16/43 sprockets optimum for DL1000 - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 351 Old 10-31-2010, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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16/43 sprockets optimum for DL1000

After reading the thread called called "New sprockets", I feel this subject is worth its own thread. I've read everything I could find on the subject of sprocket changes on this and other Strom sites, and still feel the subject hasn't been clearly and completely addressed. Usually it's a "Whole new bike!" or "Love it!" kind of thing that doesn't get detailed enough. Not enough for me, anyway. Some may feel that I'm scourging an expired equine, but if I thought so I wouldn't be outgassing in this fashion. With that said:

I don't know why this bike comes from the factory with a 17-tooth front sprocket and a 41-tooth rear sprocket. Who can fathom the inscrutable minds of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers? To cite one example, why did they wait nearly 20 years to fix the irksome deficiencies of the KLR650? Ever heard of the doohickey? Yes, that's Kawasaki, but the phenomenon of Asian bike builders not quickly addressing issues that are often bad enough to spawn healthy and long-lived aftermarket industries is legendary.

To be fair, the sprocket ratio of the DL1000 may have something to do with emissions and dynamometer tests. Who knows.

Back to the DL1000: If you tour, and especially if you head off the asphalt or concrete onto steep, bumpy, or rutted roads--or all of those--the problem with the stock 17/41 sprocket setup becomes quickly evident. If you have a heavy load on the bike, it's even more evident, and more irritating.

First gear for the DL1000, regardless of the sprocket setup, is generally too low for "cruising" on any rough road. The bike's throttle response is too violent, and easing up on the throttle once you have reached a speed of only a few miles per hour causes the bike to jerk -- especially unnerving if you're riding standing up, as it suddenly pitches you forward. For bad roads or slow cruising, you must be in second gear. And that's the problem in the stock 17/41 sprocket setup. It's too "tall" -- geared too high -- for this purpose. At speeds of 15-25 MPH, the comfort range for tooling along comfortably on a lumpy or rutted dirt/gravel road, the engine revs are too low. And if you get into any sort of trouble, like suddenly having to climb a steep section or go over a short ledge, you don't have the torque available. You find yourself increasing the revs and slipping the clutch constantly. It works but it's tiresome.

At the other end of the spectrum, with the stock 17/41 setup, it is universally agreed that overdrive (6th gear) is fairly useless on the DL1000 unless you're going to continually and greatly exceed the common 70-75 MPH interstate speed. If you have a heavy or bulky load, or are heading into the wind, the uselessness of this gear is doubly underscored. In sum, to use OD on the Vee you have to keep the speed and revs up far higher than the usual prevailing traffic, and if you need an even moderately rapid increase in speed, you're going to be downshifting.

I tried the stock 17/41 for a couple of months after buying the bike. Even with nothing loaded on the bike, that sprocket setup was not suited to bad-road riding. Then I went to 17/43 for a few months. While this was a noticeable improvement for low-speed cruising on any type of road, overdrive was still pretty useless.

I finally bought a 16-tooth SunStar. Wrenched it on. Rode the bike.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about. That's the thing about which I speak. That's the subject upon which I'm holding forth. The bike is happy -- snappier, better RPM range for each gear, perfect for low-speed bumping along rutted roads, absolutely no problem starting out with a heavy load, even on a steep incline. And best of all, sixth gear is now usable. Higher revs and more torque available at normal interstate speeds. Less downshifting, if any at all, when passing trucks or doing any other maneuvering. Perfect.

By the way, I'm sure 16/44 would be fine. And 17/45 is also close to the 16/43 ratio. The big advantage of 16/43 is that you don't have to buy a new chain. Total cost for this absolutely great modification is about $60. You won't spend better money on the DL1000.

As for gas mileage, who cares? I just want the bike to perform, and if I spend another $50-$100 a year in gas to get this performance (which may not even be the case, by the way) then I figure that's an astounding bargain.

Last edited by Fellow Traveller; 11-08-2010 at 11:01 PM.
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post #2 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 01:22 AM
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What are your revs at 70 mph? For me this gearing would likely be way too low to use on the faster highways. It would be spinning really high at 80 mph. I have 17/43 and have been pretty happy with it but it is almost borderline too low for the fast highways.

It is great however when riding at low speeds. Even high up in the mountains, riding double and with bags loaded, it still takes off easily even on an uphil grade. While I have run the numbers, you are probably getting pretty close to where your second gear is like the stock first gear. I wouldn't mind that IF I had a 7th gear up top. :-)
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post #3 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 06:55 AM
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I have the 16/43 combo, and I've said all this before, but what the heck, I agree with the poster and I want to back him up I couldn't say what my revs are at 70 mph, but I can say that she's purring along sweetly. Same thing at 80 mph and higher. This engine loves to rev and is smoother above 4,000 rpm.

