How Tight Should a Bike Chain Be? – Expert Biker

A bike is not just about the wheels or the handle; the chain is one of the key elements of it. Now you don’t want a useless chain- it should have the right amount of tightness.

But how tight should a bike chain be? That is a question every bike user has had at least at some point in his life.

Here, in this article, we are going to answer this very sought-after question. Besides, we also have some additional tips for you.

Ready to find out these tips and know everything about the tightness of bike chains? Then keep on reading!

Why Is It Important?

Before getting into the main part, you must understand the purpose of this discussion. Why is it important for the bike chain to be perfectly tightened? There are a couple of reasons behind this.

First of all, the bike chain should not be too long because its length will cause an issue when you change gears. The derailleur will not be able to catch up to the additional length of the chain.

In such a condition, your bike will not move properly. Again, as a result of this event, the chain may slide off. You will not be able to ride the bike then.

Again, if the chain is shorter than required, it will put pressure on the parts of the bike. Due to additional pressure, these parts may end up becoming damaged. Both the chainring and the chain wheel are prone to damage under such circumstances.

Therefore, a bike chain can neither be too long nor too short. You must ensure that the tightness of the chain is just right.

How Tight a Bike Chain Should Be

Ideally, when the bike runs smoothly without additional pressure on its parts, the tightness of the chain is deemed to be proper. However, for different kinds of bikes, the measure of tightness is different. Here are the measures of chain tightness of common bike types.

  • Mountain Bike

For a mountain bike, it is relatively easy to determine how tight the chain should be. All you have to do is calculate the distance between the center of the crank bolt and the shaft located in the back. This distance is how long the chain should extend.

  • Fixed Gear/Single Speed Bike

Out of all the different kinds of bikes, it is essential to maintain the chain tightness of a fixed gear/single speed bike. Since the gear is fixed, a loose chain may cause accidents. You can use a chain tug to determine the proper amount of tension to be applied. You can read our review on best single speed chain tensioner.

  • Road Bike

In the case of a road bike, its components make the determination of chain tightness easy. If there is a derailleur, it acts as an indicator of how tight the chain is. When the pressure applied on it seems more than ordinary, the chain is too tight. Use it to haul the chain and keep it secured.

  • BMX Bike

To determine how tight the chain of a BMX bike should be, take a tape. Keep about a half inch for playing your chain.

In order to measure, take the tape right through the chain and see where it is without any tension on it. Then, move it up and see how far it goes. The chain should not rail off the front sprocket or the back one.

A Guide to Tightening a Bike Chain

Now that you know how tight a bike chain should be, you should know how to tighten your bike chain when necessary. Follow these simple steps and become a pro in no time!

  • Step 1

At first, you need to place your bike on the repairing stand. As an alternative, you can also place it in the opposite direction. Here, the key is to ensure that the placement of the bike is in line with the saddle and handlebars.

  • Step 2

Then, you need to unbolt the nuts located on the shaft of the back tire. If you do this, you will be able to regulate the tension on the chain.

  • Step 3

After unbolting the nuts of the back tire, tighten the chain by pulling the tire. Do it in a gradual motion, and make sure you are not pulling too much.

  • Step 4

At this stage, you need to inspect whether the tension of the chain is in order or not. If the chain can move about half inches of distance in both directions, the tension is alright.

  • Step 5

This step can only be done if the tension is proper. After setting the right tension on the chain, bolt the nuts located on the shaft of the back tire.

  • Step 6

At the final stage, you will only need to observe whether the chain is tight enough or not.

Final Remark

Well, that was all about bike chains! We hope you learned a little something. Now you not only know about bike chain tension but also know why and how it should be done.

So, from now on, whenever you have a bike chain that is too tight or too loose, you can take care of it yourself. Save not only bucks but also your precious time!

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