipped with a plastic chain guide and a slide.
Conclusion – Can You Ride a Bike Without a Chain Guard?
Even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s highly recommended that you have a chain guard on your bike. As you can see, having this protective unit on your machine has many advantages! If your chain breaks, the guard keeps it away from your leg or the tail of the bike. If you ride with a passenger, it protects his/her clothing or luggage from the spinning chain. Another purpose of a chain guard is that it helps keep your bike cleaner, as it can significantly reduce the spraying of chain lube.