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Motorcycle wheel chains – are they needed?

If you google the word “Mordovki”, then the search engines will first of all show links to the indigenous inhabitants of such a place as Mordovians, and only then they will show you coins with the same name. In general, until you tell the search engine that you mean chains on wheels, then you will not see faces in the right context.

It is correct to call Mordovki – snow chains.

When are they needed?

  • Used when driving in winter on ice, snow
  • Used when driving off-road on soft ground / mud

The point of having chains on a wheel is to improve the grip of the wheel to the ground. Relevant when driving on mud or ice. In the case when you do not have other rubber (studded or mud), you can modify the wheel with muzzles for driving on the road, the grip on which you have without chains will tend to zero. Although, to be honest, the reviews about the chains, let’s face it, are different.

What are the Mordovians?

  • Metallic
  • Rubber / plastic
  • Factory
  • Homemade

Plastic muzzles on motorcycles are rare, but they exist nonetheless! Plastic mounts are weaker in their characteristics, but they do not injure the wheel tire. More often, such muzzles are found among motorists. Traditionally, motorcyclists use metal chains, where stainless steel and titanium are considered the most reliable. They are strengthened and modified, when spiked, when bolted, when with additional fasteners.

The vast majority of motorcyclists make their own muzzles with a pattern of rhombus, triangles, honeycombs or ladders. If you are one of them, be sure to use a reinforced cable.

What for? Chains wear out quickly when riding on hard surfaces. This should be taken into account when you plan to ride them on ice, frozen ground or drive onto asphalt. The links of the chains are fixed with a reinforced cable, so that they do not fall off when they are frayed and broken. Opening the chain is fraught with falling into the moving parts of the motorcycle, as a result of costly breakdowns.

Chains with a ladder pattern go well to the rear wheel, it is believed that such a pattern helps the wheel to paddle over loose snow or mud. It happens that when driving through mud, muzzles are made from improvised means, wrapping the wheel diagonally or cross-to-cross with thick ropes.

Diamond and honeycomb patterns are more difficult to make, but more functional when driving with tight turns. The ladder has less surface for grip, but there is a “sill” for a snatch, when the remaining two patterns have an advantage in inclined planes along the edges of the tire. Where the ladder can break off in a turn, the diamond and honeycomb will show themselves from a much more interesting angle.

Thus, depending on the nature of the ride, you can change the pattern of the muzzles. Although it may be quite a worthy plan to install a ladder on the rear wheel (as for transmitting power), and on the front wheel with a diamond or honeycomb, like wheels, which requires a lot of maneuvering.

By the way, there are just brilliant people who thought of finding a use for the old drive chains, installing them instead of muzzles on the wheel! By the way, if you read very ancient textbooks on motorcycles, then there is also such a method, only the authors still suggest strengthening the chain with short spikes made of bolts / screws.

How are muzzles installed?

It all depends on the design of the muzzles. Someone installs them without dismantling the wheel using trolleys or hanging the motorcycle on a jack. Some people need to remove the wheel to secure the chains. Still others spy on the method from motorists, rolling the motorcycle on a chain so as not to put it on a jack.

When installing chains, it is especially important to consider whether the links will touch closely located parts of the motorcycle, rub against the swingarm or feathers and fenders?

What are the “disadvantages” of Mordovians?

Agree, if the use of chains on a motorcycle was the best solution, everyone would ride them, but as practice shows, this is not the case. The disadvantages of using muzzles include:

  • Weighting the wheel – the chains weigh a lot, their total weight will affect the weight of the motorcycle and its handling
  • On hard surfaces, grinds like thorns
  • If the chains break, they can severely damage the motorcycle or hit the legs, fly in an unknown direction and injure someone.
  • Limited speed. The higher the speed of the motorcycle, the greater the risk of tearing the muzzles. Top speed bars range from 60 to 90 km / h depending on the metal of the chains
  • Chains make noise when driving, metal ringing will accompany you everywhere
  • Relative stability on ice – user reviews of muzzles really vary greatly, but everyone says that this is not the most stable option

What are the “pluses” of Mordovians?

  • Improves motorcycle flotation on mud trails, with performance on loose ground and mud near chains often better than on ice
  • No need to damage the tire by drilling holes for the spikes
  • You can put the chains on the wheel at any moment of the journey, even just for one section of the road, and then remove and go further without them.
  • Improves grip when your tire lacks a pronounced pattern
  • Unique stylish look of a motorcycle


Snow chains are useful when you really need them. They are not particularly useful for driving in the city, but for a mud track – why not? As for using chains on ice, you can hedge them, but ride with caution.

Do not forget to service the muzzles: check their tension, lubricate and replace links, the wear of which is close to the middle.

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