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I can't get my chain tension right... help!

Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

I can't get my chain tension right... help!


Old 09-14-08, 10:15 PM
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I can't get my chain tension right... help!

So, I've been trying the whole "loosen stack bolts on chainring, retighten finger tight, strike chain at tautest point until it is even" thing and it is going nowhere =(. I've tried tightening the bolts very very lightly to pretty darn tight and still no results. I've tried striking the chain super soft, to dangerously hard and everything inbetween and still no luck. Can anybody give me a few pointer?

1. Where is the "best" place to strike the chain, and from which angle? Is it best from the side so that it kind of jogs the chainring back and forth on the crank? From the top so it bobs it up and down?

2. Sheldon says when you retighten the nuts it should be "finger tight", but you have to use a hex wrench to do it. I assume he means just a little bit tight. Anyone have any more exact measurements? =(

3. How much chain "droop" is acceptable enough to be non dangerous? Presently, my chain seems to bind a little bit if I spin it fast and then let it go. As it slows down, the chain kind of wiggles up and down quickly. Also, when the wheel/cranks are spinning fast the chain noticeably is not perfectly stable (meaning it kind of wavers up and down as it flies by). Is this a problem or should I just not worry?

Thanks in advance, any help is seriously appreciated.
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Old 09-14-08, 10:19 PM
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Set your cranks to the point where the chain binds, as chainrings are rarely perfectly circuler. then "walk" the wheel back in the dropouts, until the chain has about 1 inch of play in both directions. It takes some practice, as Sheldon brown says, to walk your wheel back

Cleaning your dropouts, and Greasing your axle nuts helps took.
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Old 09-14-08, 10:31 PM
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you might try taking the chainring off and then cleaning the surfaces where the chainring sits on the spyder, then make sure you have greased your chainring bolts. I am suggesting this to make sure your ring can move easily on the spider.

Then try all of Sheldon's stuff.

If you chain is binding that is not good. You might also get a lame chain tensioner that also happens to be super functional. I think Sheldon says that your drivetrain should run as smooth under proper chain tension as it does when the chain is obviously loose. To get my chain tension zeroed in I used the stack bolt method to get the ring/spyder as true as possible, while the chain was over tight. I then took a 1/4 turn off the chain tensioner everyday until I had a little slop on in the drivetrain during track stands, then I tightened down a 1/4 turn and now it is perfect.
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