I replaced my chain before a trip to Baja a few months ago.
My '02 has 30,000 miles on it, 10,000 of which I put on it since I got it last year. I figured I'd do the "right thing" and replace both sprockets at the same time...and while I was at it, I decided to go with the 16 tooth drive sprocket to try it out.
The stock setup leaves me stressed out on the freeway. I prefer driving in the carpool lane, at least as fast as the speed of traffic. It feels much safer than being in any other lane with traffic zipping in and out all around me. The stock arrangement in such a situation had me looking at RPMs consistently well above 5,000, and left me feeling like I was asking far too much of the bike.
I was amazed what a difference one extra tooth made. At freeway speeds, it dropped 500 RPMs and made for a considerably more comfortable ride. Since the bike is my only means of motorized transport, the sad reality is that I do far more riding on the slab than I prefer. The 16 tooth sprocket is an undeniable asset on the pavement.
On the dirt, however, I am always missing the stock sprocket. There's no doubt about it, having that extra torque would be far preferable for anything beyond hard-pack or flat gravel...especially any kind of climbing.
So, I wonder...
Has anybody heard of changing out sprockets temporarily for different applications? When I installed the new chain, I cut it to length as it fit with the 16 tooth. Is there enough play in the rear axle adjusting screws that I could simply switch them out at will? I know it's warned that a chain and sprocket should wear out together, and be replaced together, but surely switching down to a 15 tooth now and again during extended dirt rides wouldn't be too detrimental to the chain...no?