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My chain broke at the end of the day today. Great timing, as I was 1/2 mile, up hill, from the truck. Coasted back.

I have a new chain in the garage. When installing a new chain, should I change either the front or rear sprocket or both?
 

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Ideally all three go together but if the sprockets aren't worn too much, it could be okay. If you've put more than a couple thousand miles on I would seriously consider new sprockets. Depends how the teeth look. Regardless the stock chain, if that's what you had, is not very good and so may have given up early, leaving the stock sprockets relatively intact. Putting a new chain on worn sprockets is likely going to result in premature chain wear.
 

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Without seeing the chain and sprockets all I can do is assume. A chain brakes from being highly worn and weak usually. This would tell me the sprockets are likely as worn as the broken chain was so your answer is absolutely yes on changing front and rear sprockets and a new chain. Keep in mind you will also likely need a new side cover gasket unless you get super lucky and can re use the existing one. Also keep in mind when you put the cover back on to not pinch the wires going up under the seat. Some of us practice the premise of Preventive Maintenance while we are inside this cover and replace the shift shaft and main shaft seals at the same time. All this stuff is rather simple and inexpensive.

GaryL
 

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Gary L is dead on EXCEPT IF...sometimes a master link just gives out. They are cheap and I carry two in my enduro bag.
The best way to tell if your sprockets are worn...look at them...at least the rear one. Now look at your chain...how is the master link. If the link just gave out, spend the whole dollar and put a new one on and carry an extra one or two with you. Yes they break. I have never broken a chain, but my master link has given it up. I carry an extra 2 on every machine I own. Generally if you clean and lube and adjust the chain periodically, you will be fine for a long time and your sprockets will also live a long healthy life. Yeah....my snails are telling me to save my money for a chain. I should see 5,000 miles out of my factory chain. Yes, I am going to replace it with an oem so as not to have wasted money on my two master links. I will also save the one from my old chain. There is nothing wrong with it.
 

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The only way a chain is going give up the ghost (at the master link or anywhere else) is if it’s knackered. Sticking another master link on there is only going to prolong the issue, not fix it

And yes, if your chain gives way, the sprockets are either the cause of it, or the damage will already be done (to the sprockets) by then

Add to that, the damage that a chain can do to your crankcase cover, or, if you don’t have a chain guard in place, your calf – well, I think you can see where this is going

My advice is to replace both sprockets, and add an X ring chain as a set. Otherwise you’re just courting disaster to save a few bucks ……
 

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If your chain is at the point of failure its already causing abnormal wear to the sprockets. Ive done the micrometer work and its shocking how much the dimension of the chain and sprockets change over time. If you hear noise or if the teeth are starting to deform its way past time


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Nice sawblade TinyWheel!:p
Now when I was young, ignorant and self taught I would struggle putting the master link's clip on and off incorrectly resulting in a damaged and ultimately lost clip, link & then chain. Once seeing the right way things go significantly smoother with never a failure.

Orchemo, I would guess that most would likely agree with the above comments & conditional advice. i.e. changing the three together is wise unless a fluke occurrence broke a link on an otherwise newish set of chain & sprockets.
 

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If you have a new chain and old worn sprocket or a new sprocket and an old worn chain it is very easy to see the fit by placing one against the other. That wave top sprocket is a rather clear depiction of what a stretched chain or one that was not properly adjusted can do. When you see the front sprocket tops start facing the rear and the rear tops facing the front you know it is time for both sprockets to be replaced along with a new chain. You never replace sprockets without replacing the chain as they are designed to marry together from the start. A word to the wise when doing this maintenance is to simply spend the money once on all three parts and spend a little more on a high quality O or X ring chain which will require a great deal less attention over a great many more miles and therefore the sprockets will last a great deal longer as these better chains do not stretch or wear nearly as fast and they do not require the constant adjustments and continual lubrication that a standard roller chain needs. It's your money, use it how you want but your time spent continually adjusting a cheap chain and constantly cleaning and oiling it is worth it's weight in gold once you heed the advice and spend a few bucks more in the beginning.
Member Elime is our consummate "Chainologist" here and has done extensive longevity testing on the stock and standard chains that come on our Mules. He is one of the very few who can stretch the chain life to its maximum reaches but this only comes from many hours and a lot of unnecessary attention being paid to the BS chains. Just buy a damn DID-VX X ring chain with new sprockets and then forget about it for at least 10K miles with nearly no adjusting and deep cleaning required. Just never use a high pressure spray that can and will blow the O rings out of it and never use an unapproved lubricant that can degrade the O rings.

GaryL
 

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Some of the crap I ride through in the winter and spring is literally like valve grinding compound. No idea how a bike survives that. Jim creek!

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I have never changed out the chain and both sprockets at the same time and I seem to get pretty good life out of them. The stock sprockets and chain was my learning curve. The stock chains stretch a lot. The only way to lubricate it properly is to take it off, clean, soak in gear oil then let the chain drip dry and reassemble. On nearly all of my bikes I go through two front sprockets to one rear sprocket. The o ring or x ring chain is well worth the money. The chain sitting properly in the pocket of the sprockets keeps your sprockets from wearing as quickly. When the stock chain stretches it sits higher on the teeth wearing the sprockets out quicker. At minimum I would inspect your sprockets for wear. A new set of sprockets and a good o ring or x ring chain would be your best bet since then you will know exactly what you have to start with. Also proper chain tension. If you had a new chain with the wrong chain tension you could have worn it out. My personal way is to sit on the bike and get the tension adjusted. Rotate the tire and see if the chain tightens up more at one location. Adjust the chain tension to stock specs at the tightest spot in this location. This insures your chain is not too tight.
 
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