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Motorcycle Suspention & Spring Resources

product manuals

We sell tens of thousands of different parts, and some are more complex than others. Our motorcycle sSuspention & spring resources page is where you come to find out technical data, model fitments and sales details about some of our more complex kits and assemblies

Teknik Fork Spring Installation Guide

After purchasing a set of Fork Springs from Teknik Motorsport, read this quick installation guide.

Teknik Shock Spring Installation Guide

After purchasing a Shock Spring from Teknik Motorsport, read this quick installation guide.

2017 KTM PDS Rear Shock Spring Rates

If you have a 2017 KTM, you have a huge range of options with Teknik. We offer over twice as many progressive rate springs as WP.

Ohlins Ducati 1098S Fork Kit

Ohlins Fork Piston Superbike Kit for the Ducati 1098S.

Ohlins Rally & Track Owners Manual

Automotive Shocks used for Circuit Racing and Rally Cars.

Ohlins TPX & TTX 44 Automotive Shock Owners Manual

Automotive Shocks used for Rally, Rally Raid and Rally Cross racing events.

bike setup guides

Whether you want a lap time advantage over your competition offroad or on track, want to make those long roadtrips more comfortable, or anything in between, our Setup Guides can teach you how to make all those seemingly complex adjustments with ease.

Free Suspension Setup Tips

Can you set up a bike’s suspension without spending a cent? You can if you know where to look…

A quick bike is one thing, but if it handles like a three-wheeled billycart or smacks the rider around like a naughty nurse, all that perceived performance is lost.
In this article we look at optimising what you have without cracking the credit card and offer some good, basic starting points.
Courtesy of Australasian Dirt Bike Magazine.
 

Road Bike Setup Guide

Our detailed Suspension Setup Guides help you get the most out of your Road bike, whether modified or stock.

Offroad Bike Setup Guide

Our detailed Suspension Setup Guides help you get the most out of your Offroad bike, whether modified or stock.

Using Your Clickers

Ever adjusted your suspension? Scared you'll stuff it up if you make any changes?

If you've never touched your clickers, then your suspension could be better than it is, for free. Understanding the basics of suspension and adjusting them using the built-in (on most bikes) adjustable suspension means you could be riding faster, enjoying your riding more, and avoiding those aches & pains you get after a blast.
Have a read of our basics guide, and tinker away!
Courtesy of our good friends at Transmoto Magazine.
 

Camshaft Degreeing Instructions

Cam timing is essential to good power.

2006 Kawasaki KX Suspension Chart

This guide gives you the numbers for optimum performance, courtesy of Team Green USA.

2009 ProLite Info Comparison

We took a hard look at the 250cc bikes from 2009, and figured out which mods help make them better.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Suspension Modifications

Looking for some Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin suspension modifications? Here is our frequently ask questions and how we adjust the Africa Twin forks and shocks.

This article was first published in Adventure Rider Magazine. Issue #29

 

In the last 10 years, the DR650 was the king of the hill in terms of the amount of them we upgraded the suspension on. That’s changed in the last 6 months. We now do more Africa Twin than any other bike. It’s not because it’s a bad stock, it’s just the sheer sales volume, 400 bikes are rolling off dealers floors each year.  It’s selling well, lots of people love them stock, lots get modified. We do everything from changing springs, modifying OEM fork and shock internals, fitting Ohlins, Nitron and Andreani cartridges, to complete Ohlins forks. Ohlins shocks and now TFX shocks. There are a lot of companies making AT suspension components.

How does a typical Africa Twin phone call go? It’s varied. Remember a LOT of people buy this bike and love it stock. I get everything from “I read on the internet I should get it done” to “I bottom it so hard I may be in need of spinal fusion soon”. Clearly, we are dealing with a wide range of riders and uses.

If the caller is lost, just wants an improvement but doesn’t know why, asking what they use the bike for usually reveals why they are calling. Typical responses with my suggestions to no cost remedies are

The forks are too soft and dive a lot.
Ok, have you adjusted the preload? Stock the fork has very little internal preload and you can make the fork sit a lot taller by winding 8-10mm (Turns) on the blue preload adjusters on the fork tops. I’s suggest you run the rebound adjusters on the fork caps at 1.0 turn out from full hard and the compression adjuster at the bottom 5 click out from full hard.

