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2018 NC750X Stiff Chain Links

mptxnismo

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Hello all!

Bought my 2018 NC750X as a leftover in June 2020 for a good deal. Been using it as a commuter, and so far it has been working flawlessly until I hit close to the 8,000 mile mark. During the week, I noticed that my MPG kept getting worse and worse. I thought it was because of the weather since the average temperature dropped about 25 degrees from the 70s to the 50s, but then the drivetrain started to make an odd whining noise that got worse with higher speeds. I went to check my chain slack, and it was practically 0! Which is so strange considering that a week prior, I adjusted my chain slack to about 1.5 inches (about 38mm) and it was moving so freely! After rotating the wheel a couple of times and checking the chain slack, I noticed that there were kinked links in multiple areas. This must have caused the chain to lose its slack. Trying to undo the kinks was difficult and it would squeak when trying to move it. I have only put roughly 600 miles since the adjustment. From what I understand, having a faulty factory chain is a common problem for these bikes. I decided to cut one of the kinked links open to inspect the pin inside. Here's what I found:

IMG_0788.jpg

As you can see here, this pin circled in red (still has o-ring intact) has a small wear line where the metal is shiny. I don't know if this is normal, but it's a good reference for the next pic:

IMG_0787.jpg

This pin circled in red is the leading pin in the direction of normal rotation. Notice the excessive scoring on the pin.

Could there be a lack of lubrication causing this chain link to wear out prematurely?

As far as chain maintenance goes, I have a ScottOiler installed, and the external rollers still move just fine. Could the ScottOiler oil penetrate the o-rings and compromised the internal chain lube? I've yet to hear of this issue...

To clean my chains, I actually use a DuPont Teflon Motorcycle Chain specific lube to clean my chain. I highly doubt the DuPont Teflon lube is the cause for this since I have used it in multiple bikes for a decade with no problems, one being a gen 4 VFR that had a DID x-ring chain that lasted nearly 24K miles with no issues.

I was thinking about taking it to the dealer and having the chain replaced under warranty, but decided I'd rather buy a new x-ring chain of my choosing rather than rely on another factory replacement and risk having this happen again.

Thoughts?
 

Griff

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Hello all!

Bought my 2018 NC750X as a leftover in June 2020 for a good deal. Been using it as a commuter, and so far it has been working flawlessly until I hit close to the 8,000 mile mark. During the week, I noticed that my MPG kept getting worse and worse. I thought it was because of the weather since the average temperature dropped about 25 degrees from the 70s to the 50s, but then the drivetrain started to make an odd whining noise that got worse with higher speeds. I went to check my chain slack, and it was practically 0! Which is so strange considering that a week prior, I adjusted my chain slack to about 1.5 inches (about 38mm) and it was moving so freely! After rotating the wheel a couple of times and checking the chain slack, I noticed that there were kinked links in multiple areas. This must have caused the chain to lose its slack. Trying to undo the kinks was difficult and it would squeak when trying to move it. I have only put roughly 600 miles since the adjustment. From what I understand, having a faulty factory chain is a common problem for these bikes. I decided to cut one of the kinked links open to inspect the pin inside. Here's what I found:

View attachment 43936

As you can see here, this pin circled in red (still has o-ring intact) has a small wear line where the metal is shiny. I don't know if this is normal, but it's a good reference for the next pic:

View attachment 43938

This pin circled in red is the leading pin in the direction of normal rotation. Notice the excessive scoring on the pin.

Could there be a lack of lubrication causing this chain link to wear out prematurely?

As far as chain maintenance goes, I have a ScottOiler installed, and the external rollers still move just fine. Could the ScottOiler oil penetrate the o-rings and compromised the internal chain lube? I've yet to hear of this issue...

To clean my chains, I actually use a DuPont Teflon Motorcycle Chain specific lube to clean my chain. I highly doubt the DuPont Teflon lube is the cause for this since I have used it in multiple bikes for a decade with no problems, one being a gen 4 VFR that had a DID x-ring chain that lasted nearly 24K miles with no issues.

I was thinking about taking it to the dealer and having the chain replaced under warranty, but decided I'd rather buy a new x-ring chain of my choosing rather than rely on another factory replacement and risk having this happen again.

Thoughts?

I would very much like to see a pic of that scored pin with all of the mess cleaned off. From early mileage in ownership of my former NC700X, I was seeing stiff links on the OEM chain. I replaced it at 15,000 kms. Moving on to my current X-Adv I saw exactly the same at around the same early mileage, but this time I just decided to continue with my normal chain care procedure and live with it. I eventually got 33,000 kms out of the current chain and replaced it only because the sprockets were toast. Obviously the replacement chain is better quality.

This seems to be a feature of OEM Honda chains on the less expensive bikes at least. Exactly the same stiff links appeared on the OEM chain of my CRF250L. The only assumption to be made is that the quality of the OEM chains is poor, but they are still robust enough to undergo fairly normal mileage. Occasionally I give my chains a good dousing with quality left over engine oil prior to one of my outings. This has a cleaning affect and thereafter I revert to use of the Wurth HHS 2000 that I swear by.

