Basic Chain Kit Information

There are a lot of questions about Chains, Sprockets, Gearing and so on. Hopefully this will help people. First everyone needs to realize there is a countershaft or front sprocket at the front of your chain (covered up normally by the front sprocket cover) and a rear sprocket in the rear wheel area that you can see. The gearing means the tooth count of each sprocket. As you change the tooth count of a sprocket you will change the way the bike accelerates, top speed, rpm's per speed.

Stock gearing is like this...

BIKE Front Sprocket Rear Sprocket Pitch
01-06 GSXR 1000
17
42
530
04-05 GSXR 750
17
43
525
00-03 GSXR 750
17
42
525
01-05 GSXR 600
16
45
525

Many will wonder what the pitch means. You can think of that as the width of the chain and how thick the sprockets are. You must buy the same pitch for your sprockets and chain as they must match up. The thicker they are (higher pitch number) the stronger they are, but also heavier.  So a 530 sized chain/sprockets are a bit thicker then a 520.

Most all 600cc and 750cc guys can easily go down to a 520 pitch setup (known as the 520 conversion). The bikes don't push enough horsepower (hp) to hurt a good quality 520 setup. Most guys who ride a 1000cc bike also convert to a 520 (this fact alone should give the 600cc and 750cc guys confidence in the setup). The only time i would recommend sticking with a 530 pitch setup is if you stunt it, love wheelies, have a turbo, have nitrous. 

All of our kits and all quality kits consist of these standard parts.

1 steel chain with rivet master link. All chain kits come with 120 links and you shorten it during install. If you need a longer chain for your kit let us know as we can get it for you if you have an extended swingarm.
1 steel front sprocket
1 rear sprocket that can be made of hard anodized alum or steel

I use to recommend if you want the longest life possible go with a 530 chain kit, but in the last year there are now lightweight steel 520 chain kits.  When we mention lightweight steel we are talking about the rear sprocket.  All chains are made of steel and all front sprockets so the only time you'll have a material change is when you're talking about the rear sprocket.  These chain kits have a full steel rear sprocket and with the modern technology of chains you can get a kit to last as long as your oem chain kit or even longer.  With two steel sprockets the chain is the weakest link in the chain kit.  The entire cahin kit is only as strong as the weakest part as well.  Since the chain is the weakest link we can focus there when you're talking about steel rear sprockets.  Your oem chain is an okay chain, but far from a great one like the higher end aftermarket chains.  For this reason if you go with a superlight steel chain kit with one of our high end 520 chains it will last as long about as long as your oem chain kit and often longer.  We only sell upper end chain kits so a 520 lightweight steel will last you a very long time matched up with a high end chain like the EK MVXZ, RK GXW, or EK ZZZ.  These kits are great for people who want lightweight and longevity.  

For those looking for the utmost in lightweight and performance then the hard anodized alum. rear chain kits would be the kit for you.

Many racers swear by select brands, but the fact remains that all our alum rear sprockets are made out of the same grade aluminum and ALL are hard anodized. We won't sell a sprocket if it's not hard anodized as hard anodizing nearly doubles the life of the sprocket for only a few dollars more. Most all good aftermarket 520 setups are nearly as strong (some are stronger) then stock 530 setups. The 520 setups are also cheaper so that's another plus. What many people forget when buying is that sprockets normally wear out before a chain if it's properly maintained. All of are sprockets are hard anodized and made from top grade aluminum and all of our chains are the top chains from each manufacturer. If you want a cheaper kit that will not last as long or isn't as safe then our kits aren't for you. One thing about maintenance you must know that over tightening a chain will cause VERY quick failure of the sprockets and chain on ANY setup. If you set the chain too loose it will "slap" the sprocket as you take off and the slapping can cause a crack between the teeth of the rear sprocket or can widen the teeth and cause problems. Set your chain slack to oem standards! We can't stress this enough.. That is the most important factor for keeping a setup around a long time. Also lubing the chain at regular intervals.

