TUTORO: Top Up, Turn On, Ride Off
I have never, in all of my riding career, used a chain oiler, I’ve always relied on cans or tubes of chain lube, which cost anywhere between AU$14 – AU$24 depending on what brand and size I bought.
For the most part both methods worked well and were relatively easy to apply – except for the chain paste which was a good idea, but tedious to apply. Nowhere near as simple as the spray can.
Why An Oiler?
You might remember back in this post (Packen It) I mentioned I’d bought a chain oiler for Bluey.
There are a few reasons for this, the main one being the cost. With the amount of riding I do, I tend to go through a can of chain lube every 6 weeks or so, about 8 cans a year.
Doing the math on that: 8 cans x $24 = AU$192 per year.
Some might think this is a hell of a lot of lube to go through in one year, and you’d be right, but I’ve always erred on the side of clean and lube often and your chain will repay you with a long life. In my case 54,000km (22,500 miles).
This still isn’t a super long life for a chain in the scheme of things, and many get more out of their chain and sprockets than that, but it’s better than most are getting.
In fact the only reason I swapped out the chain and sprockets at 54,000km was because the chain had developed a tight spot. The sprockets were still in great condition. The chain is what let me down, and I didn’t want to have any problems on our extended riding holiday.
The other thing I hate about spray on chain lube is that it flings off and makes a mess of everything: Swing arm, wheel, tyre, licence plate, everything. Even the ones that say “Will not fling off”, still fling off, and what’s worse its a sticky mess because of the “no fling” recipe.
Lastly, a can of chain lube takes up precious luggage space.
Yes I know you can get smaller cans, but half the size does not equate to half the price, and if you’re a stingy bugger like me, this doesn’t sit well with the hip pocket.
Likewise with chain paste. I really don’t want to have to carry a tube of the stuff and spend heaps of time applying the stuff. Not at all convenient.
Most of you would have heard of Scott Oilers. They are a well-known, well-regarded brand that have been around for a very long time.
I looked at them long and hard, but decided against them for several reasons:
- Depending on what flavor you bought, they required modification to the vacuum lines, or splicing into the electrical system on the bike, and
- They are rather large. Bluey is tight on space under the seat and routing the vacuum lines, or electrical cables, would not be a fun process for this lazy individual and to be honest there just isn’t enough room under the seat, and
- They start at around AU$230 for the vacuum system and top out at AU$430 for the electronic system. Ouch!
After deciding against the Scott Oiler, I went on the hunt for other offerings. Several came up
Most used a similar system, in that they required splicing into the vacuum lines or were timed electronically. Neither of these options sat well with me.
I hate modifying something that already works, and I’m not keen on increasing the load on the electrical system, which may or may not be able to handle said extra electrical load.
If I do need to install something that will add a degree of current draw to the system, I install a separate circuit that is switched via a relay that comes on with the ignition. This system will handle (in my case) up to 20 amps and not affect the original wiring loom.
To top it all off electronic wizardry tends to let the manufacturers smoke out of its components if something does go a bit pear-shaped. In my experience and with the amount of shaking, rattling and potential for rain ingress a bike experiences in its life, this could well lead to failure.
Plus electronics now days are not so easy to fix. Unlike circuits designed and built last century that had components you could replaced with the use of an Oxy-Acetylene torch and BBQ tongs at 15 paces, surface mount devices are far too small for an average bloke to fix in his back shed.
Can you say jewelers eye-glass and dental tools? .
Other, cheaper systems, relied on the rider turning a pet-cock (Que little boy laugh) on, or off, before or after a ride or if you are keen you can make one.
But, what if I forget to turn it on or off?
Others had very poor reviews online and, well, looked pretty cheap and nasty in any case.
So, after quite a bit of searching, reviewing and procrastinating, I decided on a Tutoro Chain Oiler
There are several chain oiler options available in the Tutoro line-up, from the completely manual Basic Edition Oiler, through to the fully automatic Pro Edition.
The Pro Edition does not rely on vacuum lines or electronic wizardry to make it work, instead it uses a very ingenious pump system that actuates when the bike is in motion.
When the bike is moving the pump allows the oil to flow via an adjustable valve and tube down to the rear sprocket. As soon as the bike stops moving the oil stops. It is completely independent of the bike and, to date, I’ve never had any oil droplets on the garage floor when I’ve come out to the bike in the morning.