The shock gets hot and fades.
The AT has what I’d call a very active shock. I have heard your complaint before and done shock dyno tests at 30 to 120 degrees. The shock doesn’t fade any more than any other shock, it’s just that the level of damping the shock provides stock is very low, so any heat diminishes the damping and you quickly get out of “the window”, try running your rebound adjuster at 3 out from full hard and see if the problem is still there.

I have to run the shock preload at full hard all the time. I’m only 120kg, how could they have built a bike so soft?!?.
(Suppressing laughter) The manufacturer has to target a weight range when they build a motorcycle, the stock rear spring isn’t suited to 120kg plus some gear. The shock’s damping targets aren’t meant for a stiffer spring so we are really looking at spring and damping changes.

So, what to do? Let's cover the OEM shock and fork because it’s the most popular to modify.

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin Front Forks

Honda Africa Twin Fork

The stock fork is a Showa 45mm USD unit. It’s closer to a late 80’s Honda MX bike than a 2018 CRF450R but that still puts it above or at least on par with its sales rivals. The stock springs are 0.54-0.56kg/mm progressive. That’s not a bad stock spring to have. A few shock dyno runs and some riding unearth who Honda designed the bike for. It’s made to be comfortable and do everything. It’s not supposed to be a CRF450R. The fork is approximately 30% lighter in compression damping than a KTM 1190R, while having a similar spring rate, so it’s aimed at a rider who wants a softer feel. As I said at the start, many AT owners love their bike, this is what we do for riders who want more performance and are happy to forgo the soft feel.

Our modifications to the stock cartridge are aimed at giving more damping support, so you lose the floaty feel. Brake dive is significantly reduced, feel is improved. You get more feedback so you know where the front tyre is. Getting some air becomes fun, not crashing back to earth.

I don’t change the stock springs for riders under 100kg. it’s a lack of preload that causes the sag, not a light spring. For heavier riders, we offer linear springs in 0.60,0.70,0.75kg/mm

What the stock cartridge can’t do. It’s limited on preload adjustment, only 10mm. Ohlins has 18mm. The compression adjusters at the base are quite ineffective. The rebound adjusters only have a small usable range, ½ to 1.0 turn out. They may have 3 turns but the adjustment it to course.

CRF1000L Upper Fork Tubes

The internet had a melt down over AT upper fork tubes wearing the anodising off where the lower fork clamp is, lots of talk of over tightening the lower clamp causing the wear. We measured it, checked every set of AT forks that come in the door and talked to Honda.

First, it’s not as widespread as the rumour mill claims.

Second, the wear is above the lower clamp, so it’s not tightening torque. The wear happens on the front of the tube so it’s the pressure of the bush causing the wear. If you spin the top tube 180 degrees the wear still happens at the front.

Third, the riders who seem to have the most issue are road rides where the fork sits in one place for a long time. Offroad riders don’t seem to have near as many issues.  

Our answer to this is a performance coating called Kashima Coating. It is only available in Japan, Kashima coating consists of lubricating molybdenum disulfide deposited via electrical induction into the billions of micro-pores on the surface of hard-anodized aluminium to provide better lubrication and less abrasion and wear. This process can take some time to get done due to shipping time frames ex-Japan. We have 6 sets of exchange Kashima coated fork tubes in stock to allow a fast turnaround because no-one wants to have their bike in pieces for long periods of time.

In order for Kashima coating to be performed the fork tubes must not have any significant scratches or gouges as Kashima is microns thick, it won’t fill holes.

Of course, another option is to get a complete aftermarket fork such as the Ohlins CRF1000L Africa Twin Adventure Fork.

Africa Twin Common Rear Complaints

The stock 46mm Showa shock is not a bad unit but set up very lightly for road touring with an emphasis on comfort. Although the shock spring rate (8.3kg/mm) is OK for an 85kg rider (According to the Australian Bureau of Statics the Average Aussie male in 2013 weighed 85.9kg add-on 10kg of riding gear, hydration system and possibly some luggage plus the fact that we aren't all average there is often a need for a heavier spring), the shock spring preload needs to be increased dramatically to help keep the ride height up.

