Maintaining proper chain tension is crucial for fixed gear riders. If the chain is too loose, it can be a safety hazard and can also shorten the life of the drivetrain. On the other hand, a chain that is too tight can be less efficient and put unnecessary stress on the drivetrain. In this article, we will provide an easy method for correctly tensioning your fixed gear chain.
Why is Chain Tension Important for Fixed Gear Bikes?
Before we dive into the steps for tensioning your chain, let's take a moment to understand why chain tension is so important for fixed gear bikes.
First and foremost, having a chain that is too loose can be a safety hazard. If the chain falls off while you are riding, it can cause you to lose control of the bike and potentially crash. This is especially risky on a fixed gear bike, as you do not have the option to coast or pedal backwards to slow down or stop.
In addition to being a safety issue, having a loose chain can also shorten the life of your drivetrain. When the chain is not properly tensioned, it can cause the chainring and cog to wear down more quickly. These components are not cheap to replace, so it is in your best interest to keep your chain properly tensioned in order to extend the life of your drivetrain.
On the other hand, having a chain that is too tight can also be problematic. A tight chain can be less efficient, as it requires more force to pedal. This can make riding more difficult and can also put unnecessary stress on the drivetrain components.
With these considerations in mind, it is important to maintain the proper chain tension on your fixed gear bike. Now, let's discuss how to do so.
Step 1: Check the Chain Tension
The first step in tensioning your chain is to check the tension itself. You want about one inch of slack in the chain when you lift it up and down. This rule of thumb has worked well for many riders, but you may prefer a little more or less slack depending on your preference.
To measure the slack in your chain, lift the chain up and down with your hand. You can use a ruler or a tape measure to measure the distance between the highest and lowest points of the chain. Aim for about one inch of slack in both directions.
If you find that your chain is too loose, you will need to tighten it. If it is too tight, you will need to loosen it. In the next step, we will discuss how to make these adjustments.
Step 2: Check the Wheel Alignment
Next, make sure that the wheel is centered in the frame. You can use the chainstay as a reference point to ensure that the wheel is not skewed to one side or the other.
To check the wheel alignment, stand the bike up and look at it from the side. The wheel should be centered between the chainstays and should not be tilted to one side or the other. If the wheel is not centered, you will need to adjust it.
To adjust the wheel alignment, loosen the nuts that hold the wheel in place. Then, using your hands, gently push or pull the wheel into the desired position. Once the wheel is centered, tighten the nuts to hold it in place.
Step 3: Tighten the Wheel Nuts
Once you have the chain tension and wheel alignment adjusted to your liking, it is important to make sure that the nuts holding