7 Easy Steps to Tighten a Bike Chain

The chain on your bike helps to transfer your pedaling movements to wheel traction. Without it, your bike would practically stall. The efficiency of your bike largely depends on the condition of its chain. If it’s too tight, it results in increased friction, and you need more effort to move the pedals. If too much loose, the transfer of energy reduces, and you have to pedal faster to increase traction. It’s essential that the chain is at the right tension.

A loose chain will also come undone while pedaling, which can be a nuisance. You find yourself having to dismount your bike to return the chain to its place. Not such a nice cycling experience. You can easily prevent your chain from coming off its stay by tightening it to the right tension. Here are steps on how to tighten a bike chain before you go out cycling.

Tools You Will Need:

  • A wrench or spanner of the right size
  • A screwdriver

The method to tighten a loose bike chain depends on the type of bike. For single gear bikes, the process is simple, while for the multiple gear bikes, it involves a little bit more

How to Tighten a Loose Chain on a Single-gear Bike

Step 1: Lift the bike and turn it upside down on the ground ( if you don’t have a bike stand) It should now be sitting on the saddle and the handlebars. This allows you easy access to the chain.

Step 2: Use the spanner or wrench to loosen the nuts holding the rear wheel axle in place. Only tighten them to a point where the wheel is free to be moved.

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Step 3: Move the rear wheel back in tiny jerks with one hand while feeling the chain’s tension with the other.

Step 4: When the right tension is reached, ( the chain only sags one inch when pressed), stop moving the wheel.

Step 5: Align the wheel, using the bike’s frame as a guide so that the wheel is in the middle of the frame that holds it.

Step 6: While holding the wheel in place to maintain its position, tighten back the nuts. Take your hand off the wheel once it’s steady and make use of both hands to work on tightening the nuts until firm.

Step 7: Turn the wheel by working the pedal to ascertain the tension of the chain, if it’s what you adjusted it to.

How to Tighten a Loose Chain on a Multiple-gear or Mountain Bike

Step 1: Turn the bike down, so it lies on its seat and handlebars

Step 2: Locate the derailleur or the small tension pulley that works to provide tension to the bike chain as the chain moves from one gear to another.

Step 3: Find the derailleur screw ( it will usually have a letter ‘B’ next on its side. Using the screwdriver driver rotate the screw clockwise. This will tighten the chain on the rear sprocket.

Step 4: Next loosen the rear wheel by lifting the quick-release located just behind the wheel axle, and using a spanner to loosen the nut on the other side of the rear axle.

Step 5: Move the wheel back a bit until you achieve the desired tension in the chain.

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Step 6: After you’ve finished adjusting the chain, return the quick-release lever to its position by pressing it down until tightly held in. Tighten back the nut on the other side of the wheel.

Step 7: Test the bike’s chain tension by rotating the wheels and observing it; it should sag only a little.

Tips on How to Tighten a Bike Chain:

  • When adjusting the tension of your bike’s chain, avoid over tightening it; it may result in damage to the links of the chain or even breakage, especially if it’s an old chain
  • Always ensure the chain is properly lubricated
  • Wear protective clothing like an overall or gloves when tightening a bike chain to avoid getting oil on your clean clothes and hands
  • Always check the tension of your bike’s chain before using it to avoid the inconvenience of a chain that keeps coming undone while riding
  • Carry a set of spanners, a pair of pliers and a screwdriver with you when going out on your bike. Toy ma need to fix a faulty chain