Steel rear sprockets, good/bad idea ?

I was recently speaking to someone who said he was changing to a steel rear sprocket because he was sick of replacing worn alluminium ones. First thought was somethings not adjusted properly. then i got thinking, if you dont have a soft ally rear sprocket that can wear, and you have a steel one, then are you going to wear out your output shaft bearings faster?  

Theoretically, there should be absolutely-positively-NO difference on any shafting/bearings.  The only things driving shaft bearing wear is speed, lubrication, and tensile force on the chain (more or less).  Changing material of a sprocket will change exactly none of these parameters.  What it WILL change is the material of the bearing surface (the surface that bears the load) of the chain/sprocket interface.  This is also a very dirty place.  The chain will trap grit and forcefully slide it across the face of the tooth as well as the sides of the tooth.  This is the main cause of wear.  

 

Steel, while heavier, is much much more resistant to wear in this manner than aluminum (once you wear through the hard anodize coating). 

 

Long story short, you will have no effect on your bearings, you'll just wear out final drivetrains faster.

steel for longevity

aluminum  for weight freaks  or pretty colors  IMHO

I'd say if you aren't in a balls out, full race type of situation, for off road, go with steel - especially if you pay your own bills.  I've had aluminum sprockets shred at an alarming rate and this was on a DS bike so the use was probably 50/50 use.  There is a company that has a combination of materials with the body of the sprocket aluminum and just the outer ring with the teeth being steel.  I've never used one but I'm sure there is no cost advantage to these.

Edited by motoxvet

If you are talkin about supersprox or renthal twinring sprockets having no cost advantage im not sure about . I run supersprox pretty much exclusively , i have wonderful luck with them . Aluminum sprockets just plain suck unless you need the weight savings for moto ,,,,which the average rider and most pros would never notice a difference of 1 pound in unsprung weight . A good friend of mine rides in excess of 5000 miles per year in serious offroad in the appalachian area and used to buy all high dollar chain and sprockets until he came to the realization he was buying a name . he gets as many hours out of a primary drive gold x-ring chain and steel rear sprocket as he got out of the renthal , sidewinder,ironman ,etc products. My next chain will be the same as he is using now , the PD gold x-ring.

i have an MSR ironman. damn near 180 hour son it. almost looks liek new. running it with a DID enduro nerrow o-ring chain. it was worth the 300+ bucks for the combo.

I run the steel jt sprockets on all of my bikes. They last forever.

If you have a 125 you will notice that an aluminum sprocket puts the power to the ground better than steel. The weight of a steel sprocket will change the engine characteristics of the small bore 2stroke. BUT, for everything else i run steel because they last forever. 

check out ironman rear sprockets from dirt tricks.

made of some kind of super steel that just plain does not wear out...er, well, takes about 5 times as long as regular steel sprockets. and there is nothing too them, so they are actually very light weight.

http://dirttricks.com/product-category/sprockets

Theoretically, there should be absolutely-positively-NO difference on any shafting/bearings.  The only things driving shaft bearing wear is speed, lubrication, and tensile force on the chain (more or less).  Changing material of a sprocket will change exactly none of these parameters.  What it WILL change is the material of the bearing surface (the surface that bears the load) of the chain/sprocket interface.  This is also a very dirty place.  The chain will trap grit and forcefully slide it across the face of the tooth as well as the sides of the tooth.  This is the main cause of wear.  

 

Steel, while heavier, is much much more resistant to wear in this manner than aluminum (once you wear through the hard anodize coating). 

 

Long story short, you will have no effect on your bearings, you'll just wear out final drivetrains faster.

An important note, MX transmissions, final drives and the like are designed to withstand only so much. Playing off the great answer above, it is a good time to remember that riding on pavement or concrete is not good for your tranny. To much traction and no slip is hard on your motorcycle. Just figured I would add that, wadddevva..

Peace

Steel sprockets for me too.  I'm a tight wad where I can get away with it.  Also, if you want your chain and rear sprocket to last as long as possible, replace the front sprocket when you see some wear.  One $20 front sprocket will double the life of your $100 chain.

Ideally replace whole drive as a set, both sprockets and chain. A worn chain or worn sprocket will trash the other 2 components faster. As for output bearings, run your chain tension as directed in manual and not stupid tight. I guess a bad bearing and seal might give you continuous chain lube, at least for a while.

The stock alum rear sprocket on a friends WR250 came apart under moderate acceleration and destroyed the rear hub and some spokes. It was costly to repair, and due to some problems getting the the right parts from the local dealer (a whole nother story), he lost almost all of our short riding season. I quickly replaced the alum rear sprocket on my bike. Now it's steel only for this old dog. :thumbsup:

Edited by singletracmind

I had a counter shaft sprocket that was plain aluminum - not anodized.  I'm sure it was cheap.  It was before I knew better.  I bet I didn't get 100 mi. out of it and the teeth were GONE.  It was on a DS bike with 50/50 use.  I didn't even realize how bad it was under the cover until the chain actually started slipping on the teeth. 

Ideally replace whole drive as a set, both sprockets and chain. A worn chain or worn sprocket will trash the other 2 components faster. As for output bearings, run your chain tension as directed in manual and not stupid tight. I guess a bad bearing and seal might give you continuous chain lube, at least for a while.

 

You're correct for the most part, but if you try my trick of replacing the front when it shows a little bit of wear, you'll be surprised.  I do agree that you never ever ever put a new chain on worn sprockets!  

Cheap steel sprockets don't really last any longer than quality aluminum ones, but they sure weigh a lot more.  High quality steel sprockets, like the Ironman, are, in my opinion, well worth the money.  They don't weigh much more than aluminum, but they last just about forever.  Mine shows no signs of wear that I can see, and it has been on there for two seasons.

Cheap steel sprockets don't really last any longer than quality aluminum ones, but they sure weigh a lot more.  High quality steel sprockets, like the Ironman, are, in my opinion, well worth the money.  They don't weigh much more than aluminum, but they last just about forever.  Mine shows no signs of wear that I can see, and it has been on there for two seasons.

 

 

Not sure what steel sprockets you have used, but my $20 primary drive steel sprockets easily last 5x longer than aluminum Renthal $80 sprockets and also make my chain last longer as the teeth don't get out of spec as quickly. I can't feel the difference in weigh (expect for my wallet being heavier) and bet 90% of the guys on here couldn't either if they were honest with themselves.

Edited by woods-rider

Cheap steel sprockets don't really last any longer than quality aluminum ones, but they sure weigh a lot more.  High quality steel sprockets, like the Ironman, are, in my opinion, well worth the money.  They don't weigh much more than aluminum, but they last just about forever.  Mine shows no signs of wear that I can see, and it has been on there for two seasons.

 

BS! The cheap JT sprockets last a long time.

 

 

Cheap steal is always stronger than cheap aluminum.

 

The full steel front sprockets don't really weigh much more than Aluminum ones. Rear is a different story.

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