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How to Tighten a Bike Chain: A Simple Guide

You notice that your bike chain has loosened after a fantastic day of biking. What possibilities do you have? You could be thinking to yourself. Well, for starters, you can fix it yourself and save spending money, time, and in the worst case, even suffering injuries.

But how to tighten a bike chain; that’s the question we will be answering throughout the article by providing step-by-step instructions to help you reach that same fantastic experience you had before your bike chain slipped. 

Tools You’ll Need

Before panicking about how you can fix your bike on your own, below, there is a list of some tools you will need to set your bike chain. So, let’s dive right into it.

  1. A hex key or Allen wrench
  2. Bike stand
  3. Cloth
  4. Hand gloves so your hands don’t get dirty

How to Tighten Bike Chain on Single Speed Bike

After finding the tools needed for the fix, we will walk you through the steps of tightening a bike chain on a single-speed bicycle. So, put on your gloves, and let’s start with the first step right away; placing the bike in the correct position.

1. Put the bike in the correct position

put-the-bike-in-the-correct-position

The first step is to position the bike such that you can easily access every item. In addition, you’ll need to turn your bike upside down, which calls for using a bike stand or another object that can prevent the bike from moving. Another thing to consider before turning the bike upside down is to place some newspapers below it to prevent further damage.

2. Loosen the rear tire

To adjust the bike chain, you must loosen the rear tire first. For that, you will need to use a hex key and twist the nuts of the rear axles counterclockwise until you feel that the boots are loose.

3. Pull the rear tire backward

After you have loosened the rear tire, you need to turn it backward so the bike chain will begin to tighten. When will the bike chain be sufficiently tight, you may ask? So, it would be best to keep pulling gradually until you achieve the ideal chain tension. Additionally, to make the process of reassembling the components much simpler, you must ensure that the bicycle wheel stays in the middle of the wishbone.

4. Tighten the rear tire

tighten-the-rear-tire

After your chain is tight like before, the next step is to tighten the rear tire. To do that, you will need to turn the nuts clockwise once more with a hex key. If done correctly, the tire shouldn’t come in contact with the bike’s chain or frame.

5. Test it

Now we have come to the part where we know that we either need to buy a new bike or the process has gone perfectly. To ensure everything is moving correctly, you must first spin the tires. Check if the cycle operates properly by rotating it in all directions. Keep in mind that the pedals and chain should spin smoothly; this is the most crucial aspect. If you have managed to do all that, congrats; you’ve successfully reached your goal.

How to Tighten a Bike  Chain With a Derailleur

Bicycles with derailleurs are much more complicated than single-speed bikes. It would help if you tried different options until you find one that works in terms of tightening your bike chain. Let’s start with the first step you need to do; putting the bike in the correct position.

1. Put the bike in the correct position

This part does not change much from the first step for the single-speed bikes, as you will also need to turn your bike upside down here using a bike stand or at least something that can keep the bike from moving. This way, you can get easier access to the bike parts you will need to remove to tighten the bike chain.

2. Find the rear derailleur screw

The rear derailleur screw will be your next step because a hex key won’t accomplish much. The screw next to the letter “B”—known as the “B tension screw”—is often where you’ll locate it. The B tension screw partially controls a geared bike’s chain tension. 

Then, use the screw to tighten the bike chain by turning it clockwise. At this point, if your chain feels tight, you should test it right away to make sure it functions.

3. Measure the bike chain

If your bike chain is still loose even after using a rear derailleur screw, then the next step would be to check the state of the chain bike itself. For that, you will need to use a ruler or a chain checker; in some cases, you might need to change the chain together with the sprocket.

4. Disconnect the brakes

     If your chain is not the problem, the next step would be to adjust the chain tension of the rear wheel. You need to disassemble the brakes and use a brake lever to access the tire.

5. Pull the rear axle back 

Now, you need to reassemble the bike’s components by starting with the rear axle and moving it towards its rear to tighten the chain. 

6. Put the bike back together

Now, you need to put all the bike components together to test whether it’s working correctly. Don’t forget to connect the brakes to the cables as they are significant in preventing crashes. Another thing to consider is that the bike frame should not touch the tires.

7. Test it

We have come to the last part where we all want to see ourselves; the test part. For everything to work like it used to, you need to rotate the tires and pedals and see their movement and the chains. If everything is working properly, then you did it! If not, go back through the same steps once again and retest until you fix it.

The Bottom Line

If you have made it this far, you already know how to fix the chain on a single-speed bike and the one with a derailleur. Your physical and mental well-being depends on the exercises you do with your bike daily. So, it’s essential to focus on the well-being of your bike for your comfort during the activity. By fixing it yourself, you will save time and money, so what’s better than that? Go ahead and start fixing it yourself by going through the above-mentioned steps.

 

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