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  1. #1
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    A Cool Way to Tension Horizontal Dropouts

    Okay, I'm sure I'm not the first person to figure this out, but I also don't think it's common knowledge either. This came to me almost by accident. I have been riding my new to me SASS with fixed/freewheel. I occasionally flip the hub to the use the freewheel and have to re-tension the chain. For those that have not had the honor, it is almost impossible to get a chain exactly the right tenson with axle nuts and track forks, ie horizonal dropouts. The mere action of tightening the nuts usually effects the tension. This is so cool because it's easy and it works first time, everytime.

    First, pull the wheel back to tighten the chain, keeping the wheel centered and tighten the non-chain side axle nut. The chain does not need to be overtight, just tighter than you want. Now reach over and with one hand, put a wrench on the chain side axle nut and with the other hand, pinch the chain about 1/8" (or more depending how loose you want the chain). Kepp the chain pinched and tighten the chain side axle nut. Vuala, your chain is tensioned exactly to your specs!!
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    Last edited by aka brad; 08-13-2009 at 01:35 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Looks loose to me. This is what chain tugs are for.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for that bit of information . I will give it a try tonight . I can never get it right the first time .

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    Looks loose to me. This is what chain tugs are for.

    agreed
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  5. #5
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    That's not tensioning a chain. That's just installing a wheel. If my bike had horizontal dropouts, I'd have no problem tensioning my chain because I've been installing wheels on horizontal dropouts since I was like 9.

    My problem is finding the best/cheapest/easiest way to tension a chain with vertical dropouts.

    Tensioning a chain with horizontals dropouts is not even a question, you just install the wheel properly.
    Last edited by w00t!; 08-12-2009 at 09:11 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    Looks loose to me. This is what chain tugs are for.
    If you can tell an improperly tensioned chain from my photo, you should get a job with the Kencha. Otherwise, I think chain tugs are clunky and unnecessary; especially when I know I'm going to have to R&R the hub/wheel and retension it several times during a ride.
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  7. #7
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    If you keep in mind the rotation of the nut, doing the NDS first doesn't really effect the tension. The DS wants to pull the wheel forward and the NDS back.

    Axle tensioners are the fastest way to do tension the chain after wheel removal unless you're using different sized cogs. Touching the chain is also very messy at times.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by w00t!
    That's not tensioning a chain. That's just installing a wheel.
    Is that a Zen thing, like "you're not making bread, you're mixing dough"?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Is that a Zen thing, like "you're not making bread, you're mixing dough"?
    Not really.

    Given how much debate exists in the SS culture about the best way to tension a chain, your "method" is not really a method at all because horizontal dropouts negate any debate on how to tension a chain. The debate exists for, and is applicable to, the rest of us.

    More than a few people probably clicked on this thread hoping to discover a cool way to tension their chains, but then all they saw was the way they used to install their wheels on their BMX bikes when they were in 6th grade.
    Last edited by w00t!; 08-12-2009 at 09:46 PM.

  10. #10
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    I thought it was a tension device as unique as the spoon one
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by w00t!
    Not really.

    Given how much debate exists in the SS culture about the best way to tension a chain, your "method" is not really a method at all because horizontal dropouts negate any debate on how to tension a chain. The debate exists for, and is applicable to, the rest of us.

    More than a few people probably clicked on this thread hoping to discover a cool way to tension their chains, but then all they saw was the way they used to install their wheels on their BMX bikes when they were in 6th grade.
    Okay, i get it. Maybe you should spend a little more time in this Forum, instead of showing up now and then to rattle a cage and then going back to NorCal, The fact is you on your BMX probably did not ride sustained downhills at 20-30 mph. One reason for chain tugs, is a slightly tight chain will tear up a hub and slightly loose chain come off. Most SS riders with tugs tighten their chains in increments .5 mm at a time. Chain tension is so important that their methods of improving chainring roundness on a crank and some chainring/crank manufacturers certify the combined roundness. BMX on the other hand is notorious for out of round chainrings, so I can understand why you would think that any one could eyeball the chain tension since give or take 1/4 inch will do the trick. I'm sorry you found my heading confusing so I'll change it for you and other NorCal Forum types, who seem to think the singlespeed forum should only be about tensioning chains on bikes with vertical droputs.
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  12. #12
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    It's not a bad idea IMO. Probably solving a problem most of us raised on track ends don't have.

    I would have the chain tighter than the picture though.

    What I would suggest is a slightly modified sequence:

    1. fasten the lhs with the chain over tight
    2. pull the rhs forward slightly and then fasten the rhs nut
    3. loosen the lhs nut slightly and then retighten it.

    That should remove any stress on the axle from pulling the rhs forward while the lhs is fastened.

    I don't squeeze my chain, but I'll try it. I usually carry a rubber glove in my tools for dirty jobs anyway.

    Hope that makes sense. I use that tightening sequence and don't get any movement.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Okay, i get it. Maybe you should spend a little more time in this Forum, instead of showing up now and then to rattle a cage and then going back to NorCal, The fact is you on your BMX probably did not ride sustained downhills at 20-30 mph. One reason for chain tugs, is a slightly tight chain will tear up a hub and slightly loose chain come off. Most SS riders with tugs tighten their chains in increments .5 mm at a time. Chain tension is so important that their methods of improving chainring roundness on a crank and some chainring/crank manufacturers certify the combined roundness. BMX on the other hand is notorious for out of round chainrings, so I can understand why you would think that any one could eyeball the chain tension since give or take 1/4 inch will do the trick. I'm sorry you found my heading confusing so I'll change it for you and other NorCal Forum types, who seem to think the singlespeed forum should only be about tensioning chains on bikes with vertical droputs.
    well most people already know how to tighten there horizontal dropouts but this is a somewhat good method if you cant afford chain tugs
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike
    It's not a bad idea IMO. Probably solving a problem most of us raised on track ends don't have.

    I would have the chain tighter than the picture though.

    What I would suggest is a slightly modified sequence:

    1. fasten the lhs with the chain over tight
    2. pull the rhs forward slightly and then fasten the rhs nut
    3. loosen the lhs nut slightly and then retighten it.

    That should remove any stress on the axle from pulling the rhs forward while the lhs is fastened.

    I don't squeeze my chain, but I'll try it. I usually carry a rubber glove in my tools for dirty jobs anyway.

    Hope that makes sense. I use that tightening sequence and don't get any movement.
    You just described how I used to tighten a chain. First I'm really anal about chain cleanliness, so it's not a dirty job for me; also you really don't need anymore than slight finger pressure. I know this sounds like I'm making a big deal over nothing, but once you try it you'll see what a mean. Squeezing the chain allows you to tension the chain to a such degree of accuracy, that it's one of those things that make you go hmm.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by nuck_chorris
    well most people already know how to tighten there horizontal dropouts but this is a somewhat good method if you cant afford chain tugs
    Or don't like/want them.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    BMX on the other hand is notorious for out of round chainrings, so I can understand why you would think that any one could eyeball the chain tension since give or take 1/4 inch will do the trick. I'm sorry you found my heading confusing so I'll change it for you and other NorCal Forum types, who seem to think the singlespeed forum should only be about tensioning chains on bikes with vertical droputs.
    What's with the NorCal types anyway?

    You are absolutely right that a tight chain will tear up your hub.

    But do you know about centering chainrings? If you want smoothness in your drivetrain you have center the chainring in its bolts. I have to say chaintensioners are good to have for safety. Falling on your bike or off of it from a thrown chain is not fun. It probably will happen on or after a climb when the torque pulls the wheel forward in the slot. I feel that you can't tighten a bolt enough not to move after strong efforts.

    Tensioners keep the side-to-side alignment easy.

    Now I'm going to go off on one of my favorite NorCal trails.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    If you can tell an improperly tensioned chain from my photo, you should get a job with the Kencha. Otherwise, I think chain tugs are clunky and unnecessary; especially when I know I'm going to have to R&R the hub/wheel and retension it several times during a ride.
    The bottom half of the chain is sagging. Unless you have some savage tighty-loosey action going on, there's some slack to take out.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  18. #18
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    I have a little bit of slack (exactly as pictured as far as I can tell) and it never causes problems.

    No good hearted deed goes unpunished. Or even uncriticized for that matter. :-/


    I have a Bianchi SOK 29er SS.

  19. #19
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    What I want to know is if that is how clean your chain always looks , what kind of chain lube are you using ?

  20. #20
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    Brad what are your thoughts on something like this?

    http://www.ebikestop.com/sinz_mini_c...ck-91-6054.php

    Not for BMX though, it is a bianchi SOK29er


    EDIT: Ahah... those are chain tugs. Nevermind ;-)

  21. #21
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    Chain tugs, FTW. Wheel position in the dropouts should not have to be adjusted during a ride, period... especially with a nutted axle. I use an internal cam QR with redline chain tugs and the wheel just does not move. As the chain wears, a quick minute with a 5mm allen key tensions the chain up and centers the wheel. It's damn convenient. Why not?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    Looks loose to me. This is what chain tugs are for.
    Once you go slack, you never go back.
    Les grimpées, je m'en fou!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunset1123
    Chain tugs, FTW. Wheel position in the dropouts should not have to be adjusted during a ride, period... especially with a nutted axle.
    So I take it, the idea of having a flip/flop hub (fixed/free) should prohibited.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    So I take it, the idea of having a flip/flop hub (fixed/free) should prohibited.
    Ah... I see. No, not at all.

    I have played around with dingle speed setups, flip-flop setups, etc. many times before, and wrestled with changing gears out on the trail. Nowadays, I decide which it's gonna be before the ride and leave it there, and deal with the consequences.

    If I was going to have to take the bike apart to change gears while out on the trail, I would run a bike with a derailleur and a few gears. If you don't mind the time/trouble, more power to you.

    Still, on a flip/flop setup with fix/free, the chaintugs are even better! Assuming you have the same chain length on both sides, flip the wheel, install, and press the chaintugs into place... presto, instantly centered and tensioned.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    The bottom half of the chain is sagging. Unless you have some savage tightly-loosey action going on, there's some slack to take out.
    Unless you have a NJS or similar setup the accumulated tolerances will result in a noticeable out of round drivetrain. The JIS standard (ie Shimano) allows a maximum of .5mm out of round. The NJS standrad is .05mm. I have several NJS cranks/chainrings and the quality is jewel like; the chainring literally snaps into place. Of course that comes at a price most would not want to pay. There are ways to mitagte the problem as discussed by Sheldon Brown. BTW, you may have missed that I ride the bike with a fixed gear.

    Chain Tension

    The chain tension on a fixed gear is quite critical, and is regulated by moving the rear axle back and forth in the fork ends. If the chain is too tight, the drive train will bind, perhaps only at one angle of the pedals (chainwheels are not usually perfectly concentric). It should be tight as it can be without binding. If the chain is too loose, it can fall off, which is quite dangerous on a fixed gear.

    Set the rear axle so that the chain pulls taut at the tightest part of the cranks' rotation. One at a time, loosen up each of the stack bolts, and tighten it back just finger tight. Spin the crank slowly and watch for the chain to get to its tightest point. Strike the taut chain lightly with a convenient tool to make the chain ring move a bit on its spider. Then rotate the crank some more, finding the new tightest spot, and repeat as necessary.

    This takes a little bit of your hands learning how hard to hit the chain, and how loose to set the stack bolts, but it is really quite easy to learn.

    Tighten up the stack bolts a bit and re-check. Tighten the stack bolts in a regular pattern, like the lug nuts on a car wheel. My standard pattern is to start by tightening the bolt opposite the crank, then move clockwise 2 bolts (144 degrees), tighten that one, clockwise 2 more, and so on. Never tighten two neighboring bolts in a row. You may prefer to go counterclockwise, but try to get in the habit of always starting at the same place and always going the same way. This reduces the chances of accidentally missing a bolt.

    Once you have the chainrings centered and secured, adjust the position of the rear axle to make the chain as nearly tight as possible without binding. Notice how freely the drive train turns when the chain is too loose. That is how freely it should turn when you are done, but with as little chain droop as possible.
    .

    IOW, if you are consistently tightening your chain to zero sag, then you are torturing your drivetrain like a Gitmo interrogator
    Last edited by aka brad; 08-13-2009 at 02:44 PM.
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