Sprockets New

At the start of each new year, we all vow to get ourselves into better shape, outperform all we did the year before, and finally hit the places we’ve always said we’d go. As diehard riders, our bikes are the vehicles that will get us there this year. So, while the new year is time to give yourself a new start, it’s also time to give your bike a refresh too. Call it a new drive for the new season. Here are a few tips to get your bike’s new year off to a good start …


Clean up your act for 2020. The start of a new year is a good time to clean up your act. If you haven’t gotten to it before now, put the bike on a work stand with the rear wheel off the ground. Gather some spray-on chain cleaner, a good, stiff nylon bristle brush (better yet, pick up a chain cleaning brush designed specifically to clean the nooks and crannies on all sides of the chain), and a lint-free rag. Be sure any cleaner you choose is safe for O-ring type, sealed chains—avoid using kerosene, WD-40, brake cleaner and other caustic chemicals that can do some serious damage to sealed chains. Allow the cleaner time to work, and then scrub the chain back and forth with the brush as you slowly rotate the rear wheel manually. Consider another application of cleaner if there is still dirt and grit present. Then wipe the chain clean and let it dry.

Shake off the rust and get your wheels turning. Sometimes it’s hard to get moving this time of year. Maybe things are a bit stiff and resistant to motion. But that’s nothing that a little lubrication won’t fix. With the chain properly cleaned and free of corrosion, it’s time to add chain lube to assure all driveline parts move freely and will have the protection they need. But remember, more is not necessarily better. A light coat of lube is usually all that’s necessary, so don’t empty a can of lube on your chain. When in doubt, follow the instructions on the chain lube container. A properly cleaned and lubricated chain should spin freely and quietly, without snags or jerks.

Make some adjustments. A new year is a time when we all vow to make some changes in our behavior. It’s also a good time to adjust our bike’s driveline behavior by assuring the chain is properly tensioned for the new season. Refer to the operator’s manual for specifications. Check the chain slack by locating the centermost point along the bottom run of the chain between sprockets. Lift upward on the bottom of the chain and notice how far the chain deflects. Measure the distance between the chain’s lowest point and the uppermost point (you may find a gauge on a sticker or molded into the chain guard of your bike). In most cases, that distance should be between about 30-40mm on a street bike (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches) or up to 50 mm (2 inches) on a dirt bike. If adjustment is called for, loosen the axle nut and turn the adjuster screws on each side evenly by a quarter turn at a time. Recheck the slack after each adjustment. Got it? Tighten up the axle nut (usually about 65 foot-pounds) and then recheck the slack one more time. Spin the wheel to make sure the chain runs straight and smooth.

Out with the old, in with the new. If you find that your bike’s chain and sprockets are not quite cleaning up or spinning smoothly, this may be the year to leave the old bits behind and install a new chain and sprocket set. But don’t worry; in February, we’ll show you how easy it can be to swap out the old components and get a fresh start on the new season with a new, high-performance driveline. Until then, check out the SUNSTAR products available for your bike by visiting Need help selecting the right parts? Just ask!

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