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Changed my gearing today.....

Old 09-09-2011, 07:51 PM
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Changed my gearing today.....

I know not another gearing thread.........lol and I am sorry that those do tend to get a "bit" off topic..... So let start right off with there is no "right or wrong" choice when it comes to gearing. It comes down to riding style and preference.

When I ask someone why they made a certain choice, it is to understand why they did it and there by see if I missed something or maybe a different train of thought might be beneficial. Which, I believe, because it's the internet gets taken wrong and people get offended.

That was never they intention, and sorry if it ever came out that way.
Also sorry if I get a bit wordy.....lol just trying to explain why I'm doing stuff to get feed back or pass along my observations......with that

So anyways, why a gearing change?

Well I've been running 16\43 for more than 10 yrs now. I think I first did it back in '98 (I bought my bike in '97) anyways the reason then was that on the roads I was riding there were more than a few corners that you were either winding it out at the middle to end of the corner in 1st or lugging into the corner in 2nd to have good drive out of the corner.

Also my bike had the common SH hard to shift out of first at high RPMs issue that some folks have.

So by going +2 teeth on the rear sprocket it made it so you could take the corners at maybe a touch low in the RPM band in 2nd but made the bike a bit easier to ride. Also the shortened wheel base made the bike turn a bit quicker with the stock suspension.

Now over the years the bike has had a few "improvements" between the engine with the head work, lightened flywheel the carbs set up and all that is making the low teens for HP at the rear wheel and revs much quicker than stock.

Add in the new suspension and it is a different bike. So while dialing in the suspension I came up with what I would like to improve..... even though the bike works very well the OCMD club never sleeps......lol

First thing on my list was brakes. While they are far superior to the stock set up a little bit stronger action would be nice.

Second was that I'm eating rear tires..... something to help here would be nice.

As for power delivery, on the road I commute on, which is what some would call a "goat" road (it's Calaveras rd & you can google it ) there is a section that is once again right between 1st and 2nd though for different reasons this time....

This section is real short straights tied together by 90 degree blind turns and 110 - 160 degree turns on the ones you can see through.

So as shifting from 1st -2nd is not an issue with my bike. I fixed mine by playing with the shift lever angles but I also made my own shift rod with real heim joints and added a Jamie shift lever and problem solved. Some folks also add the FactoryPro shift stuff and it does work well but can be a bit of a bitch to install and also a bit pricey.... sorry to go off topic there....

So anyways the problem is the straights are short enough the if you try to shift into 2nd at around 8k in 1st by the time you shift you have to down shift and slam on the brakes. So it would be nice if either 2nd was a little lower (well and 1st also) so I could shift into it a little sooner or if 1st was a little taller so I could get that little extra speed at the top end of 1st.

That leaves the short list to:
Would like a little more brakes
More rear tire life
Move usable power band for the conditions and my riding style.

So that leaves go up or down with the gearing....

Well the decision maker was that in reality, while "street" riding I'm only at full throttle maybe 10% of the time. Most of the time, even riding at a "brisk" pace I'm only using 60-80% of the throttle.

So that is the fist + for gearing up a little. So then what else will it change. First the wheelbase will be longer. What will this do? First more weight on the front end.

Pluses, more brakes due to the increased weight, less weight on the rear "might " improve tire life.

Minuses- While the bike will be more stable it will also turn in slower. Ok, well after looking at my front tire, I really only use approx 75-80% of it and have decent size strips on it. That tells me I can turn in much harder before I come anywhere close to running out of front tire so an acceptable trade off in my book.

Also the bike should accelerate slower..... we'll get back to that in just a few....

At least in theory that is how it should all work the way I see it.

So as I'm at about 75% of my chain life I decided to test this out an ordered a 41 tooth rear sprocket. Yeap back to stock gearing.....

Now I've only put about 10 miles on it around town and a quick freeway blast and haven't done the twisties yet.... and as I have a hard *** rear tire on right now, I wouldn't really push it anyways....

But this is what my impressions are.

First off when you leave my house it is all down hill for around 1\2 mi or so. It's far enough that you easily hit 50 mph before you hit the last sweeper corner and head up hill.

So first the brakes, all I can say is damn what a difference. They are exactly what I was looking for now and I haven't even installed the radial master yet....

Then first impressions on handling is the slower turn in really isn't even noticeable what what you do notice is even more front end feed back (which might or might not suit your riding style) and the bike is even more "neutral" in the handling. Set the line and it just sits there even on the brakes or throttle until you tell it to change.... so all win so far.

