How to tighten a bike chain (4 types of bike chain fix)

Almost every biker has experienced the chain falling because of looseness and has a question, “How to tighten a bike chain?“. If you are one of them who faces this problem then this article is only for you.

When a bike doesn’t have a derailleur, it may often lose the chain. A derailleur is the gear changer towards the back of a cycle. Your bike chain should be tight to move its ups and downs only one inch. But, if it’s looser than that measurement then you need to tighten the chain so quickly.

Let’s know the proper technique for tightening a bike chain. I am experienced with four types of bikes. So, check which one is relevant to you.

How to tighten a bike chain with Single gear 

This method is for those who have a bike with a single gear. Actually, the whole process is driven by me. So, have a look and let me know how it is. 

Single gear tighten  
How to tighten a bike chain with Single gear 

Flip the Bike

Firstly, flip your bike, the wheels should be in the air. You should be in a comfortable zone to tighten the chain perfectly. 

Lose the Rear Tire

You need to be careful while losing the axle nuts. These nuts are holding the rear tire and will help you to adjust the tension in your chain. 

Pull the Rear Tire towards back

Now pull back the rear wheel, which will increase the tension of the bike’s chain. Don’t pull the tire so much or it can break the chain. So, finish this step slowly. 

Recognize the Right Tension

You can identify the chain tension by moving it half an inch around in both directions. If it moves a bit more then push back it further. 

Tighten the Rear Wheel

After fixing the chain tension, tighten the axle nuts carefully. Ensure that the rear wheel is fitted on the cycle frame. Always look out for the position of the rear tire while tightening the nuts.


If you have done all this process successfully then it’s time to recheck your work. Does the chain move about half an inch in either direction? If yes, then you have to tighten the bike chain very well, if not, then please repeat all steps once again. 

How to Tighten a Bike Chain on a Multi-Gear Bike

A multi-gear bike owner like a mountain bike has to follow an imperceptibly different method to tighten the bike chain. It is quite natural for the chain to get grabbed in the foot while you are cycling when a chain is loose in a bike with a derailleur. So, it’s better to walk your bike in a safe place if you have noticed the loosened chain. 

Multi-gear tighten
How to Tighten a Bike Chain on a Multi-Gear Bike

Reach the Rear Wheel

You can start the process in two options. One is taking help from a bike stand– put your bike on the stand and get easy access to the rear tire. Two is to flip your bike if you don’t have the bike stand so that it will rest on the handlebars. 

Discover the Derailleur Screw

In every multi-gear bike, you will find a small screw on the back of the derailleur. The small screw will have a letter B printed right near it. Rotate the screw clockwise to enhance the tension of the bike chain.

Reach the Real Tire

To adjust the Real wheel, lift the release lever on your bike brakes now you can disconnect the correlating cable. Next, raise the quick-release lever, so that you can modify the tire.

Set the Rear Wheel

If you want to increase the tension of the bike chain then you need to slide the wheel axle behind in the rear dropouts. After making a little adjustment, the quick-release lever should be lowered. You can repeat this process if you are not satisfied with the chain tension. 

Make Sure Everything in the Right Place

Before riding ensure that every part is in the place where the should be. Check the quick-release lever is down or not. 

Make sure your quick-release lever is down, reattach the correlating cable and ensure your rear tire is spinning correctly. It should not be rubbing against the bike frame or the chain while it spins. Double-check the chain tension to assure that you are comfortable.

How to Tighten a BMX Bike Chain

If you are an owner of the BMX bike chain you will need to follow the steps below properly. I also do these steps and get success. So, let’s have a try. 

BMX Bike Chain tighten
How to Tighten a BMX Bike Chain

Check the Tightness of the Chain

Tightening a BMX chain is easier than the geared bike chain. Firstly pinch the chain together, if you can remove it from the chairing then it’s loose. You can not move more than a correctly installed chain when pinching together. 

If your chain is tight enough to ride and it is not hitting the frame of the rear triangle then there is no big issue. On the other scene, if the chain is loosened do the steps I have shared below. 

Is the Chain Longer Than Normal Size

Make sure that your bike chain has the right amount of links. Due to the short rear dropouts, it is particularly significant for BMX and single-speed bikes. The amazing factor of the BMX chain is, it can fit perfectly in your bike as it has an accurate amount of links. 

You can measure the correct length of a chain by pushing the wheel as far forward as possible in the dropouts. Then wrap the chain in both of your chainrings. If the chain overlaps itself by one link then you need to remove the link to give a perfect length of the chain. 

Set Up the Bike

Here is the most confusing step, so be concentrate to set the bike nice and comfortably. Firstly, find an open and bright area to do the work efficiently. Now, flip the bike so that the tires could be in the air and it rests on the handlebars. In this way, you can do this job quickly. 

Tools You Need to Unlink a Chain

I will suggest having one spanner for each side of the wheel as you can tighten the chain with just a single of this tool. So, ensure the spanner fits your wheel.

