02-14-2009, 12:39 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Experience: 8 years
2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R ABS
Basic Chain and Sprocket Information
There is a lot of questions about Chains, Sprockets, Gearing and so on. Hopefully this will help people. First everyone needs to realize there is a countershaft or front sprocket at the front of your chain (covered up) and a Rear sprocket in the rear wheel area that you can see. The gearing means the tooth count of each sprocket. As you change the tooth count of a sprocket you will change the way the bike accelerates, top speed, rpm's per speed. Many will wonder what the pitch means. You can think of that as the width of the chain and how thick the sprockets are. You must buy the same pitch for your sprockets and chain as they must match up. The thicker they are (higher pitch number) the stronger they are, but also heavier.
Most all 600cc and 750cc guys can easily go down to a 520 pitch setup (known as the 520 conversion). The bikes don't push enough horsepower (hp) to hurt a good quality 520 setup. Most guys who ride a 1000cc bike also convert to a 520 (this fact alone should give the 600cc and 750cc guys confidence in the setup). The only time i would recommend sticking with a 530 pitch setup is if you stunt it, love wheelies, have a turbo, have nitrous, or just want to ensure it last the longest time possible. Other then that a good 520 setup is what many people move to and if you read around on the forums you'll find the same trends.
Many racers swear by select brands, but the fact remains that all our sprockets are made out of the same grade aluminum and ALL are hard anodized. We won't sell a sprocket if it's not hard anodized as hard anodizing nearly doubles the life of the sprocket for only a few dollars more. Most all good aftermarket 520 setups are nearly as strong (some are stronger) then stock 530 setups. The 520 setups are also cheaper so that's another plus. What many people forget when buying is that sprockets normally wear out before a chain if it's properly maintained. All of are sprockets are hard anodized and made from top grade aluminum and all of our chains are the top chains from each manufacturer. If you want a cheaper kit that will not last as long or isn't as safe then our kits aren't for you. One thing about maintenance you must know that over tightening a chain will cause VERY quick failure of the sprockets and chain on ANY setup. If you set the chain too loose it will "slap" the sprocket as you take off and the slapping can cause a crack between the teeth of the rear sprocket or can widen the teeth and cause problems. Set your chain slack to oem standards! We can't stress this enough.. That is the most important factor for keeping a setup around a long time. Also lubing the chain at regular intervals.
Since the chain setup is out of the way lets move on to sprockets. Stock sprockets are mostly all steel. This is a very heavy metal, but it lasts a long time. Most aftermarket sprockets are made out of aluminum. An alum sprocket won't last nearly as long as a steel sprocket. However, they came up with a procedure called hard anodizing which makes the sprocket much harder. This process in all makers turns the sprocket into a black or dark grey color. If your sprocket isn't that color you can forget your sprocket being hard anodized. Hard anodizing is said to double the life of an alum sprocket and make it last close to as long as steel if it's properly taken care of.
Now to gearing. You often here of -1 or +2 or -1/+2. Well if you hear - numbers it normally means going down a tooth in the front sprocket. This gives you more acceleration out of your bike (feels like more torque and it's noticeable), but on the downside you will lose roughly 10mph of top speed in 6th. So if you went 185 mph you'll probably only go 175 now. before getting into redline or wherever you were before in the rpms. When people talk about + numbers its normally talking about the rear sprocket as this also increases acceleration. The most common setup (especially for 1000cc bikes) is +2 in the rear. This gives you a noticeable gain in acceleration with a loss of about 7mph on the top end. You can also combine the two and run -1 in front and +2 in the rear (a -1/+2 setup) this will give you crazy acceleration, but you'll lose 15-20mph on the top end. it's great for stunters or drag racers. Going down 1 tooth in the front is equal to going up about 3 teeth in the rear. So if you do +2 in the rear it's a little bit less drastic of a change then -1 in the front.
If you rarely do top end pulls and want acceleration i would recommend going -1 in front. If you want the both of best worlds you'll have to comprimise, but +2 in the rear is the favorite setup. Only do both if you have experience with gearing or want to have crazy acceleration and rarely do top speed pulls. Also note that if you go -1/+2 at the same time even going down the freeway your rpms will be noticeably higher, this can slightly eat into gas mileage.
Many people ask if they should get a rivet master link or a clip on. The master link is the link YOU connect to connect both ends of the chain and link them into one chain that wraps around the sprockets. Many people say that clip on links are fine, but many have also had them come off and this can become a major problem resulting in a destroyed engine, foot, or even a crash. The rivet links are much stronger and safer so I HIGHLY recommend using that. saving 50 dollars to have your dealer rivet the chain together is nothing compared to what often happens if a chain comes apart while riding. You can also buy a chain tool and rivet the chain together yourself. I recommend the motionpro rivet/chain breaker kit, but any will work. Feel free to search the net on instructions on how to rivet.
Some people ask about if going +2 teeth or what not in the rear will move the rear wheel back too far. Well you should always replace the chain and sprockets together unless you have very low miles on the setup. You see the chain and sprockets wear out together and in a way "form" to each other. Anyway, when you put the new chain on you can add links or take links away to make the chain as long or short as you want it. This lets YOU decide how far back or forward you want the rear tire. Remember you can ALWAYS take more links off so don't overdo it. It's best to take not enough links off the chain then too many.
MPH: Yes when you go down in the front or up in the rear your speedometer willl be off. Normally it will be higher then you are actually going. Many people don't mind this, but some do especially because it racks up miles about 5-15% quicker. The solution is to buy a speedohealer which will correct the error. This is a plug in unit and easy to install.
1: If you can't figure out which way the front sprocket goes in ASK SOMEONE. Don't guess as you can put it on backwards and wreck the setup.
2: If you haven't riveted something before then have someone help you or make sure you know what you're doing.
3: Set your chain slack to your oem specs or you will destroy a chain kit fast.
4: If you change your gearing your speedometer will probably be thrown off a bit.
5: Set your chain to the proper chain slack at the tightest spot, rotate the rear tire as you check and check it in different spots of the chain. Don't assume the first spot you check is the tightest spot in the chain.