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Sport Bike Sprockets
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Sport Bike Sprockets

This article will answer some of the common questions that come up when it comes time to change sportbike sprockets. This guide will work for other motorcycle types for the most part except belt and shaft drive models.

Sprockets are also called gears. This motorcycle driveline we're talking about involves the engine output shaft sprocket (countershaft) and the rear sprocket which is usually bolted to the motorcycle rear wheel hub. Sportbike sprockets can be bought individually or in a kit that may include a replacement or upgraded chain. Many of us buy the kits as the chain and sprockets are matched to work together properly. We'll go into chains in the next article.

What about the Front sprocket?

Front sprockets are almost always made of chromoly steel and plated or galvanized to resist rusting. The countershaft sprocket may be drilled for lightness. There are titanium sprockets available. If you are just changing out the front sprocket, please buy a name brand product. Make sure the sprocket fits your bike.

Note: For some reason, many sportbike front sprockets are attached at the factory by Gorillas. The front sprocket is bolted on so tight it's almost impossible to remove it. You might need a professional auto air-gun to get the thing off. I'll tell you about a trick I use in another article.

If a cheap countershaft sprocket fails on you while your riding, the results could be catastrophic. The chain could rip a hole in the engine case. Oil could reach your rear tire and you could instantly lose control and crash. Wouldn't this be fun at 150 MPH?

Expect to pay $20.00 to $35 for a good front sprocket. Many experts will suggest to stay with the same OEM number of teeth for the front sprocket. Going down one tooth is a common practice. Top speed racers may want to go up a tooth. Do your online research and make an informed decision.

What about the Rear Sprocket?

We have lots of choices for the rear sprocket as sportbike and sport touring riders. Street riders and track junkies replace the rear sprocket on a regular basis. We change the sprocket either as a regular maintenance item or to change the gear ratio. Sportbike gearing is another subject we'll talk about another time.

Sprocket Materials Available:

Steel:

Steel is definitely the most popular for motorcycles in general. It's cheap. It's strong. It lasts a long time. All the manufacturers make steel sprockets. There are even specialty tool steel and stainless steel sprockets available.

For the sportbike rider, the Superlite brand steel rear sprocket makes a great choice. They come highly recommended by many riders. Expect a steel rear sprocket to last between 20 to 25,000 miles minimum with proper driveline maintenance. Clean and lube your chain regularly, please. It will save you money.

Aluminum:

There is a myth going around in some sportbike communities that aluminum is crap and doesn't last. UNHARDENED aluminum sprocket will not last long. This is a fact. The brand Vortex manufactures these cheap sprockets. Vortex also makes quality HARDENED aluminum sprockets. Guess what? They cost twice as much.

The Vortex brand is very popular with privateer racers and newbie sportbike riders. Track racers are constantly changing gear ratios for different track locations. They need a lot of different sized sprockets. A substantial amount of money can be save by buying regular aluminum sprockets. Don't buy a cheap aluminum sprocket if you want it to last. These inexpensive sprockets run in the neighborhood of $35.00. They are usually natural silver in color, but they maybe anodized pretty blue, red or gold.

A quality hardened aluminum sprocket will last 10,000 miles and maybe 15K. Afam makes an excellent sprocket. They might not be the prettiest. They are a flat grey in color. Some are available in matte black. I really like the Afam brand. I've purchased several. There is an Afam hardened aluminum sprocket and a DID gold race chain in the photo.

Renthal is another quality sprocket maker. The dirt crowd really loves the brand. Renthal makes many quality motorcycle racing products. Sportbike riders and road racers alike pick Renthal.

Driven makes excellent hardened aluminum sprockets. Driven makes lots of colors. The sprockets are drilled for lightness. Driven makes driveline kits too. I've purchased Driven sprockets before and I can personally recommend the brand.

To be fair, Vortex does make a hardened aluminum sprocket. You will find quality aluminum rear sprockets to run around $65.00 to $70.00. The sprockets designed for the Ducati single sided swing-arm will be substantially more expensive though. Expect to pay $150.00 to $250.00. Seems like Duc aftermarket parts are just uber-expensive in general.

Composite:

Supersprox make an extremely popular rear sprocket also called the Stealth. These are on back-order on a regular basis because the company just can't keep up with demand. The Supersprox rear sprocket is made of 3 metals:

  1. The center or main section of the sprocket, which has the mounting bolt holes and the lightening holes is made up of hardened aluminum. This section is available in gold, black or silver.
  2. The outer ring section which has the sprocket teeth is made up of a steel alloy. This is for strength, durability and will allow the sprocket to last a long time.
  3. These two sprocket elements are attached with Titanium bolts. This is for super strength and additional lightness. supersprox guarantees that this connection will never wear out. Supersprox also allows the buyer to purchase a lifetime sprocket warranty for something like 5 bucks. Now you can see why Supersprox is so popular with the sportbike and sport touring crowd

You may not find the supersprox product on the race track, though. It's designed for the street and sport rider. Racers want a simple and durable product. Some racers may call the supersprox gimmicky. You be the judge.

Titanium:

Did you know you could buy titanium sprockets? They are a specialty item and they are available from the folks at Krause Racing also known as Sidewinder sprockets. Go to their website. You will find everything you might want to know about motorcycle sprockets.

Why haven't you heard of them you ask? Because they don't sponsor big name riders. They rely more on word of mouth. They are also more into motorcycle dirt riding and even karts. These parts are expensive. These sprockets will probably outlast your bike, though.

I plan to pick up a sidewinder kit for my next bike if I can afford it. A complete sidewinder kit with titanium sprockets and one of their patented Smart II chains will run around $450.00. That's about double the cost of a very high quality driveline kit with a chromoly front, a hardened aluminum or supersprox rear and a high end chain from DID, EK or RK. The dirt riders riders are really tough on chains and sprockets.

Conclusion:

I hope you learned a little bit about sportbike sprockets. There will be a couple more articles on sportbike chains and sportbike gearing. If you take care of your motorcycle drive line, it won't let you down.


Street Talk

Sport riding is like most hobbies. You can spend a little or a lot. Speed costs money. Thanks for your comments Shawn

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

great info Clark! I am surprised at the price.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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