Since late 2020-onward BMW S 1000 motorcycles (e.g. the latest BMW S 1000 RR)— and maybe others in the future — are fitted with an M Endurance chain, we need to clarify exactly what maintenance is required.
The BMW M Endurance chain is marketed as a “maintenance-free, like the shaft drive” on many BMW motorcycles.
But similar to a shaft drive, the M Endurance chain still needs some maintenance. This is the general guideline for how to maintain it.
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BMW M Endurance Chain — Low Maintenance, not Maintenance Free
BMW themselves refer to the M Endurance chain as a “low-maintenance” chain in their own motorcycle manuals.
See the manual for the 2021+ BMW S 1000 R for example:
In traditional X-ring chains (the chains on most modern motorcycles), there’s a permanent lubricant filling between the rollers and the pins, enclosed by X-rings.
When you lubricate a normal chain, you’re lubricating the contact surface between the metal rollers and the sprockets.
You don’t have to do this regular maintenance on an M Endurance chain. Nor do you have to do the regular re-tensioning.
On most motorcycles, you have to clean, lube, and re-tension the chain every 300-1000 km (200-600 miles). You should do this more often if you ride in the dirt, sand, through water, or in the rain.
M Endurance chain lubrication requirements
For the BMW M Endurance Chain, the requirements are much less stringent. You still have to lubricate the M Endurance Chain — but you lubricate an M Endurance Chain, at minimum, as part of your annual service.
The manual for the BMW M Endurance chain-fitted motorcycles says (edited for clarity):
- The low-maintenance drive chain is cleaned and lubricated as part of the annual service.
- For optimum durability, the low-maintenance chain can also be lubricated at intervals by application of a chain lubricant suitable for low-maintenance chains.
- If riding involves above-average wear and tear due to exposure to salt or dust and dirt, carry out lubrication at correspondingly more frequent intervals.
So to lubricate the BMW M Endurance chain annually (or more frequently, if you ride through sand and dirt), per the manuals:
- Clean the drive chain with a suitable cleaning product, dry it and apply chain lubricant.
- To prolong chain life, BMW Motorrad recommends the use of BMW Motorrad chain lubricant or “Chain spray, O-ring compatible”.
This is from the manual for the Jan 2021 BMW S 1000 R.
So in summary
- You need to clean and lubricate your M Endurance chain as part of your annual service
- If you ride in harsh conditions (salt, dust, dirt), then clean and lubricate your M Endurance chain more often.
Check chain sag
You still need to periodically check chain sag on your M Endurance chain. Here’s how you do it.
- Find the point at which chain sag is at its minimum by pushing the motorcycle back and forward and watching the chain move up and down.
- Put the bike in neutral, and put it onto its side stand on level ground.
- Ensure there’s no weight applied on it (e.g. no luggage, nothing resting on it)
- Use a screwdriver to push the chain up at a point midway between the front and rear sprockets. Measure the chain difference. Target chain deflection should be 45-50 mm.
If the chain is out of spec, then you need to adjust the sag.
To adjust the sag:
- Loosen the axel nut
- Loosen the lock nuts on the left and right
- Use the adjusting screws to adjust left and right. Keep the left and right balanced.
- Keep checking the chain sag until it’s in spec (45-50mm).
Tighten up the nuts to the specified torque with a torque wrench:
|Axle nuts (use thread locking compound)||125||92|
With everything torqued up, check chain sag again.
Chain wear check
Periodically you have to check that the M Endurance chain has not worn excessively.
Over time, a chain gets stretched. This means you have to check the length of the chain.
To check chain wear of the M Endurance chain, measure the length of 10 rivets in three different places along the chain.
- Put the bike up on a rear stand.
- Make sure chain tension is set correctly.
- Find a place where the chain is taut, and measure the distance between 10 rivets, measured from the centre. The maximum length should be 10 rivets.
- Repeat 2 more times to check other parts of the chain.
If the chain is excessively worn, you need to replace it.
More information on the BMW M Endurance Chain:
For more information and background on the BMW M Endurance Chain, including how it’s different and what it’s made from, see this article on Motofomo.