Result Of Testing On The Honda CRF1000L Shock.

Generally, our first step we take when we get a shock is to listen to a wide variety of riders, what they think, good and bad, then run the shock on the shock dyno and identify the rider feedback in the graphs so we know what we need to concentrate on.

Part of our testing process is benchmarking against aftermarket shocks to see where their R&D took them. Remembering some riders are very happy with the stock shock we can end up with 2 or 3 settings that give different damping characters depending on if you are majority road touring with some gravel, mostly adventure touring or ride it like a CRF450R.

The downside of the stock shock is an ineffective compression adjuster and a spring preload adjuster that is stiff to turn for springs heavier than stock, the 8.3kg/mm. the 9.0 we often use is OK but a 9.5 or 10.0 shock spring makes adjustments hard. It’s 1mm of spring preload for 2 adjuster turns. The Ohlins unit, by comparison, is 3 turns of the adjuster per 1mm of spring preload, so it's easy to turn with any spring.

We have done some extensive experimenting with stock preload and here is a snippet of our results. To help you interpret the graph below are a few key notes to be aware of:

  • If you have the bike up on a lift, the suspension is "topping out", completely hanging free. This is called the free length and it's as long as your suspension gets.
  • Now if you put the bike back on the ground, the suspension will drop a little due to the weight of the bike. The amount it drops is called static sag.
  • And if you then sit on the bike, the suspension will drop some more due to your weight. Even further if you carry a lot of gear. The amount that the suspension has dropped from the free length is called the rider sag.
  • A "classic" sag setting is 10% shock travel for static sag and 30% shock travel for rider sag, so here are the numbers for the CRF1000F: a total of 218mm shock travel, so an ideal static sag of 21.8mm and an ideal rider sag of 65.4mm.

So, as you can see from the graphs, the sag from stock is excessive. With no preload on it, the rear suspension is almost a third of the way through its travel before anyone even sits on the bike. When it's weighted up, with so much less shock travel to absorb any big ruts and thumps, the shock skips around and gets harsh quickly. We have added a spacer/collar to the spring to increase the initial pre-load, and now it's much closer to classic ride height numbers, leaving more shock absorber travel and a useable preload adjuster.

Simply, stock spring for under 80kg no gear, 9.0kg/mm for most riders up to 120kg, 9.5 and 10.0kg optional, depending on luggage. The Ohlins comes with a 95N (about 9.5kg/mm) stock.

Racing Setup Sheet

Print and take this to your next track day. Without tracking the changes you make, you are probably going around in circles.

Bike Maintenance & Repair

Riding your new bike. It's one of the best feelings in the world.

But as soon as it leaves the factory, things in your bike begin to very slowly age. And after some riding, things get worse.
Here are some tips and techniques on how to rejuvinate a slightly tired bike, what needs regular work, what can wait a little, what is cheap, easy and gives the best results, and what is just fancy frills.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Nuts & Bolts

We've all seen plenty of them, but do you really know the physics of how they work?

At some point we all have to deal with broken off or rounded heads, stripped threads and way over tightened bolts in difficult to access areas.
Our guide shows you how problems occur, the best tools & techniques to use when catastrophe strikes, and ways you can help avoid future troubles.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Free Suspension Setup Tips

Can you set up a bike’s suspension without spending a cent? You can if you know where to look…

A quick bike is one thing, but if it handles like a three-wheeled billycart or smacks the rider around like a naughty nurse, all that perceived performance is lost.
In this article we look at optimising what you have without cracking the credit card and offer some good, basic starting points.
Courtesy of Australasian Dirt Bike Magazine.
 

Air Filter Service

Keep the dirt & dust out of your bike's lungs effectively.

It only takes a little gunk to get sucked in for your engines guts to be sandblasted and pelted around at supersonic speeds. And it means a shorter engine life with a costly rebuild. This article covers the basics of an air filter service to keep your bike happier and healthier.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Using Your Clickers

Ever adjusted your suspension? Scared you'll stuff it up if you make any changes?

