Size Go Kart Chain and Chain Maintenance
You must learn to size your chain, but this isn't hard. After that, you've got to keep it properly adjusted and oiled.
Resizing Your Chain
To resize your chain the pins must be driven out. Inexpensive tools are sold that do just this — or drive the pins out with a punch that's slightly smaller than the pin.
Make sure you don't remove too many links. Most will tell you that you can't use multiple chain clips to add chain. Any it's easier to remove links, anyway.
After removing the appropriate links, the chain is re-connected. The special connecting links (at right) are sold that have a clip snap that holds the pins. Install the clip so that the closed end faces in the direction of chain travel.
Carry a few links of chain and spare clips as part of a small tool kit on your kart.
Adjusting the Chain Tension
Chains will stretch over time, and if you don't adjust it, sooner or later it will fall off. You'll need to loosen your engine mounting bolts and move the engine forward or back to re-tension the chain. The correct amount of tension is about 1/2" of movement in the chain when tested between the clutch and sprocket.
A good amount of play in the chain is essential. If you over-tighten, chain life and horsepower will suffer. Severe over tightening will cause clutch engagement at idle.
When fitting a new chain, expect the chain to relax quite a bit. You may have to adjust several times the first few trips out on a new chain.
Lubricate the Chain
Go kart and mini bike chain is referred to as roller chain. The steel pins rub inside of the steel tubes. Proper maintenance of the chain gets lubricant under the tubes and on to the pins.
The best way to lubricate is to remove the chain and soak overnight. Use a penetrating chain lubricant — ask your dealer for their recommendation. The lubricant will need time to adequately penetrate the rollers — a quick spray just won't do it for proper maintenance.
If you need immediate lubrication, you may get by for the day with a quick spray and waiting a few minutes, but you'll end up with a lot of chain-spray on your clothes and little lubrication where it matters.
Align The Chain
When maintaining the chain, ensure that the clutch and drive sprockets are in alignment. Misalignment will cause faster wear.
Rotate your drive wheel backward and check that the chain is feeding straight back on the rear sprocket. The chain should ride in the middle of the sprocket — otherwise add or remove spacers on the drive wheel axle until aligned.
Worn Out Parts
Replace the chain when there is too much slack and doesn't fit between the sprocket teeth properly. Replace sprockets if they have "pointy" teeth from wear.