How To Tighten a Bike Chain?

If you notice that the chain is falling off or becoming loose, you’ll have to tighten it in order to avoid accidents. Seasoned cyclists say that this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an issue with the bike. It could be that there’s not enough tension in the chain, and it’s not fitting properly anymore. This is when you need to know how to tighten a bike chain.

You must have the necessary tools to tighten a bike chain

The essential tools that you’ll require throughout the entire process, including;

  • A socket wrench
  • Rag
  • Lubricant
  • A bike stand
  • An assortment of gloves
  • A socket wrench adapter

Before we go into the fundamentals, it is important to understand that bike chains are separated into two categories: chain chains for single gear bike and multi gear bikes. We’ll examine each one separately to learn how to tighten the bike chain on a bicycle.

How to Tighten a Chain On Multi Gear Bike

A loose chain on a bike with multiple gears could be a real risk as your feet could be trapped in it, which can lead to serious injuries.

If you find an issue with the multi-gear chain, if you notice that it bicycle is slipping, take it off immediately and then walk to the nearest spot where you can fix it.

If you’ve got the right tools and are aware of the steps to take, you can correct the issue right now. Here’s what you must do.

Step 1: Place your bike into the correct position

bike correct position

The bike should be flipped upside down and place it on a bicycle stand to ensure that the derailleur and tire are easily accessible. If you don’t own a bike stand , you can locate a surface that won’t scratch your saddle or handlebars. 

Step 2: Find the derailleur screw

 Find the derailleur screw

The derailleur helps to keep the chain tightened by gently applying a pull. On multi-gear bicycles on the rear of the derailleur is the screw. On many bikes, there is a B letter, just below it is the screw. In order to increase tension of the bike chain, you’ll need to turn the screw clockwise to tighten the motion. 

Step 3: Rear tire access and adjustment

In order to do this, you’ll have to unplug the cables that control the brakes, by lifting the lever for brakes and then lower it until you can access the tire on your rear.

Step 4. Reset the back tire

To increase the tension on the derailleur’s bike chain, move the wheel axle towards the rear dropouts and make only minor adjustments as you go down as you don’t want your loose bike chain to tighten up.

Each time you adjust, lower the lever on your brake and make sure you have the proper bike chain tension. If not, raise the lever and make adjustments until you are satisfied with the results. 

Step 5: Reassemble everything together

If you feel you have the right chain tension, you can put it back together as it was before and ensure that the screw for your derailleur is securely fitted and tight enough.

Make sure the tire is spinning correctly and isn’t into contact with the frame or the chain itself.

If you’re not satisfied with your tension, you can repeat the procedure.

This may sound like a chore at first, but after you’ve tried it once or once, you’ll become an expert. Wear gloves to shield your fingers , and keep a rag on hand to remove lube from your hands as you perform your work. 

How To Tighten A Chain On A Single Gear Bike

If you’re brand unfamiliar with bikes, you may be wondering what a single-gear bike is. It is a kind of bike with just one gear. Instead of a freewheel in the back wheel, it features the cog. It’s a very simple mechanism. These bikes have only one gear.

Step 1: Place your bike into the correct location.

If you’re very familiar in the process of tightening a chain on a single speed bike, you can accomplish this with your bike upright. 

However, strongly suggest turning the bike around so that you are able to access the parts quickly and easily. You can also use the finest bike chain greasers available.

Set your bike upside down onto the stand with the wheels up in the air, and the saddle resting on the stand. If you don’t own a bike stand , lay out a smooth surface (like the surface of a cardboard box, even a layer of newspapers or a piece of rag) to ensure that you don’t scratch your saddle. 

Step 2: Loosen the rear axle

To be able to alter the tension of your chain, you have to take off the nuts that attach the wheel to the bicycle. To do this, you will need a socket wrench, and then carefully rotate the nuts clockwise until they come loose. Adjustment of the rear wheel. Disconnect the brakes from the cable and lift the brake lever to access the rear wheel.

Step 3. Pull back the tire on your rear. 

This is how you’ll increase the tension of the chain. Take care to pull back the tire on your back until you achieve the desired tension in your chain.

When you are pulling back, make sure you check the tension. Continue to pull until you achieve the ideal tightness. You should be able to turn the chain both ways for at minimum 1/2 inch.

Be sure that the tire remains in the wishbone to ensure that tightening it is effortless. 

Step 4: Ensure you’ve got the correct chain tension. 

It was said above you need to be able to move about half an inch in both directions. However, we need to discuss this issue in a little more detail. When you pull back the tire, the tension of the chain will shift and you’ll feel it while you move.

