The Tooth Fairy

While it may not pay to put your old sprocket under your pillow at night, you can get big rewards in performance overnight by losing a tooth--or adding one--to your bike’s rear sprocket.

No, there’s no sprocket tooth fairy (that we’re aware of), but there is an option for most riders who want to boost certain performance characteristics of their bikes. If you’ve got a bike or ATV with chain drive, you’ve also have a tunable drivetrain that can be modified slightly or dramatically to deliver exactly the performance you’re looking for.

Pulling teeth. The sprockets installed on your machine at the factory were specified by talented engineers to provide the best all-around performance possible to suit the vast majority of riders. And, those factory-equipped bikes tend to do a great job of that. But for the rider who is looking for more immediate throttle response and faster acceleration than the stock configuration provides a relatively simple swap to a larger rear sprocket with one or two more teeth than the OEM sprocket can be like night and day. Similarly, for those looking for higher top speed and better fuel mileage than stock, switching out the factory rear sprocket for a replacement with one or two fewer teeth changes the gearing enough to accomplish the desired performance characteristics.

Stick to the back teeth. For more incremental changes in performance, it is highly recommended to make changes to the rear sprocket versus the front. Especially since changing a single tooth on the front sprocket makes much more dramatic changes (often overly dramatic) than the rear and, when opting for a smaller front sprocket, it becomes harder for the chain to wrap around the smaller cog, thereby contributing to chain wear. Conversely, changes to the larger rear sprocket are much subtler and do not impact chain wrap and chain wear. If you’re looking for bigger changes, you may find that a combination of front and rear will work best.

No need for a toothache. You don’t have to pull your hair out to grasp what sprocket teeth to pull or to add. The Sunstar website has a Ratio for Sprocket Combinations table in the Tech Info section that can help you determine exactly how each sprocket configuration will change the gearing of your bike. You can quickly see how a subtle or a more significant sprocket choice will vary from the stock gear ratio and how the desired effect can be accomplished with just the rear sprocket or in a combination of front and rear sprocket changes (for instance, one tooth larger front paired with a one tooth fewer rear).

A material consideration. Beyond gear ratio, performance is also affected by sprung weight. The lighter the weight, the less mass must be moved by the engine. Choosing a sprocket made of aluminum can provide significant weight savings over stock steel sprockets (although it will not last as long). Or check out the hybrid options that combine lightweight materials with durable steel teeth rings to establish the ideal combination of weight savings and long-term performance.

Check out the sprocket options and helpful gear ratio information for your machine at sunstar-braking.com. Need help selecting the right parts for your needs? Just ask! 

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