If you've never touched your clickers, then your suspension could be better than it is, for free. Understanding the basics of suspension and adjusting them using the built-in (on most bikes) adjustable suspension means you could be riding faster, enjoying your riding more, and avoiding those aches & pains you get after a blast.
Have a read of our basics guide, and tinker away!
Courtesy of our good friends at Transmoto Magazine.
 

Kayaba & Showa Suspensions

Chances are that your bike, and probably even your car, has their suspension.

Not all of your bike is made by the name on the tank. Some of it, especially suspension, gets sub-contracted to other companies - usually experts in their field.
This is how these suspension companies got to where they are, who runs which suspension & why, and where it looks to be headed in the future.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Shock Linkage Maintenance

Is your rear suspension feeling sticky or stiff?

It could be your shock, but it's more likely to be your shock linkage. It can be fixed in under an hour with basic tools, without removing the swingarm or shock.
This article gives a foolproof, step-by-step guide to inspecting, diagnosing & greasing the relentlessly abused bearings in your bike’s swingarm linkage.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Closed Vs Open Chamber Forks

Most modern bikes have either an open-chamber or closed-chamber design.

But whats the difference? Is one design really better than the other? And in which ways?
With info on durability, performance, tuning & maintenance on both types of modern fork, this article can make you an instant expert on fork design, and give you some food for thought on what you want in your next bike...
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Suspension Mods for your Budget

What kinds of modifications suit my budget? How can I get the best Bang for my Buck?

Do you know what modifications are available for your bike? Not many people do. And while some can spend big chasing the very pinnacle of performance, most of us have more modest funds.
Here are some options to make your suspension better, what difference they make, and what you can expect to pay for them.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Gearing

Changing your bike's gearing can transform its personality overnight.

Click to download orginal article in Transmoto Magazine or scroll down to the bottom.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.

On The Tools Tech Series:

ISSUE 1. SUSPENSION MODS How to get the most from your suspension budget.

ISSUE 2. GEARING -  Understanding sprocket combos and optimising gear ratios.

ISSUE 3. CARBS & EFI - Clever tuning tips to get your air/fuel ratio right.

ISSUE 4. NUTS & BOLTS - How to remove broken bolts & get the right torque settings.


GEARING AND HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

The right gearing can transform the way your bike drives and handles. We take the mystique out of the sprocket math to help you tailor your ride.

A dirt bike’s chain and sprockets operate in a nasty, open-to-the-elements environment, and yet we’d be lost without them. Over the years, we’ve tried shaft-drives, hydraulics and belt-drives, but we keep coming back to the humble roller drive-chain invented by a Greek around 300BC. Why? Because they suit dirt bikes perfectly. They’re tough, simple, light, create minimal power loss and they’re cheap.

Sure, shaft-drives are quieter and require far less maintenance, but they’re heavy in an unsprung mass kind of way, plus they make gearing changes difficult. And while belt-drives are quieter and more efficient than shafts, sand, rocks and mud make very short work of their lifespan.

So what makes this world of chains and sprockets tick? How can you alter you bike’s power and handling characteristics with different gearing combinations? And how can gearing changes make life in the saddle more enjoyable? You’re a few toothy pages away from enlightenment.

 

GEARING GLOSSARY

Countershaft sprocket – the countershaft delivers the power out of the gearbox, and the front/drive/countershaft sprocket is attached to it.

Cush-drive (hub) – a rear hub designed to have a carrier mounted to it so the engine’s drive or torque pulsations are dampened by large rubber blocks. This saves the gearbox from shock-loading. There are also aftermarket cush sprockets available.

Low-noise sprocket – has a ring of rubber bonded to it so the chain runs on it. They’re common on trailbikes, and can be replaced with a non-rubber type with accompanying noise.

Gear up/taller/higher gearing – the drive ratio is numerically decreased by fitting a smaller rear sprocket and/or a larger front sprocket.

Gear down/shorter/lower gearing – the drive ratio is numerically increased by fitting a larger rear sprocket and/or a smaller front sprocket.

Loctite – proprietary name (eponym) for an anaerobic thread-locking agent. That is, it hardens in the absence of air.

Final drive – chain and sprockets in combination as a gearing set.

