The Ultimate Dirt Bike Sprocket & Gearing Guide

One of the most important aspects to owning a dirt bike is maintenance. Changing the fluids, replacing filters and tending to the drive components increases the life of your bike and keeps your ride in top competitive shape.

Changing dirt bike drive parts requires some finesse. Do not expect a quick turnaround like replacing the oil and oil filter. It can also be difficult to determine when the dirt bike drive parts need replacing. However through experience you'll be able to spot the signs. So, the first thing you should be doing before every ride is a sight check. The last thing you want is a chain breaking right after you've opened up the throttle.

Sprockets

Chain

Drive Chain Components - Guide, Slide, Rollers, etc.

It's time to replace if you see:

  • Tooth wear
  • Cupping at base of tooth
  • Teeth leaning over

It's time to replace if you see:

  • Easy side to side play
  • Chain links develop a flat wear pattern on the top and bottom
  • Rusty / Corroded, chain doesn't cycle through smoothly

It's time to replace if you see:

  • Exposed metal
  • Chain cutting into slider
  • Loose sprocket bolts
 

If you notice any of the above signs it's time to replace your drive parts. Since all of the components work in unison, it is always best to change them out in sets. The easiest way to check if your chain is worn is to measure the distance between the pins holding the chain together. This would determine if the chain has exceeded its "service limit" for stretch.

Your bike's owner's manual explains what the service limit will be. If your chain is worn, then replace the sprockets, and vice versa. The chains and sprockets create a wear pattern with each other. When one component is replaced and not the others, the new component depreciates quicker because of the wear patterns developed on the other parts. The same usually applies to chain rollers and guides. Typically these wear equally and if they go bad the chain can damage some very expensive parts such as the swing arm.

When it's time to buy replacement dirt bike drive parts or if you're looking to upgrade you'll need to factor in what type of bike as well as your style of riding and racing. Generally, when upgrading or looking for an advantage focus on gearing changes as well as what type of chain best fits your bike and riding conditions. For some of the other components like the chain slider and guide, upgrading to a higher performing part lengthens the time between replacements and your chain lasts longer.

Since we advise changing the sprockets and chain together we carry chain and sprocket kits. When you're looking to upgrade keep in mind the following depending on what you are trying to accomplish with your bike:

For Faster Acceleration (more bottom end)

  • Use a small front sprocket (countershaft) or larger rear sprocket. For every 1 tooth you change on the front, it is the equivalent to changing 3-4 teeth on the rear.
  • Creates a lower gearing ratio. This is ideal for tight trail riding or tracks without many long straight sections. A lower gear ratio works well for Arenacross opposed to wide open desert racing.

For Faster Top Speed (more top end)

  • Use a larger front sprocket or smaller rear sprocket. Again, changing the front makes a larger impact to your gearing than changing the rear.
  • Creates a higher gearing ratio. Higher gearing ratios work well in high speed situations such as desert riding, sandy motocross type tracks or anywhere that doesn't have very many tight turns.

As a general rule, for every "tooth" change on the front sprocket you're changing the rear sprocket by approximately three to four "teeth." If you are looking for a subtle change in your gearing, add or reduce 1-2 teeth on the rear sprocket. Although gearing ratios aren't as critical to off-road riders as they are street applications, it's always nice to know where you stand. To turn the rear sprocket once, the counter shaft sprocket has to spin the number of times in the "Ratio" column. (see gear ratio image)

As an example, a 30 tooth rear sprocket and a 10 tooth front sprocket equals a 3.00 gearing ratio or three rotations on the front for every one rotation on the rear.

Here are some of the best chain and sprocket kits available for several different applications/uses.

Kits for Off-Road/Trail Riding

Kits for Motocross/Supercross

Sunstar Chain & Works Z Sprocket Combo

Sunstar Chain & Aluminum Sprocket Combo

Renthal Twin Ring Sprocket Kit

Pro Taper Chain and Sprocket Kit

JT Steel Chain and Sprocket Kit

Tag Chain And Sprocket Kit

 

The Turner Steel Sprocket and Chain Kit is ideal for those on a budget in any riding style.

*Gearing choices are purely personal preference and are up to you to decide which you will benefit from. If you are up in the air about what type of gearing you should run, drop us an email or give us a call at 866-677-7338 with your information and we'd be happy to help you out.

*To extend the life of your parts use chain lubricant liberally and often.

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Written By: AndrewT

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