Regular and routine maintenance of your Sportbike is a crucial aspect of motorcycle ownership. Just as you would a car, check your owner's manual for change interval information on fluids, filters and drive parts. Of course, how often and ride style (commuter, weekend warrior, track) may affect how soon maintenance is required.

Oil and filter changes are usually the easiest operations but changing the drive parts requires significant skill, at first. Once you get the hang of replacing the sprockets, chain and other components, it's like, well, riding a bike. We recommend following your owner's manual but before any ride get in the habit to perform a sight check of your drive components. If you see any of the following signs of wear on your drive components it's time for replacements.

Sprockets

Chain

It's time to replace if you see:

  • Tooth wear
  • Cupping at base of tooth
  • Teeth leaning over
  • Loose sprocket bolts

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

Since all of the components work together it is always best to change them out in sets. The easiest way to check for chain wear is to measure the distance between the pins holding the chain together. This determines if the chain 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 degrades quicker because of the wear patterns developed on the other parts. Typically these wear equally and if they go bad the chain can damage some very expensive parts such as the swing arm or at worst lead to a crash.

When it's time to buy replacement drive parts or if you're looking to upgrade you'll need to factor in bike size as well as your style of riding. Generally, when upgrading or looking for more speed, focus on gearing changes as well as what type of chain best fits your motorcycle and riding conditions.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is perhaps the single most important aspect to consider when chain buying. Tensile strength equals the load weight a chain can bear until it stretches. So, the chain's tensile weight is the amount of force (usually measured in pounds or kilograms) that causes the chain to stretch. The higher the tensile rating the more force the chain can tolerate.

And yes, a higher tensile strength equates to a more expensive chain but in terms of safety, it is money well spent. You'll also notice that higher tensile strength chains generally weigh less than a lower strength chain because of better materials used - alloy steel vs. aluminum for example. To determine the best tensile strength for your bike review the following chart:

Tensile Strength

200 to 500cc

600 to 750cc

850 to 1100cc

1200cc and Up

Good

4,000 to 7,000

7,000 to 9,000

10,000 to 12,000

16,000

Better

6,000 to 9,000

9,000 to 10,000

12,000 to 16,000

16,000

Ultimate

8,000 to 10,000

12,000

14,000 to 16,000

16,000

 

If you have any questions on the best tensile strength for your bike please give us a call and we'll help you decide.

530/525/520 Conversion

We'll make this oft asked question easy to understand. A 520 chain is a bit smaller and depending on the elements used in construction likely weighs less. If you are looking for better acceleration switch to a 520 chain. However, the switch to 520 requires a switch to 520 sprockets. A 520 switch is primarily for those on the track looking for a competitive edge. A move to 525 from a 530 gives extra acceleration for street riding without the extra push needed for the track.

One thing to keep in mind when switching Sportbike chains is that most common master links are rivet or press type and require special tools. We suggest a complete chain tool like the one offered by Motion Pro that works on 520, 525 and 530 standard and O-ring chains and includes a breaker.

Although we'd always recommend going with the reliability of a properly installed rivet type master link, if you're using a clip type master link make sure the clip's closed end faces towards the chain's travel direction. This prevents the master link from accidentally coming off as it passes through the chain guide.

Faster, Faster, Faster

When researching keep in mind the following based 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. In racing, this is ideal for tight tracks without many long straight sections.
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 on tracks that don't feature 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 riding as they are for street applications, it's beneficial 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 chart)

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.

Whether you're looking for a 520 switch, upgrading tensile strength or needing replacement parts we suggest changing the sprockets and chain together. To simplify the process we carry chain and sprocket kits. Keep in mind that steel sprockets cost less than aluminum.

Kits for 520

Kits for 520

Kits for 520

Vortex 520 Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit

520 Aluminum Sprocket And Chain Kit

JT 520 Aluminum Sprocket And Chain Kit

Price: $115.00 - $299.00

Price: $112.77 - $307..

Price: $190.76 - $361.00

Features:

  • Made of the highest quality steel - front
  • Case hardened
  • Laser-cut carbon steel - rear
  • Suitable for both street and race use

Features:

  • Made of the highest quality steel - front
  • 100% CNC machined with saber tooth grooves
  • 7075 T6 billet aluminum - rear
  • Drilled lightening holes

Features:

  • Made from the finest high carbon steel - front
  • 7075-T6 aluminum rear sprockets
  • Heat treated and hand finished
  • Premium Drive Chain
 

Kits for 525

Kits for 525

Kits for 525

Vortex 525 Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit

Sunstar Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit 525

Vortex Chain & Sprocket Kit 525 - Black

Price: $151.00 - $240.00

Price: $141.00 - $235.00

Price: $130.77 - $254.00

Features:

  • Made of the highest quality steel - front
  • Case hardened
  • Laser-cut carbon steel - rear
  • Suitable for both street and race use

Features:

  • Case-hardened chromoly steel - front
  • 1045 high-carbon steel - rear
  • "Parkerizing" surface treatment - front
  • Exclusive heat treatment - rear

Features:

  • Made of the highest quality steel - front
  • Case hardened - front
  • PTFE black hardcoat - rear
  • F5 aluminum racing sprocket - rear
 

Kits for 530

Kits for 530

Kits for 530

Vortex 530 Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit

Sunstar Steel Sprocket & Chain Kit 530

JT 530 Steel Sprocket And Chain Kit

Price: $155.00 - $261.00

Price: $148.00 - $260.00

Price: $132.77 - $271.00

Features:

  • Made of the highest quality steel - front
  • Case hardened
  • Laser-cut carbon steel - rear
  • Suitable for both street and race use

Features:

  • Case-hardened chromoly steel - front
  • "Parkerizing" surface treatment for rust and corrosion resistance
  • 1045 high-carbon steel - rear
  • Exclusive heat treatment

Features:

  • high carbon steel - front and rear
  • Heat treated and hand finished
  • Outlasts any mild steel or surface hardened sprocket
  • Premium Drive Chain
 

*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 call us at 866-677-7338 with your information and we'd be happy to help you out.

*To extend the life of your parts use a Grunge Brush for cleaning and apply chain lubricant liberally and often.

Written By: AndrewT