 

WHY IS GEARING IS IMPORTANT…

Why do we have a gearbox at all? Why not just run in a single gear? After all, gear changes cost you time on the track, right? Well, if we were punting a go-kart running around a flat course, not changing gears is a practical way to go faster. Unlike go-karts, dirt bikes need to start from a standstill, climb hills and have a broad speed range. This is why many enduro bikes have six-speed gearboxes, why most motocross bikes have five-speed boxes, and why bigbore machines with oodles of torque can get away with four-speed transmissions.

So, for a given gearbox, how do we tailor the final drive to suit us? That all depends on where you use the bike and how you like to ride it. Do you ride to work and rev the engine hard at 110km/h? Gearing can solve that. Do you struggle to get up big hills? Gearing can help there, too.

MX/SX GEARING

How many times do you change gears around the average motocross or supercross lap? Twenty, thirty times? When you shift, you’re not accelerating; you’re revving the engine near peak horsepower and shifting back into an RPM band with peak torque to start the acceleration curve again. What happens if you miss a shift or hit a false neutral? Do you let a rider by as you lose forward drive or case a jump and crash? By thinking about your shift points and whether you’re in the right portion of the power curve through the fastest corner on the track – the corner we traditionally gear for – substantial improvements in lap times can be made.

When you drive out of a corner, are you usually in second gear and struggling to grab third on the exit? Is third too tall for the engine to pull through several corners and you find you’re using a lot of clutch to keep it in the meat of the power? Could you gear up and use second until the bike is straight and not bouncing off the limiter, or gear down so you can comfortably grab third earlier for a smoother drive? Is there a long straight that you are grabbing a gear on towards the end and wasting time? Are you forced to upshift dangerously close to the upramp of a big jump? These are the key questions to think about to ensure your gearing is not unnecessarily costing you precious seconds around each lap. With many different corners on any given track, there will ultimately be some sort of compromise. But changing one or two teeth on the rear sprocket will usually be enough to sort most issues.

When changing sprockets and making corresponding changes to the rear axle position, also consider the implications of the effective change in swingarm length. Generally speaking, a longer swingarm (or wheelbase) creates a more stable chassis that is less inclined to wheelstand. A shorter swingarm allows the bike to turn quicker, but it also creates a firmer feel from the rear suspension because of the decreased leverage.

ENDURO GEARING

Not many off-road riders count gears; we’re usually too busy with fistfuls of throttle, dodging trees and bashing away at the gear lever to notice. So next time you ride, take some time to think about it. How often do you use first gear? Is the gap from first to second too big? Can you make a gearing change to effectively create a gear between first and second, or to never use first at all?

New-model four-stroke enduro bikes generally have a broad spread of useable power and wide-ratio gearboxes, which makes final gearing less critical. But that doesn’t mean gearing changes can’t reap benefits. If you’re having trouble taming a two-stroke for the bush, for instance, taller gearing can help smooth the power delivery. And finding the right gear for tight singletrack can be the difference between flowing through the trees and kissing one on a missed shift.

Bear in mind what you do at the bottomend will affect the top. If you shorten the gearing for more snap at slow speeds, you will lose some top-speed. Carefully consider the terrain type, and aim for a final gearing combination that offers you the most versatility.

TRAIL/DESERT GEARING

Desert is easy – run the tallest gearing your engine can pull. Machine the rear hub down if required! Then, let natural fear regulate your decision and put a few teeth back on the rear. The Honda CR500s that dominated the Finke Desert Race in the 1990s ran a 15/36 final drive, while the newgen CRF450s run a 15/44 or 14/42 gearing combo at Finke – much taller than the bike’s standard 13/48 motocross gearing. Trailriders can use the easy-to-swap nature of the countershaft sprocket to have ride-to-work road gearing and off-road gearing. One tooth will usually do it with no chain length changes needed. For example, you could use a 13-tooth in the bush and 14- or 15-tooth for the road, with that one tooth transforming the bike for each application.

 

WHY CHANGE GEARING?

Below is a simple chart for gearing. The ratio is simply the rear sprocket divided by the countershaft. For example, if your bike is running a fairly common 14/48 combination, that will give you 3.43. Notice that 13/45 or 15/52 will give a similar result at 3.46 and 3.47, respectively, just slightly shorter.

