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Chain tension

socratessocrates Posts: 453
edited November 2009 in Road general
What is the proper way of determining chain tension on my fixed. Worried about too tight/loose. Is there a foolproof method.

Thank you


  • Too loose and the chain comes off.

    At speed
    Down a nice wet slippy steep hill
    In the dark.

    Last Thursday, in fact. I'm still sore.

    You want it as tight as you can reasonably manage, but leave a little play as chainrings & sprockets are never precisely round so there will be some tighter sections of the driving action as you pedal.
    Commute: Langster -Singlecross - Brompton S2-LX

    Road: 95 Trek 5500 -Look 695 Aerolight eTap - Boardman TTe eTap

    Offroad: Pace RC200 - Dawes Kickback 2 tandem - Tricross - Boardman CXR9.8 - Ridley x-fire
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    There should be no more than 1cm vertical play in the middle of the chain - I push my hand between the wheel and seat tube and roll the bike forward to use my hand as a wedge - tighten axle nuts with other hand. You can make it bar-tight, but it can be very noisy and wears the chain quicker too.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • socratessocrates Posts: 453
    I had the chain as tight as that but really needed confirmation that I was right. Thank you for your replies
  • A final check is to pick the bike up, spin the pedals and with the bike horizontal - shake it hard. If the chains comes off it needs a bit more tension.

    If when soinning the pedals, the chain is too tight, then it will slow down quite fast, so slacken the tension a little.

    If neither of these get it rigth, then invest in better sprocket and chainrings - avoid cyclo sprockets -and others that are stamped and pressed - they are NEVER perfectly round and can also strip the hub thread
    Recipe: shave legs sparingly, rub in embrocation and drizzle with freshly squeezed baby oil.
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