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Chain Slack Adjustment – Setting Correct Chain Tension

How many different ways have you heard people use to check the chain adjustment on their bike? Seems to me there are almost as many ways as there are riders. Well maybe not quite that many but it sure seems that way. My favorite is the four fingers between the chain and the swing arm. I have seen people use this technique with the bike on and off the stand. Have you ever wondered how these folks came to this technique? What great wise man disseminated this misinformation? While using this approach may give you consistent results, it is very likely giving you an incorrect tension.

Proper chain tension is determined by a relatively simple mathematical equation, 1-3% of the distance between the two axles, in this case the counter shaft and the rear axle. Say you measure these points on your bike and get a measurement of 24 inches, the equation 24x.01=.24 and 24X.03=.72 the result is a total up and down play of .24 – .72 inches when the chain is at its tightest point.

Now to get the chain to its tightest point, you do this by lining up your counter shaft, rear axle and swing arm pivot.

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