How To Tighten A Dirt Bike Chain

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Having a loose chain on a dirt bike is annoying. And the sound it makes is just what gets on my nerves. But the bigger problem is, it affects your bike’s speed and the chain’s working life. Adjusting the chain may not make your bike faster, but the chain will last longer and save your installation bill.

To tighten the chain, first you need to loosen up the axles and the adjuster nut and bolt. Then, measure the chain slack, adjust the chain, keep the alignment even, tighten everything up, and lubricate the chain.

Tightening is not a complicated task. You can do it yourself, and the whole thing only needs 15-20 mins. This write-up here is all about how to tighten a dirt bike chain, and as a bonus, you’ll get to know more about the chain itself.  

Let’s learn how to tighten a dirt bike chain in 6 simple steps

Tightening the chain doesn’t come first in mind when we are servicing the bike. But taking care of the chain and giving importance to this part is actually crucial. The best part is, it only takes minutes to do so! Before we proceed to the steps, let’s look into the tools we’re going to need to tighten the chain.

Things you’ll need

The tools that will help you out in this chain-tightening mission are-

  1. 32mm socket/ large crescent wrench
  2. 10 and 12 mm spanner (wrenches)
  3. Chain lubricant

How To Tighten A Dirt Bike Chain

Tightening a dirt bike chain – Six steps

Among the essential parts, chain and sprocket are two of them. Surely, if any of these two gets damaged, the performance of the dirt bike can be seriously affected. Tightening the chain properly can save the bike from all the troubles. The task is effortless as well. Let’s look into the steps and fix that chain!

  1. Loosen up the axles

The first thing you need to do is loosen up the axles- which means loosen the rear wheels. Loosening the axles will allow the wheels to slide off and make way to the adjustment nuts. For that, take a 32 mm socket or an adjustable crescent wrench and loosen the nut on the axles.

Don’t unscrew the nuts all the way; you only need to loosen the axles, not detach them.

  1. Loosening Lock nut

Now with the axles loose, the next step is to loosen the adjuster bolts and adjuster lock nut. To do so, take a 10mm wrench for the bolt and a 12 mm wrench for the locking nut. Turn them evenly, and the bolt and nut should be loose.

There is one on each side, so you need to do both of them. It is even better if you take a peek at the service manual to be extra careful.
Since everything is loosened up now, you should be able to move the rear while in and out easily.

  1. Measure the chain slack

After all the necessary screws are loose, it is time to measure how loose the chain is. Find the midway of the chain and measure the chain slack. The proper measure of chain slack should be around 1-1.25 inches.

For this step to be done, put three fingers between the chain and the swing arm. If the chain does not feel like pressing on your fingers, it indicates that the chain needs tightening.

  1. Adjusting the chain

Take a wrench and start turning the adjusting bolt onto the chain block. Do the left side first for adjusting the chain. When you think you’ve turned the bolts enough, recheck the measurement of the slack.

To be accurate about chain adjustment, use the three-finger method; the chain should be pressing on them if it is properly tightened.

  1. Repeat on the right side

Once the left side is done, do the same on the right. Turn the bolt precisely at the same rate as the other side. Use the marks on the axle blocks as your guide to aligning the notch on both sides to get the expected chain length.

This part is essential because if the alignment is messed up, the wheels will not spin right and cause damage or a crash.

  1. Tighten everything up

Tighten the axle nut and the locking nuts. After tightening everything up, you need to grease the chain. It is crucial to prevent any unwanted issues with the chain.

Grab a chain lubricant spray and apply it to the chain. Start from the section with the gate chain gaieties and roll the wheel to lubricate the chain. Wait for 10-15 minutes and let the chain lube dry.

There, you have a perfectly adjusted and greased dirt bike chain!

What problems may occur if the chain is too tight or too loose?

Several problems may occur if the chain of a dirt bike is too loose or too tight. A loose chain can sabotage the swing arm, and the chain may come off of the sprocket, which can actually harm the sprocket itself.

Also, a loose chain disturbs the power transfer, and the rider will face problems propelling the bike forward. Plus, you’ll have to endure.

If it is too tight, the wheel will become hard to turn, resulting in heaps of strain and chain tension on the chain sprocket. As a result, the chain sprocket may be damaged prematurely.

The drive shaft will also have a lot of pressure which can damage the shaft, casing or the bearings. Too tight chains will also create issues with the suspension of the bike.

Maintaining the chain of a dirt bike

Keeping an eye on the chain of a dirt bike is very important to preserve the chain’s working life. Clean the chain regularly and keep it lubricated before every ride. Washing the chain after a ride does wonders for your chain as it avoids dirt and jamming.

This way, the chain will be free of dirt and debris, and the rider will be able to avoid accidents.

Let’s fix it!

Dirt bikes need to be looked after. The chain may seem a less important part of a bike, but it won’t go forward without it. It is a key figure for a well run dirt bike, so you must know how to tighten a dirt bike chain if it ever comes off.

Be a good owner and take care of your bike always!