Guide to Changing your Chain and Sprocket
Sugarbush Babes has teamed up with Motorgrrl to create an instructional blog for those of us that want to learn to wrench on bikes. I am so excited to be teaming up with Val, owner at Motorgrrl, to provide you guys with info you need to understand the two wheeled love of your life!
Click this link to find out more about hands on workshops and memberships at Motorgrrl: https://motorgrrl.com/pages/events
As always, the most important steps before working on your bike is;
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Read the Fucking Manual!
Don't mess with it if you don't know what you're doing.
Today, we'll go over How to Change your Chain and Sprocket. Your chain can get kinks in it, and the teeth of your sprocket grow sharp. It's easier than you think if you maintain your bike, and shouldn't take too long. (Provided all the parts you need to remove aren't seized)
Everything I'll be teaching you guys, I learned at the Chain and Sprocket Maintenance class at Motorgrrl. I would also like to thank Adam Slade and Jason Hodrinsky for providing the expert instruction.
As I write this, Sister Nancy, "Bam Bam" is playing on my Spotify and I'm dancing in my chair.
We wrenching or what?
For this class, we used Amanda's 2005 Ducati Monster 620 Dark.
This is Amanda working on changing her back brakes. This is her first bike purchased from the previous owner.
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN IT"S TIME TO REPLACE MY CHAIN?
The chain will stretch, and axle adjusts to compensate for the stretching. At some point, you will run out of axle adjustment. This'll cause the chain to develop kinks in it, and it will no longer be smooth. You would generally want to change the sprockets at the same time as changing the chain, but one way you can tell its time, is by how sharp the sprocket teeth are.
A healthy sprocket will have square shaped even teeth.
This is what the teeth on your sprocket should look like:
This is Amanda's Monster:
It's possible that Amanda's chain and sprockets had never been changed before. When we got to it, the chain was kinked up because it had stretched and rusted over time, and some of the links were getting stuck in one position. Her sprockets also had razor sharp shark teeth.
This is what the front sprocket looked like when we finally got it out:
What you'll need
Chain break/ riveter ( this tool breaks the old chain and rivets the new chain)
Dremel or angle grinder (There will be sparks! )
Sockets for your front sprocket nuts and for you motorcycle in general
Large flat head screw driver
New front sprocket
Front sprocket lock washer (a well informed parts department sales person will know whether or not you need this; depends on your bike)
New Rear Sprocket
New chain (make sure you get the right width for your bike. it coordinates with your sprocket's teeth and they need to fir together like a puzzle piece)
The Monster's front sprocket was held in place by two bolts. Loosen the bolts with the chain still on and the rear wheel on the ground to keep the sprocket from rotating as you loosen the nut.
Once you remove the nut, put the bike in the center stand so the rear tire is no longer sitting on the lift. If you need a little more "lift" use stacked 2x 4's.
*NOTE* . This was the hardest part of this class. The nut on Amanda's front sprocket was seized. It had rusted so badly, that it took over an hour to remove. Adam used a torch to fire up the nut and try and wiggle it free. Jason used a slap hammer and various other tools to wiggle it free. Jason even improvised a tool to help remove it. We thought we'd never get it off but finally did. We broke some tools along the way.
Make sure the bike is in neutral.
Rotate the rear wheel and find the master link. Loosen the rear axle and push the tire as far forward as possible. The chain will become loose.
Remove the Master Link
We used a hand held grinder to to grind out the head of one of the pins. When it was flush with the link, we punched it out.
Once the master link is disconnected, you are able to pull the chain free.
Put your new sprockets onto the bike. replace any and all bolts you removed. If you have a torque wrench you can tighten them down using the spec in your service manual. If you don't have a torch spec which is much more likely, you use the Pretty Fuckin' Tight Method.
Now you're ready to install your new chain. In our case, we had a O- Ring chain.
Move your chain adjusters to the the forward most position. As the chain breaks in, it is going to stretch so, so later, you'll be able to move your chain adjusters to compensate for the stretching.
Count the links in your old chain ( not including the master link; because you've cut it off) and make sure your new chain has the exact same number of links.
It's a good idea to get a chain that has too many links and then remove links as needed.
Wrap the chain around the sprockets and secure the ends together with the master link.
Grease the seals of the links and install them over the pins of the master link.
Attach the master link plate and clip.
Reinstall any parts of the bike you removed to access the chain. Check the rest of the bike to make sure all the other bolts are pretty fuckin' tight. Check your tire pressure. Make any of adjustments you need.
You my friend, have just successfully changed your chain and sprockets.
Big thanks to John Saponara of @jsapfoto for the photos.
More lessons, and news, and fun coming at ya real soon.
Until then my babies, ride safe.