If it’s moving too far in any direction, that means the tire isn’t tightly enough, and needs to be pushed slightly further on the tire.

If it’s not tight enough, it will be difficult to turn the pedals so it’s essential to ensure you do this step right. 

Step 5: tighten the rear tire to ensure it is in place. 

If you’re satisfied with your tension of the chain, it’s time to lower the rear tire to its original position to replace axle nuts. One by one replace them all and with the socket wrench ensure that they’re all tightly seated.

The tire has to be properly placed back on the frame. Once it’s secure, it must not touch the bike frame or chain. 

Step 6: Test the bicycle chain and the tire

Test the chain by moving it a little in both directions; it should move with ease half an inch both ways. Spin the tire to make sure that it’s moving properly and doesn’t come in contact with the chain or the frame whilst in motion.

If it does it means you’ve fitted it back wrong and you need to repeat the process.

Your chain is tight once more, and your single speed bike is ready for the road!

FAQ about bike chain tension:

What are the indicators of a bike chain that is loose? 

The first indication of a broken bike chain is when you bump the chain on the frame frequently resulting in the chain falling off, stop your bike ride.

Why Does A Bike Chain Become Loose?

Even if you take care to maintain your bike frequently You will find that your chain gets loose with time. There are many reasons behind this.

The most frequent is when it’s a brand new chain that has been fitted to an older bike.

A brand-new chain won’t work with an old bike in the perfect way. The components of an older bike will have worn parts which means it’s not the best fit. This could result in the chain on the bike to move and then break loose.

If this happens to you, make sure that your bike chain is tight Follow the steps above and you’ll be fine.

This doesn’t mean an old chain will not be loose… as it can. The parts of a bike wear out with. It’s inevitable and with time, they don’t be as tight as they should and will eventually break. If you have an old chain the best thing to do is to buy a new one instead of trying to get it to fit better.

The other reason may be because the axle nuts may become loose at the rear of the axle. The distance could be shorter between the wheels and the pedals.

If you’re riding multi gear bike, that could indicate damage to your derailleur. If you notice that you need to adjust the tension of your chain often it could mean that the derailleur is bent or is damaged. 

How Tight Should A Bike Chain Be?

When tightening the chain of your bike it is important to feel a slight movement of around 1/2 inch either way.

If you’re looking to learn how to tighten the chain on your bike these tips will aid you.

However, if you discover that the tension of your chain isn’t as strong this could be because the chain has grown. It could be that the links stretch over time. In order to get the proper tension, remove certain links will solve the issue. 

Does Lubricating A Bikes Chain Affect The Tension?

A regular maintenance program for chain chains on bikes will prolong their lifespan.

If you use your bike regularly  and if you’re riding on dirty chains and you don’t grease it, rust will be visible as the chain begins to wear faster. It also will slacken more quickly.

When you lubricate your chain (and doing regular maintenance) you’re safeguarding it, and making it easier for it to complete its job. This means that you don’t need to tighten your chain as frequently. Also, you won’t have change it out as frequently! 

Loose chains also make pedaling less efficient and waste your energy. A loose chain will only get worse over time, though, so you’ll want to fix it to avoid further frustration.

What’s better? to tighten the chain or replace it?

If the bike chain is loose because it’s worn out, buy a new chain. But, if you know how to tighten a bike chain yourself and it makes your life much more simple.

New chains can be expensive, but they prolong the life of your bike, particularly those on the rear derailleur.

If, however, the bike chain is new it is likely that you will have to make it more secure. Regardless of the ways, the end goal is a perfect chain tension.

Are there easier ways to tighten the tension on a bicycle chain? 

You’re not a DIY type, then the process to adjust tension on a bike chain is time-consuming and complicated.

There’s no solutions. If your chain of your bicycle gets loose, regardless of whether it’s a fixie, or a derailleur, here are the steps you can take to solve the issue.

But, you don’t need to take on the task yourself. Find a reputable bicycle shop close to you which can perform the proper maintenance at least each month. They will not only clean and oil up the bike chain but they’ll also examine the tension and, If it’s too loose, they will make the needed adjustments. 

If the chain frequently becomes loose, we recommend bringing your bike to a pro for an inspection and possible repairs.


Chains for bikes can get loose for many reasons. There’s nothing to worry about. But, if you know how to tighten a bike chain yourself and it makes your life much more simple.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the multi-gear bicycles function differently than single-speed bikes. The process of increasing tension can be slightly different.

If you’re equipped with the proper tools, a clean rag and some faith, follow the steps in the previous paragraphs. If you’re not keen to tackle the task yourself, a local bike shop will show you how to tighten your bike chain fast. Ask the reliable bike shop to help you!

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