Replacing chain and sprockets

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    First remove front chain guard and the front sprocket keeper. Most front sprockets are held on by one of three ways. With a E-clip, a big nut and lock washer, or with a clip that is bolted to the sprocket. The E-clip is a down and dirty way that is used for quick sprocket removal. A big “E” clip is used to hold the front sprocket on. Just pop it off and pull off the sprocket. This actually works pretty good but is not as secure as the other ways and usually means some one has replaced the factory keepers because not too many factories use this method to retain the sprocket. Sprocket Nut The big nut keeper uses a big nut (Well DUH !) and a special lock washer. The lock washer fits over special teeth machined in the counter shaft. These keep it from turning. Then part of the washer is bent over one of the flats on the nut, keeping it from turning. The big nut will have an indention or groove cut in one side. This goes toward the sprocket.

    The Bolted Clip type fits in grooves on the counter shaft and then twists and bolts to the sprocket with two bolts. It is easiest to remove these bolts or nuts when the chain is still on so that it will hold the sprocket. If the sprocket still turns, you may have to get someone to hold the rear brake on while you unscrew things.

    Now we take the chain off. Spin the tire around untill you find the master link and gently pop the clip off. Even if you are replacing the chain, save the clip and put it in the tool kit you carry on the bike. You never know, but you might need it some day. If the chain is endless you will need to break it. The best way is to use a chain breaking tool. Another way, is to put a grinding wheel in a drill and grind the ends of the chain link rivets flush with the link side plate. Then knock the rivet out with a punch. Gross, but effective and cheap.

    After the chain is off, remove the rear wheel. The rear sprocket is usually bolted to the rear hub. Sometimes it is bolted to a sprocket carrier, which slides into rubber cushions in the hub. Don’t lose the nuts or bolts or lock washers. Often, they are of a special length or design. Now is a good time to look at any chain guides on the swing arm or chain slack adjuster rollers for wear and replace them if necessary.

    Bolt everything back together. If the sprocket is of a dished type, make sure it goes on the right way. Put it on backwards and things wear really quick. Please don’t ask how I know this… trust me, it can be done and it does wear quickly ! Don’t forget to bend over the locking tabs if there are any. Sometimes it helps to have a special tool to hold the chain ends together. 530 and 630 chain master links can be a very tight fit so it helps to have a chain press to press the side plate on with. You can also use a set of vice grips of the right size. If you are using a clip type master link make sure the closed end is pointed in the direction the chain travels. Rivet links need a chain riveter. At least that’s the easiest way. You can also ping the rivet end over with a punch and hammer if you back up the master link with a big sledge hammer or piece of heavy metal.

    Chain Maintainance

    Chain maintanance is pretty much a case of keeping chain lubed and adjusted correctly,adjustments are made by loosening off the rear axle and using the chain adjusters on your swingarm to gauge each side. Also check condition of sprockets cos worn sprockets can accelerate chain wear. If the teeth on the sprockets are hooked or rounded off, its time for new ones. When lubing the chain, lube the top of the chain underneath the swing arm, effectively the inner loop, as centrifugal forces as the chain moves around sprockets, will force the lube into the rollers etc.

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