What’s going on? Rob Fish here in the BikeBandit Garage. Munch enough miles on your motorcycle, and sooner or later you’ll need to replace your chain and sprockets. It’s a pretty easy job when done correctly. In this video, we’re gonna break down the process so that you know how to do it yourself and can save yourself some money by not having to take your bike to the dealership or the shop.
So here we have my KTM 450 EXC, and it’s about that time to swap out my worn out chain and sprockets. It’s easy to see wear on your sprockets as the uniform shape of the teeth will be visibly compromised. Or in the worst case scenario, maybe you’ve broken some teeth off. Your chain will indicate wear in a couple different ways. One way is to pull the chain away from the rear sprocket backwards. If it pulls out far enough that you can see a lot of the tooth of the sprocket, it’s about that time.
A lot of side-to-side play is another indicator. You wanna replace all three items when doing this job. Replacing just the chain or just the sprockets will actually accelerate wear on the new items when they’re mated up to the old ones. Here we have the new Regina RX3 Chain and MSR sprockets. I’ve decided to stay with my current gear ratio, running a 14 tooth countershaft sprocket and a 48 rear sprocket. The tools for this job are pretty standard. You’ll need a couple of open-end wrenches, a ratchet and a couple of sockets, a torque wrench, a pair of pliers, a chain-breaker, an Allen wrench, and some blue Loctite. If by chance your front sprocket is held on by a circlet, then, of course, you’ll need a set of circlet pliers. We like having the correct tools for the job, and our friends at BikeMaster have got us covered.
Okay, let’s get started. First thing that we wanna do is put the bike up on a stand. Remove the countershaft sprocket cover, then we need to loosen up the countershaft sprocket bolt. Do this with the chain still on the bike. Hold down the rear brake. Now go ahead and break the bolt free, but leave the bolt in but just loose.
Now we can remove the chain. One of the most important parts of the drivetrain is the master link. It’s small, but it has a very important job. Grab your pliers and squeeze it off. This is where using the right tools can save some skin. Go ahead and remove the chain, but keep it close by.
Go ahead now and remove the countershaft sprocket and put the new one on. But pay attention to which way the old one came off, and place the new one on in the same manner. Some have a groove on the back side, some might have a washer behind them. When you put the bolt in, apply some blue Loctite and just thread it in. We’ll torque it later.
Now let’s move on to the rear sprocket. We need to remove the bolts that hold the sprocket to the hub. Some people like to take the rear wheel off first, but I like to leave it actually on the bike. It’s actually like having an extra set of hands. Rear sprockets are held on by six bolts with Allen heads and a nut on the back side. This part is key. Don’t try to remove them via the Allen side. Apply torque to the nuts on the back side, as the Allen heads can strip out very easily. Go ahead and break the six bolts loose. Now we can remove the rear wheel from the bike. So, with the rear wheel removed, you can go ahead and swap on the new sprocket. Make sure that the surface is clean before you put the new one on, too. With the sprocket just laying on the hub, go ahead and spin it around a few times and feel for any bumps or burrs. We all good?
Then let’s go ahead and start the six bolts, and apply some blue, that’s medium, Loctite to the bolts. A little Loctite on the angled back side of the heads, that doesn’t hurt either. Again, go easy on those Allen heads. If your sprocket bolts have washers between the nut and the hub, replace them and remember that the flat side of the washer goes against the hub. You can use the wrench to get to the surfaces to mate up, then to really tighten them, again, do that via the nuts on the back side. No need to go crazy with the power here. Recommended torque setting for my KTM is 25.8 foot-pounds. Tighten them in a criss-cross manner. Reinstall the rear wheel on the bike, but don’t tighten down the axle bolt just yet, as we’ll need to move it back and forth to get the chain tension just right.
Okay, now take the old chain and lay it right next to the new chain, as this will tell you where you’ll need to break it to get it to the right length. Using a chain tool is the proper way to break a chain. It’s possible to remove a pin without one, but again, having the right tools for the job makes it just that much easier. I personally like to take my Dremel and even shave down the head of the pin to make the job easier and faster. Now, place the chain in the breaker and go ahead and push the pin out. Now install the chain on the sprockets and grab your master link. If you’re installing a chain with O-rings, make sure you install them in the correct places.
Now it’s time to install the master clip. Grab your plier and place the clip on the pins with the opening facing backwards when on the top or under the chain, and snap it in place. The reason to have the opening facing backwards is that, when in motion, if it does come into contact with anything it won’t get caught and get ripped off.
Now it’s time to set the chain tension and tighten up the rear axle. Each bike will have a different amount of chain slack, so look in your manual to get the correct measurement. KTM recommends 8 to 10 millimeters of gap on the bottom run of the chain midway down the swing arm. Once you set your adjusters to the correct position, tighten everything down and torque your rear axle to the manufacturer spec. With the rear brake applied, torque down the countershaft sprocket. KTM recommends 44 pound-foot of torque.
Now give everything a once-over making sure that everything spins freely and smoothly. Front sprocket torque: check. Master link facing the correct direction: check. Rear axle torque: check. Chain slack within spec: check. Alright, we’re all good.
So there you have it, just a quick how-to video on replacing your chain and sprockets. We hope you found this video helpful. Here we put a couple links to the products used in the video, both the chains and the sprockets as well as the tools we used to complete the job. If this is your first time joining us here in the BikeBandit Garage, remember to hit the red button and subscribe to our channel. With each new video, you’ll be in the loop, learning more about how to work on your motorcycle and saving some money by doing the work yourself. Thanks again for joining us. We’ll see you soon. Now it’s time to go ride.