A Complete Guide on How to Tighten a Bike Chain Safely

If you’re a professional or avid biker, you probably know the dangers of your bike chain getting loose. Hence, you must know the dangers of a loose bike chain. Nevertheless, it’s bound to happen after riding for some time and can happen for many reasons. That is why you should know how to tighten a bike chain by yourself. 

A new bike chain can get loose if you place it on an old bike. The worn-down components of your old bike will cause your new chain to jump and slide as you ride. That eventually makes your bike chain loosen up.

Although a loose chain isn’t dangerous, it’s still annoying. It makes your pedaling less efficient and require you to put in more effort. Read on to our complete guide on how to tighten a bike chain with a derailleur or on a single-gear bike.

Meanwhile, here’s a Youtube video from Destruction BMX. This is what they believe to be the easiest way to tighten your bike chain. Enjoy!

How Does a Bike Chain Function?

Multiple steel components make up the bike chain. That includes multiple pairs of outer plates and inner plates held together by rivets. 

A roller separates each pair of inner plates and presses the rivets through both outer plates. Then, the rivet is free to pivot on the roller and inner plates. There is a 0.5-inch gap between the rivets in most modern bicycles. 

The bike chain’s job is to generate energy and power from your pedaling to ensure a smooth ride. Unfortunately, once the bike loosens, the power drops. That means you’ll have to put much more energy into your pedaling, making it nearly impossible to ride. 

There are two types of bike chains; derailleur and single-gear chains. We’ll tell you how to tighten a loose bike chain or both types.

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How to Tighten a Bike Chain with a Derailleur

Derailleur chains are significantly different from single-gear bike chains. These chains move from sprocket to sprocket. There are several different designs of derailleur chains, depending on the number of sprockets. 

A rear cog can have anywhere between 5 to 12 sprockets. The more sprockets there are, the less gap is between cogs. The number of rear cogs also affects the narrowness of the chain.


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    A “3/32-inch chain” is another name for derailleur chains, even though they vary in size.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to tighten a bike chain with a derailleur.

    1. Put the bike in the correct position

      The first step is to position your bike correctly for viewing. The quickest and simplest option is to flip your bike upside down. That will help you locate the derailleur and access the wheels easily. 

    2. Locate the derailleur screw

      The next step is to locate the derailleur screw, which should be easy since your bike is in the correct position. The derailleur is a complicated-looking component consisting of cogs and screws.

      Commonly, you’ll find a “B” engraved adjacent to the screw behind the derailleur. This screw will help you tighten a bike chain quickly. All you have to do is twist it clockwise to increase chain tension.

    3. Access the rear tire

      Next, you have to access the rear tire to increase the derailleur chain tension. This step will require some dismantling, so you must stay vigilant.

      First, you have to disconnect the brakes from the cable. Then, you can lift the brake lever, which will help you access the rear tire. 

    4. Adjust the rear Tire

      Now that you have access to the rear tire, you can finally adjust it. Adjust the wheel axle such that the tension on the chain of the derailleur increases. Now, you can count on your bike chain to stay taut while you ride.

      However, make sure you don’t tighten the derailleur chain too much, as it can cause interruptions in your riding.

    5. Put everything back together

      Finally, the last step is to put everything back together and test your bike. Reconnect your brakes and tighten your screws one last time to achieve good chain tension. Spin the wheels once to see if they’re touching the chain or frame.

      If they’re touching neither, you’ve tightened your bike chain successfully. Lastly, you can take your bike for a ride to see if everything’s working smoothly!

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    How to Tighten a Bike Chain on a Single Gear Bike

    Unlike derailleur chains, single-gear bike chains only have one sprocket on the crankset. The other sprocket is on the wheel. The roller on this bike is commonly one-eighth of an inch in width.

    That’s why they’re also known as “one-eighth inch” chains. Since single-gear bikes don’t shift speeds, they don’t need multiple rear cogs. A wider chain and sprocket results in a longer chain life and ease in downhill biking. 

    Read on to find a step-by-step guide on how to tighten a bike chain on a single-speed bike.

    1. Put your bike in the correct position

      Firstly, you have to place your bike in the correct position. If you’re a professional biker, your instinct would probably be to set your bike upright. However, the easier option for an amateur is to turn the bike upside down.

      That will help you access the necessary parts easily. If you want to protect your bike from scratches, you can lay cardboard under it.

    2. Loosen the rear axle

      The next step is to loosen the rear axle. To loosen the rear axle, you have to fix a wrench on the bolt head and twist. Then, you can spin it clockwise until all the threads are somewhat loose. 

    3. Pull back on the rear tire

      After you’ve loosened the rear axle, you can pull back on the rear tire. Next, use a socket wrench to remove the nuts that connect the rear tire to the bike. You can slowly rotate the nuts in a counterclockwise direction until you’ve loosened them just enough.

      Then, you can go ahead and pull back the rear tire. Continue this until you feel you’ve reached an optimum level of chain tension.

    4. Make sure that you have the right chain tension.

      To ensure your chain tension is correct, analyze your bike once again. First, make sure that the bike chain only moves half an inch when you spin the wheels. If it moves more than half an inch, it means your chain is still loose.

      However, if it moves less than half an inch, you will have trouble pedaling smoothly.

