How To Tighten A Bike Chain: Quick & Easy to Apply Tips

Are you looking for some information on how to tighten a bike chain? You will get all the information in this review. With a loose chain, it might come off too easy. Therefore, it shouldn’t sag more than an inch, or you will have trouble paddling it.

These chains do tend to lose pretty quickly if there is no derailleur on your bike. This derailleur will keep your chain tight and will help in efficient gear shifting as well. But how to tighten a bike chain once it loosens up? In this guide, we are going to help you with that, so keep reading.

How to Tighten a Bike Chain & What Could Happen If You Continue Riding It Loose?

Your bike chain shouldn’t be that loose, or you will hear different kinds of jarring noises as soon as hat chains run over the sprockets. The chain will go out of the sprocket as well, especially when you paddle faster.

Plus, there will be a clanging motion as well as a noise when you are paddling. This will be inconvenient and quite disturbing for you, and your riding experience will become annoying.

Steps on How to Tighten a Bike Chain with a Derailleur

how to tighten a bicycle chain tips

It’s not that difficult, but it’s a huge problem with a multi-gear bike, and you need to fix it as soon as possible. Do not ride with a loose chain and get to fix it immediately. So, here’s how to tighten a bicycle chain with a derailleur.

Step 1: Positioning the bike is a correct position

You need to flip the bike on its head and fit it on a bike stand. It will make the rear bike tire and the derailleur easily accessible. If you don’t have a bike stand, you can go for a softer surface that doesn’t scratch your bike.

Step 2: Locating that derailleur screw

Now, every multi-gear bike has a derailleur screw at the back. To increase your bike chain’s tension, you need to turn this screw clockwise and vice versa.

Step 3: Assessing and adjusting the back tire

You have to disconnect your brakes from their cables, and for doing so, you will have to lift your brake lever to access the back tire. For increasing the tension, you will have to slide that wheel axle in the direction of the rear drop-outs but small adjustments because you don’t want your chain to be too tight.

Step 4: Putting everything back

After that, you will have to put everything back in its place as it was. But make sure you do that according to your needs. For example, the screw on the derailleur needs to be tightly in position, and the tire is rolling smoothly. That’s how to fix a bike chain with gears.

Steps on How to Fix a Loose Hybrid Bike Chain

Loose chain on hybrid bike

Hybrid bikes are pretty similar as compared to other types of bikes that have multiple gears. It means that there is going to be a derailleur as well. So making adjustments in the tension will be pretty much similar to the case of a regular multi-gear bike.

Step 1: Locating the derailleur screw

You will have to locate the derailleur screw that is present right next to the rear wheel axle. The position is going to be slightly different, but the approach is very similar. You will have to rotate the screw clockwise to tighten the bike chain. Lifting the rear wheel and disconnecting the brakes is very much similar as in the case of any multi-gear bike.

Step 2: Putting everything back

When you are done with the adjustments, you need to put everything back in its place. Just make sure you check everything else and confirm before you reassemble everything.

Steps on How to Fix Chain Tension Single Speed

Single speed chain fix

If your single-speed bike chain keeps coming off, then you need to fix it. And it’s a little bit simple as compared to other bike types. So, how tight should a bike chain be single speed?

You have to make sure that it is not too tight or too loose because too tight a bike chain is hazardous. Also, your bike chain will be more prone to breaking, especially when you hard press the paddle. So, here’s how to fix a loose bicycle chain on a single-speed.

Step 1: Loosen your bike tire

You will need to lose the bolts that hold your tire in place. Therefore, as there is no derailleur, you will have to move the wheel from the axle to adjust the bike chain tension.

Step 2: Pull your tire back

You will have to pull back the tire from the axle to loosen it, and it will slightly tighten the chain. Just pull back enough to check the tightness in the chain. When you get the required bike chain tension, then fit the wheel in. It will be useful if your bike chain keeps falling off single speed axle.

Steps on How to Fix a Loose Mountain Bike Chain

how to adjust bike chain steps

If you are thinking about how to tighten the mountain bike chain, it is pretty simple. Mountain bikes are also multi-gear, so there will be a derailleur on them as well. The process of adjusting the chain is pretty much similar to a hybrid or a multi-gear bike with a derailleur. So, here’s how to tension the bike chain on an MTB.

