How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be?

A bike chain is a circular metal band that connects the pedals to the rear wheel. It’s designed to ensure the rear wheel turns easily and prevents the chain from coming off. But the chain must be tight enough to slide easily through the pedals but not so tight that it causes damage

. As the name suggests, a bike chain works like a chain of sprockets. This chain links the rear wheel to the rear derailleur. It helps transfer energy from the rear wheel to the pedal and steer the bike. The chain tightens once you pedal to transfer power from the rear wheel to the pedal crank drivetrain through a chainring and crankset.

We will discuss how tight should a bike chain be. How to tighten a bike chain? What is a derailleur screw? And why it’s necessary to use derailleur screws instead of normal ones? Let’s dive into it.

How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be

Detailed Discussion How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be?

Detailed Discussion How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be?

There is no single answer to this question, as it depends on various factors, including the type of bike you’re using and your riding habits. However, we can offer some general guidelines that may help you tighten your bike chain appropriately. Tight bike chains can protect your bike from being stolen or damaged, but they can also reduce the life of your bike’s gears. You can find these tools online or at bicycle shops. Here are a few tips for getting perfect tension:

  • Use a tool to measure the distance between your gears and see how much slack is left in the chain. This will help you determine how tight you need to make the chain.
  • Hold the derailleur in one hand and use the other hand to tighten the chain until it’s snug but not too tight. Don’t overdo it; you don’t want to damage your gear or derailleur.
  • Test your chain tension by moving the derailleur back and forth a few times before riding. If there’s still excessive slack, go back and tighten it further until there’s no slack.

Conservative Tightening Methods:

  • Use a ratchet that has a large range of motion.
  • Loosen the chain by turning the handle in one direction until it’s almost completely loose, then turn it back the other way and tighten up the chain again.
  • Repeat these steps until the chain is tight enough for your liking.

Tightening Methods For Higher-Quality Chains:

  • Use a shorter (and therefore more powerful) wrench than what’s typically recommended.
  • Tighten one link at a time in a figure 8 pattern, tightening any slack links between each link.
  • Wrench again in reverse after finishing each link to make sure it’s securely tightened.

5 Steps To Tighten A Bike Chain With A Derailleur

5 Steps To Tighten A Bike Chain With A Derailleur

When riding a bike with a derailleur, it’s important to often check the chain’s tension. A loose chain can lead to a damaged derailleur or derailleur housing, and a tight chain can result in poor shifting performance and fatigue for the chain and derailleur.

Therefore, keeping the chain tension tight is vital enough that it doesn’t slip under high-speed pedaling. If you ever find yourself needing to tighten the bike chain on your bike, here are five steps that will help you do it quickly and easily:

1. Position Your Bike Correctly

Position Your Bike Correctly

To properly tighten your bike chain, you must first position your bike correctly. Ensure the front and rear derailleurs are in the correct gear before tightening the chain. If your bike has a hub-based shifter, ensure the chain is over the cog on the rear sprocket. If your bike has a gear-driven shifter, make sure the chain is over the cog on the front sprocket. Once you’re ready to tighten your chain, use a bike chain tool or a pair of pliers.

Start by turning the tool or pliers to click against the chain’s links. Do this slowly and gradually increase the tension until your bike is in gear. Remember to keep tension on the chain while riding, as this will help prevent it from becoming loose or damaged over time.

2. Find The Derailleur Screw

Find The Derailleur Screw

When bike chains lose tension over time, they can cause your bike to skid and fail to propel you forward. To prevent this, you must regularly check the chain’s tension and replace it if it is loose or worn out. When riding your bike, it is important to regularly check the tension of your chain and make any necessary adjustments.

One way to ensure that your chain stays tight is by turning the derailleur screw counterclockwise, which will tighten the chain and prevent it from coming off the gears. This will ensure your chain stays in place and doesn’t slip off while riding.

3. Getting To The Rear Tire

Getting To The Rear Tire

If you are riding a bike with a derailleur, there are several steps that you must follow to ensure that the chain is tight and secure on the rear wheel. There are a few ways to get to the rear tire on a bike. The easiest way is to use a derailleur. With this system, you move the chain from one sprocket to another using small gears attached to the derailleur.