    5. Tighten the rear tire back into place

      Once you’ve achieved your desired tension on the chain, you must fix your real tire back into place. You can do this by tightening the axle nuts once the wheel is back into place.

    6. Test the chain and the tire

      Lastly, it would help if you spun your wheels once again to ensure your bike is in the optimum setting. If your wheels do not touch the chain or frame while spinning, it means you were successfully able to tighten the chain.


    Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about bike chains and their working.

    How do you adjust the bike chain tension?

    To adjust chain tension on a mountain bike, you must locate the screw behind the derailleur. You’ll find a “B” written adjacent to it. Then, use your screwdriver to twist the B-tension screw and adjust chain tension.

    How do you tighten a loose bike chain?

    Tightening a loose bike chain yourself isn’t as complicated as it seems. For a single-speed back, you must first loosen the rear axle. Then, you can pull back on the rear tire to increase chain tension. 

    Tighten the rear tire again, and voila! You’ve successfully tightened a loose bike chain.

    How do you fix a sagging bike chain?

    Fixing a sagging bike chain with a derailleur is simple. All you have to do is twist the screw behind the derailleur to increase chain tension. Then, you can adjust the rear axle such that the chain is taut. 

    Lastly, put everything back together, and you’ve successfully fixed a sagging bike chain.

    What happens when the bike chain is loose?

    The loosening of a bike chain isn’t necessarily dangerous; it’s bothersome. It wastes your energy by making you put more effort into pedaling. Since the chain generates energy into the ride while you pedal, the power drops once the chain is loose.

    Tightening your bike chain is essential to avoid interruptions and low speed when you ride.

    Reasons Why Biking is Way Better Than Driving

    Now that you know how to tighten a bike chain, you have mastered the most challenging part of biking. Thus, you can make your bike a more frequent commute. Moreover, there are various reasons to choose this two-wheeler over a fancy car. 

    Better Perspective

    Going on a bicycle at a leisurely speed enables you to take in your surroundings much better. Moreover, you wouldn’t notice most of these things in a car. So, which neighborhood has the best-kept lawn? Also, how much unique architecture can you identify? 

    Consequently, you can look at your birthplace from a whole new perspective.

    Opportunity to Regain Health

    A 140-pound cyclist who pedals at twelve mph consumes roughly 480 calories each hour. Furthermore, research shows that weekly riding lowers blood stress and BP. Additionally, it improves stamina and elevates your mood. Consequently, your doctor might have to wait a while to write your next hefty prescription.

    No Traffic Hassles And Top-notch Parking

    If you live in a metropolis and commute by bike, you’ll appreciate being able to speed by large lines of automobiles. Thus, while most Lamborghinis have to stop at red lights, you’ll be pedaling away. 

    Furthermore, while cars breathe pollution and honk at each other, you enjoy the breeze and the scenery off the road. 

    Additionally, you always find a good parking place and frequently beat out your colleagues with cars.

    Save Extra Expenses

    If you think cars are expensive, you mustn’t be aware of the current gas prices. Moreover, over time your car will call for various other regular expenses.

    For example, you can’t say no to routine maintenance. Also, insurance and registration will cost you hefty sums as well.

    Therefore, tighten the chain on your ride to sidestep these expenses.

    Commute Time Is Also Gym Time

    Think of all the hours you will spend pedaling to and from work. Consequently, it is no less than a workout.

     Thus, you can easily merge your commute and workout with this two-wheeler. Additionally, you can pocket that gym fee as well.

    No More Tardiness to Reach Work

    You’ll likely commute faster on two wheels and never be tardy again since you can escape jams. Similarly, if you are late at any point, it is most likely due to your choice to pursue the scenic drive-in. 

    Don’t worry; we’ve done that as well. First, however, you should inform your supervisor that you have a flat tire. We know you can change a flat tire in minutes, but he can’t. And he should be glad that you’re taking the opportunity to ride in. 

    Additionally, they should acknowledge that you’re keeping yourself healthy and freeing up a parking spot for someone else.

    Helps Your Love Life

    The director of the Lancisi Heart Institute, Dr. Romualdo Belardinelli, conducted a study. This research found that the consequences of aerobic exercise are equivalent to those of Viagra. This is because both enlarge blood arteries. Though that’s a bit frightening, we are talking about regular exercises, such as cycling.

    Hence, we believe it will improve your mood, enhance your energy, and even allow you to look better. 

    All of this makes you more appealing to and fascinating to the opposite sex.

    You Contribute to the Planet

    Whenever we observe drastic climate changes, most of us are smacked with a sense of guilt. This is because we are all the reason for this deterioration of the planet.

    Moreover, it also makes us wonder how we can contribute to making the planet better. However, your answer lies in your favorite two-wheeler. 

    Thus, you can contribute to the betterment of our globe by choosing this harmless commute. Correspondingly, no emissions mean one less polluter for the planet.

    Key Takeaways

    A loose bike chain is nothing more than a hurdle between you and a smooth ride. So, should a bike chain be tight? Further, is it dangerous if the chain is loose?

    It isn’t particularly dangerous, but it can waste your energy. In addition, the loosening of your bike chain will force you to pedal harder.

    It’s important to learn how to tighten a bike chain to ensure a smooth and interruption-free ride. If you’ve read our complete guide, that should be a piece of cake for you!

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    A Complete Guide on How to Tighten a Bike Chain Safely — Bike Hacks