Don't even get me started on Honda OEM tyres, regardless of brand.
 

davidc83

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A few kinked links is probably not going to make 0 slack (on next to 0 slack) in the chain....0 slack probably means the rear wheel slipped backwards slightly, thus causing a tight chain...did you measure the 1.5" slack on the center stand or side stand? If center stand, did you check the slack after adjusting on the side stand?
 

670cc

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There was mention in post #1 of taking the chain to a dealer for warranty replacement, but I would expect the chain to be considered a wear item and not covered by warranty just because it kinked up.
 

dduelin

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8,000 miles on the OEM chain isn't unheard of. It's a cheap chain. Modern O-ring chains worn in the manner shown wouldn't benefit from an auto oiler or the owner paying close attention to cleaning and lubing. It was doomed to early death from the get-go as the chain from the factory didn't have sufficient grease packed inside the O-ring seals or the O-rings allowed the grease to run out. Neither condition are owner serviceable.

Replace with a mid grade or higher aftermarket chain like a DID VX2/3 and take care of it. You should easily double 8,000 miles. Some references say to replace the chain when 10% of the links are kinking even if plenty of travel is left in the adjusting mechanism. The kinks never go away. With a 112 link NC chain that's just 10 - 11 links, more than enough to remove a lot of slack.
 

mptxnismo

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I would very much like to see a pic of that scored pin with all of the mess cleaned off. From early mileage in ownership of my former NC700X, I was seeing stiff links on the OEM chain. I replaced it at 15,000 kms. Moving on to my current X-Adv I saw exactly the same at around the same early mileage, but this time I just decided to continue with my normal chain care procedure and live with it. I eventually got 33,000 kms out of the current chain and replaced it only because the sprockets were toast. Obviously the replacement chain is better quality.

This seems to be a feature of OEM Honda chains on the less expensive bikes at least. Exactly the same stiff links appeared on the OEM chain of my CRF250L. The only assumption to be made is that the quality of the OEM chains is poor, but they are still robust enough to undergo fairly normal mileage. Occasionally I give my chains a good dousing with quality left over engine oil prior to one of my outings. This has a cleaning affect and thereafter I revert to use of the Wurth HHS 2000 that I swear by.

Don't even get me started on Honda OEM tyres, regardless of brand.
Here's a pic of the link cleaned up:

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg
 

mptxnismo

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A few kinked links is probably not going to make 0 slack (on next to 0 slack) in the chain....0 slack probably means the rear wheel slipped backwards slightly, thus causing a tight chain...did you measure the 1.5" slack on the center stand or side stand? If center stand, did you check the slack after adjusting on the side stand?
- I'd say about 1/4 to 1/3 of the links were kinked. It was pretty bad.
- I adjusted the slack on the center stand then confirmed on side stand.
 

mptxnismo

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There was mention in post #1 of taking the chain to a dealer for warranty replacement, but I would expect the chain to be considered a wear item and not covered by warranty just because it kinked up.
I was thinking that as well. Figured it wouldn't have been worth my time.
 

Griff

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Thanks for that. The pin is badly scored indeed on the pressured side. When I was replacing two chains on my bikes a couple of weeks ago I noted that there is little room for grease when You push the connecting pins through. As such whatever grease is used would need to be of a very high quality if it is to be effective for the life of a chain. From Your previous pic before cleaning it would appear that the grease had moved to the unpressured side and had solidified, hence the wear on the pressured side.

Again referring back to the quality of Honda OEM chains. I asked my Mechanic to get me a chain for my CRF250L and subsequently for the X-Adv. I was thinking in terms of a better quality chain than original for both bikes but perhaps didn't explain myself properly. He ended up getting me a complete Honda chain kit for the CRF and a good aftermarked chain for the X. The difference between OEM and Aftermarket quality was demonstrated as follows. In the first 2/300 kms of use that OEM chain stretched very significantly. On my X-Adv which got the quality aftermarket chain, there was no stretch to speak of over the same initial mileage.

I still have the chain with 33,000 kms from the X-Adv. If I get a bit of time over the next few days I will split it in a couple of places and report back.
 

kebrider

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With Honda's value driven bikes the OEM chains seem to suffer from unusually poor quality. I replaced my 2019 NC750x's at the 600 break-in service with a DID's top-of-the-line ZVM X-ring chain. I felt like I wanted to maximize the usable life of the OEM sprockets and I can use the oem chain on my dualsport. 5K miles and still no adjustment required.
 

MZ5

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The pics of the dirty links indicate that the factory grease thickener was still there, but the horrendous wear indicates that the oil (the actual lubricant in grease is oil) was gone, or totally ineffective. The fact that your ScottOiler provided no lube to the pins makes one think that the o-rings were still intact and sealing, but then where did the factory grease's oil go? It seems like the factory grease must have been of super-low quality for the thickener and oil to separate so completely. It could have over-heated and basically 'burned' off, but what got it so hot? Various chemicals could have destroyed the grease if any got past the o-rings (like gasoline, or soapy water, etc.).

