Is Rust on a Motorcycle Chain Bad? How Do You Remove It? [Video]

Let’s face it, rust on a motorcycle chain is always a bad sign! A rusty chain is not only an aesthetic issue but also an indication of poor maintenance. If the rust is superficial, the chain typically can be saved with proper care. But in cases of excessive rust, the best practice would be to invest in a new chain. A rusted motorcycle chain is much more likely to break, so it’s not worth gambling with it!

If you want to know how to remove rust from your motorcycle chain, as well as how to keep it from rusting in the long run, this post is for you.

We at PowerSportsGuide have compiled the best tricks on how to deal with a rusty motorcycle chain!

Is rust on a motorcycle chain bad?

Why is My Motorcycle Chain Rusting?

Simply put, a motorcycle chains rusts when it meets with a mix of water and oxygen (which, let’s face it, is inevitable). Air contains plenty of oxygen while water typically comes from moisture or rain. Therefore, riding in rain or a humid environment can often cause a motorcycle chain to rust. Another common problem is poor chain maintenance. Neglected cleaning and lubrication not only shortens the life of the chain but often leads to rusting and a noisy chain!


This is because proper lubrication not only reduces wear and tear on the chain and sprockets but can also effectively prevent corrosion.

The lube gives the chain a protective coat, which can effectively keep water and moisture away.

Without this layer, the metal surface of the chain is completely exposed to the elements, which typically results in rusty spots.

Because of this, proper chain maintenance is a must for your motorcycle, especially if you frequently ride in rain or live in a humid area.

What’s more, it’s good to know that salt is a pretty corrosive material, so if you ride on salty roads your chain will rust much faster. This could be an issue for you if you live by the sea!

Finally, it’s good to know that motorcycle chains are also prone to rusting during long-term storage.

Is Rust on a Motorcycle Chain Bad?

Is rust on a motorcycle chain bad? This is a typical question of many riders, and the answer is yes, it is! Rust on a motorcycle chain is typically a sign of poor maintenance. The lack of lubrication causes the chain and the sprockets to wear out much faster. What’s more, rust makes your bike less attractive by giving it a neglected look. On top of that, a rusted chain can even lead to safety issues!

Can You Ride a Motorcycle with a Rusty Chain?

Common wisdom says that riding a motorcycle with a rusty rain is never a good idea. If it’s just a little surface rust, it’s recommended that you remove it and lubricate the chain before the next ride. Don’t let the rust go deeper! But if the chain is rusted a lot or it seems worn out anyway, best practice is to replace it. Keep in mind that a heavily rusted motorcycle chain is more likely to break!

And if the chain brakes, it leaves you without any engine power, which can cause a dangerous situation, especially at high speeds!

Besides, a broken chain can cause various types of damage and even injuries.

For instance, it can injure your leg or wrap around the rear wheel, which causes it to lock.

Another issue could be if the chain “’flies off” behind you, as this can damage other vehicles.

Therefore, if a motorcycle chain is going rusty it deserves immediate maintenance and inspection!

Can a Rusty Motorcycle Chain Be Saved?

As a rule of thumb, a rusty motorcycle chain can be saved as long as the rust is only superficial. These chains typically just require a thorough cleaning and lubrication to get back in good shape. On the other hand, if a chain is already heavily rusted it has to be replaced for safety reasons.

Are you wondering how to determine the condition of the chain?

Best practice is to remove the chain and give it a careful cleaning. Once the chain is completely clean, take a closer look at it.

If the rust has disappeared and you can’t see any damage on the surface of the chain, it means that the rust hasn’t gone too deep. If the chain is otherwise in good condition, you can use it after a thorough lubrication.

Again, we’re talking here about a slight surface rust on the exterior of the links, which appears at the beginning of the oxidation process. This typically doesn’t cause any damage to the chain and can be easily removed.

But if you can’t remove the rust with a simple cleaning process as it has started to eat the metal, this means your chain needs to be replaced. In most cases if you can see rust on the rollers, the chain needs to be replaced.

At this point, the rust probably went deeper and has started damaging the internal components of the chain.

