Nothin' but real-world installs and hardcore tech here. Forget paying for service; this is about getting your hands dirty and spinnin' a wrench on your own ride. Whether you've got a brand new bike or a clapped-out crapper, we're showing you how to make useful upgrades.
Contrary to popular belief, gearing changes give the most bang for your buck in terms of acceleration. Simply lowering the ratio can offer substantial gains, bettering even the likes of the extra horsepower awarded from a full exhaust system and a fueling computer. But like most things, moderation is best when gearing a streetbike; get too aggressive and you'll be spinning 10,000 RPM in sixth gear at 70 MPH.
A motorcycle's gearing can be lowered two ways. You can decrease the number of teeth on the countershaft sprocket (the front) or increase the number of teeth on the rear sprocket (think about the gears on a bicycle). It's also interesting to note that changing one tooth up front is equivalent to changing almost three teeth on the rear sprocket.
Helping harness the power...
Helping harness the power are Vortex sprockets that are much lighter than their stock counterparts.
For our 2008 R1 we decided that a mild +2 rear sprocket was ideal. This will get the R1 into the powerband much earlier without sacrificing freeway cruising comfort. On another note, Yamaha runs the same gearing on the less powerful 2009-2010 R1, likely to offset the lost performance. We liked its ratios so much we decided to mimic it.
To sprocket this rocket we turned to some Vortex 520 cogs. These feathery beauties are constructed of T6 7075 aluminum (rear) and lightweight steel (front) for super strength and less than half the weight of the stockers. And they look pretty nice too.
The D.I.D 520 ERV3 chain will...
The D.I.D 520 ERV3 chain will go the distance even under the likes of a powerful R1.
When changing your sprockets it's a good idea to replace the chain as well. Instead of just swapping to another 530 chain we decided to use a smaller 520 for its substantial weight savings. Thanks to recent chain technology, even literbikes can safely run a smaller 520. Gone are the days of giant links; now a high-end 520 like our D.I.D 520 ERV3 Gold unit has more than enough tensile strength. This linked wonder not only saved serious poundage, but its O-ring design will last thousands of miles.
Another factor to consider is speedometer error, and lowering the gearing will make your speedometer read higher than it should. To remedy the unwanted miles and the incorrect speed, a speedometer correction tool is recommended.
Once installed, the acceleration gains and "seat of the pants" perception were immediately noticeable. Where the stocker was always a downshift away from fast-forward, the new gearing makes accessing the thrust a lot easier.
With the bike safely supported...
With the bike safely supported on a rear stand, start by loosening the front sprocket. You might need to remove a few bolts on the cover and move the shift linkage to gain access to the sprocket. We always put the bike in first gear, place a block of wood between the swingarm and the spoke of the wheel and use a breaker bar to loosen the nut.
After removing the rear wheel...
After removing the rear wheel you need to ditch the stock chain. We prefer to grind off the pins of a link and use a punch to finish the job.
Install the front sprocket...
Install the front sprocket in the reverse of removal, making sure the recessed collar is facing inward.
Ditch the rear sprocket by...
Ditch the rear sprocket by removing the OEM bolts in a star pattern. Replace the heavy stocker with the Vortex unit and torque the bolts to factory specs.
Now re-install the wheel with...
Now re-install the wheel with the chain adjusters all the way forward. By doing so you're accounting for chain stretch.
Mock-up the chain; in our...
Mock-up the chain; in our case we needed to remove two links. Then cut the chain to the appropriate length for the right amount of chain slack (usually about one inch of up and down movement at midpoint).
Look how much thinner the...
Look how much thinner the 520 is when compared to the stock rope. The D.I.D is lighter and looks better too.
Use your masterlink of choice;...
Use your masterlink of choice; whether it's the clip or pin type, to connect the ends of the chain together. We used a pin-type link for added security. Torque everything back to spec and you're ready to fly.
What's It Worth?
Weight in Pounds
Stock chain: 5.78
D.I.D chain: 4.03
front/rear combined: 2.51
front/rear combined: 1.38
Total weight savings: 2.88 pounds
50-100 MPH Third Gear Roll-On:
Stock: 5.0 seconds
Yosh slip-ons/Bazzaz Z-Fi: 4.9 seconds
Yosh slip-ons/Bazzaz Z-Fi/ 520 +2 conversion: 4.6 seconds
*all acceleration data is uncorrected and measured at 3200 ft above sea level
Yamaha R1 Conclusion
We proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks to some key motor mods our already stout '08 R1 is ready to take on the latest literbikes. And while the added power is welcome, perhaps the bike's meager price paired with our budget-minded mods makes a bigger statement in proving that you don't need a lot of cash to haul serious ass.
* Coming next month:
A 2007 Honda CBR600RR enters the garage