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Building Motorbike Snow Chains

When it comes to motorbike snow chains the market isn't exactly flooded with options, there are a few floating around the internet but very limited regarding tyre sizes.  Because there were none available in my tyre size I decided to create my own. The following is some information about how I created mine, this is by no means an exhaustive resource for creating motorbike snow chains, however it should be a great help if you are considering building your own.

Sourcing the parts

Main road-wearing chain: Because this has to be quality high tensile chain, and I couldn't find a company that supplied it by the length, I purchased car chains and cut out the road-wearing chain sections. This was a very expensive portion of the total cost, sourcing chain by the length would be far more economical.

Inner chain: Running around the inside of the tyre this is used to hold the chains together, I used a mild steel chain that can be purchased from any chain wholesaler or retailer at a pretty low cost.

Chain joiners: Because small slimline chain joiners weren't available, I used links from the mild steel chain used for the inner chains (mentioned above), cut through the join weld with an angle grinder, opened up the link with a pair of pliers, used this to connect the main road wearing chain to the inner chain, and closed the chain link back up to be re-welded.  Voilà, a makeshift chain joiner.

Stainless steel carabiners: Used to join the two inner chains together.  For this I used heavy grade stainless steel carabiners purchased from a hardware store.

Springs: Strong springs are required to securely hold the chains in place on your tyres. These were purchased from a hardware store. Most hardware stores have a spring section of some sort.  

Spring S hooks: These hooks were purchased from a hardware store and were very low cost. The end that clips onto the spring is compressed in on itself so it is permanately attached to the spring making fitting more time efficient.

Assembling the motorbike snow chains

This was the time-consuming bit as it takes a long time line up the links correctly to get a nice snug fit around the tyre.  Trial and error is really the only real way and even though it may take some time, this is really the only major time consuming part.  Once this is done and the chain joins have been re-welded, basically the snow chains are complete and are ready to be fitted with the carabiners and springs.

Photo 1 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The complete motorbike snow chain set (rear tyre).
Photo 2 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The springs with the S hooks pressed at one end to permanently attach them to the springs
Photo 3 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
A close up look at the main road-wearing chain attached to the inner chain with the joiners
Photo 4 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The chains are made to have a few extra lengths based on a new tyre. As the tyre wears the chains can still be fitted snuggly
Photo 5 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The final result
Photo 6 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The springs are fitted evenly around the tyre starting at the join by the carabiners
Photo 7 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
A close look at the spring placement by the carabiners
Photo 8 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
The chains should run perfectly down the centre of the tyre and hold there firmly
Photo 9 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
Photo 10 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
Photo 11 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains

Motorbike snow chains put into action!

Photo 12 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
Winter 2010 - return trip from Lyndon Road Canterbury High Country to Christchurch
Photo 13 of Building Motorbike Snow Chains
Winter 2011 - return trip up the snowy ice packed roads of Otira Gorge from the West Coast to Christchurch. The steep sections were impossible to climb (and dangerous) without the snow chains, with the snow chains on I breezed up with ease