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Discussion Starter #1
I've used three different sizes now and I figured I'd report on my experiences. All of the below is with the stock rear sprocket size.

Everybody is pretty familiar with the 15 tooth stock sprocket. It's a nice balance of acceleration and top speed.

I ran a 14 tooth for a while to get quicker acceleration. It was a lot of fun and made the Versys feel nice and torquey, but the speedometer was WAY off. I'm not sure about everyone else's, but my V is pretty happy at 4k and 6k rpm. With the 14T front, at 6k rpm I'd be doing about 72mph (pretty average highway speed around here) with the speedo reading 82-83. Taking off from stops and driving out of corners was fun, but top speed left a *lot* to be desired. Basically the 14T front makes the Versys feel very twitchy, like it revs up very quickly and you're shifting very quickly.

Over the weekend I swapped from the 14T to a 16 tooth. Night and day difference. The speedo is now dead on with my GPS. The bike feels much more laid back, shifting doesn't happen as frequently, and the throttle feels less sensitive. I've also gained an entire gear--at the same 72mph at 6krpm, I'm in 5th gear instead of 6th.

I'd say my breakdown was kind of like this:

14T - run this if you want to ride aggressively while keeping your top speed down. The bike feels much more fun when you whack the throttle open, and the front wheel gets lighter more quickly.

15T - run this for a nice balance of power, speed, and smoothness. Kawasaki picked this for a reason, and now I get why. It's the right all-around gear.

16T - run this to mellow out your V. It's a great gear for touring, more laid-back riding, or if you need more top speed.
 

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I've used three different sizes now and I figured I'd report on my experiences. All of the below is with the stock rear sprocket size.
...15T - run this for a nice balance of power, speed, and smoothness. Kawasaki picked this for a reason, and now I get why. It's the right all-around gear.
GREAT write-up! I agree, and run stock gearing.
 

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Thanks for the info! There has been many threads trying to compare 16T front apposed to 44T rear? Also tire size can come into play? :confused:

With new stock tires can someone tell me the percent increase between these too? Thank you! :confused: Or the percent of each one?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did you really get more top speed out of the bike? I ask because sometimes the bike just runs out of power to push against the wind regardless of gearing. With the stock gearing and loaded for my trip the bike was actually a little faster in 5th than in 6th.
I have not done a top-speed run, so it's theoretical at this point. I can say that with a 16T, it's not like you'll run out of steam before you're doing very extra-legal speeds. It's not that drastic of a gearing change. You can comfortably do 80-85 in 6th gear and just be getting into the meat of the power band.
 

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Very informative and much appreciated review. It kind of confirmed my suspicions. I have stuck with the stock gearing since I am one of those old codgers that drives the speed limit all the time and figured I needed to keep the rpms up a little bit.
 

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Hmmmm, same thing we figured out with the KLR...i may have to order all three. slap the 14t on for off road rides, pop the 15t on most of the time...if im doing an extended tour, with the missus etc, slap on the 16t to lessen the pop effect...and run lower rpm while touring...and best of all its easy to do!
 

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Did you really get more top speed out of the bike? I ask because sometimes the bike just runs out of power to push against the wind regardless of gearing. With the stock gearing and loaded for my trip the bike was actually a little faster in 5th than in 6th.
Simple !

Clear !

#1

LOP
FWIW, I have done a top speed run with the 14t, and with my butt on the bike it still won't pull redline in 6th. Believe me, I tried. No additional top speed as a result of higher gearing is likely.

I've got a 14t on my bike here, and the stock 15t on the vacation bike, and I plan to reverse that. I don't get into situations often enough here that the 14t is a significant benefit, but the vacation bike does, so that's why the situation will be reversed.

Also the bike here has a quick turn throttle, and that is a nice upgrade, particularly combined with the shorter gearing. Noticeably more snap.

Another thought for the guy who talked about going to higher gearing when he rides with his wife - not sure why you'd do that. Riding two-up makes the 14t more attractive.

Lastly, in Motorcycle Consumer News most recent review of the Versys earlier this year, Danny Coe shared his opinion that the V is overgeared stock, so at least one other person agrees with me. :D
 
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