Sadly, Tutoro is based in the UK and they do not have an Australian representative. Add to this the lousy exchange rate between the UK pound and the Aussie (even now, after Brexit) and it wasn’t looking like it would be any cheaper.
With all these things against me, I fired off a series of dumb questions to Tutoro at just after 22:30 local time one night. I wanted to get a few things squared away in my mind before committing to purchasing one of their oiler kits.
I was pleasantly surprised to have a response back by the time I woke the next morning. The time stamp on the message was 03:15, less than 5 hours turn around for a detailed response to my less than detailed questions.
So, based on what I had read about the system and the detailed response I received from Tutoro, I ordered the Pro Kit and waited for the pain to be inflicted on my hip pocket.
To my relief the total cost including postage came in well under any local offering.
Tutoro have gone to a great deal of trouble to make installation as easy as possible. Not only do you get a “How To” instruction sheet with the kit, but they have provided heaps of installation examples on their examples page.
With bikes ranging from a 1250 Bandit, through to Ducati Multistrada and Kawasaki Ninja 300, I reckon you’d be hard pressed to not find your bike, or at least get an idea of how to mount the kit
And as if that’s not enough, they even have a series of 10 videos on their YouTube channel detailing step by step installation,. Heck, even a bloke like me, who has Cuban cigars for fingers, can have the kit installed and adjusted in around an hour or so.
When I ordered my Pro Kit, I had to make a choice between Tutoro’s “Original” and “Plus 25” motorcycle chain oil. Essentially the “Original” is better suited to cooler climes while the “Plus 25” is a thicker, high temp flavour.
I chose the “Plus 25” as I’m in the sub-tropics where the daytime temperature during winter doesn’t dip much below 20°C (68°F) most days.
Although just quietly, it’s been a bit cold this past week, with daytime temperatures plummeting to 15°C (59°F)!
Even though our winter temperatures are lower than the recommend 25°C (77°F) for their “Plus 25” oil, these temperatures only really hold for about 2 months before it starts warming up again heading into summer. The other 10 months of the year temperatures are usually around 25°C, with summer averages sitting at 35°C (95°F) or more most days.
I’ve adjusted the flow screw to compensate for our brisk winter temperatures. 😉
As an aside the “Plus 25” is similar to a Hypoid EP80/90 and should be readily available locally. You can read more about which oil to use on the Tutoro “Which Oil Should I Use” web page.
As I mentioned earlier I tend to go through a 400ml (13.5oz) can of chain lube once every 6 weeks or so. The Tutoro canister on the bike holds about 50ml (1.7oz) and if you compare the two photos below you’ll see I haven’t used a great deal of oil since installing the kit on May 2nd.
The photo above was taken at installation and the one below was taken on June 21st, so that works out to around 7 weeks and 3000km (1865 miles) for less than 50ml of oil.
Happily, the chain is nicely lubed and I get a nice oily stain on my fingers when I touch it, it’s not sopping wet, but it’s wet enough to put a light spray of oil on the back wheel and swing arm after a few weeks of riding.
I have read complaints by some people using oilers that they make a mess of everything. This has not been my experience and I suspect this is because the system they are using is either incorrectly adjusted or they are using a very fine grade of oil. In my case there is far less mess than when I was using lube in a can.
The no fling recipe in most lubes makes it a bugger to clean off without using a decent amount of elbow grease* and some sort of cleaning agent (WD 40 works well). As I’m using straight gear oil with no sticky additives, everything cleans up really easily with a quick wipe of a rag.
You still need to use some WD40, but there is far less elbow grease required.
I’m extremely happy with the Tutoro Pro Kit, pre and post sales service was very good, with questions answered promptly and thoroughly.
The oiler is well made, compact, easy to install and I’m certain the 500ml (16.5oz) bottle of oil that came with the kit will see me through to at least 25,000km (15,500 miles).
I’m now left wondering why I never used one of these things on previous bikes.
- Elbow grease is not available in all locations.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post.
I have purchased the Tutoro Chain Oiler using my own funds and have not received any incentives to produce this review. I recommend you do your own research before committing to purchase any product reviewed on these pages.
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