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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

I know this subject has been addressed in the past but I'm having difficulty finding a few topics on chain tightening. I apologize about the long list of questions; I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks.

1. First, I'll start off with a question on the tolerances of chain adjustment. How crucial is the alignment? I noticed that after the dealer adjusted the chain for the 500 mi maintenance, the chain tension guides where misaligned by about on increment on the chain tension guides (small measurement ticks). Also, the rear sprocket teeth ride slightly to the right of the chain (more toward the right hand link plate).

2. How is the bike oriented when checking the chain tension? I have a rear wheel lift which is what I have used in the past. However, I have heard of checking the tension while some one is sitting on the bike.


3. How do you 'square up' the rear sprocket when tightening the chain? The best explanation I have heard is to have the rear sprocket teeth ride in the middle of the chain. This makes sense. Has anyone used this technique or have any other ideas?

4. What is the optimum chain slack. The manual says 0.8-1.2; however, others have stated that this is too tight.
 

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kme said:
Hi Everyone,

I know this subject has been addressed in the past but I'm having difficulty finding a few topics on chain tightening. I apologize about the long list of questions; I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks.

1. First, I'll start off with a question on the tolerances of chain adjustment. How crucial is the alignment? I noticed that after the dealer adjusted the chain for the 500 mi maintenance, the chain tension guides where misaligned by about on increment on the chain tension guides (small measurement ticks). Also, the rear sprocket teeth ride slightly to the right of the chain (more toward the right hand link plate).

2. How is the bike oriented when checking  the chain tension? I have a rear wheel lift which is what I have used in the past. However, I have heard of checking the tension while some one is sitting on the bike.


3. How do you 'square up' the rear sprocket when tightening the chain? The best explanation I have heard is to have the rear sprocket teeth ride in the middle of the chain. This makes sense. Has anyone used this technique or have any other ideas?

4. What is the optimum chain slack. The manual says 0.8-1.2; however, others have stated that this is too tight.
You should check out the manual at this site...it gives a pretty decent description of how to properly tighten the chain. 
http://www.socalsvriders.org/download.php

1.  It sounds like the tech person did not align the wheel correctly  ::).  The rear and front sprocket should both be aligned with one another.  You can run a string from the front sprocket to the rear sprocket for a visual aid if you want.

2.  You can tighten the chain with the real wheel off the ground (I do)...however, the manual says to do it on the side stand.

3.  When you have the chain set at the correct tension and the sprockets aligned slowly tighten the axle nut.  Check the tension again and alignment and if everything checks out torque the nut to the proper spec.  Check to make sure the sprockets are still aligned and if everything looks good put in a new cotter pin.  And yes, the rear sprocket teeth should ride in the middle of the chain.

4. I have always used the manual specs for the chain slack.
 

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Are you referring to the hash marks on the side plates? Never trust them on any motorcycle. To verify alignment measure the distance from the center of the swingarm pivot to the center of the rear axle. Should be the same on both sides.

If you adjust on a rear stand you should adjust fully on the snug side of the spec. On a rear stand the suspension is compressed more than when on the side stand (longer chain path). If you adjust for the loose end of the side stand specs the chain will be a bit too loose.

The old way to get ideal tension is to get the bike on a rear stand and compress the rear suspension with a load binder strap. Compress until the center of the front sprocket, the center of the swingarm pivot and the center of the rear axle are all in line (longest chain path). Now adjust for just a touch of slack, say 1/4" at the tightest spot. Be sure to rotate the rear tire to check for tight spots. That's as close to perfect as you can get it. Also, make sure that the alignment is good as described above.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for all the tips. I'm glad that you verified to not trust the hash marks on the swing arm--they weren't giving the correct aligment when I first used them. I'll be adjusting the chain tension soon using your advice.
 

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what if your wheel is properly aligned and the swingarm marks line up? can i use them when i back the wheel out or are they going to be off when i move back a couple notches?
 

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I never trust them. Depending on the make and model of bike, when the rear axle is loose sometimes you can move those suckers 1/8" without moving the axle. I always measure as described above. It's quick, easy and secure.
 

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I measure from center of swingarm pivot to center of rear axle to verify alignment. On last bike, I'd also found that the stub of tension adjuster screw sticking out back could be measured (more easily) and would indicate proper alignment, too.

Yeah, my mark indicator washer plate thingy turns quite a bit when I tighten nut.
 
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