So now comes the acceleration part, After the long down hill you then hit a pretty steep up hill section. Usually I put the bike in 2nd and just roll on up the hill. I don't look at the tach just ride by engine noise. After all this time on the bike I kind of know how fast I want the engine to accelerate and what throttle setting to use just by how the engine sounds.

So I expected to feel a bit of a lag going up the hill. That's when I was actually surprised.... I believe the lightened flywheel is the key here but I was actually able to accelerate the engine at the same speed that I "normally" due up that hill naturally just by listening to the engine and twisting the throttle just a touch more automatically.

So now with the higher gearing, I was actually accelerating faster than with the lower gearing just by using a bit more engine.

Now if you are at full throttle all or even most of the time, this will not apply but in my situation and riding style, setup, etc there is really no downside IMHO.

It surprised me enough to write this whole damn thing out.....

No issues with acceleration, just give it a touch more throttle and it is cool to run with traffic on the freeway while only turning 4.5k RPM

So I just thought I would pass my finding along and would say the if you have installed a lightened flywheel after you have changed gearing, you might want to give a 41T rear another try, you might be surprised as I am.

As always YMMV.....

Oh and the whole pulling to red-line in 6th, haven't done it so can't say 100% but as hard as the bike pulls between 5-7K I wouldn't bet against it....

Sorry to ramble on so long......
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:42 PM
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I was actually kinda wondering about this riding around these last couple of days... I may hop down to 42 first (if my chain has 3k miles is it too late?), and maybe go back to stock, but riding around at 16/43 1st spools up so fast I don't really feel like I'm making use of all the torque... and I really like second gear now with the flywheel. I want to like first gear too. Hmm, this is very interesting...
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Old 09-09-2011, 09:15 PM
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Well you might lose a little overall life by swapping sprockets it won't hurt you very much so go for it.

As for the flywheel...... that mod works pretty good huh..... Now you can understand my "accidental" wheelie story a little better......


and yeah that is about what it looked like.......

Power wheelies in 1st with 16\43 and a lightened flywheel...... it's more of a challenge to keep the front end on the ground with that set up.......

Though I will ride the "good" road tomorrow, so we'll see what I think then....
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:35 AM
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It's good to see that someone else has the same experiences as I have! Thanks for the good detailed info 8541.
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Old 09-11-2011, 12:05 PM
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Well I was actually kind of surprised with the overall outcome of it.

The main reason for it was to get the chassis set up where I wanted it as I had kind of hit a wall with how the bike handled.

So after putting a few more miles on it, I now like it even better....

I do need to do some suspension tuning as my rebound damping feels off a little but that was to be expected.....

Even with that, the bike feels much more planted and the brakes are just fantastic now.

This is even with a mismatched set of tires..... I have a Q2 on the front and a Metz M3 on the back..... long story but I picked up a screw in my rear Q2 (with under 1K miles on it) and overheated the center and it just "melted" off after that... it was gone in another 500 mi..... and I'm poor and the M3 was free... but anyways the thing still handles much better.

Yes the turn in is a little slower but the only way I know this is not by feel but by looking at the front tire.

I now use 80-85% of the tire instead of 75-80% but still have around a 1\4 unused strip so no worries there.

As for power delivery:

First I will say yes, you can feel the higher gearing a bit starting out in 1st.
Now while this might sound like a bad thing at first, actually looking at the situation this is how I see things.

For me, with my set up, 1st has never really been how fast can the bike accelerate but more how fast can I get the bike to accelerate and keep the front wheel on, or at least close to, the ground.

So while "in theory" the lower geared bike will accelerate faster, in the real world, the higher gearing lets you give the bike more throttle. This make things pretty close to equal, at least for me.

Now for riding impressions. What I found, fist off, is I tend to ride with the bike 1 gear lower in the gear box in most situations.

As the final drive change is approximately 1\2 a step in the gear box (or think of it as 1st w\16-41 is around 1 & 1\2 w\16-43) what this does is actually put me in lower "overall" gearing that I used to be in and I generally find myself with a bit more "punch" than I had with the lower final gearing.

Even on the back roads I really like it. I ran Calaveras yesterday and found that instead of it being a 1st-3rd road, I only used 1st & 2nd.

I also found 1st to be a bit more user friendly. Not only was the section I actually made the change for greatly improved I did find myself using the top of first (between 8-9K) in sections where I would normally be in 2nd with no issues as it was so easy to modulate the throttle.

With the lower gearing the top of 1st was just a bit to touchy for me, but then again I'm getting old......

So add all this to being able to do my running around on the freeway and keep up with the 75-80 MPH traffic while never breaking 4.5K RPM and it just is something that works for me.

The only thing I can say is that sure with a stock engine, the 16\43 can help out.

