Chain Tension???????

11 replies to this topic
  • BRP-rider

Posted March 19, 2005 - 01:49 PM



I have an XR600r :p with a heavy duty O-ring chain. :D I don't know what the tension should be on it. :) What's worse, having a chain too loose or too tight? What can happen if it's too loose or too tight? Do these factors differ when it's an O-ring chain?

Thanks :D

  • qadsan

Posted March 19, 2005 - 03:54 PM


Too tight is worse than too loose, but neither is good. If the chain is too tight, then your chain will stretch and or snap and you don't want too loose of chain or else it can flop around and damage the frame, swingarm, etc, and or come off the sprocket. There are industry standards for chain tension that apply to all chains whether it's on a motorcycle, car, conveyer, press, etc. To do the following procedure, its easiest to remove the shock, but you can use a ratcheting tie down if you're careful. Use the following rule of thumb for your motorcycles where chain sag in inches = distance in inches between sprocket centers from where they are farthest apart (tightest point for the chain) * 2%. In other words, find the point in the swingarm travel where the chain is at it's tightest point. Then at that point, measure the distance in inches between the sprocket centers and multiply that distance by 2% to get your proper chain sag while the chain is at its tighest point. Place a straight edge across the top of the sprockets to measure the sag and set your sag at that point where the chain should be at its tightest. After you're done, put the shock back in and balance the bike on its two wheels while it sits normal and relaxed and measure the chain sag again. This will be your new permanent & ideal number to work from. You can make a sticker and place it on your swingarm so you'll always have it to work from or write that number in your manual. You don't ever want it any tighter and a little looser is OK, but this will be your ideal setting whether its a ringed chain or not.

Next make sure your sprockets are in perfect alignment with each other and don't trust the marks on your alignment blocks because they're not always accurate. Simple take a straight edge and place it on your rear sprocket so its facing towards your front sprocket. Look from the back of your rear sprocket down the straight edge in relation to the chain and you'll quickly be able to tell if its aligned with the front sprocket or not. You'll be able to visually tell there's a problem even if you're one degree off. After you get your sprockets aligned, check your chain slack once again and make a final adjustment if necessary.

If you follow these procedures and use a good dry film chain lube (not a wax or wet/oily product), then you'll maximize the life of your chain & sprockets.

  • 600ish

Posted March 19, 2005 - 04:15 PM


4 fingers between the chain and swingarm halfway down the top of the swingarm has worked great for me. A good quality chain and sprockets are a must. :)

  • BRP-rider

Posted March 19, 2005 - 05:00 PM


Thanks, Much appreciated. :) :)

  • JetPilot

Posted March 19, 2005 - 05:20 PM


Dont get it to tight !!!! Refer to my post "Broken Chain" if in any doubt about this :) I cannot do the 2% thing quadson, here in the states it would be easy enough, but dont have anything but a wrench and a screwdriverdown in South America :) I had to use a large box end wrench just to measure the inch and a half of chain play, I couldnt find a ruler anywhere. What do you mean by dry film product, not a wax ?? I use bell spray chain lube, but have no idea what it is. When its dries on the chain, its kind of a milky white and is not oily... Can you elaborate on what a dry film lube is , do you use it after every ride ??? I also clean the chian with kerosene, as is the custom down there, any thoughts on this ???


  • qadsan

Posted March 19, 2005 - 08:47 PM


The finger method isn't perfect because peoples fingers vary in size. For instance, my four fingers measure 3.75 inches and my borthers-in-law whose fingers I just measured are closer to 3 inches. That's a whopping difference! It also can't be applied from one model of bike to another because there are sometime differences between different bikes. Sure it works and you'll get life from the chain & sprockets and maybe good life if your close enough, but you won't get the max life from them unless they're adjusted to optimum. It just depends on what's good enough for you and how much life you want from your chain / sprockets.

What I mean by a dry film lube is a thin runny lube that goes on wet, penetrates into the chain, leaves a protective barrier film and is dry to the touch within a few hours or so. If your chain lube keeps the chain wet, sticky, or gooey, then it will attract dirt, sand, etc. Chain wax is the worst product you can use for a dirt bike as it's a magnet for dirt, sand, etc. If you can pour or rub dirt on your chain and it sticks to the chain, then you may want to try a different chain care product. Your chain should not be building up goop on it or caking up gook inside the coutershaft sprocket cavity when riding in 'dry' terrain. If you're riding through mud and goop, then that's a different story, but all too often I see filthy grimey chains and coutershaft cavities just caked with crud from people who ride dry terrain and these are the same folks who end up replacing their chains / sprockets earlier than the people who take better care of them. It's really comes down to being a personal preference thing in many case as to how much life you want from these components.

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  • BRP-rider

Posted March 20, 2005 - 08:40 AM


:) I wouldn't use kerosene to clean a chain.
I would use a bit of Brake cleaner. :)

  • qadsan

Posted March 20, 2005 - 11:34 AM


Brake cleaner will do a very good job of cleaning the chain, but sometimes too much of a good thing is bad, especially if you have a ringed chain. Brake cleaner will do more damage than good on a ringed chain. There's a possibility the chemicals being used in the brake cleaner may attack the rings and many brake cleaners recommend you protect rubber & plastic parts when using their product. Not all brake cleaners are made with the same chemicals and not all ringed chains use the same ring materials, so unless you know the chemicals being used are compatible with the materials used in the rings on your chain, then you may be shortening the life of your chain & sprockets. Also, brake cleaners are degreasers and they're thin enough to penetrate into the chain links and degrease the lube that the factory originally put there for the purpose of extending the life of the chain. Kerosene is actually listed in many bike manuals as a chemical to use for cleaning chains and if you take a look at a petroleum distilation column, then you'll see where kerosene is significantly heavier than solvents, which means it won't penetrate as well and that's a good thing for a ringed chain. Brake cleaner is a cool product for certain applications, but I'd recommend keeping it away from ringed chains if you're looking to get the most from your ringed chain & sprockets.

  • BRP-rider

Posted March 20, 2005 - 04:29 PM


About some of the bad chemicals in Brake Cleaner,
it does contain Perchloroethylene, which is very poisnous.

  • DigilubeJay

Posted March 26, 2005 - 04:13 AM


I couldn't have said it all better myself! :)

  • frankstr

Posted March 26, 2005 - 06:03 AM


I use kersene to clean my chain and it clean's great, One should never use brake clean on a x ring chain, Like qadson said...That stuff will get inside where you don't want it and wash the grease away.......

  • LotsOfBikes

Posted March 28, 2005 - 11:55 PM


40mm of freeplay with the bike up on a stand, chain cold and the suspension fully entended.

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