We thought it might be cool do something a little bit different for this week’s Friday Feature. We were hanging out with “Big E” at the Answer/Pro Taper offices here in SoCal, getting set to do a Friday Feature on the two companies. But as we got to talking, we figured it would be cool to focus on some of their cool products rather than just do the usual tour of the building. With that idea in mind, Big E immediately suggested we talk about the new Pro Taper sprocket that is just hitting stores now, and can be seen in Supercross on the Honda’s of the Xyience/MDK team, and the Suzukis of the Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki squad.
So, without any further ado, here is more about the company’s venture into sprockets…
TWMX: Well Big E, we’re sure the first question on everyone’s mind is why would Pro Taper get into the sprocket business?
Big E: We feel that hands down we have the best aluminum sprocket in the business. Our competitors have been great at what they’ve been doing for a long time, but I feel we have a better product that is really well thought out. Back in ’97 or so was the last time we sold sprockets, and basically they were just another sprocket on the market. This time we really wanted to bring something new to the party.
So then what exactly makes the Pro Taper sprocket unique?
One of the things we tried to focus on going into this was the fact that there’s a lot more torque going to the back wheel of a four-stroke motorcycle. Motocross and off-road riding has really changed in the last couple years, and we took a look at what we could do in terms of the design of the tooth profile and the manufacturing process to respond to that.
Specifically, if you look at our tooth profile, all of our mud grooves—which are these small grooves that alleviate grime and buildup when the conditions get nasty—are staggered on every other tooth. With a lot of other sprockets they lose some tooth surface with the design of the mud grooves, which are usually two on every tooth or much deeper. We also moved the grooves to the back of the tooth, keeping in mind that most of the drive on the sprocket is on the front tooth. This simple design change increases the tooth profile by up to 44%.
The other thing we do different is in our manufacturing process. We wanted a superior metal for our product, so we went to a manufacturer Germany whose manufacturing processes are second-to-none. Each sprocket is made one at a time in a computer-controlled milling machine, whereas a lot of other brands out there will computer mill their sprockets on a machine that cuts up to fifty at a time, or some are actually stamped. That doesn’t lend itself to a perfectly round sprocket. Most people probably think this sounds crazy, but I’m in the pits every weekend looking really closely at these things, and you would be surprised how often sprockets are off and not perfectly round. We can see it when the rear while is spun and the chain moves up and down slightly as it spins. When you have that it wears on the chain and the sprocket harder, and it robs power.
Did you take a lot of what you learned from making your handlebars and apply it to the sprockets?
Like I said, it was important to us that we have the highest quality product possible. So we’ve taken what we learned in terms of the material recipe and handling from making our handlebars and applied that to the sprocket. It’s made out of 7075 aluminum that is heated to T6, which is basically technical speak that means it is a high quality, very strong aluminum.
One of the things that caught our eye is the “works” look of the sprocket…
Yeah, the rear sprocket comes in a magnesium color that gives it a kind of works look. And rather than slap stickers on the product with our logo, we used laser-etching to put the Pro Taperr name on it. Again, for that works look and feel.
You also have a front sprocket…
Yep. The fronts are made form casehardened chromally. We went with a ball-burnished silver finish to give it a unique look. It looks trick with a gold chain on it.
Speaking of gold chains; can we expect to see a Pro Taper chain in the near future?
A lot of people have asked that, and I would say it’s up in the air. Some of the guys at Tucker Rocky feel there’s an opportunity, but we have the same mindset towards chains that we did with sprockets: if we can’t bring something new and improved to the market, we don’t want to do it. I’m not saying we’ll never do it, but it has to be worthy of the Pro Taper name
Have you been getting any feedback from the pro teams that are running the sprockets now?
We’ve been very happy to have the Xyience/MDK team with David Vuillemin and Nick Wey running them, as well as the Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki team. A lot of riders will swap out a sprocket after every race, but DV’s mechanic tells us they haven’t changed one sprocket on the six different wheels they rotate through.
What about pricing?
The rears are $64.95 and fronts are $25.95.
And we can pick them up at our local dealer?
Yep, your local dealer will have the sprocket in stock or can order it for a customer.
Sounds cool. Thanks for the info, Big E.
Learn more at www.protaper.com, and watch for a TWMX Product Review of the Pro Taper sprockets soon…