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  1. #1
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    Chain tension, can someone please explain this to me?

    So I got my first fixed recently.

    I can seem to get enough tension without a chain tensioner. Now I got one and Im afraid to over do it an rist breaking a chain mid ride (which I'm guessing would suck since I ride breakless.)

    I searched around this forum and other places and cant seem to find a good concise explination of how much tension is just right and how to gauge tension properly. Anyone have a good explination or easy way to know when your chain is on correctly?

  2. #2
    Senior Member acoustophile's Avatar
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    To quote Sheldon Brown:
    "It should be tight as it can be without binding. If the chain is too loose, it can fall off, usually at the most inconvenient possible time."

    http://sheldonbrown.com/singlespeed.html#tension

  3. #3
    n00b feetpower's Avatar
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    trick i learned from an lbs:

    loosen the rear, pull it back all the way and tighten the nut just enough so that it holds its place, lightly "pinch" the top and bottom chain together between your index finger and thumb. this should scoot the rear wheel forward just barely to give more slack to the chain from the original tight position.

    or just stick your hand between the rear wheel and seat tube and push it back and adjust the tension manually. ive done it this way but its always hit or miss and i have to do it a couple times to get the tension just right.

    when its at the correct tension, the chain should have some up/down play of 1 cm. from far away your chain should look like it has a very very very slight droop in it.

  4. #4
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    I did read that on Sheldon Brown but Im still afraid I might be tightening too much even though the chain is not binding or slowing things down.

    Thanks feetpower.
    Last edited by RooNYC; 10-20-09 at 08:03 PM.

  5. #5
    likes black bikes zeBRAHz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RooNYC View Post
    So I got my first fixed recently.

    I can seem to get enough tension without a chain tensioner. Now I got one and Im afraid to over do it an rist breaking a chain mid ride (which I'm guessing would suck since I ride breakless.)

    I searched around this forum and other places and cant seem to find a good concise explination of how much tension is just right and how to gauge tension properly. Anyone have a good explination or easy way to know when your chain is on correctly?
    biggest problem with cycling right now. kids get 'fixed gears' because something on the internet told them it was cool. so they start riding in traffic with no experience and no knowledge and just up that hate for cyclists a little more.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeBRAHz View Post
    biggest problem with cycling right now. kids get 'fixed gears' because something on the internet told them it was cool. so they start riding in traffic with no experience and no knowledge and just up that hate for cyclists a little more.
    Easy buddy, Im 35 and have been riding bikes since I was a kid. I've always wanted to learn to ride a fixed gear bike and did so over the course of a few years with friends fixed gear bikes a flip flop hub and breaks on one of mine. I just removed the front break last week after "using it" for 3 month (by using I mean having it mounted to my fork since I never actually needed it to stop.)

    .
    Last edited by RooNYC; 10-20-09 at 08:19 PM.

  7. #7
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    You have to adjust the chain at its tightest point. First set the wheel straight in the frame and pull it back until the chain starts to resist and lightly tighten the nuts. Rotate the crank about a 1/4 turn at a time and push up on the buttom run of the chain and feel/see how much it moves up. Repeat until you find the tightest point at which it deflects the least. Re-adjust the wheel at that point so the chain deflection at the bottom is between 1/4" and 1/2". Re-check to make sure it does not still have a very tight spot. The variation of chain tension at different points will depend on the quality (roundness) of your chainring and cog. BTW, this is how we do it at the track where we are constantly removing and installing the rear wheel to change gearing.

  8. #8
    FNG destikon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RooNYC View Post
    So I got my first fixed... /// I ride breakless.
    eek
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    time's up

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by destikon View Post
    eek
    I should have clarified that I rode my old roommate's fixed gear alot back in the early 90 and felt comfortable. I also had a moutnian bike with a flip flop hub back in 2001 and would frequently set it up fixed. I can stop very easily and comfortably (I live in the Washington Heights section of NYC with big hills and they are not problem stopping on.)

    just because someone is buying their first car, doesnt mean they cant drive people.

