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A bike chain is a critical component of your bike. Without a chain, it would be impossible to cycle.
See, a bike chain is responsible for transferring power from the pedals to the drive wheel.
This means that any issue with the bike chain would automatically result in the loss of driving power and regardless of how hard you cycle, your bike won’t move an inch.
Now, even with proper bike maintenance and care, it’s possible to the bike chain to become loose.
And this can happen in a variety of situations.
At times, you might get lucky when the chain becomes lose a bit, allowing you to reach your destination and tighten it. At other time, the chain might come off entirely.
Either way, understanding the mechanism of adjusting the bike chain is a rite of passage to any cycling enthusiast.
And in the article below, we’re going on how to make this process a lot easier.
- 1 Tools Required
- 2 Here is a quick guide on how to fix bicycle chain with ease
- 3 Tightening a Bike Chain on a Single Speed Bike
- 4 Tightening a Bike Chain on a Multi-Gear Bike
- Socket wrench
- Bike stand
- Socket wrench adaptor
Get Yourself A Cheap Bike Chain Cleaner...
Here is a quick guide on how to fix bicycle chain with ease
Tightening a Bike Chain on a Single Speed Bike
Loose bike chains are more common in single-speed bikes
This is because the single-speed bike or fixies don’t have a derailleur.
A derailleur is the drive system that responsible for changing gears on multi-speed bikes, and it helps to pull and keep the bike chain tight.
Nevertheless, the presence of a derailleur does not immunize multi-speeds from loose chains, only that the frequency is lower.
Let's see how to tighten a chain on a single-speed bike.
Position your Bike
The first step is to orient your bike to the correct posture.
Flip your bike upside down and allow it to rest with the seat and the handlebars on the ground.
This way, it will allow for an easy and convenient chain removal process.
Loosen the Rear Axle
Using a socket wrench, loosen the rear axle.
The rear axle is the shaft that holds a tire on your bike.
To loosen the rear axle, turn the socket wrench in an anti-clockwise motion, and this way, you'll loosen the rear tire, thus allowing easy adjustment of the tension on your bike chain.
Pull Back the Rear Tire
Assuming the rear tire is loose, you can now pull it back to increase the tautness of the chain.
You don’t necessarily have to pull the rear tire a great deal as this might cause the chain to break. Instead, you would want to pull the tire slowly, while ascertaining the tension.
While pulling the rear tire, you should be critical of its position; ideally, you should want the tire positioned in between the wishbone in the frame before re-tightening the bolts.
Identifying the Correct Tension
The proper way of identifying the correct bike tension is ensuring it can move half an inch in either direction.
If the chain moves substantially, it means you must re-adjust by moving the wheel a bit further to increase the tautness of the chain.
Tightening the Rear Tire
Once the ideal chain tension is established, you can go ahead to tighten the axle nut to tighten the rear tire.
During the tightening process, the position of the rear tire mustn't make contact with the chain or bike frame.
Once you’re done with the process, test the chain to see that it performs accordingly.
Ensure that the chain can be moved half an inch either way.
And spin the tire to see that it does not make contact with the chain or the bike frame.
Tightening a Bike Chain on a Multi-Gear Bike
Remember we had indicated that despite the presence of derailleurs on multi-gear bikes, they're still prone to a loose chain.
When a chain becomes loose on a multi-bike, it’s quite easy for the chain to get tangled with your foot.
Therefore, it’s strongly recommended that you get off your bike once you suspect or notice a loose chain.
Changing bike chains on multi-gear is similar to that of a single-speed bike, but it only needs you to follow slightly different techniques.
Access the Rear Tire
To access the rear tire on a multi-bike, either flip the bike or set the bike on a bike stand.
Either way, the purpose is to make the entire process less of a hassle and more convenient.
Tighten the Derailleur Screw - Limit Screws & Indexing
The derailleur screw is positioned at the back of the derailleur and is easy to spot since it has a letter B printed right near it.
If you’re looking to increase the chain tension on your multi-gear bike, you should aim to tighten this scree.
You can tighten the screw by moving it in a clockwise motion.
Accessing the Rear Wheel
To access the rear tire on your multi-bike, first, lift the release lever to allow easy disconnection of the correlating cable.
Finally, raise the quick-release lever, and this will provide access to the rear wheel.
Adjusting the rear wheel
To adjust the rear wheel, slide the wheel axle backward in the rear dropouts.
From here, adjust the wheels accordingly.While at it, you must not over-tighten the chain to avoid the chain break.
Once you’re done, check the bike chain to see if you’ve achieved the ideal tension.
Like the single bike, the chain should move half an inch either way.
If not, go through the entire step again.
Getting Everything Back in Place
Before you hop into your bikes, you should ensure that everything is running right.
Some of the critical components to look out for include:
- Ensuring the quick-release lever is down
- Reattaching the correlating cable
- Ensuring the rear wheel is pinning correctly and is not uninterrupted by the chain or the frame
- Double-checking the chain tension
Tightening a bike chain should now be the least of your worries.
Hopefully, if you follow the above steps, tightening a bike chain should be a cinch.