Your dirt bike, sitting idle in the garage during the long winter months, does little to wear down the chain and sprockets. A dose of lubrication and a slack check gets you underway like it was last summer.
But are the chain and sprockets really ready to ride?
In continuing our "Are You Ready to Ride" series we take a deeper look into those components that work in conjunction with each other to give you the best possible experience on your dirt bike. "Are You Ready to Ride" laid out more than a dozen checks you need to mark off before heading out to the track or trails so now we take a deeper dive and focus on individual units that help make the whole.
Now we tackle the drive component of your dirt bike, i.e. the chain and sprockets, primarily, but also the guide, slide and rollers. All of these work together for the common good - keeping your dirt bike in motion. These parts often get overlooked especially the guide, slide and rollers because what can a dose of chain lubricant not fix? Don't fall into this trap. Check the drive before heading out on the first ride of the season.
Sprockets need replacing when you see tooth wear, teeth leaning over or cupping at the base of the teeth. If you see any wear as described replace both sprockets regardless of the condition of one over another.
Shop for sprockets.
With your dirt bike on a stand, cycle the chain through by moving the back wheel. If it doesn't cycle through smooth you probably need a new chain. If you see rust or other corrosion replace immediately. Other signs of a bad chain include easy side-to-side play and a flat wear pattern on the top and bottom of the chain links.
Always replace the chain and sprockets together since they create a wear pattern with each other.
If you find no reason to swap out the chain and sprockets double check the chain slack before heading out. Do this by placing your fingers vertically underneath the chain on the plastic rub plate on top of the swing arm. The chain should drape across the top of your index finger without drooping.
And don't forget the lube.
3. Guide, Slide and Rollers
Depending on the bike, you might change the guide, slide and rollers less or more often than the chain and sprockets. Ideally you change them all out together but sometimes it's just not necessary. Regardless, check the drive chain components for exposed metal, the chain cutting into the slider and loose sprocket bolts.
Shop for drive parts.
Following the manufacturer's guidelines gives you an idea of when the drive chain components need changing so if you replaced, for example, the chain and sprockets a month before the end of last year's riding season you probably have a good set already depending on how much you rode. However, it's always a good idea for a quick visual check to endure your dirt bike is ready to ride.
For additional information on the chain and sprockets check out: