How do I know when chain tension is right???- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How do I know when chain tension is right???

    Just after a piece of advice here...

    I recently purchased an on-one inbred - great bike and really enjoying thrashing a rigid SS around the place.

    My question is when setting chain tension how tight should I go? Should it be rock solid tight or should I leave a small amount of slack?

    I am running truvativ stylo 180mm cranks - shimano 8 speed chain and on-one single cog conversion on planet-x hub. 210lbs without gear.

    Any guidance appreciated....

  2. #2
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    ah, the great debate. i run my ss chain with a just a bit of sag or looseness in it. i have friends that run theirs with like an half inch of sag and others that have theirs piano string tight.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by benzology72

    My question is when setting chain tension how tight should I go? Should it be rock solid tight or should I leave a small amount of slack?
    .

    Don't make it super tight. Basically you want it just tight enough it won't fall off which can be pretty loose. Now I don't want it banging around so I make it as tight as possible but loose enough that the cranks spin freely throughout their rotation and that there is no binding in the bottom bracket or rear hub. If you have a chaintug this gets really easy to set. Just keep tightening until it's too tight (binds) and back off until the binding goes away!
    On-One Lurcher SS
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  4. #4
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    Not too tight !

    My LBS adjusted the EBB when I first got it so that there is almost 1/2" play up and down (1" total) without putting alot of pressure on it; just until it resists a bit. I ran it that way on several 4+ hour rides without problem, but I like it a little tighter. Truvative recommends half that much. Check the link below. It's for an eccentric BB, but it shouldn't matter the method your ss chain tension is adjusted. Same for horizontal dropouts or eccentric hub. Piano string tight puts unnecessary stress on your bearings and will wear out both your chain and chain ring faster. Don't worry, it won't fall off!
    http://www.cannondale.com/Asset/iu_files/115894a.pdf

  5. #5
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    I probably run mine a bit too loose, but I have no derailment problems. A little too loose is much better than a little too tight. Make sure the crank spins freely when under no load.

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys - I have a chaintug so its simple to adjust.

    I think I may be running it too tight - might just ease it off a fraction...

  7. #7
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    Don't make it too loose, just crashed on a friend's SS after the chain slipped off and went into the spokes and locked the rear tire and sent me overboard.
    pUt Da LiMe In Da CoKe YoU nUt


  8. #8
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    I second that, it happened to me twice on my last ride. It seems as if my chain ring isn't round some places the chain is still loose

  9. #9
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    Here's my method: Tighten it up until it's pretty tight. Then set the bike up, and lock the rear brake. Step on the pedal so it pulls the chain tight. Now check the bottom of the chain. It's now in the situation it would be on the trail when you have maximum load on it. It should be just a little bit loose, but not enough to derail.

    Adjust chain tension as necessary to achieve this point when locked up and loaded.

  10. #10
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    Nice technique aero - ill try that before next ride.

  11. #11
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    Good job! Thanks Aero! Question for Mods, binding/tension FAQ

    I just wanted to tell Aero thanks for that advice. Had some chain issues after a LBS switched chains from a PC-1 to a KMC during a smaller freewheel install (without asking me). I took it to them for 2 tries since I was charged for the install and I thought it was their job to get it right. It still just kept dropping.

    It seemed too loose both times so I gave up on them, adjusted it myself like I have in the past, and used Aero's method to check mine because I hate second guessing a LBS. When I checked my tension using his way there is clearly visible sag on the lower part of the chain even though there's not much play when unloaded. The other good advice I found when searching the forum was to roll the bike forward and watch for any movement in the cranks. It was all good there as well.

    Are these methods something that Shiggy or another moderator could get added to the FAQ as suggestions to check the tension? They seem to work and the question seems to come up fairly often.

  12. #12
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    I searched for this info a while ago. Pretty sure the advice I followed was from Sheldon Brown's site. Wherever it was, the advice was to grab the chain in the center between ring and cog and move it up and down. It should move about an inch. My chainring isn't perfectly round, so I wing it and split the difference, a bit less or a bit more than an inch depending on the orientation of the cranks.

    -slide

  13. #13
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    Ok...so I just tried to re-tension my chain because mine skipped off on me tonight when I was really mashing and flying up a hill......about how much play (up and down) should one have in the bottom run of the chain when you lock the rear brake and push down on the crank? I probably have a little over an 1"...too much?

  14. #14
    neutiquam erro
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    Quote Originally Posted by palerider3232
    Ok...so I just tried to re-tension my chain because mine skipped off on me tonight when I was really mashing and flying up a hill......about how much play (up and down) should one have in the bottom run of the chain when you lock the rear brake and push down on the crank? I probably have a little over an 1"...too much?
    1" totaI, so a 0.5" up-and-down? Or 1" both up and then down too (2")? If the latter, then I would say yes - too much... I usually go for ~0.5" play (~1" total) when I use the brake-lock-pedal-stomp method.

    But doing all that while trying to center & tighten an EBB all by yourself involves more gymnastic skills & patience than I'm usually capable of, so I'm happy as long as it's somewhere in that neighborhood.

    Cheers, Chris
    Now is the time on Sprockets when we hammer.
    '05 Blur Classic (1x9) || '06 SIR9 (SS) || '06 Brompton P6L

  15. #15
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    No its the former...I have a bout 1" total.....5 inch up and down is what I mean. Sounds like I am in the ball park. I don't feel any binding in the drivetrain anymore either...I think I had it set to tight.

  16. #16
    neutiquam erro
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    Quote Originally Posted by palerider3232
    No its the former...I have a bout 1" total.....5 inch up and down is what I mean. Sounds like I am in the ball park. I don't feel any binding in the drivetrain anymore either...I think I had it set to tight.
    Keep in mind that chainrings may be not perfectly round too (very common), so that makes a difference when you are trying to tighten everything up. Check it out by doing the brake-pedal-stomp "play" check at various crank positions to see if this may be a player for your setup.

    Cheers, Chris
    Now is the time on Sprockets when we hammer.
    '05 Blur Classic (1x9) || '06 SIR9 (SS) || '06 Brompton P6L

  17. #17
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    Tensioning/Binding

    I think I have more than .5" sag on the bottom of the chain when using the step method. The reason I like it so much is that as soon as I saw that chain droop I was comfortable that there was enough play.

    I don't break out the ruler but I could tell that stomping on the pedals is going to put much more pressure on the rear hub than the chain tension will.

  18. #18
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    Can chain tension result in more noise?

    I have an MC 29er that I've been riding for about a year. Recently, I was riding a new geared bike that I put together and when I came back to the MC, I suddenly noticed the gear noise. I had just become used to it I guess and the quiet of the new bike put it into perspective. Its making a "rawr rawr rawr rawr" noise which seems like it would be chain on gear noise. I checked the tension and it did seem pretty loose. So, I tightened both sides up by one full turn and that seemed to be awfully taut so I brought it back down to 1/2 turn but the noise is still there.

    Think my tension is still off? Think the chain is worn out? I've never worn out a chain in my years of riding. My last bike had the same chain for 10 years. But some reading in this forum has people wearing out several chains a year. Any other ideas (like BB or something in the rear hub)?

    Thanks.

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