Like they say, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want better in town and off road riding, you want the 16/43 combo. If you want to ride over 80 mph on straight smooth roads, you should get a sport touring bike. Or just keep the stock VStrom gearing, your choice.

A lot of riders rarely ride any real offroad and ride a lot of straight roads on long trips at high speeds, the stock gearing will be fine for them.

Other riders as the poster mentioned find the stock gearing poor offroad. I find it poor in the mountains. What I noticed is instead of having to shift down to 1st gear on a lot of tight switchbacks, I can now keep it in 2nd gear without lugging and that means much happier mountain riding for me.

Around town I really like the lower gearing. 3rd gear is now useful rather than too high, where 2nd was too low. And in slow traffic I can ease along in 2nd most of the time. I use the clutch less, shift less, and I keep the engine happier and smoother.

Takeoff feels like the bike gained 20 HP. The bike is a rocket, enough said there. If you crank the right wrist aggressively, you are rewarded. I guess the best way to describe it, is that it gives the bike more Hooliganism. Hey, the smell checker isn't even red lining that word

I did not buy a VStrom to go long distances on straight roads at high speeds. I guess many riders did, and that's why Suzuki chose the stock gearing.

I would suggest a new chain with the new sprockets though.

Jim Davis, Owner, Eastern Beaver Company:
http://easternbeaver.com/ - Motorcycle Electrics: 2007 DL1000 with 16/43 gearing, Superbrace, Tokico 4 Pot fronts, BackoffXP, H4 Dual Relay Kit, PC-8 Fusepanel, 2 Powerlet Sockets, Suzuki Centerstand - 1988 Africa Twin 650, 1990 VFR 750.
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post #4 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 10:28 AM
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A 17/43 sprocket set lowers the gearing by 5-ish%. Going to 16/43 lowers it another 5% (10%) total. That seems like a lot ...

'03 DL1000 - "The Vee"
Mod list - Oxford heated overgrips. Garmin GPS w/Aquabox RAM mount. Mirror extenders. Givi V35 saddlebags, engine guards, and Kappa top box. Adventure Tech fork brace, wheel spacer, sidestand foot, and peg lowering kit. Gafler braided front brake & clutch lines. K&N air filter. Pyramid Fenda Extenda. GO Cruise throttle lock. Touratech folding shift lever. Rad guard. GSXR 4 piston brakes with SV Racing brackets. Yosh timing cover. SW Motech center stand and crossbar. Eastern Beaver headlight relay. 12 O'Clock Labs Speedo DRD. Werks clutch basket. Corbin seat.
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post #5 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 11:35 AM
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Ideal gearing has a lot to do with where you live and where you ride. I do most of my riding in the SW US. There are lots of places where I can ride 100 mph for extended periods of times with no worries about the police while getting traveling up into the more serious mountains.

However if I just take a 15 minute ride. I am at the base of a mountain range that goes from about 5,800 feet to about 10,500. For me the lower gearing at times would be nice in the moutains offroad. However gettting there the traffic is normally running about 80 mph minimum and faster. The speed limit is 75 and nobody is ever driving that. The cops don't even look at you if you aren't going over 85.

It's not like there is a low speed limit like many countries of 90 kmh (about 55 mph). Where if you go about that you are going to get dinged with a big ticket. Maybe if I lived in the NE US around Boston higher speed cruising wouldn't be such a priority.

I don't believe there is one size fits all for gearing. I do think Suzuki biased it a bit more toward "autobahn" gearing than for the trail. Then again the Vee or Wee isn't much of a trail bike to begin with. People need to optimize tires, gearing, farkles etc. for what they need for their type of riding and what their budget will allow. I am very thankful I have a chain rather than a shaft when it comes to this particular area. Going to the 17/43 was a good improvement for when riding double and on the bike roads where I ride. It didn't seem to impact my fuel economy around town and it might have gone up there a bit. On the highway I did see a decrease. Unfortunately that isn't idea as sometimes gas stations are few and far between in the desert.

One nice thing about changing the gearing is how easy it is to do. Also easy to put back if you don't like it. I have a long cross country trip planned in the next few weeks. I may put back on the stock rear sprocket while I am traveling through the boring midwest and go back to my 17/43 combo once I hit the mountains again. It only takes about 30 minutes to do with a centerstand. So it is definitely worth experimenting for most people. I do like the better acceleration of the bike with the lower gearing but wheelies are more of an issue... Play on innner hooligan!!!
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post #6 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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follow up

Jim -- You can call me Fellow or FT instead of "poster" if you wish, I won't be offended at the familiarity--the only posts I recall from you on this subject were brief, and didn't go into the specifics of why you liked 16/43 the way you did in this post. That's the kind of info I was looking for when trying to decide to make the change. Thanks for backing up on this; I've gotten so much out of this website that I want to return the favor. I have a few other thoughts on touring tips coming up.

