When I bought my bike (a/k/a Miss Bella), I knew that before any serious riding started I was going to have to purchase tires and replace the chain and both sprockets. I also confess that I put this job off as long as I dared because the idea of changing the chain and sprockets was intimidating. I had visions of my bike in pieces on the garage floor and me with no idea how to put her back together. Thankfully, the reality was far less dramatic than my nightmares!
I had been checking around for tires for a while and let me tell you, everyone you ask has an opinion about what you should buy. I ended up calling a local motorcycle shop and working with them. They asked what kind of riding I plan to do (mostly street, some dirt riding) and then we discussed my budget. They were super helpful and with one phone call and my credit card, two new tires were on their way from the warehouse.
After realizing that I had to take the wheels off for the tires to be mounted and balanced, I coerced my boyfriend (BF) into helping me tackle the chain and sprockets, too. I ordered all the need parts ahead of time, including a chain breaker tool that I read about during research of this task. It turned out to be the best $45 I may have ever spent! That tool made quick work of breaking the old chain so we could remove the back wheel – we were on our way in no time! It also helped that Bella’s previous owner had already ordered new front and rear sprockets for her. That was a big savings for me too!
We were not concerned about replacing the back sprocket, it seemed fairly easy to change out and pretty straightforward. However, the front one involved removing a plastic cover and loosening the clutch cable and mechanism to even reach the front sprocket. Once we had access to it, removing the large nut holding it proved to be a daunting task. After several attempts with a breaker bar and a lot of inappropriate words, we thought we were defeated. After a break and some strategizing, BF employed the use of an air ratchet and 35 mm socket to break the nut loose on the front sprocket. Success at last and we felt the worst was over!
Changing out the sprockets was the easy part, I promise you. I have a Clymer manual for my V Strom and it has handy diagrams and details for jobs just like this. We had the new sprockets on and were putting the bike back together in no time. Once the tires were mounted and balanced, we finished putting the new chain on, made sure the back tire was centered and gave her a test drive to ensure all was well.
I am certain this is not a job I could have done on my own, simply for the fact that some of these parts required a large amount of brute strength to loosen. BF has been around long enough to know that I want to do the work on my bike. He is happy to direct me or loosen a nut here and there or lend a hand when I need a third one. The reality however, is that I am not going to be changing the chain and sprockets on a road trip – that just isn’t going to work. But having the knowledge of how the parts go together is what I was after. A deeper understanding of how my bike works and a sense of ownership over the maintenance required to keep her on the road and purring happily along.