Without a doubt, knowing how to adjust your motorcycle chain is one of the most important motorcycle maintenance jobs an owner must be able to do. Neglecting to correctly adjust your chain will result in unnecessary wear and extreme cases… damage to your chain and sprocket. Check out this step-by-step guide on how to adjust your motorcycle chain!
Adjusting your motorcycle chain should be a regular maintenance job you do every 800kms or so. (Reference your Bike Manual for the exact interval - Will vary on manufacture and models)
Keep in mind, when you are adjusting your chain, it's also a great time to clean and lubricate the chain and sprocket. For more information on how to correctly do this, check out our other article on the Easiest Way To Clean Your Motorcycle Chain!
How Much Chain Slack Does Your Bike Need?
Head straight to your owner's manual for this information. On some bikes, the answer will also be displayed on the swingarm. On average, most street motorcycles will need a chain tension of about 20 – 40 mm and dirt bikes, a chain tension of 35 – 50 mm.
Your owner manual will also advise if you should be adjusting your chain on the side stand or a paddock/ bike stand. It's surprising how much the chain slack can vary depending on if the bike is on the stand or a bike stand.
Working Out Your Current Chain Slack
Grabbing a ruler/ measuring tape, place it under the swing arm mid-way between the sprockets (Mirror the image below)
Using the link pin as a reference point, pull the chain down and note the measurement. Reverse this action by pulling the chain up and taking the measurement again. With the two numbers, calculate this difference and that will be your total chain slack. If the slack is outside of the recommended threshold, then get out some tool and a bit of below grease and let's adjust that chain!
Adjusting Your Motorcycle Chain! Step-By-Step Guide
Step 1: Loosen the Axle Nut a couple of turns. This nut can be a little stubborn to get loose, so a breaker bar comes in handy. A couple of turns of the wrench is all that is needed to allow the rear wheel to move on the swingarm.
Step 2: Once the Axle Nut is loosened, head to your Axle Adjusts. Cracking the adjuster nuts free, turn the adjusters a quarter turn at a time to shift the axel position and change the chain slack. Keep in mind, your bike has adjusters on both sides, so whatever you adjust on one, you must also adjust on the other.
Step 3: Continue adjusting the axles a quarter turn at a time, repeatedly measuring the slack of the chain until you are at the optimal chain tension.
Step 4: On each side of the swingarm there are small tick marks, indicating a guide for wheel alignment. Although this should only be used as a guide, its good to make sure the adjusters are pointing to the same tick mark as one another.
Step 4: Once you have found the ideal chain slack, tighten the adjusters and axle nut. Refer to your owners manual again to get the correct torque
Step 5: So you have just finished making an adjustable, repeat the process of measuring the chain slack and find the results. If you need to adjust the chain a little more, simply crack the axle nut again, and adjust the axle adjusters.
Although this is a pretty simple maintenance job to do yourself, it takes a little trial and error to correctly get the needed chain slack, so be patient and get this right.
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