Since the chain setup is out of the way lets move on to sprockets. Stock sprockets are mostly all steel. This is a very heavy metal, but it lasts a long time. Most aftermarket sprockets are made out of aluminum (now you can get aftermarket rear sprockets in lightweight steel, this started in 2010). An alum sprocket won't last nearly as long as a steel sprocket. However, they came up with a procedure called hard anodizing which makes the sprocket much harder. This process in all makers turns the sprocket into a black or dark grey color. If your sprocket isn't that color you can forget your sprocket being hard anodized. Hard anodizing is said to double the life of an alum sprocket and make it last close to as long as steel if it's properly taken care of.  Now there are even steel sprockets in 520 that are lighter then most others.  Such as the  Driven, Vortex, or Stealth superlight steel chain kits.  These sprockets are about one pound heavier then a hard anodized alum chain kit like the Driven, but they will last longer as they have a steel rear sprocket.  With these there truly is no reason everyone can't do the 520 conversion now.  We would recommend one of these steel 520 chain kits over a hard anodized alum 530 chain kit any day of the week. They will be less weight AND last longer then a 530 with a hard anodized alum rear sprocket.  These are not for everyone, but if you want a chain kit to last a long time then these are the kits for you.

Now to gearing. You often here of -1 or +2 or -1/+2. Well if you hear - numbers it normally means going down a tooth in the front sprocket. This gives you more acceleration out of your bike (feels like more torque and it's noticeable), but on the downside you will lose roughly 10mph of top speed in 6th. So if you went 185 mph you'll probably only go 175 now. before getting into redline or wherever you were before in the rpms. When people talk about + numbers its normally talking about the rear sprocket as this also increases acceleration. The most common setup (especially for 1000cc bikes) is +2 in the rear. This gives you a noticeable gain in acceleration with a loss of about 7mph on the top end. You can also combine the two and run -1 in front and +2 in the rear (a -1/+2 setup) this will give you crazy acceleration, but you'll lose 15-20mph on the top end. it's great for stunters or drag racers. Going down 1 tooth in the front is equal to going up about 3 teeth in the rear. So if you do +2 in the rear it's a little bit less drastic of a change then -1 in the front.

If you rarely do top end pulls and want acceleration i would recommend going -1 in front. If you want the both of best worlds you'll have to compromise, but +2 in the rear is the favorite setup. Only do both if you have experience with gearing or want to have crazy acceleration and rarely do top speed pulls. Also note that if you go -1/+2 at the same time even going down the freeway your rpms will be noticeably higher, this can slightly eat into gas mileage.

Many people ask if they should get a rivet master link or a clip on. The master link is the link YOU connect to connect both ends of the chain and link them into one chain that wraps around the sprockets. Many people say that clip on links are fine, but many have also had them come off and this can become a major problem resulting in a destroyed engine, foot, or even a crash. The rivet links are much stronger and safer so I HIGHLY recommend using that. saving 50 dollars to have your dealer rivet the chain together is nothing compared to what often happens if a chain comes apart while riding. You can also buy a chain tool and rivet the chain together yourself. I recommend the RK rivet/chain breaker kit, but any will work (RK is the best we have found for longevity, but the Driven kit is the best value). Feel free to search the net on instructions on how to rivet.

Some people ask about if going +2 teeth or what not in the rear will move the rear wheel back too far. Well you should always replace the chain and sprockets together unless you have very low miles on the setup. You see the chain and sprockets wear out together and in a way "form" to each other. Anyway, when you put the new chain on you can add links or take links away to make the chain as long or short as you want it. This lets YOU decide how far back or forward you want the rear tire. Remember you can ALWAYS take more links off so don't overdo it. It's best to take not enough links off the chain then too many.

MPH: Yes when you go down in the front or up in the rear your speedometer willl be off.  Normally it will be higher then you are actually going. Many people don't mind this, but some do especially because it racks up miles about 5-15% quicker. The solution is to buy a SpeedoDRD which will correct the error. This is a plug in unit and easy to install.



Tips:
1: If you can't figure out which way the front sprocket goes in ASK SOMEONE. Don't guess as you can put it on backwards and wreck the setup.
2: If you haven't riveted something before then have someone help you or make sure you know what you're doing.
3: Set your chain slack to your oem specs or you will destroy a chain kit damn fast.
4: If you change your gearing your speedometer will probably be thrown off a bit.
5: Set your chain to the proper chain slack at the tightest spot, rotate the rear tire as you check and check it in different spots of the chain. Don't assume the first spot you check is the tightest spot in the chain.
6: Maintenance is the #1 thing to have a chain kit last a long time. If you go through a chain kit quickly I would look at the installation or maintenance.  You can buy the strongest chain kit in the world, but if it's not taken care of it won't last as long as the worst chain kit on the market.
7: My chain or sprockets didn't last long? why? Read #6 as it's the most important issue in getting all the miles you can out of your chain kit.

