My first bike, a ’68 Triumph, had a primitive chain oiler. Metered oil was drawn off the oil tank return line and a small amount was then diverted onto the chain via a drip line on the rear-wheel torque stay. It certainly oiled the chain but the errant spray also oiled my girlfriend’s snow-white jeans. My eager adolescent cure was to simply close the metering needle down and pinch off the supply, since that girlfriend was far more valuable to me at the time than any chain.
I still have that original TR6R but the girl, now someone’s grandmother, is long gone. Well, times have changed and so has chain maintenance. I have four chain-drive bikes and don’t relish maintaining them the vintage Triumph way, so I looked at various systems that promise to avoid the greasy drudgery that was once the norm. Most of the available chain oiling systems promise more than they provide or are incredibly messy. I discovered Scottoilers years ago and I’m a believer.
Let’s discuss some basics. Chains don’t really need “lubrication,” per se. Modern chains are manufactured with adequate lubrication sealed inside the rollers by special O-rings of various designs. Given proper cleaning and tensioning, these chains have much longer service lives. So do they really need an oiling system?
Because of their longevity, perhaps we should think of chain “oilers” more as chain “cleaners.” A light oil coating prevents corrosion, and if just enough oil is dispensed onto the chain, that oil will “fling off” the abrasive grit that eventually degrades the rubber ring seals on modern chains.
Before the eSystem, that precise amount of oil was impossible to control. Too little failed to do the job and too much was just messy.
The eSystem pumps proprietary oil from a reservoir onto the sprocket close to the chain run. The system is activated by a three-axis accelerometer that detects the bike’s motion and provides oil at a pre-determined rate only while the bike is moving. Oil is pumped rather than gravity-fed, so there is no drooling when stationary. A multifunctional digital display provides data including oil flow rate, oil reservoir level, ambient temperature and motion sensor activity.
Scottoiler offers two types of oil depending on ambient air temps. Traditional oil, the blue label, is for ambient temps of 32-90 degrees F. The high-temp red label is for hotter climes, 70-104 F. Here in the San Diego area, I routinely use the standard blue label with no problems. Hotter in your area? Simply choose the high-temp oil, which is slightly thicker.
Once the system is installed and metering is set, it’s a set-and-forget system. Metering is easy, and comprehensive directions are provided. The system will even tell you when the reservoir gets low. “Fling-off” is minimal. The rear rim stays remarkably clean and chain life is extended. New features include the addition of a capacitor to avoid losing the settings on bikes due to sudden voltage spikes on start up, as well as minor modifications to the screen and buttons to improve reliability.
My 2004 Ducati has had one chain replacement and I still ride on the original sprockets. Fill the Scottoiler. Set the Scottoiler. Adjust the drive chain tension as needed. This is a good product; it does exactly what it claims.