Step 1: Going for a simple mountain bike chain tensioner

You don’t have to go for a mountain bike chain tensioner if you have a multi-gear MTB. A tensioner would be a good chain tension tool for single-speed MTBs. But you will have to install it just if there is a derailleur in place and it looks like one.

A multi-gear bike will have a derailleur in place, and making adjustments to it is pretty simple, as in the case with any other multi-gear bike. If you have a cruiser bike, you will need a beach cruiser chain tensioner.

Step 2: Reassembling the bike

In the end, you will have to place the chain on the tensioner and make sure it is tight enough according to your needs. Just keep in mind that it should be too tight, or the chain will break after a while.

Steps on How to Tighten BMX Chain

BMX fixing chain tension

If your BMX chain keeps coming loose, you need to know how tight a BMX chain should be? If your BMX bike chain keeps falling off, then here’s how to tighten a bike chain on your BMX.

Step 1: Loosening the rear axle

Take your socket wrench and loosen the rear axle by turning the axle bolt on one side in the anti-clockwise direction. It will release the tension and then do the same on the other side.

Step 2: Wedging the arm

You will have to wedge the arm of your hammer right between the rear tire and the bottom bracket and set it up like a lever. Now apply pressure on the head of the hammer, and the arm will push against the tire, and it will increase the tension in the chain. You can check the tension by pulling on the chain. This is how to tighten the chain on a BMX bike or any other similar type of bike.

What Tool Do You Need for Fixing a Loose Bicycle Chain?

Oumers Universal Bike Chain Tool with Chain Hook, Road and Mountain Bicycle Chain Repair Tool, Bike Chain Splitter Cutter Breaker, Bicycle Remove and Install Chain Breaker Spliter Chain Tool

Following tools are required if you are looking for how to tighten a bike chain.

  • Socket wrench: You will need a wrench to work on those bolts that are present on the wheels.
  • Adaptor for socket wrench: For a pegged bike, you will need a socket wrench adaptor. With the adjustment, you can conveniently use your wrench on different types of bolts.

Park Tool CG-2.4 Bicycle Chain and Drivetrain Cleaning Kit

  • Rag and lubricant: Caring and maintenance of your bike chain is a must, and for that, you need to keep the chain and other parts lubricated adequately so they can continue to work with minor wear and tear. With a rag, you can clean any access lubrication too.
  • Bike stand: This is not a must-have tool, but if you have a bike stand, you can work on the lower section of your bike pretty conveniently by fitting it into the stand and turning it upside down.
  • Gloves: It’s better to have a pair of gloves with you and wear them while working on those wires to prevent any injuries. 

How to Know that You Did a Good Job?

When riding your bike, you will know that you are getting the right kind if you push with enough pressure to apply it on the paddle. When the yield is right, it means you have done an excellent job tightening your bike chain.

Is It Time for a New Chain – How to Know?

zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain 1/2 x 3/32 Inch 116 Links

If you see many signs of wear and tear on your chain, and even after tightening or loosening it, you are not getting the results, then it’s time to change the chain for good. There is no need to keep working on this chain because going for the new one will immediately yield results.

Most Common Reasons Why Chain Get Loose

The most common reason for getting a loose chain is maybe you have installed a new chain on an old bike, and it does not fit well on your bike’s axle. In addition, your bike’s bottom bracket must be loose, which is causing the chain to loosen up as well. Another reason for this is loose derailleur, but this problem is specific to the multi-gear bikes.

FAQs About How to Tighten a Bike Chain

What is a bicycle chain tensioner?

It’s a small part that works on fixies or is good if you want to convert your multi-gear bike to a single-speed. It will make your bike have a single fixed gear by screwing the axle securely to the frame.

How to tighten a bike chain without tools?

You can press one of the pins out from the chain link and then tighten the chain based on your needs, and that is how to adjust the bike chain without tools. This way, you don’t need a tool to tighten or loosen your chain. Instead, it’s just about removing a link and reconnecting the broken ends to shorten the length of the chain slightly.

How tight should a bicycle chain be?

When you have to loosen or tighten the chain, it can be moved up and down by an inch.

Final Words on How to Tighten a Bike Chain

So, there you have it now; you know how to tighten a bike chain on your own. But, of course, you must keep your bike in tip-top condition to restrict normal wear and tear. And if you want to know more about how to take care of your bikes read our hybrid bikes maintenance guide.

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