Numerically higher numbers will make the engine turn faster for a given speed, giving faster take-off and a lower top-speed. Higher numbers will give a slower take-off and a higher top-speed. Note that shortening the gearing will effectively close the gearbox ratios up, giving a closer-ratio feel.

COUNTERSHAFT SPROCKET

TEETH

12

13

14

15

16

17

39

3.25

3.00

2.79

2.60

2.44

2.29

40

3.33

3.08

2.86

2.67

2.50

2.35

41

3.42

3.15

2.93

2.73

2.56

2.41

42

3.50

3.23

3.00

2.80

2.63

2.47

43

3.58

3.31

3.07

2.87

2.69

2.53

44

3.67

3.38

3.14

2.93

2.75

2.59

45

3.75

3.46

3.21

3.00

2.81

2.65

46

3.83

3.54

3.29

3.07

2.88

2.71

47

3.92

3.62

3.36

3.13

2.94

2.76

48

4.00

3.69

3.43

3.20

3.00

2.82

49

4.08

3.77

3.50

3.27

3.06

2.88

50

4.17

3.85

3.57

3.33

3.13

2.94

51

4.25

3.92

3.64

3.40

3.19

3.00

52

4.33

4.00

3.71

3.47

3.25

3.06

HOW GEARING AFFECTS…

MOTOR

Back in the pre power-valve days, where 125s produced 30hp between 10,400 rpm and 10,500rpm and 15hp either side of it, gearing was critical for keeping an engine ‘on the pipe’. These days, user-friendly twostrokes and new-generation four-strokes have made life easier with their flatter and more forgiving torque curves. But we still have the same objective: to utilise the engine’s torque to pull us around. Underrevving (labouring) and over-revving an engine have never been ways to extract its best. So whether you want some more snap off the bottom, less gear changes per lap, or a higher top-speed, gearing changes can achieve this for you.

SUSPENSION

The most obvious change gearing makes to suspension is swingarm length. With the rear axle back as far as it’ll go, the swingarm is at its longest and has the most leverage over the shock. This effectively makes the shock softer. Moving the wheel forwardreduces the swingarm’s leverage, and the shock becomes stiffer.

Chain torque is another matter and could easily fill up a book with formulas and algebra. Put simply, chain torque occurs because the countershaft sprocket is in front of the swingam pivot on the majority of motorcycles. Chain torque opposes the downward force the rider puts on the rear suspension. Don’t believe it? Put your front wheel against a tree and let the clutch out. The rear of the bike rises. This lift helps you to clear obstacles in the same way prejumping does.

SPROCKETS

Steel or alloy? A steel/alloy combo? Self cleaning? What’s best? In general terms, if you are all about saving weight, buy alloy. Note that there are many varieties of alloy, and a quality English-brand sprocket will outlast a cheap no-name brand many times over. There are a few self-cleaning types around and everyone has their own miraculous cure. Personally, I’m more interested in the quality of the aluminium. However, even a cheap steel sprocket will outlast an alloy unit, so trailriders are best to go with steel. Enduro guys will have to decide where they sit on the weight versus wear trade-off, and perhaps go for one of the steel-toothed alloy sprockets or a lightweight steel unit.

Quality sprockets can cost more than $100 each, so building a collection for gearing choices can start to blow the parts budget out. Be sure what you want gearing-wise before splashing out. The best thing about a collection is that all major manufacturers have not changed their sprocket bolt-patterns in years.

So how do you know when your sprocket has had the sword? You’ll see most of the wear on the drive-side. The teeth will start to hook over, before the hooks themselves begin to break clean off. The stumpy little teeth that remain will soon let the chain spin and ruin your day. As a rule, replace chain and sprockets as a set, as a worn chain will quickly ruin new sprockets and vice-versa. Once you see hooking, it’s game over for the sprocket. Although not immediately obvious, sprocket wear costs power. Nothing absorbs less power than a brand new sprocket, and once your sprocket teeth begin to hook, it takes more energy to drive them.

