What's wrong with chain tensioners?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What's wrong with chain tensioners?

    I've been riding singlespeed for the last year and I love it. Can't see myself going back to gears anytime soon. I banged up my frame last week so I'm in the market for a new bike. I have horizontal dropouts right now that I absolutely hate dealing with. Adjusting/maintaining chain tension is always a pain and my wheel always seems to come out of center. The general consensus on eccentric bottom brackets is pretty poor, so why are companies trying to complicate chain tension. With a conventional dropout you can use a QR, don't have to worry about aligning a rear wheel, and can avoid the pitfalls of an EBB. So what am I missing here? Is there some huge problem with chain tensioners that I'm not aware of? Seems like it would really open up my frame options.

  2. #2
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    There's nothing wrong with tensioners, I think to some it looks like a band aid. I've used the white bros eno eccentric hub, it's a beautiful polished piece of work, super smooth bearings, and a super clean looking option. It is pricey though. I'll be selling mine soon but it's for rim brakes only.

  3. #3
    nothing to see here
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    Tensioners can get bent out of alignment.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  4. #4
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    To me, it is an aesthetic thing. SS are meant to be simple, in looks and function. Throwing in a tensioner robs that nice clean look. Not to say that there is anything wrong with a tensioner, but if there are other options, I would tend to take those.

  5. #5
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    I've never run one, but it looks only marginally better than a deraileur. It's one good stick away from failure. Take a look at some of the sliding drop outs. I have a Ventana, and love the single speed adjuster. Salsa makes one very similar.

    Good luck

  6. #6
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    Adjustable dropouts are definitely the way to go-love them. But I am running a tensioner for the first time ever on one of my bikes because the geo and price was perfect just not the vertical dropouts and I now think that's better than dealing w/ horizontals which I've been doing for years. But go adjustable if you can.

  7. #7
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    The swinging dropouts on the el mariachi do look pretty nice, and very practical.

  8. #8
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    EBB's have been in use for awhile on tandems, and properly maintained (Greased, clean, etc...), will not cause any problems. I've got over 500 miles on mine and haven't needed to even service it yet. jmho...
    Salsa Timberjack SS
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  9. #9
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    EBB, horiz d-o, adjustable d-o, tensioners, and the ENO all have their pros and cons. All can be made to work well. Try what makes sense to you and your budget. I have had great luck with both horiz drops and tensioners. Never tried EBB or adj d-o, but I think those solutions aren't necessarily any better looking or more trouble free than a tensioner.
    Responds to gravity

  10. #10
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    I'm also a fan of tensioners, and have used various types with great success and little drama. Check out this recent thread for a lot of good info:
    http://forums.mtbr.com/singlespeed/t...le-747941.html

    Also, it's pretty damn hard to break a tensioner, and a stick isn't going to do it.

  11. #11
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    Idea! 19t+

    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_rider_x View Post
    I've been riding singlespeed for the last year and I love it. Can't see myself going back to gears anytime soon. I banged up my frame last week so I'm in the market for a new bike. I have horizontal dropouts right now that I absolutely hate dealing with. Adjusting/maintaining chain tension is always a pain and my wheel always seems to come out of center. The general consensus on eccentric bottom brackets is pretty poor, so why are companies trying to complicate chain tension. With a conventional dropout you can use a QR, don't have to worry about aligning a rear wheel, and can avoid the pitfalls of an EBB. So what am I missing here? Is there some huge problem with chain tensioners that I'm not aware of? Seems like it would really open up my frame options.
    Withe a 19T or larger cog, no longer need a chain tensioner: cut the Gordian Knot.
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailNut View Post
    Withe a 19T or larger cog, no longer need a chain tensioner: cut the Gordian Knot.
    Is that because you now have enough wrap to keep the chain in place even if it's loose?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    Is that because you now have enough wrap to keep the chain in place even if it's loose?
    haven't been riding enough of my SS that the BMX chain gets loose (yet.)..

    good question
    “Everyday is a good day,” from the Blue Cliff Records, Yun-men (864-949 AD).

  14. #14
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    I started singlespeeding when the only option was a custom or a tensioner. I ran a tensioner for 10years with gearing that varied from 32x16 to 32x22 and had the occasional chaindrop (which was usually brought on by my rough arizona trails and descending rapidly on a rigid bike).

    I moved to an EBB salsa for 4 years and I dropped the occasional chain, again a product of the rigid riding and technical fast descents and a little too much chain slack.

    I now have swinging dropouts and while i haven't enough time to drop the chain I know I will eventually do so.

    Now I could run a chain guard which I do and the addition of a little inside watcher really helps (the n-gear jump stop is my fav) but I mostly drop of the rear, even with dedicated singlespeed cogs. Just a function of singlespeeding I think.

    I enjoyed all the means of tensioning and all had their drawbacks. The Tensioner made it really hard to remove the wheel, the EBB would creak occasionally, was heavy and need maintenance more regularly and would come loose on occasion, the swingers can also cause misalignment and lengthen the chainstays to add tension to the chain but they also has benefits. The tensioner allowed me to use my old awesome frame for years longer than I would have had it not existed. The EBB allowed me to adjust my BB height for more technical riding or for more XC racing and the swingers are so much cleaner looking and lighter.

    So there you go, my take on tensioning. If I had to choose again I would pick the bike I like the most (/can most afford)and go with whatever the set up it comes with.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_rider_x View Post
    I've been riding singlespeed for the last year and I love it. Can't see myself going back to gears anytime soon. I banged up my frame last week so I'm in the market for a new bike. I have horizontal dropouts right now that I absolutely hate dealing with. Adjusting/maintaining chain tension is always a pain and my wheel always seems to come out of center. The general consensus on eccentric bottom brackets is pretty poor, so why are companies trying to complicate chain tension. With a conventional dropout you can use a QR, don't have to worry about aligning a rear wheel, and can avoid the pitfalls of an EBB. So what am I missing here? Is there some huge problem with chain tensioners that I'm not aware of? Seems like it would really open up my frame options.
    Do you have horizontal dropouts



    or track ends?



    If the later, get frame tensioner. Surly makes one,



    as does homebrewedcomponents,


    as does a zillon other companies. Search "Chain tensioner BMX" or "track end tensioner" on google/amazon/ebay.

    If you actually have a horizontal drop out- there are a few tuggers that might wrap over the edge of the frame and work for you- but you might have to do some research on the interwebs to find one.



    Attach to your drive side, set the tension you want, and you won't have to worry anymore.

  16. #16
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    ghost_rider_x,

    See where this is all going?

    One big freaking circle.
    Responds to gravity

  17. #17
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    Just one more thing to break. And one more pulley to drag your chain around. I've been happy with my EBB after having a bad experience with sliding dropouts that move when you use your rear brake

  18. #18
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    I had a certain tensioner that would not allow me to use a 32/18 gear or a 32/17 gear, so I had to buy a new 17t freewheel, which was too steep for me at the time. then one of the springs in the tensioner broke in the middle of a ride, so i had to ride SLOWLY on a sidewalk back to the car so the chain would not fly off.

    then I get a dedicated SS frame. problem solved.

  19. #19
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    Use a ghost ring! Thats what I use with my vertical drop out frame, and thats with none singlespeed specific rings (ie rings that were originally meant for shifting) and I have only dropped the chain once when a large stick got sucked into the chain. Just make sure you have perfect chainline. The ghost ring, a large ring from an old cassette, looks much better than a normal tensioner (imho) plus it looks cool since the ring just floats in place while you pedal.
    Buy a f-ing bike maybe you wouldn't be fat

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