 

FAQ:

1. I want a clip master link as it's easier to install.  Can you get one?  We can get one, but we will not as they are not as safe as rivet master links.  While other dealers may state they only sell what they use then sell everything under the sun, that is not us.  We won't install a clip master link on our bikes so we will not provide one to anyone else. When dealing with the drivetrain, safety gear, brakes, or tires it's not the best place to skimp out.  Do it right and do it once is our motto!

2.  I have heard to use only Kerosene and not WD40 (or vice versa).  The fast is that we have seen no data to back up that either of these are bad on the orings of a chain. In fact we have been running a test leaving orings submerged in both sustances then taking them out and letting them dry and then back in the solution. In the 6 months we have been testing this we see no difference in either solution and both appear to not damage orings at all.

3.  I was told to stick with 525 or 530 as it lasts longer?  People often forget the most important part here.  It will last longer if you get 100% the same products.  If you compare one of our high end 520 chains to a mediocre 525 chain our chain will last longer as it's better quality.  If you compare our superlight steel 520 chain kits to ANY 530 hard anodized alum chain kit our chain kit will out last it by a long time.  The steel rear sprocket in 520 is still much stronger and will last much longer then the 530 alum rear sprocket, not too mention the 520 superlight steel chain kit will weigh less, cost less, and last longer.  So the key here is that not all chain kits are created equal.  We would rather you pay less and get a high quality 520 chain kit that is lightweight and will last as long as other 525 and 530 chain kits.

4.  I was told that on a new chain kit to keep the chain tight as it will stretch in?  This is horrible information as it will destroy your chain kit.  Fact is the chain is made of steel so how does it stretch?  Can you pull on it and stretch steel?  what actually happens is when there is tenstion (tight chain) the plates pull on the rollers.  The plates then dig into the rollers or the rollders dig into the plates.  When this happens it creates "slop" in the chain and the chain can extend. So the chain isn't "stretching" but the holes are widening or the plates are digging into the rollers and either way, you're destroying your chain.  A long time ago when chains were first produced you could pull on them and they would "stretch".  Of course they were not really stretching but more just seating and pulling the slop out of the chain.  However, all high quality chains now come from the manufacturer and are "pre stretched" which means the very minor tolerances, gaps, or "slop" is pulled out of them.  So you should just instal lthe chain as it is and set it to the oem specs in terms of the chain slack.  Also be sure and set the chain slack on the loose side of the oem specs.  It's always better to have a chain a hair too loose then a hair too tight so we recommend setting your chain on the loose side of the oem specs.

5.  I heard I should make my chain looser for the track and tighter for the street?  This is false.  What tightens the chain is actually when the rear shock compresses.  This raises the rear tire and makes the chain tighter.  So if you compress your rear shock fully and then let it out fully that will show you the loosest and tightest that your chain can get.  The manufacturers have figured this out and then given you the chain slack recommendations in your bike manual.  So it doesn't matter where you ride, track or street, the chain can only get so tight as it's based upon the angle of your swingarm and the range of motion of your rear shock.  There is no need to have different settings for different places that you ride in.  In fact, if you think about it on the street yoru chain will normally get tighter and loose a lot more as the street has speed bumps, potholes, etc that you will hit greatly compressing your shock and tightening your chain.  So set your chain slack to the loose side of your manuals specs and you'll be fine.  Now if you change out your swingarm or rear shock then yes, your chain slack settings can change and you should talk to whoever produced the swingarm or shock that you purchased.

6.  How many miles or how often should I clean my chain, lube it, and set the slack?  We recommend checking your chain slack everytime before you ride. It's just one part of a good bike inspection before riding.  As for how often to clean/lube the chain we can't really state that as there are many variables that affect this.  If you live near the ocean where there is a lot of salt, ride on gravel roads, etc will all determine how often to clean.  Most who have chain kits that last a very long time will clean the chain after they ride in the water, once a week, etc.  There really isn't a black and white answer to this question, but use common sense based on how long you want the chain kit to last.  Maintenance is the #1 factor in how long your chain kit will last so think about how often you ride, the elements/weather you ride in, and then make your decision.

7.  I have seen people flip their axle around so the nut is on the right side of the bike?  We do this as well.  The reason people do this is because when the nuts is on the left side of the bike and you tighten it down you're turning the nut to the rear of the bike and often it will move the axle out (further back then you wanted it) and then tighten down.  Now your wheel isn't straight.  So when you put the axle nut on the right side of the bike and tighten the nut you're actually turning the nut into the adjuster and this will keep the axle from moving around it and it will keep it right against the adjusters where you want it.