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Have around 16k miles on the set. How do you determine when they should be replaced?




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The front sprocket wear occurs on the forward side of the teeth, as that is the side which exerts pressure against the chain. As a result, they appear to be bent, or hooked, forward. The opposite is true for the rear sprocket. There is a spec for chain wear in the service manual, usually given as a number of millimeters between a certain number of links. An easy way to check is to pull the chain back away from the rear sprocket. If you can see daylight between the chain and sprocket, (generally about 4 or 5 mm), it's worn out and the recommendation from industry professionals is to replace chain and both sprockets as a set. Chain and sprocket wear is one of those things that sneaks up slowly. You don't realize how bad it is until you put on a new set, then all the smoothness and power of your new bike is magically back.
Contrary to popular belief, chains do not strech. They wear at the pins, where you can't see it. Just a thousandth of an inch multiplied by over 100 links will make a chain seem to be "streched" from its original length.
How long a chain lasts varies greatly by how you ride. Some who are easy on the bike may get 30000 miles, but if you have a heavy throttle hand you can trash one in 12000 miles, maybe less.
Stay away from aluminum sprockets, they wear out very quickly and it's not worth the savings in weight, unless you are racing.
Of course, keep everything clean and lubed every few hundred miles, more frequently if you ride in rain.
 

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Greywolf once commented to me that the chain rarely reaches the wear specification as defined in the service manual. I measured my last one ~18k, and it was not anywhere near that max length. I think I swopped it out prematurely but I did not want to be bothered with chain worries on a 8k ride out west.

First sign of trouble is if there are links that are kinked and stiff. That indicates that the grease that is inside the links is gone and without lubrication the links are getting stiff. But without lubrication they also wear fast(er) and thus the end will come progressively fast. On my old bike some years ago coming back from Sturgis I had to adjust the chain at the end every night. A good chain does not need adjusting for a long time. Once you start needing to adjust with increasing frequency you will probably find that the chain is not sitting tight on the rear sprocket as locoblanco explained. It is normal to wiggle a little but if you can pull it away then it's time.

So I look for kinks. If there are any and I am riding just regionally I don't worry to much. But I would swap the chain if I planned a long distance tour away from home. I found a good deal is to buy the OEM chain and sprocket set. It is a DID chain and with the DID rivet tool (a little pricy but only once) it is not a big deal (and also no huge cost) to change the set, typically when changing the rear tire because everything is already apart.

Some recommend changing the front sprocket at the halfway point. If I were to do that I would turn it around, it is symmetrical. I never done that, so not sure that really makes a difference.

Basically I mistreat my chain. I have an oiler that I use when I remember. I treat the chain and sprockets as a wear item like tires and just change them.

PS: Your front sprocket is difficult to see how worn it is. A view perpendicular may show how asymmetrical the teeth are. Probably not so bad.
The rear lasts much longer and probably does not need replacement at each change although that is the common recommendation.
 

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From the pics, I'd say that you could do many more miles (maybe 3000 - 5000), but unknown here is the condition of the chain. As a previous post noted, a worn out chain will have short sections start to "freeze" up and as you take off from a light or use engine drag to slowed, you'll hear a chugging sound (might not be best description of the sound). If you hear that, plan to change everything out as a unit even though the rear sprocket will look pretty good. The dimensions have changed while putting on thousands of miles, and therefore, won't match up well.

I've seen worse.
 

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