Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Durham NC
Bikes: Kilo TT, Felt z85, Kona Unit 2-9, 90s Schwinn 9.3 with Noleen fork
Here's what I do....
1. get chain on (center axle more or less with nuts hand tight). slack off both axle nuts so wheel is free floating (it will flop toward the drive side chainstay as you do step 2)
2. crank up chain tug til the chain seems close, but too loose.
3. center wheel, finger tighten nuts, check chain tension. it will be much tighter than before but hopefully in the ballpark.
4. loosen nuts, adjust chain tug in the appropriate direction tighter/looser with a box end wrench, starting with the wrench vertical. go in 90-degree increments turning the wrench, repeat step 3.
5. this is the important part. when you get step 4 right, the next time you pull the wheel, put the wrench on vertically and loosen it 3 180 degree turns. throw the chain off at the chainring. when you go to reassemble, just turn 3x 180 degrees on the wrench and the tension will be exactly where you started.
Flip your wheel to a different size cog? just use the half turns thing and you'll at least know where you are pretty quick and can get it in the range fast. If I switch from my 16 to the 17, I slacken the tug 6 half-turns and it's just about perfect. Remember the settings for each and cog swaps are easy.