Changing the rear sprocket is one of the easiest modifications showing the greatest noticeable change of any modification in the ride-ability or performance of any of the chain driven Honda Shadow Motorcycles. Changing the size of the rear sprocket on the VLX 600 is a great way to make your cruiser style bike cruise. There are many sprocket combinations to find your desired gear ratio.
The stock 16 tooth front and 44 tooth rear sprocket combination used on the Honda Shadow VLX models makes for nice and zippy acceleration off the line and around town but on the highway with long distance rides you may come to find that the ride is buzzy with the engine revving at such high RPMs. At 60MPH with the stock gearing the RPM is 3750 and at 70MPH 4377 RPM's this = vibration that can be lead to discomfort on long tirps. A simple gear ratio change can allow you to reach better cruisability for high way riding and longer tips with lower revs. Many will note that the VLX only has 4 gears while the other Shadow models have 5, this is not a problem becasue the 4 speed transmission design, although the other models have an extra gear at the same highway speed a VLX is only a few hundred RPM's less than a stock chain driven Shadow 750 with a 5th gear for example. The high speed buzziness is a common problem among the older chain driven Shadow models.
A rear sprocket with fewer teeth will require more clutch work and throttle to compensate for a lesser take off acceleration most report that the loss is minimal and that it is well worth it if you do a lot of higher speed riding or long distance commuting. A 41 Tooth sprocket is an incredibly popular choice for highway riding without loosing too much take off. To compare the factory size to an even lesser toothed 40T sprocket with extending riding at around 70MPH or above it is reported that a 40 tooth is a great comprimise for a comfortable highway ride because the 16/40 Sprocket combination yields 3410 RMP at 60MPH and 3979 RPM at 70MPH a noticable difference.
When lowering your gear ratio more than a couple of teeth the clutch springs should be upgraded to stiffer after market ones to prevent slippage. Changing the clutch springs is the perfect time to advance the timing with the 4* timing mod. Instead of recreating the wheel instructions with pictures can be found at ShadowRiders.net.
Instead of recreating the wheel, more info and instructions on changing your rear sprocket can be found at Fishman's VT750DC.
Depending on what you want your bike to do there are many options to reach the gear ratio you seek, see the chart below to compare different sprocket combinations and their gear ratio. For example a 40T sprocket may be exactly what you need for long distance highway riding without fatigue from engine vibrations, or if you want your bike to have lots of take off a higher gear ratio from either changing the front and or rear sprocket. Becasue the VLX is only a 600 it may not be beneficial to drop below a 40T sprocket. Many like a 41or 42T sprocket to lower the high speed RPM's with less notice of a loss in take off from the 44T stock sprocket. The VLX stock chain length is 120 links. Note that there are primarily two JT Sprockets sizes for 1989-2007 models: 296 (front) and 1332 (rear). The 1988 VLX appears use a different front sprocket model: 293 front sprocket.
15T Front , 16T Front, 40T Rear, 42T Rear, 44T Rear, 118 Link Black Chain, 120 Link Black Chain
|Rear Sprocket SIze||15 Tooth Front Sprocket||16 Tooth Front Sprocket|
|44||2.93||2.75 Stock Ratio (16\44)|
525 O Ring or X Ring chain - 120 link is the stock length. For smaller sprockets links may need to be removed or a smaller chain is needed for larger sprockets a 122 link chain may be needed.
If your chain is still in good shape you can shorten it after a sprocket change and keep using it. You will need to purchase a clip type masterlink and then remove two outter links from the chain so you can remove one internal link to actually shorten the chain. Your shortened chain shoudl have two internal links exposed at either end so you can attach the clip type masterlink (note always install the clip with closed end facing towards chain direction or it could fall off causing serious injury or worse).
To remove the outter links from the stock chain you simply pick a link and then use a chain breaker (if you have one) or a dremel tool / angle grinder to grind down the two rivets / link pins on one side flat and flush with the outter plate. Once that is done a large flat head screw driver can be wedged behind the outtler link of the chain and used to pry it off, after that link is removed the other side of the outter link can be removed including the attached pins. You need to do this to remove two outter links and one inner link in order to shorten the chain. Below on the left, the parts that need to be removed are circled in red. The right shows what the two ends of the chain should look like to accomodate the new masterlink.
Steel Rear Sprocket: JTR1332-## (36-47)
Steel Front Sprocket: JTF296-## (15,16)
Steel From Sprocket 1988: JTF293-16