  10. #10
    FNG destikon's Avatar
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    ^^ i got what your saying but seriously, slap a brake on whatever you ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    time's up

  11. #11
    Surf Bum
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    Riding breakless must get very tiring. How do you sleep?

    Personally I like to take a break now and then.

  12. #12
    cab horn
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    Learn how to spell seriously. It's brake.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  13. #13
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by RooNYC View Post
    I should have clarified that I rode my old roommate's fixed gear alot back in the early 90 and felt comfortable. I also had a moutnian bike with a flip flop hub back in 2001 and would frequently set it up fixed. I can stop very easily and comfortably (I live in the Washington Heights section of NYC with big hills and they are not problem stopping on.)

    just because someone is buying their first car, doesnt mean they cant drive people.
    Yeah, because obviously everyone obtaining their new fixed gear fashion accessory is up to snuff with their riding skills. Good job with the bad advice. Is it going to take a dead white girl for people to stop giving retardedly unsafe advice? Or what?
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  14. #14
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    Doh, brake it is. And I missed where I was giving advice operator. Last time I checked, I was asking for advice on chain tension.
    Last edited by RooNYC; 10-20-09 at 08:49 PM.

  15. #15
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    Please don't ride on the road without brakes. We lost a state champion that way.

  16. #16
    Senior Member acoustophile's Avatar
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    If the chains not binding and not too loose then yr set. As long as you didn't mess up anything on the chain itself when breaking it, there should be nothing to be paranoid about.

  17. #17
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    Thanks all for your tips.

    I think I got the idea on chain tension and sorry I opened up the whole brakeless discussion by accident.

  18. #18
    dsh
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    Just pull it back with your hand until the chain stops you from going back any further, then tighten the drive-side bolt down. Make sure the wheel is straight on the frame while you tighten the non-drive side.

    Don't lean in it or pull really hard or anything. The chain does not have to be that tight if you've got your chainline set up within a few mm. Dropping chains with a good chainline is hard to do.

  19. #19
    Fresh Garbage hairnet's Avatar
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    This is a fairly easy way. Just beware, this method also makes it easy to make the chain way too tight.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW3pTjm5ZMY
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I'd rather ride a greasy bowling ball than one of those things.
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  20. #20
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    Great YouTube video, thank man!

  21. #21
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
    Just beware, this method also makes it easy to make the chain way too tight.
    Ya think?

  22. #22
    Fresh Garbage hairnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
    Ya think?
    lol

    but you can also get it without being overly tight. I just practiced a few times to get a feel for it before setting the chain and riding. It's easier than pulling back on the wheel.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
    I'd rather ride a greasy bowling ball than one of those things.
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  23. #23
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
    lol

    but you can also get it without being overly tight. I just practiced a few times to get a feel for it before setting the chain and riding. It's easier than pulling back on the wheel.
    Oh, I'm sure you can. I was just amazed at how that tatted bike monkey could get that chain so tight that you could play it like a guitar and then say that it was the correct tension.

  24. #24
    *meow* Azul the Cat's Avatar
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    I like the tennis ball method. Works well for me all the time and super easy.

    1. wedge tennis ball between frame and wheel
    2. tighten axle nuts
    3. ?????
    4. profit!!
    ...blades don't need reloading.

  25. #25
    Wrench - Racer - Fanatic blasternot112's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RooNYC View Post
    Easy buddy, Im 35 and have been riding bikes since I was a kid. I've always wanted to learn to ride a fixed gear bike and did so over the course of a few years with friends fixed gear bikes a flip flop hub and breaks on one of mine. I just removed the front break last week after "using it" for 3 month (by using I mean having it mounted to my fork since I never actually needed it to stop.)

    .
    Moral of the story: Don't rip those uncool brakes off until you learn how to mount a rear wheel to the frame properly, especially if your going to galavant around with only your chain as a "brake"
    "It never gets easier, you just go faster."

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