How to Maintain the BMW M Endurance Chain

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.

BMW M Endurance Chain close-up photo
BMW M Endurance Chain close-up photo

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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:

BMW M Endurance Chain is the Low Maintenance Chain
BMW calls the M Endurance Chain the “low-maintenance chain” in the manual for the S 1000 R.

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.
BMW M Endurance Chain maintenance requirements
BMW M Endurance Chain maintenance requirements from BMW S 1000 R manual

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

  1. You need to clean and lubricate your M Endurance chain as part of your annual service
  2. 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.

M Endurance Chain measure sag
Checking chain sag
  1. 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.
  2. Put the bike in neutral, and put it onto its side stand on level ground.
  3. Ensure there’s no weight applied on it (e.g. no luggage, nothing resting on it)
  4. 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.

Adjusting chain slack sag bmw m endurance
Adjusting chain slack sag

To adjust the sag:

  1. Loosen the axel nut
  2. Loosen the lock nuts on the left and right
  3. Use the adjusting screws to adjust left and right. Keep the left and right balanced.
  4. 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)12592
Torque for adjusting chain sag

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.

  1. Put the bike up on a rear stand.
  2. Make sure chain tension is set correctly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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