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How taut should the chain be?

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Old 02-08-19, 09:59 AM
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MAK
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How taut should the chain be?

On my Schwinn Madison, when I replace my rear wheel I generally make the chain pretty taut but not as taut as possible. I obviously don't use stops or spacers (don't know the proper names). I'm wondering about efficiency. Should there be any or much slack in the chain? How best to measure proper chain tension?
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Old 02-08-19, 10:23 AM
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slack is whack. it should be tight enough to play feudin banjos and give a nice crunchy washboard rhythmic with every revolution as it eats away your drivetrain.
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Old 02-08-19, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by REDMASTA View Post
slack is whack. it should be tight enough to play feudin banjos and give a nice crunchy washboard rhythmic with every revolution as it eats away your drivetrain.
First of all, it's dueling banjos. I was really hoping for intelligent and helpful answers. I guess your avatar truly represents who and what you are.
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Old 02-08-19, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MAK View Post
First of all, it's dueling banjos. I was really hoping for intelligent and helpful answers. I guess your avatar truly represents who and what you are.
Hes giving you rash because youre over thinking it, and this has been discussed to death. A simple google search would have given you your answer very quickly:
tight but not so much that it causes binding... about 1/4-1/2 of play

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Old 02-08-19, 11:22 AM
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Every system I've ever worked on always had a variance in slack / tightness as it spins. I'm guessing they all do... some more than others. I like to find the tightest spot and make sure it has the tiniest amount of slack possible. Then the looser spots in the revolutions will naturally have more. I'm quite meticulous so this can take several adjustments before I'm satisfied.
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Old 02-08-19, 11:41 AM
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There should be zero chain tension until you apply force to the pedals.
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Old 02-08-19, 12:58 PM
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I don't like the feeling of having lots of slack in the chain.

Too much lash I let off and increase pedal force is really annoying. It feels like the prawls in a freehub engaging.

Right or wrong, I try to tighten the chain enough so that there is very little slack but no so much that the chain is completely taunt.


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Old 02-08-19, 02:42 PM
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The general recommendation IMO is that is should be possible to lift the chain about 1/2 mid-run at the tightest spot.
You can shrink this down a little If youre real meticulous in checking that youve really found the tightest spot, and set the chain with a little slack there.
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Old 02-08-19, 02:48 PM
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1/2 inch sounds right. Enough that it makes a little *tunk* in the pedals when I trackstand at a light.
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Old 02-08-19, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mouse View Post
Hes giving you rash because youre over thinking it, and this has been discussed to death.
i don't know what you're talking about, this question has never been asked before.

https://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=4609301
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Old 02-08-19, 08:20 PM
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Thank you for your responses.
Mouse...Probably 90% of the stuff on BF could be googled but I trust the riders on BF more than Google users who may or may not know what they are talking about.
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Old 02-08-19, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MAK View Post
Thank you for your responses.
Mouse...Probably 90% of the stuff on BF could be googled but I trust the riders on BF more than Google users who may or may not know what they are talking about.
I was referring to BF threads... if you have a question that seems like it may be simple or are curious if its been discussed before, just google it with bike forums at the end of the question.

Happy riding ✌🏻

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Old 02-09-19, 08:45 PM
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Thank you mouse.
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Old 02-09-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MAK View Post
Thank you mouse.
anytime amigo
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Old 02-09-19, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by mouse View Post
I was referring to BF threads... if you have a question that seems like it may be simple or are curious if its been discussed before, just google it with bike forums at the end of the question.
Yeah, this had already been discussed to death on this forum 15 years ago. The years pass, but people still can't use the search function. A dance as old as the internet itself.
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Old 03-20-19, 06:36 PM
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I used to set my chain very tight because I hated chain noise while riding.
However, a very tight chain will wear your drivetrain down.

I'll add that you should be able to rotate freely and smoothly through your tight spot (all chainrings are oval, very few chainrings -- like the sugino super zen -- are made to be as round as possible).
You and I are not spending $350+ on a chainring so here's the other part of the taughtness:
I would say that checking for "skippage" is more important than free spinning at the tight spot.

Let's call "skippage" the probability of the chain ring hopping off the chain.
High skippage means your chain is likely to fall off.
This is very important on a fixed gear. If your chain falls off, bye bye (unless you've practiced emergency stopping maneuvers).

i check this by putting a tire lever between the chain and the chainring with just a little bit of pressure. Just enough to try and "nudge" it off the chainring.
Then, rotate your cranks in the direction of sandwiching your tire lever between your chainring and chain.

If your chain falls off while doing this, it's not tight enough.
Sort of liberally check this around the whole chain.

I would put much more importance on low skippage than I would on drivetrain wear, but no even semi decent setup will be so oval that you can't get into the goldilocks zone.
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Old 03-20-19, 10:49 PM
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I've never been able to make measurements and numbers work for me on this. I just put the bike on the stand, spin the cranks, and sight down the top run of the chain. If there's more than a tiny bit of droop at the tightest point, I'll tighten the chain and spin the cranks again. If it pulls completely straight at any point, I'll loosen it again.

This method gives a pretty free-running drivetrain without excessive slack.
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Old 03-21-19, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I've never been able to make measurements and numbers work for me on this. I just put the bike on the stand, spin the cranks, and sight down the top run of the chain. If there's more than a tiny bit of droop at the tightest point, I'll tighten the chain and spin the cranks again. If it pulls completely straight at any point, I'll loosen it again.

This method gives a pretty free-running drivetrain without excessive slack.
I do nearly the same thing except I like to take my wrench and feel for the slack in the chain with it.
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Old 03-21-19, 12:31 PM
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I like about a half inch of slack.. My QAD (quick and dirty) practice is to pull the wheel back hard with my left hand at the chainstay, also pulling the tire over to the left. Tighten right hub nut just enough. Center the tire and do the same with the left nut, Check chain slack with the wrench, Spin the cranks ~1/2 turn and repeat check. If good, fully tighten the right, then the left. If not, dial in with the right, tighten, then center and tighten the left. Done. (My routine for on-the-road wheel flips.) I never want to see the chain go straight. More than 1/2" of slack max is OK assuming chainring and chain are in decent shape and the chainline is good.

Oh, Eurasia cogs and $20 Izumi chains, everything 1/8". Cogs are cut square, chain plates are not finished off. Slightly rough and noisy, Very secure. (Go to a velodrome and you will see a lot of riders on budgets riding the same.)

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