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3 red flags that mean your bike needs a new chain and sprocket set

These essential drivetrain components always need to be in tip-top shape.

3 red flags that mean your bike needs a new chain and sprocket set

Most modern day motorcycles rely on a century-old system of transferring power from the engine to the back wheel: a chain and sprocket set. Naturally, this technology has evolved to feature some of the most cutting edge tech, groundbreaking advancements in material science, and undoubtedly some head-turning eye candy. 

Nevertheless, your motorcycle’s chain and sprockets are, at the end of the day, wear items, and will eventually have to be replaced. Making sure your driveline components are in tip top shape is absolutely essential, especially if your steer of choice is a powerful machine, say, a sportbike or adventure-tourer. That said, here are three signs that almost certainly mean it’s time for you to invest in a new chain and sprocket set. 

Excessive driveline noise

3 red flags that mean your bike needs a new chain and sprocket set

When dealing with chain and sprockets, it is advisable to replace them as a set to ensure optimal performance. If a worn-out chain is used with new sprockets, it will expedite the deterioration of the new sprocket. Likewise, if worn-out sprockets are paired with a new chain, they will not mesh properly and lead to premature wear on the chain. Therefore, it is crucial to replace both the chain and sprockets simultaneously for the best results.

If driveline noise persists despite the chain being lubricated, it suggests that certain links within the chain may have become seized or hardened, preventing proper lubrication. This lack of lubrication indicates inadequate maintenance and results in inefficient operation due to increased friction in the drivetrain. The heightened friction generates significant noise, and in severe cases, power loss can be felt. To address this problem, it is highly likely that replacing both the chain and sprockets will resolve the issue.

Frequent chain adjustment

3 red flags that mean your bike needs a new chain and sprocket set

Over time, chains tend to expand as they age. If you find yourself needing to adjust your chain more frequently, such as every other ride, it is an indication that the chain is nearing the end of its service life. Eventually, you will reach a point where you won't be able to make any further adjustments. At this stage, there is a significant risk of the chain failing completely, which could lead to a sudden breakdown or accident. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor the condition of your chain regularly and replace it before it reaches a critical state to ensure safe and reliable operation.

Ideally, the frequency of chain adjustments should be within a range of approximately 700 to 1,000 kilometers, or possibly even longer. If you find yourself needing to adjust the chain more frequently than this, it is a sign that the tolerance between the chain and the sprockets is increasing. Continuing to ride with an improperly adjusted chain can lead to accelerated wear, reduced efficiency, and potential damage to the drivetrain.

Pointy sprocket teeth

3 red flags that mean your bike needs a new chain and sprocket set

When it comes to sprockets, it is crucial to pay attention to the condition of the individual teeth. Ideally, the teeth should not be pointy; instead, they should have a flat portion on top. The grooves between the teeth should be smoothly rounded and evenly spaced. However, if you notice any gouges, uneven areas, or visible damage on the teeth, it is important to take immediate action and replace both the chain and sprocket. Additionally, if the teeth on the sprocket have become pointy, it indicates that the sprockets have reached the end of their service life and should be replaced.

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