Top gear: Best chain and sprocket upgrades

Best motorcycle chains and sprockets
Best motorcycle chains and sprockets

A motorcycle’s chain and sprockets may, at first glance, seem like slightly old-fashioned bicycle technology but are actually one of the most sophisticated bits of kit on your bike.

There are O-rings, X-rings, hard-anodised sprockets, lightweight rear cogs… the list goes on. What’s more, the chain and sprockets will eventually need replacing as the chain stretches and the sprocket teeth wear, particularly if neglected and not maintained properly, and especially on high-performance machines.

When that time comes, there are more options than you might think. You can go for something cheap and cheerful, perhaps a middling, decent quality, ‘like-for-like’ replacement.

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Or you may be willing to pay for a high quality, lightweight, performance version, a heavy-duty, more durable example, or even ones that offer differing gearing options to improve your bike’s performance.

But what’s currently available? How much do they cost? And what do you get for your money? Here’s our current pick of some of the best…

This heavy-duty replacement chain and sprocket kit is one of the cheapest and best rated for Yamaha's hugely popular learner 125, the YZF-R125. It comes with a 14-tooth front and 48-tooth rear sprocket and uses a 132-link heavy-duty 428 chain.


  • Great price
  • Stronger than standard
  • Standard gearing


  • Not best-known brand

The Sigma X ring chain and sprocket kits are intended as a medium upgrade on your bike's OE equipment and are available for a wide variety of machines, in this case for Ducati's 848.

It comprises Renthal sprockets, including a bronze hard-anodised rear sprocket, in sizes 15-tooth for the front and 39-tooth for the rear, and employs a premium Tsubaki X-ring chain, in this case with a 525 pitch and 98 links.


  • Upgrade over standard
  • Proven brands
  • Mid-range price


  • Sensible rather than startling

Respected chain brand AFAM offer a series of chain/sprocket upgrade kits including this one, which is for Triumph's 1050 Tiger, although most models are also available. It's a complete kit including chain and both sprockets and even includes an Ognibene chain riveter.

The sprockets are the standard gearing 18-tooth front and 44-tooth rear but the chain is a premium Xs-ring extra reinforced 530 Grade 7 type for increased performance and durability and comes in a stylish black and gold finish.


  • Extra strength/durability
  • Even comes with a riveter
  • Stylish black/gold finish


  • More pricey than some

These Alpha kits are intended as affordable, virtually like-for-like replacements for your bike's OE chain and sprockets, in this case for Ducati's 900 Monster. It includes pattern steel sprockets, here 15-tooth front and 38-tooth rear and a reasonable quality Tsubaki 520 pitch chain, in this case with 98 links to fit the bike concerned.


  • Affordable
  • Like-for-like OE equipment
  • Reputable brand


  • No performance improvement

D.I.D. is another respected aftermarket chain and sprocket manufacturer and a typical example of its wares is this heavy-duty replacement chain and sprocket kit for Kawasaki's ever-popular ZX-6R supersports bike.

This kit includes a heavy duty 525 x 108-link X-ring chain, with improved retention of lubricants whilst keeping dirt and debris out so helping the life of your chain. As a general rule, X-ring chains can last up to twice as long as an O-ring chain.

The sprockets, 15-tooth front and 40-tooth rear, are by JT, renowned for their high strength and durability. There’s also a D.I.D. rivet link.


  • Quality brand
  • Improved durability
  • Rivet link included


  • Not the cheapest

British firm Renthal is one of the most respected names of all when it comes to chains and sprockets and this kit for a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade is typical of its wares. It includes a Renthal standard 16-tooth front sprocket, a Renthal standard 42-tooth rear sprocket and a 116-link Renthal 530-pitch chain.


  • Quality brand
  • Lighter weight
  • Great reviews


  • Pricier than most

Respected brand D.I.D's Gold chain and sprocket kits use only the highest-quality, most durable components, hence their premium price. This is a typical example for a Honda CBR125 from 2004-2010 but most other models are available.

It comprises a heavy-duty Gold 428 DID chain and JT replacement sprockets – 15-tooth for the front and 42-tooth for the rear.


  • Top quality
  • Maximum durability
  • Respected brand


  • Not cheap
Price: £439.04

Vortex specialises in performance-upgrade chain and sprocket kits, often with revised gearing via different sized sprockets than standard which result in improved acceleration at the expense of top speed.

This CK6291 kit is for a Suzuki GSX-R600 but many others exist. So, as well as a high quality, Japanese 520 chain, the kit raises the overall gear ratio from 2.69 to 3 via 1-tooth smaller 15-tooth front sprocket and a two-tooth larger 45-tooth rear sprocket.


  • Improved acceleration
  • Decent quality
  • Looks good, too


  • Again, not cheap

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