Chain and Sprocket Replacement - F800GS(A)

By: Kevin JohnsonDec 01, 2019

Welcome back to another tutorial here at the Fort!  As you can recall from the Great White North trip, my chain starting stretching like ma’f, so once I got home it was time to replace it.  I opted to put new sprockets on at the same time as my chain, despite them being in pretty good shape still, since it was only a little more cash.  Then all of the new parts could wear evenly together rather than the new chain working on fitting into the grooves of the old sprockets.  Assuming they’re in good shape, if you choose not to change your sprockets with the chain I’m confident it’ll be fine, I’m just weird and figure it made sense to do it all at once while I had the bike torn down.  So, that being said, today I’m going to walk you through replacing your chain and sprockets in this picture-heavy tutorial!

The tools you’ll need include:

  • Socket wrench
  • Socket extension
  • Torque wrench
  • 13mm wrench (x2)
  • 16mm socket
  • 17mm socket
  • 24mm socket
  • T25 torx bit
  • T30 torx bit
  • Blue Loctite
  • Chain tool
  • Angle grinder (optional)

Estimated Time: About an hour

Prepare yourself, this is another easy one.  As per usual, grab a beer or cocktail, have a sip to get the shakes to go away, and let’s get rolling.

Start by putting your bike either on the center stand or raise the rear wheel off the ground with a motorcycle jack.  At this point it never hurts to take a walk around the bike and take a look at everything, making sure everything is as you’d expect.  Especially doing this job after a 4,000 mile ride it never hurts to make sure everything is as should be.  Other than being filthy the bike was sound so I started the project.

With the rear wheel elevated put the bike in gear so the wheel won’t spin (you can do this step with the bike on the side stand too if the bolts are extra frozen) and loosen the six bolts that hold the rear sprocket to the carrier with your breaker bar and 16mm socket.

Once those are all free you can remove the front sprocket cover.  It’s held to the bike by three T25 torx bolts.

Then loosen the bolt holding the front sprocket to the bike with a 17mm socket.

Okay it’s time to break out the power tools.  First grab a sip of that drink you have sitting idle, and then grab your angle grinder and cutoff wheel.  You can absolutely use your chain tool here to break it, but that seems like a lot of work when you’re [hopefully] in your garage with easy access to power, right??  Cut that sucker off of there, and don’t forget to wear your face shield – you wouldn’t want any sparks or bits of metal hitting you in the face.

Nicely done!  Have another sip of your beverage so it doesn’t feel neglected.  Get that pesky old chain out of the way and loosen the axle nut with your 24mm socket and breaker bar.

Don’t forget to also remove the ABS sensor too with your T30 torx socket prior to taking the wheel off.

Okay good, now that that’s out of the way take the axle nut off and pull the axle out.  Make sure to not lose any spacers removing the wheel!  This is where you’ll be glad you already loosened the sprocket nuts.  You also want to not damage the brake rotor so if you set it down on the rotor side make sure it’s on something that won’t hurt it.  From here finish removing the nuts holding the sprocket to the carrier.

Assuming you’ve done a decent job keeping up with cleaning your bike from time to time the rear sprocket should pop off no problem.  Here’s what the back of your bike will look like when it’s free of everything you’ve removed…just ignore that mine needs a bath probably more than these new parts.  This would also be a good opportunity to grab a flat head screwdriver and separate the rear break pads a little more to give yourself some more room when putting the rear wheel back on the bike.

It’s time to start getting into the new parts!  Take a look, make sure you’re absolutely certain you have the things you want…the right chain length and size, the right sprocket tooth counts, etc.  I splurged a little and went for a X-Ring chain since they typically last a little longer and are overall a little bit better.  I won’t get into it here, but for more info CycleWorld has a really good explanation of the difference between O-Ring and X-Ring.  I also really like the stock gearing with the F800GS(A) for the type of riding I primarily do, so I kept the sprockets the same size as stock – 16 tooth front and 42 tooth rear.

Back to work.  With the old sprocket out of the way, put your new sprocket on the carrier and just to be safe I added a little bit of blue Loctite.

Put the six nuts back on that hold the sprocket in place and torque them down to 32 ft lbs (if you go by the book you’re supposed to replace these bolts however it’s quite unnecessary as far as I’m concerned, especially with a little blue Loctite).  Your final product will look something like this…isn’t she a beaut?!

Head back over to the bike and let’s work on the front sprocket now.  If you forgot to loosen the bolt holding the front sprocket in place it’s not a problem, just go ahead and put the bike back in first gear and remove the bolt.  If you loosened it earlier it should just twist out no problem.  Once the bolt is out the sprocket should slide out without too much of an issue.

Now would be a good time to give everything in there a wipe down and make sure it’s all cleaned up prior to putting the bolt back in.  It wouldn’t hurt to even wipe the bolt down some prior to reinstalling it.  You’ll notice the nut that presses against the sprocket is warped a little bit, intentionally.  This is to create added pressure between the sprocket and bolt helping ensure they don’t come apart.  If you do take everything apart, make sure you put them back like this:

Great!  Put it all back together, torque the bolt down to 37 ft lbs and your final product should look like the picture below.  Go ahead and finish off that drink, you’ve earned it!

Now let’s start the piece you actually needed to do, replace the chain.  Put the rear tire back onto the bike, carefully sliding the rotor between the brake pads and keeping the spacers set where they need to be.  Slide the axle back into place but keep it loose since you’re going to need some play in the chain when putting it together.  You’re also going to have to set the chain tension with the swing arm adjusters.

Next thread the chain over top of the new sprockets on both sides so that you have some extra dangling from each sprocket toward the ground.  Now grab your master link, put the first set of seals on, lube the stems with the goop the chain came with, and then slide it through both openings on either side of the chain.

Put your seals on next, followed by the outer plate.  Line everything up and make sure your chain tool is set to press, because you’re going to need to press that outer plate onto the master link stems.  Go easy, this isn’t a strong man competition, you want the plate to be just tight enough to squash the seals enough to keep dirt and debris out and the lube you put on the stems in.

Wonderful, you didn’t break your master link yet!  When you’ve got the outer plate pressed on, matching how the rest of the chain looks it’ll look something like this:  *Note: I actually went back and pressed the plate on just a hair more after I snapped this pic.

We’re just about done here.  Reconfigure your chain tool to the “rivet” mode and align everything to rivet the first stem.  Again this is not a test of how strong you are!  It doesn’t take a lot of force to push the stem ends open enough to where the outer plate won’t fall off.

Do this for both stems and there ya go, you’ve got a new chain on your machine!

I don’t have pictures for this, but don’t forget to set your chain tension and make sure the tire rotates evenly prior to tightening the axle.  Another thing to remember if to put back the ABS sensor.

And that’s it!  You’ve now got a new chain and are ready for the next 15,000 miles or so!  Grab another drink, open up the lawn chair, and sit at the front of your garage and watch the world go by while you think about where your next journey might take you.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin was destined to ride motorcycles from a young age since bikes are a family pastime.  Only recently did Kevin become an internet motorcycle influencer and change the lives of no one while blogging about his exploits, both on and off the road.  He is currently (and constantly) thinking about the next places two wheels might take him, much to the dismay of his wife, so stay tuned for what's to come!
  • Excellent tutorial! Thanks.

  • Excellent tutorial! Thanks.

  • Excellent tutorial! Thanks.

  • Awesome tutorial!

  • Excellent tutorial! Thanks.