If you have the carbs dialed in and a set of cans with a lightened flywheel (which I do think is the real key to being able to run the stock gearing) then I would say you might want to give it a try.

Before your next chain replacement pick up a cheap 41T and swap them back and forth as you might be surprised at how well it works, I know I was......
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:47 PM
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It's also nice because you can stretch out first-gear wheelies longer. But maybe that's a different thread.....
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JamieDaugherty View Post
It's also nice because you can stretch out first-gear wheelies longer. But maybe that's a different thread.....
+1

Went down to 16/42 and been riding it for the last two days, and not going back anytime soon. Here are a couple of things that I noticed:

I was never really at WOT in first gear with 16/43 gearing. I would always sort or rush it open, but always left a little meat at the end to control the wheelie factor. I didn't know this until the new ratio... I can open the throttle much quicker now and almost all the way open. What's weird is that I'm still not all the way open, just more open. The small difference in the two gearing setups was enough to make me notice that I had more snap, but also made me notice that I'm still not opening all the way. I can still lift the front in 2nd, although I have to do that one on purpose.

I do have the lightened flywheel, which has made a huge difference in riding style since I put it on anyway, but like hawk said I don't think I'd do this ratio without it.

For me I like the way 1st rides much better b/c I can stretch the gear out more before shifting. I also do a lot of commuting, and to get to good riding roads, quite a bit of freeway travel is needed, so having the slight improvement in cruising gear is an added bonus. With my personal riding style, it feels great. Not sure I would want to go back to stock gearing, but I could probably be talked into it after this experience.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:50 PM
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Hawk, I learn so much from you and other **** types on this site, things I never considered . I may have a answer to your question of why your suspension has changed after just the gearing change. let me know if this is why.
Motorcycle Art and Science - Traction & Geometry - Sport Rider
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:34 AM
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Sounds like you have been comimg by a bit too much......lol

But anyways, that was a good article but really isn't what I am seeing or trying to figure out, though I really haven't had the time to think about it lately.

What I am seeing, is even though I now have more weight on the front end, I am getting less dive under braking.

So the first thing to do is to figure out the new rake and trail. Then go from there.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 7moore7 View Post
I was actually kinda wondering about this riding around these last couple of days... I may hop down to 42 first (if my chain has 3k miles is it too late?), and maybe go back to stock, but riding around at 16/43 hid light bulbs spools up so fast I don't really feel like I'm making use of all the torque... and I really like second gear now with the flywheel. I want to like first gear too. Hmm, this is very interesting...
What are you talking about! First gear is the best gear ever. lol. Seriously though, good writing 8541Hawk.
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:33 PM
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Quick question for you here, Mike.

Are you running a 520 or 530 chain here? because I'm trying to figure out in advance how I'm going to want to change stuff up for my next chain change (my AU sprocket has decided to go out on me).
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:37 PM
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Normally I run 520. I have a 530 on there right now as they sent me the wrong one the last time I ordered one and I didn't want to wait around for an exchange as I had to replace it at that time.
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 8541Hawk View Post
Normally I run 520. I have a 530 on there right now as they sent me the wrong one the last time I ordered one and I didn't want to wait around for an exchange as I had to replace it at that time.
Do you think using the 520 would lighten the rear too much to keep the tire on the ground with your lightened flywheel?

I know you're gearing UP right now, but do you think that'd effect the result adversely?

(and on a side note, do you have steel or AU sprockets?)
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:30 PM
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I can appreciate the difference in a lightened flywheel but moving to a 520 chain probably saved five pounds with very little machine work. I bought a high quality chain when I changed last knowing that while limited to 750cc machines (manufacturer's recom) even if your Superhawk is built - you'll have a hard time bringing the horses that today's 750's machines can deliver.

I didn't weigh them but I did hold one in each hand and difference was striking. Throttle response is quicker, rev through the power band is smoother. I'm on the light side (165) and not as aggressive as I used to be with the bike. My riding is all city, freeways and occasional weekends out to the country. I've got a set of 16/43 sitting on the shelf.

That's probably where they'll stay.
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Old 11-25-2011, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by VTRsurfer View Post
Ah... Au is gold.

I think you mean Al
naaaaaah. I spent like $938 on a sprocket that will last me all of 2 feet.... maybe that far

AL would be nice too if you had 'em
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RK1 View Post
16/43 put the final drive in line with other liter twins, made the roll-ons even more impressive, felt more "right" around town and didn't hurt my mpg at all. I don't care or judge what anybody else uses. For my mix of surface street, freeway and mountain riding- 16/43 is perfect.
All you need to do is use the transmission and the roll ons are pretty much the same. As for "feeling right" all you need to do is down shift one gear and it "feels" the same.

