Innovation comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so it is interesting today to see some progress made on an often overlooked item: the motorcycle chain.
BMW Motorrad is touting the first maintenance-free chain ever for a motorcycle, calling the product the BMW M Endurance chain. In reality, the product is made by Regina, with BMW claiming first rights to the product and rebranding it.
The BMW M Endurance chains is similar to other X-ring chains in that it has a permanent lubricant filling between the rollers and pins, enclosed by X-rings.
What is completely new however is Regina’s design, in that it does not require additional external lubrication, nor does it require retensioning over time.
Regina achieves this by using a new coating material for the rollers: tetrahedrally amorphous carbon (ta-C), which is often referred to as an industrial diamond or a diamond like coating (DLC) in marketing materials.
As the name implies, this is an extremely hard compound, and in contrast to the metals used in standard chains, the coating with the ta-C does not wear off, and it also offers a drastically reduced friction coefficient.
This means that the new M Endurance chain has excellent dry lubrication properties that BMW Motorrad says eliminates chain wear, helping to ensure the internal lubrication is maintained, and also allowing the chain not to stretch over time.
Right now, the M Endurance chain is only available in a 525 pitch, which makes it suitable for the BMW S1000RR and BMW S1000XR (coming straight from the factor), but BMW plans on making more pitches available, both as factory parts as well as aftermarket options.
Presumably, Regina will make the available under its own brand name at a later date, though there really is nothing stopping interested riders with 525 chains from buying the BMW version for their own use.
It is interesting though that this technology should be arriving first on the BMW Motorrad lineup, as the German brand has been a strong proponent of shaft-driven motorcycles – namely for their maintenance-free operation.
From this lens, adding a maintenance-free chain to their bikes makes sense for BMW Motorrad, especially as their touring line is getting rounded out with smaller displacement bikes that come chain-equipped.
It will be interesting to see if any intrepid journalists can test the BMW M Endurance chain for its friction reducing properties, as this could mean that the BMW M Endurance chain could be a valuable performance part for motorcycle enthusiasts, if it can show a gain on the dyno. More to come, so stay tuned.