If you have a motorcycle with a chain you will be more than familiar with the regular maintenance it requires. Spraying on chain lube every few hundred miles, the inevitable fling of oil all over the rear of your bike, and the periodic clean of thick gunk from excess lube and dirt. Depending on how much your commute and ride, it’s a chore you need to do every couple of days to a couple of weeks. On a long tour, chain lube is just one more thing you need to pack. If you don’t have a centre stand or a handy paddock stand, the job is even more hassle to ensure the entire length of your chain is sufficiently lubed. There are no two ways about it, chain maintenance is a hassle, almost enough to make you buy a shaft drive BMW or a belt drive Harley… almost. 🙂
This is where an automated motorcycle chain oiler comes to the rescue. Essentially a small reservoir of chain oil you mount to your bike, with a long hose to dispense the oil directly onto your chain and sprocket as you ride.
Motorcycle Chain Oiler Comparison
How the automated oiler is activated can vary:
- Electronic motion detection (e.g Scottoiler xSystem)
- Vacuum activated (e.g. Scottoiler vSystem)
- Harnessing inertia of vertical suspension movements (e.g Tutoro chain oiler)
Electronic systems are expensive (~£200+) and need wiring to your battery. Vacuum systems are cheaper (~£100) but require additional hoses connected to an engine vacuum or induction outlet. This leaves the Tutoro Auto Trek, which is activated by suspension movements as an option that is both easier to install and cost-effective (£105). It is an intriguing option that I was keen to investigate more when Tutoro offered a kit for review.
Tutoro Chain Oiler Review
The Tutoro Auto Trek kit arrived in a box with a multitude of parts and with a very, very comprehensive manual. The manual really is an excellent example of how manuals should be done, 48 pages of clear instructions, tips for different bikes, setup steps, fine-tuning info and troubleshooting help; all well written with decent diagrams. Definitely essential reading, to ensure your installation is most optimal and you don’t set things up in a manner that will cause issues. Tutoro also has a whole host of great info and videos on their website too.
This attention to detail pervades the whole kit, with what seems like everything already thought of and catered for. From the inclusion of many brackets for many mounting scenarios, a multitude of cable ties, sticky back hose clips and alcohol wipes to clean surfaces for them. Even a mini bottle to transport some oil in, rather than carting about a big bottle on tour. Tutoro also offers a cheaper Patrol kit for bikes already fitted with a chain fin or tow guard next to the sprocket, and a more expensive Adventure kit with an extra mounting bracket, oil and steel guard for the reservoir. All of these kit components are available individually to buy as spares too, which is cool as I’m rather tempted by the blinged up steel reservoir guard…
Tutoro Auto Oiler Installation
With no need to connect the Tutoro Auto to the battery or a vacuum hose on the engine, the installation is fairly straight forward. No need to remove the fuel tank or bodywork to get to the battery (under the tank on my Yamaha FZ6) or engine hoses. The most difficult part was working out exactly where to mount the reservoir, as it needs to be mounted close to vertical (+/- 12°), not to close to hot exhausts and obviously not where swingarm or rear wheel movement will hit it.
The requirement for a vertical mounting position can limit options slightly and is one place where other systems have an advantage. For example, a Scottoiler system could be nestled near horizontal at a shallow angle under the seat.
To mount the Tutoro oil reservoir, the standard kit includes three mounting brackets parts, but I was provided with their optional Pro-Fix Bolt Bracket (£12.50 extra), a longer S-shaped bracket that afforded more mounting options. All the pieces then bolt together like a mini Mecano construction. After some trial and error, I opted to mount the reservoir hanging down from a Givi rack mounting bolt near the rear of my Yamaha FZ6. This kept it clear of the swingarm, away from hot exhaust pipes, vertical and easily accessible to fill up.
