Gearing

I was afforded the opportunity to test several different sprocket combinations at no cost so I did...

The 1000RR has some extremely tall gearing, according to calculations & actual tests it is capable of speeds close to 82mph in 1st gear.

By lowering the overall gearing you lose some topend speed in favor of quicker acceleration which is perfect for the RR as no one needs a 180mph top speed on a street bike anyway not to mention that the in our testing we weren't able to reach that top speed (with the stock gearing) as the motor in completely stock form just didn't have enough horsepower to push redline in 6th gear. It's much more beneficial to have the quicker acceleration & it's much easier on the clutch when taking off from a standing start as the now lower gearing requires less clutch slippage & lower engine revs to get the bike rolling.

Stock sprocket sizes are 16/41 (on US spec bikes) for those of you unfamiliar with the numbers 16/41 simply represents 16 teeth on the front sprocket & 41 teeth on the rear sprocket etc...

In addition to the stock sprockets I also tried the following:

15/40
15/41
15/42
15/43
16/40
16/41
16/42

My absolute favorite is 15/42 for street duty & 15/43 handles most of my track time lately. Per my gearing calculator the 15/42 combo puts the top speed of the bike right at about 165mph & let's be honest that is way more than anybody needs for a streetbike. I mean you can't get up to 165mph on most racetracks here & it's certainly not prudent to be trying it on public roads. Of the gearing combo's I have tried this one also helped the most with the driveline lash problem I have been experiencing. The only drawback is that it does make the speedometer error even greater so some sort of speedo recalibrator might be in order unless your bike is track only like mine is currently.

A good alternative would be the 16/42 combo as it is the cheaper & easier to install since you only have to buy the new 42t rear sprocket & not an additional front sprocket too. You could go up another tooth maybe even 2 on the rear, but you also have to consider that each time you go up a tooth in the rear it requires you to move the rear tire closer to the swingarm to get sufficient chain slack & eventually the rear tire will rub on the swingarm or hugger.

Just a note on aluminum sprockets: Never buy an aluminum sprocket that is not Hard Anodized. The Hard Anodizing process greatly extends the life of the sprocket & is easily worth the extra $10 or so it costs for them. The OEM rear sprockets are steel & are built for durability, but the extra weight of the streel versus a lighter aluminum sprocket makes the bike harder to stop, steer & accelerate due to the additional rotating mass on the wheels. I mean you bought a top of the line high performance sportbike you might as well do all you can to get the most out of it & aluminum sprockets, even though they are going to wear out faster than steel they are still pretty damn cheap mods in the scope of things. If you can buy an $11,000 bike you oughta be able to spend $60-$70 on a sprocket every now & then plus if you keep you chain maintenance done properly especially proper chain slack then you can get some incredible mileage out of them.

I have tried just about every single brand of sprocket known to man, even used to pay big bucks (about $90 each & waited forever to get them) for the Renthal's cause I figured if the HONDA team used them they must be good (WRONG!) the hard anodized Renthals wear very quickly compared to other brands like Sprocket Specialists Titan Tough, but the AFAM brand is without a doubt the best. They don't advertise their process, but I used to have aluminum fittings & bungs hard anodized when I was in the rotational molding business & the coloration of the AFAM sprockets looks just like they have impregnated their hard anodizing process with teflon. This would go a long way towards explaining why their sprockets last so long, but again they don't make any claims to this at all it is just something I have observed.

I can also throw my opinion out for 3 more things with great certainty:

1. DID chains are the best period.

2. RK chains used to be great, but suck ever since they got bought out back in about 2000

3. Vortex sprockets wear out way way way too fast...

SuperSprox: Everytime I turn around on a message forum someone brings up the issue of SuperSprox sprockets. This is where they take an aluminum hub and rivet a steel out ring of teeth to it to give the user the best of both worlds etc... As far as I am concerne nothing could be further from the truth. The cost of the Supersprox sprockets is much higher than the cost of a quality aftermarket hard anodized aluminum sprocket and WAY higher than a steel rear sprocket. Here is the real kicker for me though as I had to order one of these for a very insistent customer not too long ago and when I weighed the 530 Supersprox sprocket it actually weighed MORE than the OEM steel sprocket it was replacing. Seems ridiculous to me to spend more money for less performance...