Keep in mind that the fewer teeth on the countershaft sprocket will accelerate wear on both the sprocket and the chain buffer on top of the swingarm, as it will have more sliding friction on it. So with your gearing choices, try to keep the countershaft size up to 13 or above as a 12-tooth wears too fast to keep in check. Note also that some engine cases or case savers don’t allow the fitment of a 15-tooth sprocket unless modified.

The chain guide often limits rear sprocket size. A 52-tooth unit is normally about as big as you can go without mods to the guide. Always inspect sprockets for damage as it is possible to bend the rears, most likely when the chain guide is bent with a rock.

DRIVE CHAINS

Thirty years ago, drive chains were a curse. They stretched faster than you could adjust them, and broke so often that you were wise to carry a few spare links, spare section of chain, a chain breaker and a countershaft sprocket just in case. The advent of the O-ring chain in the ’80s changed all that. The O-rings fit into the gap between the rollers and the links and help trap the lubricant in the pins. Mind you, the chains still need lubricating on the rollers. The early O-ring chains were bulky affairs that sapped power, but the reliability was worth it. As we got into the ’90s, the O-rings were replaced by X-rings. The X refers to the cross-sectional shape of the ring, much like an O is the cross-section. The advantage of the X is not being crushed between the rollers, as the X has two contact points per face. It also meant the sealing lasted longer as the O-rings did wear out.

An unexpected benefit was that O- and X-ring chains ran cooler due to reduced friction. On high-powered machines, this meant the X-ring chains absorbed less power than a conventional chain. We now have a few manufacturers making sealed chains for low power applications, like 250Fs, in the form of U-rings and T-rings, all with seals that bear some resemblance to the letter that defines them. Only in high-level competition is a non-sealed chain still worth some power advantage. But as the non-sealed chain wears, it absorbs more power as heat loss, and the advantage disappears.

Joining links can still cause headaches. Unless you have a good reason to remove the chain frequently for cleaning, I’d suggest a rivet link is the best insurance. They take a little extra effort to put on, but there’s little need to break modern chains again until they’re worn and ready to be replaced.

As for chain quality, let price be your guide. The O-ring chain you buy for $89 is a nasty piece of power-robbing, sprocketwearing work compared to the lightweight long-lasting joy of a $180 X-ring. Given the choice, always buy a gold chain. They are usually only 10 to 15 bucks more, but the plating prevents rust and makes cleaning easier as a result.

GO ON, CHANGE YOUR GEARING!

Swapping sprockets is a simple enough job with few basic tools. The most difficult part is removing the countershaft sprocket nut, and avoiding losing skin on the rear sprocket.

There are two common ways to remove the countershaft nut. The old method was to have an assistant stand on the rear brake while you used a long bar and socket. The folding tab needs to be knocked back with a cold chisel and if there is Loctite, some heating will help to make the nut shift. You need to stand on the rear brake quite hard to make this work. The advent of cheap air compressors and impact (rattle) guns from hardware stores means there is now an easier method. Leave the chain on and have an assistant stand on the top of the chain to keep it tight while you loosen the nut. It’s only the shock of the hammering action that loosens the nut. So by keeping the chain taught, all of the impact is acting on the nut. Don’t be tempted to put the machine in gear as the rotating hammering action will be lost on the gearbox gears, not on the nut. And using a section of chain curled up and jammed into the cases is also a good way to break a case.

While the rear wheel is out, remove the chain adjusters that run into the swingarm and apply some anti-seize. There’s no telling when they will be out again.

TOOLS

If you have an Allen key set, ring spanner, Loctite and a 24, 27 or 30mm socket to suit your rear axle nut and countershaft nut, then there’s no excuse for you not to experiment with different gearing combos.