Don’t forget that even though all you can see is the surface of the chain, the rust has likely attacked the inside as well!

Since it’s impossible to remove rust from these internal parts, you may want to invest in a new chain.

Gambling with a rusted motorcycle chain is certainly not recommended. You don’t know when it will break and cause some damage or even injuries.

So, the key takeaway here is as follows:

  • If you can see just a slight bit of rust on the surface of the chain: the chain can probably be saved with proper maintenance.
  • If the rust has gone further and is starting to eat the metal: your chain has to be replaced.

Let’s move on and see how you can remove rust from the chain!

How to Remove Rust from a Motorcycle Chain

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove rust from a motorcycle chain:

  1. Make sure the engine is off.
  2. Remove the chain from the bike (or leave it in place and spray down with a degreaser for an easier method).
  3. Submerge the chain in kerosene, WD-40, another dedicated chain degreaser for an hour
  4. Remove the chain from the bath.
  5. Brush it thoroughly with a nylon brush (e.g. with a grunge brush).
  6. Re-soak the chain in the cleaner.
  7. Wipe the cleaner off and carefully inspect it.
  8. If you can see some rust spots you can spray some cleaner on them and brush it again.
  9. After cleaning, don’t forget to properly lubricate the chain before replacing it!

It’s very important to never use a metal brush or sandpaper to clean the chain, as they can damage the seals or scratch the surface of the chain.

Best practice is to use a grunge brush, but a regular toothbrush can also do the job.

As you can see, removing rust from a motorcycle chain is not rocket science! If it’s only surface rust, you can easily remove it with a nylon brush and some kerosene.

How do You Keep Your Motorcycle Chain from Rusting?

As they say, prevention is better than cure. So, it’s better to keep your chain in good shape rather than having to brush off the rusty spots!

To keep your motorcycle chain from rusting, you should clean and lubricate it regularly. The exact service schedule is stated in your bike’s manual, but you can’t go wrong by doing these maintenance steps more often. You may want to clean and lubricate your chain each time after riding in wet conditions. This can help remove moisture from the chain and keep rust away.

Just like water, dirt and mud should also be removed from the chain after every ride.

Mud also contains a significant amount of water, which can cause rust on a motorcycle chain. Therefore, you should clean the chain if it looks dirty!

Chain degreaser and lubricant are cheap, but new chains are expensive!


As a takeaway, we’ve compiled the most frequent questions about rusting motorcycle chains under one roof!

Is rust on a motorcycle chain bad?

Yes, rust on a motorcycle chain is always a bad sign. You have to stop the corrosion to avoid excessive damage.

Why is my motorcycle chain rusting?

The most common reason why a motorcycle chain is rusting is neglected maintenance. Only one ride in the rain can lead to rusty spots on the surface of the chain! Extreme humidity or salty roads can also speed up corrosion, which causes your chain to rust.

Can you ride a motorcycle with a rusty chain?

Although it’s physically possible to ride a motorcycle with a rusty chain, it’s highly not recommended. Rust spots always mean that the chain requires maintenance or even replacement depending on the severity of its condition.

Can a rusty motorcycle chain be saved?

Yes, a rusty motorcycle chain can be saved, but only if it has just a slight surface rust. These chains only need a thorough cleaning and lubrication. But if the rust has started to eat at the surface of the metal, there is always a risk that it has reached the internal components of the chain. Keeping safety in mind, these chains have to be replaced!

How do you remove rust from a motorcycle chain?

To remove rust from a motorcycle chain all you need to do is remove the chain, soak it in kerosene or chain degreaser for an hour, then brush it extensively. As a final steps, spray down the chain once more, wipe it off, and apply some lubricant. If you can’t remove the rust in this way, best practice is to replace it with a brand new chain.

How do I keep my motorcycle chain from rusting?

The only way to keep a motorcycle chain from rusting is to properly maintain your chain. This means you have to read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation about chain maintenance. What’s more, experts recommend that you clean and lubricate the chain every time it gets wet or dirty for any reason!


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