Motorcycle Chain Tension: Too Tight Or Loose

Motorcycle rear chain

For most motorcyclists a motorcycle chain is just there, we know what it does, but we don’t really need to consider its tension. However, if we want our motorcycle to run in the best possible way, knowing a little more about your motorcycle chain’s tension can help!

Why is your motorcycle chain tension important?

The tension of a motorcycle chain is an important factor in the smooth running of your bike and its longevity. The purpose of a motorcycle chain is to drive the rear wheel. It is a system of gears that transmits rotation and power from the engine through the transmission and to the rear wheel with as little loss as possible.

With your motorcycle chain, you can change gear ratios and multiply torque so you can go fast or slow depending on the circumstances. However, if your chain is too loose it will slip and wear out quickly, but too tight may lead to serious damage such as melted chains!

What will happen if your motorcycle chain is too tight?

If your motorcycle chain is too tight it will put more strain on the drive train components which will lead to increased wear and tear. If your bike has an aluminum chassis this can be particularly bad news as the added force may cause bending or snapping! If your bike doesn’t have an aluminum chassis then your chain might just keep slipping off, or if left for a long period of time it could stretch making all future adjustments useless.

What happens if my motorcycle chain is too loose?

A loose chain will do exactly what you expect it to do! To go back to our car analogy, think about driving without putting your seat belt on – you could get in serious accidents if anything were to happen! Not only does a sliding chain mean that your motorcycle will not be running in the most efficient manner, but it also means that your sprockets can end up getting damaged or worn down.

How long does a motorcycle chain tension last?

The average new motorcycle chain tension will last 3000 miles but for an older chain, you would want to check tension every 750 miles.

If you’re not sure how to check your motorcycle chain tension, a good option is to take your bike to a local mechanic’s workshop or dealer. They will be able to inspect the quality of your chain and fix any problems that might arise within 5 minutes! This way you can feel safe knowing that you are riding on a fully functional machine!

How do I keep my motorbike chain tension optimal?

Keeping a check on a motorcycle’s chain tension means checking it before every ride. The best way to do this is to push down on the rear suspension as hard as possible just before you jump on your bike. If you have been adjusting your motorcycle’s chain tension yourself then you should be looking at about 1/4″ – 3/8″ of movement if you put the bike in 6th gear (the gear closest to your ground) and pull hard on the suspension.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to tighten or loosen every time you want to go for a ride, but if you often find yourself adjusting your chain’s tension then it’s either too tight or too loose.

If you’re finding that it is constantly either too tight or too loose then there is most likely something wrong with your chain adjustment system. If this happens, take your bike to your local motorcycle mechanic! They’ll sort out any problems that you might have with your chain tensioner within 5 minutes and without breaking the bank!

Can I adjust my own motorcycle chain tension?

You can definitely adjust your own motorcycle chain tension. Adjusting your own motorcycle chain tension is not as easy as putting up an Ikea bookshelf but it certainly isn’t hard either.

Watch the following video for a full tutorial


Keeping your bike chain tension in check is essential for keeping your motorcycle in top condition! Remember that too tight is bad and too loose may cause damage, so by checking it before every ride you are being proactive about the longevity of your motorcycle.

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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