Nerves Of Steel

Okay, you’ve clocked thousands of miles on your road bike. Maybe even some hard miles. And now it’s clearly time to swap out that factory chain and sprockets for a fresh set. The question is, what type of rear sprocket should you choose as a replacement?

Decisions, decisions. Rear sprockets for street bikes are available in steel and aluminum. How do you know which is best? Each has its advantages, but each also has slight tradeoffs. It all comes down to how you ride and what’s most important to you. This article can help you make the choice with steely determination.

Ride on! And on.  If you’re like most road riders, having components that can endure for many miles and stand up to aggressive use is a top priority. After all, unless you’re a race team mechanic, you probably don’t want to be replacing sprockets and chains on a routine basis. Fortunately, there are sprockets designed to take the pounding of large-displacement, high-horsepower sport bikes for tens of thousands of miles.

The factory factor. The clever engineers who designed your bike recognized the importance of strength and durability, even for high-performance street bikes. That’s why the sprocket that came new on your bike was very likely made of steel, which was specified because it is a tough, long-lasting sprocket material. But even steel sprockets can vary, depending on how they’re made.

There’s a good chance the original gear wheel on the back end of your bike is a Sunstar Steel Rear sprocket. Sunstar has been the #1 sprocket demanded by OEMs (that’s the lazy way to say Original Equipment Manufacturers) for more than 50 years. That’s probably because the Sunstar Steel Rear sprocket is known as the strongest, longest-lasting steel sprocket on the market. One of the ways Sunstar has been able to accomplish that lofty reputation over other steel sprockets is by using an exclusive heat treatment—kind of a “secret sauce” to create more strength and greater wear resistance. The Steel Rear sprocket is then zinc plated with a baked-on durable paint process to make it corrosion-resistant and sharp looking for the life of the sprocket.

Weight a second! If ultra-performance is your thing and you’re on a mission to cut every ounce of weight from your machine, it may be tempting to look to a lightweight aluminum rear sprocket. But keep in mind that you may only be shaving a few ounces of un-sprung weight while giving up thousands of miles of wear life. Aluminum is a lightweight but softer material that is popular with racers where every ounce counts. For them, the compromise in durability is a non-issue since they regularly swap out components, even changing the gear ratio of their drivetrain for each unique racecourse. But for the street sport rider, the weight savings that an aluminum sprocket provides may not even be perceivable in the bike’s handling. You will, most likely, notice more rapid wear. To establish the best blend of lightweight and durability for the sport rider who is willing to give up a little endurance over a steel sprocket, Sunstar makes its Aluminum Rear sprocket with a hard anodized coating for increased durability (plus it looks really awesome). But, according to popular online forums, most street riders—including sport riders—say they want something that lasts and provides great performance. For that, going with the OEM choice of a Sunstar Steel Rear sprocket may be your best bet.

To find the Sunstar Steel Rear sprocket – or the Sunstar Aluminum rear sprocket – that fits your bike, visit sunstar-braking.com. Need help selecting the right parts for your needs? Hey, just ask!

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