The E-MTB chain is one of the most important parts of your bike, but it doesn’t have an easy life – exposed to mud, grime and the worst of the weather it needs a little care to stay at its best. We show you how to look after your chain to give you more performance and fewer repair bills.

Keeping your E-MTB chain clean and lubed will result in more performance and fewer repair bills.

When should I oil my E-MTB chain?

How often you service your chain is dependent on the conditions you ride in. If you spend most of your time on clean tarmac you are likely to experience fewer problems than riders who ride in mud daily. However, as many factors such as dust, salt, moisture and dirt can contribute to chain wear we recommend cleaning the chain after every ride and applying a new film of oil.

What oil is suitable for my E-MTB chain?

Many specific chain lubes are now available, from dry condition lubes that use low viscosity oil to attract less dirt, to wet condition lubes that use higher viscosity oils to hang onto the chain longer in high moisture environments. The exact choice of chain oil is to a certain extent a personal one. One thing is for sure that very thin oils e.g. WD 40 or Brunox Turbo Spray are not recommended as they wash out the grease applied by the manufacturer from between the chain plates and rollers. The best advice is to choose an oil that best suits your normal riding conditions, but more importantly be sure to maintain your chain regularly.

How do I oil my E-MTB chain correctly?

Step 1 – Cleaning
Over time the oil on your chain picks up dirt and contamination, becoming less effective. Before you apply fresh oil to your chain, you need to remove this dirty oil. Simply use an old cloth to thoroughly clean the chain, cassette, chainrings and jockey wheels.

Attention: Try to avoid the use of heavy degreasers or disc brake cleaners as these will wash out all the protective oil/grease from between the chain links.

To clean your chain, simply wipe it down thoroughly with a dry cloth or workshop towel.

Step 2 – Secure the drivetrain

With most ebike motors, the cranks disengage from the chainring when you pedal backwards. If you want to rotate the chain without also turning the rear wheel, you have to secure the crank to the chainring. This makes lubing the chain a lot easier. There are several simple ways to secure the crank to the chainring. You can use McQuade’s ebike tool to tie the crank to the chainring. Working on a similar principle, the CrankStick gets wedged between the crank and the chainring. If you have neither one nor the other at hand, some chainrings allow you to use an Allen key or bit from your drill or torque wrench to do the same job.

McQuade’s ebike tool allows you to rotate the chain by spinning the cranks backwards.
The CrankStick gets wedged between the crank and the chainring, preventing the cranks from disengaging as you pedal backwards.
An Allen key bit can work as a low budget hack, but it doesn’t work with all chainrings, unfortunately.

Step 3 – Oiling the E-MTB chain

Once the drive chain has been cleaned it is now time to apply some fresh oil. Simply spin the chain while applying a drop of oil to each link. Important: Be sure to oil the inner side of the chain in contact with the cassette and chainring, not the outer side. This will ensure that the oil is evenly distributed inside the chain’s rollers where it is needed and does not drip away.

Apply a drop of oil to every link on the inner chain face
NOT the outer face as this is not as effective at lubricating the chain rollers.

Step 4 – Remove excess oil

Too much oil is a magnet for dirt, increasing wear, so after leaving a few minutes for the oil to distribute around the chain it is important to clean off the excess. Spin the drivetrain over a few times then use a dry rag to wipe off any excess.

After a few minutes simply wipe off any excess oil from the chain plates.

Keeping your chain clean and well-lubed will keep your E-MTB working at its best. Make this five-minute care program part of your riding routine and enjoy more performance with fewer problems.

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Words: Trev Worsey, Rudolf Fischer Photos: Nils Mai