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Chain Adjustment - When and Why

24852 Views 17 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  davy.j
The principal reason why drive chains fail is from excess tension caused by being installed too tight. Since the swingarm pivot is not concentric with the front sprocket, the chain length needs to accommodate the constantly changing distance between the front and rear sprocket as the rear suspension moves up and down. So the dimension on the swingarm sticker is intended to prevent you from installing the chain too tight. Looser is O.K.

You’ll use the sticker tightness measurement when you need to reassemble after changing sprockets or changing a tire on a bike with double-sided swingarms. Bikes with single-sided swingarms have eccentric adjusters, so no adjustment is required when changing a tire.

Once the chain adjusters are locked down there’s no reason to periodically readjust the chain. Chains get longer, not shorter, as they wear.

As the internal pins and bushings in a chain wear, the chain length of the affected segment gets longer, and when it exceeds 2 mm for a 16-link segment, the chain needs to be replaced. Chains don’t wear evenly, but even if they did, the overall increase in length of a chain needing replacement is less than 11 mm. Consequently, you don’t need any periodic adjustments to compensate for this small amount of wear for the life of the chain. You do, of course, need to periodically check 16-link segments of the chain for excessive wear and replace the chain if necessary.

You’ll need do a chain adjustment when the chain has been loosened to change a tire or sprocket. Also, a 3,000 mile or so tire change interval seems like a reasonable time to check for chain stretch. If you bring your bike to a dealer for a tire change, ask them ahead of time to write down the chain stretch amount for at least three segments of chain. This will put them on notice that you expect them to do it. It’s not often a dealer will actually do the check and a snapped chain is the consequence.
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What I have been doing for a very long time now is: I adjust the chain as per manual, then find a friend close to my weight, have him sit on the bike, check, than call my wife have her sit on the pillion seat and check again. With that load I want to have a minimal slack in the middle.
Yaso Stelbo!
I know this is an old thread but just wondering. Yesterday on the first day of an 8 day trip I noticed the chain to be quite tight when the bike was loaded up with passenger, luggage and preload on max so I re adjusted it so there was a bit of slack when I reach down to feel it. In your post where u say when you are loaded up and reach down and look for minimal slack in the middle, wouldn't you want a little bit of slack for when the swing arm moves up and down? Does the chain get tighter when the swing arm moves?

The current adjustment I have will be too loose for solo riding and when I drop the preload again. Does anyone else find they change the adjustment for solo and fully loaded ?


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