Motorcycle wheels throw up dust and grime as we ride. Lots of it ends up on our chains and from there into our sprockets.
Letting the chain run dry and/or running it dirty for long periods will damage both it and your sprockets.
Typically, motorcyclists clean and regrease their chain every 300 miles.
But often, life, work and a foggy memory get in the way of this.
A chain oiler system can help here, and there are various options with varying degrees of automation and heads up display.
This means less frequent chain cleaning is required.
Whatever chain oiler system you choose, the idea is to extend the life of your chain and sprockets while saving you time, money and hassle.
Best Chain Oilers Reviewed
Let’s jump into our top products
Scottoiler E System
The E System is Scottoiler’s full-fat, feature-complete chain oiler system with a digital display giving feedback on ambient temperature, oil flow and reservoir level.
It uses an accelerometer to gauge when the bike is moving, so oil flow will cease if the engine is on, but the bike is stationary.
The E System is best wired directly to your battery so that it boots up on ignition and goes to sleep when you turn the engine off.
- Feature complete
- Excellent build quality
Scottoiler’s vSystem is operated by engine vacuum. Once the vacuum pipe is installed, revving the bike will increase vacuum – this vacuum will open a valve in the reservoir, allowing oil to flow down the discharge pipe and onto your chain.
It’s a relatively simple and reliable solution with a range of analogue settings.
- Well-built from a reliable manufacturer
- Not the easiest oiler to install on our list (still very do-able!)
Scottoiler X System
The X System is easy to install and use. The reservoir, sensor and pump all come in one simple to fit package, and it can be mounted anywhere as long as the bottom of the reservoir is facing down.
The pump will feed oil to the applicator at five different rates controlled by a display on the unit. When powered on, the pump will default to whatever setting it was last set to.
It can be powered off manually so that the pump won’t release oil if you are just moving your bike around the garage.
- Excellent build-quality
- Top customer service
- Easy to fit and use
- Not the cheapest option on our list
The Nemo 2 is a complete chain lubrication solution that doesn’t require connection to your bike’s electronic system.
It depends upon ‘over pressure’ (as stated in their marketing copy). This means a fixed quantity of lubrication is forced through the discharge pipe at variable pressure, giving an even application over 1.5 – 3 minutes.
The pressurized reservoir mounts to the handlebar, and turning its cap will deliver a measured amount of lube to the chain.
The rider can decide when it’s appropriate to apply – after rain, dusty conditions or even just once a day.
- No need to connect to the battery
- Simple installation with several excellent Youtube tutorials
- Quality, durable construction
- Not the cheapest option
- No heads up display
Motobriiz Wind Powered Chain Oiler
This is an interesting idea and a well-executed one by all accounts. Powered by wind, this chain oiler depends upon your bike’s speed to turn on and off.
As your bike builds up speed, air travels up the inlet tube, pressurizing the oil reservoir. The oil is then forced down the discharge tube and onto the chain via an applicator pad.
It’s a neat little system, has no moving parts and should last a very long time.
- No electronics, no moving parts
- Applicator pad means less oil required and a cleaner chain overall
- Good price point
- No display
PDOiler Automatic Chain Oiler
Most oilers on our list depend on gravity to take the lubricant from reservoir to chain. These systems are reliable and inexpensive but can be affected by weather and temperature.
The PDOlier operates on an electric pump to deliver an even oil application in conditions ranging from -10c to 50c.
The pump traps a fixed quantity of lubricant before forcing it through the discharge pipe and onto the wick applicator.
The PDOlier draws a very low quantity of power from your battery and won’t affect performance.
- Will work in a range of extreme temperatures – suited to adventure riding
- UK based company, 2 year warranty, spare parts and customer support
- Not the cheapest, nor the simplest solution
Just what should we be looking for in a reliable chain oiler?
Why A Chain Oiler?
The main benefit of using a chain oiler is that the oil required is significantly less tacky than spray lubricant and will pick up less dirt.
Spray oil needs tackiness to adhere to your chain as you apply it.
Using a chain oiler, whether applied by drip or wick, reduces the need for tackiness as the oil is applied in a precise, controlled way – directly to the inside of the chain, usually at the bottom of the rear sprocket.
How Do They Work?
There are four methods currently in use:
- Vacuum: Requires you to connect a tube to your bike’s vacuum hose. Once the revs are increased the suction will increase, opening a valve and allowing oil to flow from the reservoir into the discharge tube and onto the chain.
- Electric pump: Requires connection to your bike’s battery to power a motor which pumps oil from the reservoir onto your chain. Typically the amount of power required is very low.
- Wind powered: Uses air pressure from an intake pipe when the bike is moving to create pressure inside the oil reservoir. When the bike is moving, oil is flowing. The rate of flow depends upon speed.
- Manual: Pressurised by hand turning the reservoir cap and forcing oil through the discharge tube.
Most of the systems on our list depend on gravity to deliver oil through the discharge tube (not the PDOiler), so their reservoirs will need to be mounted with the bottom facing the ground.
Reservoirs are often intended to be mounted on sub-frame tubing but can be mounted anywhere as long as they face downward.
Any leaks will usually develop around the top cap of the oil reservoir, further incentivizing mounting the unit in a vertical position.
The fewer the components, the easier they are to fit. Oilers with a separate display etc. will take more time to fit, but none are particularly challenging.
The distance you can travel before needing to refill the oil reservoir depends on the unit’s capacity and how much control the user has on output.
Units like ScottOiler E System allow the rider to adjust the oiling schedule using the handlebar display to suit riding conditions.
Others like the Chain Oiler Nemo 2 allow the rider to respond to conditions by manually adjusting the cap on the reservoir.
Units that apply oil by wick will use slightly less oil than their drip counterparts.
Wind-powered systems have no way to vary oil flow other than changes in speed and use the same amount of oil irrespective of conditions, offsetting their lower initial cost.
Expect to get between 1,250 miles and 2000 miles before refilling, depending on riding conditions.
A chain oiler is not necessarily a must-buy for every rider. If you enjoy scrubbing that chain while listening to ACDC every Sunday – please continue.
However, if you are forgetful, busy, or just not bothered – a chain oiler can significantly extend the life of your chain and sprockets, saving you time, money and hassle.
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