And Day Tripping, you're right about the riding situation dictating the gearing. But you reinforced my point in a way. It's quite easy to go 85 mph for extended periods when you switch to 16/43; your revs will be a few percentage points higher while travelling at that speed, but the engine is very comfortable with higher revs so it works. When you finally get off the highway or interstate and into the mountains you're much better off with 16/43 than with the stock sprockets. The point being, you can do BOTH things well -- high speed and good rough road/mountain road riding -- with 16/43, but you can't do both things well with 17/41.

[EDIT: I Couldn't answer the revs-at-70 mph earlier, since my speedo was off. It's now corrected to what, according to best info, is right. So now in 6th gear my tachometer says 4500 rpm at 70 mph. According to gearingcommander.com it should be 4200 at 70 mph. No idea which is correct, but I do know that the performance of the bike feels exactly right, whether on rough roads or twisty mountain roads that I ride on frequently, or interstate. I'll go with that.]

Last edited by Fellow Traveller; 11-14-2010 at 12:49 PM. Reason: new information / more information
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post #7 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 12:54 PM
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If wanted to turn high revs all the time at cruise I would have bought a Wee. :-)

As I mentioned, another issue for me is fuel mileage. It does go down. I've lost about 20 or more miles per tank. The even lower gearing likely would impact it even more. I don't want to reduce my range and carrying extra fuel isn't an option.

Gearing is almost always a compromise unless you can select your own ratios. If I couldn't have a seventh gear or an ultra tall 6th, then I'll have to compromise with my slightly lower gearing than stock. The times that the 17/43 would be truly useful for me are less often than would a more relaxed gait on the faster roads.

There is no absolute right or wrong here but personal preference. Riders need to assign their priorities and customize to that. Since I am about 90% road and 10% dirt road I have a good compromise for my riding. Most of the time I am 2-up and I would attend to avoid sections where I'd need an even lower first gear. With my fiance on the back and a fully loaded Vee, it is enough of a handful that I don't really want to deal with anything more technically challenging offroad.

I am glad you are happy with the change. I was equally pleased with the 17/43 combo. It is the open discussions that can help other people choose what works best. It helps when people give insight into their riding styles, situations and locations. As I said it is cheap and easy to play with the gearing. Something we couldn't easily do with shaft drive... I would have been very unhappy with the stock gearing if I couldn't have changed it.
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post #8 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Day Tripper wrote: Something we couldn't easily do with shaft drive... I would have been very unhappy with the stock gearing if I couldn't have changed it.


Amen to that. Not to mention the cost of repairs. Shaft drive problems with your megabuck BMW GS? Hundreds to thousands to repair. Drive train problems with your V-Strom? You can replace the entire shebang -- front sprocket, rear sprocket, chain, for $160 or less.
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Last edited by Fellow Traveller; 11-01-2010 at 02:06 PM. Reason: typo
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post #9 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 04:38 PM
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Riding at 70+ is not a problem with 16/43. The engine is happiest when the tach needle is pointed up towards the sky. It's smooth and snappy without over revving.

My daily commute is 60 miles at 75mph on the highways in Phoenix. I never get into overdrive. It's a comfortable ride.

About once a month I drive the boring interstate for a 4hr round trip between phoenix and tucson arizona. I'm doing 85-90 and overdrive actually feels good then.

When I'm out on dirt roads, 2nd and 3rd are just right. No more slipping the clutch in 2nd or dealing with a jerky throttle in first on dirt switchbacks.

Suzuki could have delivered this bike stock with 16/43 and there would be almost no discussions in this forum about gearing. The bike is perfect at 16/43. imho

Quote:
Originally Posted by DayTrippin View Post
What are your revs at 70 mph? For me this gearing would likely be way too low to use on the faster highways. It would be spinning really high at 80 mph. I have 17/43 and have been pretty happy with it but it is almost borderline too low for the fast highways.

It is great however when riding at low speeds. Even high up in the mountains, riding double and with bags loaded, it still takes off easily even on an uphil grade. While I have run the numbers, you are probably getting pretty close to where your second gear is like the stock first gear. I wouldn't mind that IF I had a 7th gear up top. :-)
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post #10 of 351 Old 11-01-2010, 05:03 PM
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Contemplating a gear change next time I have to replace my sprockets and chain (probably pretty soon). A 10% change in the final drive gearing doesn't sound too severe to me. Put it this way, if the 'strom is happily loping along at 70 mph on the highway at 4k rpm with stock gearing, then dropping the gearing by 10% will only make the rpms go up 400 rpm to 4400. Or up to just over 5k rpm at 80.


No big deal, IMO.
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