DIY GEARING TIPS…

  • Sprocket bolts don’t take kindly to being over tightened, even a small amount. Put a set of high-quality replacements on your shopping list when you buy a sprocket.
  • Loose sprocket bolts will destroy a rear hub faster than you know how to spend $400-$800 on a replacement. It doesn’t take long to check the bolts before each ride, so get into the habit of it.
  • Some type of mechanical self-locking nut is a must for rear sprockets. Be aware that self-locking nuts do wear out after two or three tightenings.
  • For the few bikes that still use a circlip to retain the countershaft sprocket, a bead of silicone will provide cheap insurance against the clip being flicked off.
  • Replace the folding tab that mechanically locks the countershaft nut rather than relying solely on Loctite. It’s such a critical fastener, overkill does not exist here.
  • Use a long ring-spanner to loosen the sprocket bolts’ nuts before you start turning the Allenhead. The Allen-head is only for holding and loosening, not tightening.
  • Look for blackening around the bolt heads during your post-ride wash. If you can see it, chances are the bolts are loose and fretting.
  • The sidewall height of a tyre will affect gearing. A 110/80-19 will have a smaller rolling diameter than a 110/90-19, thus shortening the gearing. Conversely, the 90-profile is taller and will require you to gear up to counteract its effect.


 

Air / Fuel Ratios

Is your engine running properly? Got a flat spot in power? Is it lean or rich?

Whether your bike runs carburettors or fuel injection, a good tune saves you money on fuel, it extends the life of your engine, and gives you more power. It's all win-win.
This guide tells you how carbs and efi work, how to diagnose what's wrong or how to improve it, and tells you how much you can expect to pay for it.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Changing Shock Springs

They are full of potential energy, and if you aren't careful with how you remove them, can be shockingly powerful.

Because they are always being pushed around by heavy bikes and riders, they need to be. Keep that in mind the next time you buy a bike; springs are matched to weight, and you may not be the weight they had in mind when designing the motorcycle. It might be time to change them.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Clutches

It takes a pounding from both the engine & the driveline, and no sympathy from riders either.

There are different types of clutch for different uses, different ways they are actuated, a huge selection of aftermarket parts to be thought about, and a whole bunch of different ways to be set up. Kind of intimidating.
We take you through the inner workings of a clutch, how to take it apart, some of the common problems, and how they can be fixed.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Changing an Engine Timing Chain

Timing is everything. Especially when it's measured in milliseconds.

4 Stroke engines have been running overhead cams almost exclusively for decades now; they reduce friction and valvetrain weight compared with the old pushrods, making for higher revs, more reliably. And the key to keeping it all from smashing into one another is the chain that links the crank and the cams. It's cheap insurance to keep it in check & adjusted.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Changing A 4 Stroke Piston

How well do you know your engine? If you're a beginner, here's your chance to learn, and if you're experienced, here's some great tips.

The most internal part of any 4 stroke internal combustion engine is the piston. In this article our resident motorbike guru Nick takes you through the step by step of removing, cleaning, diagnosing and rebuilding the very core of your engine.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Loud Bikes & Locked Gates

Aftermarket Mufflers are really popular, and make more power with less weight. Or do they?

What aftermarket mufflers definitely do is make more noise. And constant noise pollution can make enemies of friends pretty quick. We go through the basics of muffler design & construction and explain the pros & cons of each, and Nick even offers you some free stuff!
Courtesy of Adventure Rider Magazine.
 

Teknik Tapered Wire PDS Springs

WP's PDS (no-linkage) rear suspension is simple, light & low maintenance. But not smooth or progressive.

Teknik's tapered wire progressive shock springs help make the PDS as smooth as a linkage system. And they've helped Tye Simmonds & Ben Grabham win races for the factory KTM team. Read how & why we developed this spring and the unique construction that makes it is so much more progressive than any other spring available.
Courtesy of Australasian Dirt Bike Magazine.
 

Replacing your Bike's Graphics

Your bike's graphics say a lot about your personality. Your sense of style, your sponsors, your likes and how you treat your bike.

Want some wild custom war paint? Or looking to take your battered old body panels back to fresh crisp factory clean? Either way you will need to take off the original sticky stuff before you put on new ones, and unless you want it looking like a kids sticker book there are some tricks & tips you will need to know.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.
 

Upgrading Kawasaki's KX450F

It's back and better than ever. But it can be even betterer.

With all new & more adjustable ergonomics, a slimmer chassis, better shocks & some tricky electronics (including a launch control system), the 2012 KX450F is a big step up, and the best in years.
But if you have a 2011, don't despair. You can get it to turn in harder & faster for tight corners, handle rougher tracks & improve the ergonomics dramatically too. With the right mods, the older bike can still be the better bike.
Courtesy of Transmoto Magazine.