So unless you just run around in 1st, the bike will "feel" the same with either gearing.

So run whatever you want but I think I was quite clear in my first post of why I now run the stock gearing.....

Last edited by 8541Hawk; 11-25-2011 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 11-25-2011, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bass4dude View Post
Do you think using the 520 would lighten the rear too much to keep the tire on the ground with your lightened flywheel?

I know you're gearing UP right now, but do you think that'd effect the result adversely?

(and on a side note, do you have steel or AU sprockets?)
There is no draw back with the 520 except for the life of the parts. The 520 will wear out faster than the 530.

As for sprockets, I do run a Al rear and get around 15K out of the set up normally.

If you don't like to clean and maintain your chain or want max life out of the parts, then run the steel set up.

If you want max performance and don't mind the shortened life of the sprocket, then run a AL. Just make sure you use one that has been hard anodized or it will wear out really quick.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:01 PM
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I've got a 16/43 Steel 530 set-up.

I use WOT in every gear on a daily basis. I weigh 210 lbs. and roll it on-

In 1st and 2nd- I lean forward and the front wheel floats up a bit.
In 3rd and higher- the wheel stays down but gets light.
Out of corner exits, the wheel comes up again when I pin it.
PURE FUN.

So why would I ever want to change the gearing from this configuration?
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by RK1 View Post
I weigh about 160 all geared up and consider that an excellent question.
Originally Posted by RK1 View Post
PS For the 4+ years I've been on this forum, you have been, without question, the foremost and most vocal proponent of 16/43 sprockets as the absolute NAZZ. Fine by me if you've changed your mind, but I and maybe some others agree with what you'd been saying for the past 4+ years.
Originally Posted by Matt_Hawk View Post
I've got a 16/43 Steel 530 set-up.

I use WOT in every gear on a daily basis. I weigh 210 lbs. and roll it on-

In 1st and 2nd- I lean forward and the front wheel floats up a bit.
In 3rd and higher- the wheel stays down but gets light.
Out of corner exits, the wheel comes up again when I pin it.
PURE FUN.

So why would I ever want to change the gearing from this configuration?

If you would take the time to read the first post in this thread it would answer these questions.

It also clearly explains why I changed my opinion on what gearing I prefer to run.

To add my own PS to this.... the local list member that I rode with,after I changed the gearing, had the same opinion as the both of you. After the ride he.... wait for it.... changed the gearing on his bike back to the stock ratio.

and yes the bike will still loft the front end with no issues.

Also to the "I use WOT in every gear" comment. I'm not sure how your bike runs but if you wack WOT in 1st on mine it will flip over backwards with no problem. Even at 260 lbs you can't just "lean forward" to control the front end on mine, it's coming up, how high is directly dependent on how hard you twist the throttle.
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Old 11-26-2011, 12:38 PM
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Same here... I have never been able to go WOT in first gear, doesn't matter what gearing... It would still mean me and the bike would be in reverse order... I could probably finesse it there, slowly, slowly... But that would defeat the purpose of a gearbox completely...
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:17 AM
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I actually am running the 17/ 43 ratio. I used the stock chain and ran the adjusters fully in ,the benefits as I see them are, I kept the expense of new parts to just the front sprocket. My wheel base is now shorter, my chain
has a more gradual transition over the primary drive sprocket, and should I
wish to change to a lower ratio its just a matter of changing back to the 16
up front. The outcome is just slightly taller than stock, I love it!
Thanks Hawk for the insight that got me to realize I lost a whole ratio when gearing lower.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:17 AM
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Dang I misread all these posts and bought a 530 with 15/43 instead of a 16/43. I'm not looking to have a wheelie machine per se as I will do a track day or 2 this summer so it would be nice to accelerate out of the corners without too much drama. Thought the majority here were running 15/43 and I guess I could just buy a 16T as a backup.

Hate to beat this topic to death (again) but am I biting off more than I can chew with the 15/43?

I appreciate your input.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:49 AM
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Just to keep the answer to you're track day question.

It would depend on the track you are running on.

I wound expect you to be running 2nd-6th, Which will give you basically the same gear ratios as 1st-5th with stock gearing.

So on a tight track you should be fine, on a more open track she might run out of legs on the top.

Of course YMMV as this is just my opinion.
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:43 AM
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Thanks for the reply, the first track day will be at the bumpy Nelson Ledges and then, hopefully, the second one will be at the awesome Mid Ohio course. (I think I'll be okay, but I just want the bike to behave on the street as well). Thanks again!
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