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Old 12-16-08, 01:06 PM   #1
thisiscolin
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Proper Chain Tension

I've been having some trouble with my chain tension. It was very loose on one side and very tight on the other. By fiddling around with it, it seems a bit more consistent, but it might be too loose. It has about a whole inch of slack. Is that too much? If so, how to I tighten it. I can't seem to find a good technique for pulling it back in the dropouts any more then i was.
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Old 12-16-08, 04:57 PM   #2
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Firstly, make sure your chainring and cog are in-line. Then, ensure that the wheel is in-line with the frame. After that, you can make it as loose as possible to where you still can't get the chain off the ring. Generally, that means that at the mid-point between the ring and cog you can move the chain up and down between an inch or two (total distance, not in either direction)

If you're coming from a road or MTB background, the slack track chain will always look like there's something wrong, but it is, in fact, the chain that is drawn taut between the ring and the cog that has the problem.
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Old 12-18-08, 11:06 PM   #3
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it would help to have a picture. it might be that you need to remove a link or go to a half step link.
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Old 12-19-08, 12:30 AM   #4
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it would help to have a picture. it might be that you need to remove a link or go to a half step link.
That would be over in the SS/FG forum. If it's a track frame it should have horizontal dropouts and the wheel moves back and forth.
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Old 12-22-08, 04:59 PM   #5
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so if its super tight on one part of the rotation and super loose on the other, it could have something to do with the front and back cogs not being in line with each other?
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Old 12-22-08, 05:19 PM   #6
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so if its super tight on one part of the rotation and super loose on the other, it could have something to do with the front and back cogs not being in line with each other?
No. This is caused by having a low-quality crank or chainring. Look at sheldonbrown.com - there's a page on there with instructions on how to center the chainring on the crank/spider, which can help.

Higher quality cranks and chainrings are more precisely manufactured, so that their radius (the teeth) are equidistant from the center: they are more round, and therefor, do not pull the chain tighter at one or two spots in the rotation of the crank.

Center your chainring on the cranks. If the problem persists, identify the tight spot, and set your chain tension there. Make sure that it's not too loose at the loose spot. And then don't worry too much about it.
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Old 12-22-08, 05:24 PM   #7
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I've been having some trouble with my chain tension. It was very loose on one side and very tight on the other. By fiddling around with it, it seems a bit more consistent, but it might be too loose. It has about a whole inch of slack. Is that too much? If so, how to I tighten it. I can't seem to find a good technique for pulling it back in the dropouts any more then i was.
I'll assume you mean that at some point of the crank rotation the chain is tight and at another point in the rotation it's too loose. This is fairly common. Few chainrings are truly round and many of them are quite oval - giving you this tight-slack effect every revolution. I have good quality TA and Stronglight rings on my track bike and even they suffer a little bit.

Find out exactly where the drive side crank is when the chain is at its tightest. Set the chain at this point to its optimum tension and tighten the wheelnuts. Rotate the crank slowly. If at some point the chain is too loose (your decision) then another chainring should be tried until you find one that's ok.

You can also try rotating the ring on the crank spider hoping that it might be part or all of the problem. Try 180 degrees and then at 90 and 270.
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Old 12-22-08, 05:50 PM   #8
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And as long as it doesn't come off while you ride it's ok-- I know a guy who's getting some special chainrings made that are slightly oval on purpose to have a larger diameter where he has the most force available in the pedal stroke and smaller where there's less. He apparently spent some time doing the math and decided it wouldn't be a chain tension problem-- I think he's used them a few times without trouble.

(don't ask me to defend it-- I think there are a lot of reasons why there's no advantage, particularly for a pursuiter).

The test I use is to just spin the wheel and use the handle of a peanut butter wrench to try to derail the chain from the chainring. It can be quite loose without coming off.
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Old 12-22-08, 06:45 PM   #9
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And as long as it doesn't come off while you ride it's ok-- I know a guy who's getting some special chainrings made that are slightly oval on purpose to have a larger diameter where he has the most force available in the pedal stroke and smaller where there's less. He apparently spent some time doing the math and decided it wouldn't be a chain tension problem-- I think he's used them a few times without trouble..
You mean he made his own Biopace rings?

http://sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html
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Old 12-22-08, 07:08 PM   #10
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thanks friends
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Old 12-23-08, 02:54 PM   #11
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You mean he made his own Biopace rings?

http://sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html
Similar, but more like "anti-biopace". I said the same thing when he told me about them, and he claimed it was the opposite (just rotate them a bit?)
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Old 12-24-08, 06:21 PM   #12
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is it fixed or free? if its a freewheel when you pull the top tight slack from the bottom will go to the top eveining the tension on top and bottom, if its fixed wouldn't that not happen, so if you spin the wheel/cranks to balance the amount of chain might that fix it. (cranks should spin by themselves to fix this i guess but you never know)
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