The next part of the installation is routing the supplied hose down to the sprocket where it is directed by a plastic Shark Fin anchor bracket that is cable tied to the underside of the swingarm. The final section of the hose has metal wire inside that allows you to bend and position it as needed. Into the end of the hose a plastic nozzle is inserted which will dispense the oil Tutoro recommends directing the nozzle at the lip of the sprocket, whereupon the centrifugal force will force the oil out onto the teeth and where it will spread to both sides of the chain.
Once everything is in place, the hose is routed tidy and secured with supplied sticky back clips and cable ties, then the reservoir is filled with oil (500ml bottle is supplied in the kit) and the system is primed. Some care is needed to avoid cable tieing the hose too tight or kinking it so as to restrict the oil flow. A right angle attachment for the base of the reservoir would have been nice here.
It is dead easy to prime the Tutoro, you simply hold a (supplied) magnet over the reservoir to activate the valve, then just let gravity draw the oil down the hose until it just seeps out onto the sprocket then take the magnet away to halt the flow. I particularly liked the blue colour of the Tutoro oil, in the clear hose, it’s aesthetically quite distinctive and looked particularly good against my blue Yamaha.
For a smooth installation, I would recommend you:
- Before installation, give your chain and sprocket a really good clean prior. This will help you gauge if the Tutoro is dispensing enough oil or not, and prevent gunk on the sprocket blocking the nozzle when you wheel the bike backwards.
- Before installation, clean all the prior oil splatter from the rear of your bike, to gauge if the Tutoro flow is too high and it’s flinging oil off.
Using the Tutoro Auto Oiler
For day to day use, there is a small tap on the Tutoro reservoir, which can be opened up to varying degrees to regulate the amount of oil that flows to the chain. This can be tweaked depending on the ambient temperature, how hard your suspension is, whether you ride on or off-road. The comprehensive manual provides suggested tap settings, but a couple of rides and a little tweaking is required to fine-tune it to sufficiently lube the chain but not cause excessive fling. Of course, as the seasons change, you will need to check this and tweak the tap accordingly. Similarly, greater flow is best in wet weather or in off-road conditions to help maintain your chain’s condition.
Ultimately, the million-dollar question is does the Tutoro Auto lube the chain effectively? To which, I can confirm it does and does so well. Once the flow tap is fine-tuned, it consistently dispenses oil and keeps the chain nicely glazed in oil. Even though it only dispenses to one side of the sprocket, the oil does indeed spread over the teeth and to the whole chain. Tutoro has extensively tested dual-sided dispensers (and previously sold them) but found them no more effective, yet trickier to set up and less robust, thus they no longer sell this option.
I’m definitely a
tight ass frugal biker, so the running costs are something that definitely interested me. Especially as Tutoro very explicitly do not recommend the use of any oil beside their own, due to potential damage other oil additives may cause to the system. So, for fair weather riding, you can expect to one reservoir fill (100 ml) to last around 1000 miles. Wet weather riding should use more to effectively protect your chain. The kit is supplied with a 500 ml bottle of oil with a pair of further bottles and postage costing you £20. That’s 1 litre, or 10 fills of the reservoir and potentially 10,000 miles! Even if you only achieve half of that from all-weather riding, that’s still bloody good value compared to spray lube.
Longer-term, an automated oiler should maintain your chain far more effectively and give you more miles out of it before it needs replacing. Another money-saving angle.
Lube My Chain Every Day!
Summing up, I struggled to find anything to criticise the Tutoro chain oiler. It’s reasonably straight forward to install, certainly less hassle than other competing products and it has great instructions and support. I’ve been impressed with the thought that has gone into this product, to the point that as some cleaning products have been found to degrade the reservoir plastic they supply a little baggie you can pop on to protect it whilst washing your bike!
The Tutoro has worked faultlessly in the month or so I’ve been testing it, keeping a nice sheen of oil on my chain without excess fling. Granted, for a product like this, it’s true benefits will only be seen in the long term with regards to its reliability and resultant chain longevity.
You find out more and buy the Tutoro Auto chain oilers direct here.