4. Adjusting The Rear Tire

Adjusting The Rear Tire

A bike chain that is too loose can cause the derailleur to shift and make it difficult to ride. A bike chain that is too tight can damage the bike and the derailleur. To adjust the chain properly, check to see if the derailleur is properly seated in the hub. Next, use a tool to turn the inner ring of the derailleur.

Finally, adjust the outer ring of the derailleur until it is snug against the gearwheel. If a bike chain is loose or tight, it may be time for a professional bike maintenance service to come out and give it an oil change, lube, and check everything for wear and tear.

5. Put The Bike Back Together

Put The Bike Back Together

If your bike is not riding as smoothly as it should, it may be time to tighten the chain. You’ll need to remove the derailleur and put it back together as you took it apart. This will ensure that all the links in the chain are properly tightened.

You will also need to check the tension on each link by rotating it anticlockwise with your fingers. Make sure every link is in perfect tension before putting everything back together. If your bike is still not performing at its best, you can consult a professional bike mechanic to correct any issues.

How Does A Bike Chain Work?

How Does A Bike Chain Work?

A bike chain is made of steel or other metal wire and is tensioned by a cog wheel. A cogwheel is a sprocket, a wheel with teeth on the circumference. The chain’s tightness determines how much tension it provides to the bike. The tighter the chain, the more resistance it provides to the bike’s movement. As a result, you will feel more wind resistance when riding the bike.

Moreover, this tightness also impacts the shifting of derailleur gears, making the chain last longer. The size of chain links and the number of links determines how tight you can make the chain. A properly tensioned chain will prevent your bike from moving while you are riding it.


In the above blog, we provided an in-depth look at chain tension and chain slack. While chain tension tightens the chain and chain slack allows the chain to move freely, they both serve the same function – keeping your bike riding smooth and efficient.

Getting chain tension right is crucial for a bike chain to function properly. If chain tension is too loose or tight, it can affect the performance of your bike chain and derailleur system.

Getting chain slack right is equally important, as slack tension refers to the length of chain slack a bike chain can have before it affects drivetrain performance. However, when chain tension is right, chain slack supports achieving optimal drivetrain performance. So next time you’re faced with adjusting bike chain tension, remember the steps mentioned above and get it right.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.How Tight Do I Want My Bike Chain?

Ans: Regarding adjusting the tension on your bike chain, 8-10 Nm is generally good. Too much tension on the chain can damage the drivetrain, while a chain that’s too loose can make riding the bike difficult and annoying.

2.How Do I Know If My Bike Chain Is Too Loose?

Ans: When it comes to bike chains, it’s important to check if they’re loose or tight. A loose chain can cause your bike to skid and be less responsive, while a tight chain can lead to accidents. To tighten your bike chain, first, use a chain tool or a coin to loosen the chain links.

3.Can You Over-Tighten A Chain?

Ans: It is possible to over-tighten a chain, potentially causing damage to the bike and/or the rider. Over-tightening a chain can cause several symptoms, including instability, loss of power, and decreased fuel economy.

To avoid over-tightening a chain, use the correct chain length for your bike and always use a quality chain tool.

4.What Happens If The Chain Is Too Loose?

Ans: If chain tension is too loose, the bike can skid and be difficult to control. The too tight chain can damage the chain, sprocket, and wheel. Chain tension should be adjusted using a chain tool or a spanner to maintain riding ease and security. To adjust chain tension, you can rotate the bike’s wheel.

5.Does Tightening My Bike Chain Make It Easier For Me To Pedal Uphill, Or Will It Wear Out My Bike Chains Faster?

Ans: Whether or not tightening the bike chain makes it easier for you to pedal uphill. On the one hand, chain tensioning can wear out your bike chain faster. On the other hand, chain tensioning too much can cause derailment and loss of bike power. The best way to pedal uphill is by riding comfortably and relying on muscle power alone. For best results, use a chain tool to tension the chain properly.

Leave a Comment