Does this undermine anyone else's confidence in the utility of chain oilers?
 

Griff

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Does this undermine anyone else's confidence in the utility of chain oilers?

Not necessarily. I have used Chain oilers of two brands. They were Scottoiler and Tutoro. Imho the Tutoro was the better of the two with more precise oiling and ease of installation. I then traded the bikes with both oilers in place. Replacements had centrestands and I got lazy about reinstalling an oiler. Now having discovered a very good spray lube which is giving good mileage results I am not inclined to go back to an oiler. At this point in the evolution of chains I do not think that orings should be easily compromised by outside influences unless physically damaged by agressive cleaning chemicals or brushes.
I personally think that Honda saves on bike price by using base quality consumables such as tyres and chains that they know the owners will replace in due course.
 

Griff

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Ok. As promised I have now taken a stiff link from the OEM chain that I replaced on my X-Adv at 33,000 Kms. As previously mentioned that chain was showing evidence of stiff links from early mileage. These links were not seized at that early stage, but certainly stiff. I recall noting it at the time but I decided to persevere as the mileage was too early to replace the chain.

Today when I removed this link, one of the pins was so stiff that I struggled to move it. The other was reasonably free moving. Photos 1 and 2 show the pressured side of the stiff pin. 3 shows the other side of the same pin. 4 and 5 show the loose pin on pressured and unpressured sides. The wear on the stiff pin is not dissimilar to the OP's . All four orings were intact. It was difficult to observe how much grease remained on the pins because external chain grease got on them as I pushed them thru. However I suspect that the seized pin was dry.

My photography isn't great but I think the point is made. The quality of OEM Honda chains is poor on the lower priced bikes. The Chain was also replaced on my CRF and it too had stiff links from ealry mileage. I have no doubt that if I were to split that too I would find the same results.


1.JPG


2.JPG


2a.JPG


3.JPG


3a.JPG
 
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Griff

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I sent the same photos to a friend who is a motorcycle mechanic. He tells me that the chain on his new CB500X is also very rough on the sprockets currently. That has only 2000kms on it. He will split it in a few places when he changes it shortly and will let me know thw outcome.
 

mptxnismo

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I sent the same photos to a friend who is a motorcycle mechanic. He tells me that the chain on his new CB500X is also very rough on the sprockets currently. That has only 2000kms on it. He will split it in a few places when he changes it shortly and will let me know thw outcome.
Thank for the photos! They look nearly identical to mine. Look forward to seeing what your friend finds.
 

jackthebiker

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I just put over 17,000 miles on my 2015 Triumph Bonneville T100 chain/sprockets and it showed little sign of wear. I also put over 17,000 miles on my 2016 Kawasaki Versys 1000Lt with little sign of wear. I question the use of chain oilers also, I use Dupont chain waxed every few hundred miles, and rarely if ever clean the chain and sprockets. I have a hard time believing Honda uses that poor of a quality chain not to make 24,000 miles or more. Off road riding?
 

mptxnismo

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I just put over 17,000 miles on my 2015 Triumph Bonneville T100 chain/sprockets and it showed little sign of wear. I also put over 17,000 miles on my 2016 Kawasaki Versys 1000Lt with little sign of wear. I question the use of chain oilers also, I use Dupont chain waxed every few hundred miles, and rarely if ever clean the chain and sprockets. I have a hard time believing Honda uses that poor of a quality chain not to make 24,000 miles or more. Off road riding?
No off roading for me. I just commute ~80 miles a day, 90% highway. I had a hard time believing the chain would wear out so soon, but compared to the OEM chain, my replacement chain has barely stretched over the 2,500 miles I just put on. As for the ScottOiler, it has kept my rollers well lubed with minimal excess fling. I can’t recommend it enough. Now, who knows how the chain was treated at the dealership. I mean they could have had an ignorant porter pressure wash the chain and destroy the grease inside, but who knows?
 
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RF52

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I've never had to change a chain on any bike. They didn't stretch or wear; however those bikes only had 26kmi on them once sold.
 

the Ferret

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Out of my last 3 bikes only 1 (CB1100) had a chain and it went 36,909 miles before needing replacement. Disappointing to think one might only get 8,000 miles out of a chain. We got better mileage than that back in the 70's with std non o-ring chains.
 

yojimg

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This past weekend I did the chain clean & lube routine on my 2018 NC750X, and I, too, found one very stiff link. I tried loosening it by working it back and forth, but it feels very stiff and sounds like it's galling inside. I suspect it would look inside exactly like the previously-posted pictures show. The chain seems to run smooth with no noise or clunking. My bike has 9300 miles and the chain shows no/minimal stretch. Should I replace the chain (and if so, do I need to change the sprockets), or just live with it? Another idea I had was to cut out the offending link and replace with a master link (either a rivet or clip-type). Thoughts?

Thanks!
-Jim G
 
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