530 vs 520 conversion

Ok this question comes up a lot... The difference between a 530 & a 520 is that the 520 chain is slightly smaller & of course with that it weighs less. Less weight means you can spin up the rotating mass faster (better acceleration). A high quality 520 Chain like the DID ERV-II stuff is just as strong as the OEM 530 chains they are replacing or at least close enough that the issue of accelerated wear is just not an issue.

Longevity (chain and sprocket life): Enough has been asked over & over again that I feel it is time to update this area:

Chain wear all depends on how well you keep up with your chain maintenance. A chain needs to be kept clean, lubed and have properly adjusted chain slack at all times. If you meet those conditions an OEM chain will easily net you 10,000 or more miles. I've seen some guys get 25000+ out of them.

I have also routinely seen riders get 20,000+ out of DID 520 chain kits, but these are the same onwners that are meticulous with their chain maintenance. I personally had 15,000+ grueling, merciless, track only miles out of my last set on my 1000RR and it still had life in it when I finally changed it to a new set and I while I am very good at keeping my chain maintenance up I can tell you I was never what anyone would consider easy on my chains

Additional key points:

If you are switching to a 520 chain you must buy 520 sprockets to go with it! You cannot use the OEM 530 sprockets with your new 520 chain nor can you use 520 sprockets with a 530 chain (yes people have asked this)

Typically if you are racing the bike & need every ounce of help you can get go ahead & switch to the 520 conversion now (new chain & sprockets).

If your bike is new (chain & sprockets are in good condition) & primarily a streetbike or just an occasional trackday machine then I suggest just swapping out the sprockets in the same 530 pitch & leaving the OEM 530 chain on the bike. When the time comes that you do finally wear out the OEM 530 chain then you can decide at that time if you want to do the 520 conversion (I would) since you generally have to replace both the chain & sprockets together anyway.

It is also important to remember that a chain that is a little too loose is ALWAYS better than one that is too tight. A chain that is too tight can limit the proper movement of the suspension stroke and cause greatly accelerated wear on the sprockets. I've even seen them pull the countershaft out of the engine case and destroy the bearings/seals from extreme cases of having a chain that is too tight.

Also important to know is that if you increase the rear ride height of the shock to alter the geometry of the bike that you need to add additional chain slack to compensate for that.

Let's talk chain life
This subject comes up so frequently on the web forums I figured it was time to give it some attention here


Improper slack is the number one reason for poor chain/sprocket life. It is also dependent on several things not the least of which is knowing how to measure the slack which quite frankly many riders simply do not. Many riders also do not realize that if they add ride height to the rear of the bike via an adjustable shock or a longer shock or a different linkage etc that they have to add more chain slack to compensate for that additional ride height.

Next on the list would be mismatching new & old parts. When you install a chain & sprocket kit all 3 items (the chain, the countershaft sprocket and the rear sprocket) should be new. Those items bed in together with wear and conform to each other. If you replace any one of those 3 items with a new piece then it is no longer matched to the wear of the other two items and overall wear is accelerated as the parts start to bed in again, but at different rates now. Not such a big deal for a track only or race bike that we swap the rear sprockets on to match every track we ride with no concern with longevity of the parts involved, but it will drastically reduce the life of a streetbike chain kit.

After that I will simply cite lack of maintenance. In addition to proper chain slack you also have to keep the chain clean and lubricated. Overhyped chain wax that just puts a coating over the chain might keep it clean under that protective coating, but provides very little lubrication. Sticky, gunky lubes like PJ1 are slightly better for lubrication initially, but attract tons of dirt & debris which eventually works its way in between the o-rings and starts destroying the chain. Water is the chains worst enemy as rust particles form and work their way past the o-rings then start destroying the chain from the inside out and once it starts there is really no stopping it. Rain moisture can do it, but you would be amazed at how many times I have seen guys use a pressure washer on their chain or scrub the chain with a stiff bristle brush and water which allows the bristles to gap the o-rings and allow moisture to start causing rust behind the scenes were you cannot stop it.


The last killer is nothing more than inferior materials. People buy cheap shitty sprockets like Vortex or expensive shitty sprockets like Renthal and then complain that they don't hold up... Those cheap chain kits usually contain low end sprockets and poor quality chains and you get what you pay for in terms of usable service life.