D.I.D’s Special-Edition Motorcycle Chain Honors a MotoGP Legend

Like many racing series, MotoGP often serves as a testing ground for things that eventually wind up in ordinary riders’ hands. Take, for instance, the winglets starting to appear on high-end motorcycle models from brands like Ducati. Or the airbag jackets that provide an extra layer of safety. Plus, special-edition bikes that visually ape or are based on their racing counterparts. And then there’s D.I.D’s latest motorcycle chain.

The D.I.D VR46 motorcycle chains bear the mark of Valentino Rossi

MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi speaks with his Petronas mechanic at the 2021 German Grand Prix
MotoGP racer Valentino Rossi speaks with his Petronas mechanic at the 2021 German Grand Prix | Steve Wobser/Getty Images

Every racing series has its icons, and motorcycle racing is no different. The Isle of Man TT has Mike ‘The Bike’ Hailwood, for example. And among MotoGP’s famed names, Italian racer Valentino Rossi is often considered one of the greatest, Cycle World says.

Nicknamed ‘The Doctor’ for his precise riding style, Valentino Rossi has been riding since he was three years old. And over the course of his career, he’s won nine Grand Prix Championship titles, seven in MotoGP, racing with Honda, Ducati, and Yamaha. He still races for Yamaha, though on the Petronas team, rather than the factory team. Nevertheless, his latest racing bike continues to use a D.I.D motorcycle chain.

So, in celebration of its connection with Valentino Rossi, D.I.D recently released a special-edition chain. Dubbed the VR46—Rossi’s initials plus his racing number, 46—the motorcycle chain is based on the brand’s VX series, RideApart explains. Or rather, models, because D.I.D. offers two versions of the VR46, a 520 and a 525, the same as the VX.

What makes these special-edition D.I.D motorcycle chains different from regular ones?

A silver-and-gold-colored D.I.D VR46 Valentino Rossi motorcycle chain with its box
D.I.D VR46 Valentino Rossi motorcycle chain | Louis

Visually, the VR46 motorcycle chain is different than the VX equivalent. The latter offers gold-colored outer plates but black rollers and inner plates. In comparison, the former has silver-colored outer plates and gold-colored rollers and inner plates. Plus, the special-edition motorcycle chains bear the ‘VR46’ logo and ‘46’ racing number on their outer links.

Performance-wise, though, the Valentino Rossi motorcycle chains are roughly the same as their regular counterparts. Both models have hollow rivet links to save weight and high tensile strength. They also have significantly higher wear indexes than ‘normal’ motorcycle chains. A typical chain has a wear index of 100, RideApart says, but the 520VR46 chain has a wear index of 3500. And the wider 525VR46 chain’s wear index is 4000.

However, both the VR46 and VX offer one notable difference over the average motorcycle chain. Although chain-driven motorcycles require more maintenance than belt- or shaft-driven ones, modern chains are less maintenance-intensive. That’s because the pins and bushings that connect the links are sealed, keeping the lubricating grease inside, Rider explains. This prevents degradation and keeps dirt, grime, and other contaminants out.

Compared to earlier non-sealed chains, sealed chains last longer and require less lubrication. And usually, sealed motorcycle chains use rubber O-rings to maintain the seals. The D.I.D. VR46 and VX chains, though, don’t use O-rings. Instead, their rubber seals have an X-shaped cross-section; they’re not O-rings, but X-rings.

X-rings seal more effectively than O-rings. Hence why D.I.D.’s X-ring motorcycle chains have significantly longer chain lives than its O-ring ones. Plus, X-rings don’t deform as much under stress as O-rings have a smaller sealing surface area, Cycle World explains. That’s important for racing because it cuts down on power-sapping chain drag. And it’s why Valentino Rossi, as well as many motocrossers and other bike racers, often use X-ring chains. Also, since X-ring chains are meant for racing, they’re often stronger than O-ring ones.

How much do the VR46 chains cost?

A close-up of one of the links on the D.I.D VR46 Valentino Rossi motorcycle chain showing the racer's 'VR46' logo
D.I.D VR46 Valentino Rossi motorcycle chain link detail | Louis

As of this writing, D.I.D hasn’t revealed official US pricing for the VR46 motorcycle chains. But they are available from EU retailer Louis, with prices varying based on link count.

The 520VR46 is designed for 125cc-750cc bikes, with prices ranging from $130-$150. As for the 525VR46, it’s intended for 400cc-900cc motorcycles; it costs $155-$175. In comparison, the equivalent VX chains cost $122.80 and $164.62, respectively.

Given that all motorcycle chains have a finite lifespan, getting one of these special-edition models isn’t necessarily worth it. But they’re not significantly more expensive than the ‘regular’ versions. So, if you’re a Valentino Rossi fan, or simply like the color scheme, they might be worth considering.

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