Inevitably with all chain drive motorcycles, there comes a time when we need to replace the chain – the two most common reasons are because even with the best care and attention, it’s stretched with wear, and even following adjustment it’s not performing well, or the lubricated linkages begin to fail and the links begin to stick. In my case it was the latter; a couple of links were sticking, resulting in a small noise and vibration at certain chain speeds.
It’s also considered good practice to replace the front drive sprocket, as well as the rear sprocket, so I’d need to make a decision on new ones for those too.
Chain-wise, I’d already chosen the chain I wanted to upgrade to, an X-ring chain by noted Japanese chain manufacturer, D.I.D. In the end, I ordered a 120 link D.I.D 525 VX3 chain. The MT-09 Tracer takes 110 links by default, so that worked, and the X link reputably offers even better reliability and wear than O rings. Also, I got the plain ‘steel’ finish – you can spend a few more yen and get the gold finish, and had it been for my old gold rim wheeled CB400, I might have gone that route, but for my Tracer, the steel look fits in more, and saves more than enough money to pay for that coffee.
For sprockets, I took a look at a few possible candidates such as Sunstar and Superlite. Sunstar are well stocked in NAPS here in Japan and look well regarded.
On the other hand, site favourite TougeExpress shared this video of a Superlite rear sprocket with a fairly bad wobble from new – have a look at the video below, and whilst it was a few years ago, it put me off.
In the end I took another experienced friend’s advice and went with sprockets from Japanese company, ISA. After receiving them, I have to say, they’re very nicely made, and come with a free sticker! You can’t argue with that. I ordered from their online store and delivery was quick, and nicely, before you complete your order, they ask what model/year of bike you have – I’m suspecting that’s a quick check to make sure you’re not ordering something completely wrong for your bike.
The Tracer is a fairly standard design – 16 teeth on the front socket, 45 on the rear. I got a quote for having the work done at my local garage (Red Baron) – I really don’t have the tools or the amount of time for this job – and the garage also had new sprocket nuts and bolts on-hand, and a new front drive nut which should be replaced also, so it made sense to get them to do the work, and the quote was quite reasonable.
In the end I was only left loafing around in a coffee shop for about 90mins, and the work was done.
So there we are. I can say in the 700+Km since I got them changed, they sound and feel so much smoother, so yes, there are very tangible benefits, and the feeling that I should’ve gotten then done 1,000Km or so sooner.