Another important thing is the bike hub, which is available in both male and female variations. Male one goes through the hub and the dropouts and have an axle. Thus you need to tighten with a nut and that’s why you need a spanner. 

On the other hand, female one stops at the bushes and can be threaded internally. Here a bolt goes into the axle and is normally tightened with an Allen key. 

Normally, female axles are more powerful than male ones. Because they don’t have an outer piece of the threaded element. 

A downside of the female axle is, it can’t be used with pegs. For this lacks they are much less customary for BMX bikes.

Lose Your Wheel

In this step, loosen your back bike wheel and use the tools that you have collected on the early steps. Now loosen the wheel to the point where you can move either side freely. If you haven’t any problem removing the wheels nuts then loosen the wheel to finger tight. You will tighten the wheel much quickly for this reason. 

Placing the Wheel

It’s time to use your chain tensioner. I have described two ways to help who has tension and who hasn’t tensioner. 

Most of the time, the tension is placed in the rear triangle ahead of the dropouts. Usually, tensioners are not included in the bike frame. They are added to the axles before the nut.

Try to keep your chain on the bike and tight each side equally. This will help you to understand when to stop tightening.

On the other hand, without a chain tensioner, it is not much difficult to do the task. The only problem is you have to keep your wheel farther away and align it centrally while tightening the nuts. 

I have found a solution to this problem. You can use a large metal bar or spanner to push among the bottom bracket area of the frame and the wheel. It will then work like a lever and push the wheel as far as back it goes. Besides that, it can be tilted to either side to align the tire centrally. 

How to tighten a bike chain on a fixie bike

Fixie bike chain tighten
How to tighten a bike chain on a fixie bike

To tighten a chain of a Fixie Bike you will need the following tools: 

  • Socket wrench (1)
  • Bike stand (1)
  • Rag (1)
  • Gloves (1 pair)
  • High-quality bike lubricant

Flip The Bike in the Perfect Place

Follow this step as before

Losing the rear axle

Remove the nuts which are holding the wheel to the cycle to adjust the chain. And, make your task easier by using a socket wrench. Now, turn the nuts in the anti-clockwise motion, they will come loose soon. 

Pull the Rear Tire towards back

You have to do this step to increase the chain tension. Pull the rear bike tire on the back as I have mentioned before. 

Do You Have the Right Chain Tension

After pulling the rear tire back the chain tension will change. In this situation, if it moves too far in both directions then it means it needs to be tightened.

Besides, if you have tightened it too much then you can not move the pedal. So, remember it in mind.

Keep the Rear Tire in The Right Position

It’s time to keep the rear tire in the back place if you are satisfied with the chain tension and replace the axle nuts. Use the socket wrench to ensure that they are tight enough. You can be sure that the wheel is fitted well when it will not touch the chain or bike frame. 

Maintenance of Bike Chain 

Do you know your bike chain efficiency percentage? Well, on average a bike chain is 98.5 percent efficient, which is extremely impressive. It’s important to lubricate the bike chain to maintain efficiency.

I prefer to use liquid lubricants because it delivers the best performance. There is a problem with regular lubricant, it attracts dust and to keep the chain active you will need to clean it regularly. 

If you don’t have the time for chain cleaning then there is a solution for you. Use dry lubricant, it stays cleaner and dries almost instantly.

FAQs Regarding How to tighten a bike chain

When will I lubricant the bike chain?

Never lubricant a dirty bike chain. If you do the abrasive particles will get into the rollers of the chain, which can damage the whole chain. So, clean the chain and dry it. Now it’s time for lubricant. 

How does my bike chain become loose?

If you maintain the bike regularly the chain will lose. There are a number of reasons for happening this- 
Firstly if you use a new chain in an old bike. Because for a long time using a cycle’s particles get worn away and thus the new chain doesn’t fit with it well. 
Secondly, old chains also come loose. The chain has been worn so smooth for motion and doesn’t fit accurately in the cogs anymore. 
Thirdly, a bike chain gets loosened if the rear axle has loose nuts. Because they shrink the gap between the wheel and the pedals. Fourthly, derailleur damage in a multi-gear bike can loosen the bike chain. If you need to tighten this type of chain, check the derailleur is bent or has dents. 

When should I change my bike chain?

A general rule of changing your bike chain is after riding every 2,000 miles. Besides that, you can measure your bike chain with a ruler to determine when to change it. 
Begin from one link pin and measure all 12 complete links. You may need to put some tension to get the exact measurement. 
You will measure 12 inches with 12 complete links in a new chain. If you find less than 1/16 inch between the distance of the center of the link then it is okay. You need to change the chain if the measurement is more. 

What is a Master Link?

It is a quick-release link, which is added to the newer roller chains. A Master link allows for easy assembly and disassembly of a chain without the requirement for a chain breaker. This little thing is great for replacing or switching the side of a chain. But unluckily you can’t use it for shortening or loosening the chain. 
You can easily recognize the master link by the extra metal plate added to the front of it. A master link is an engaging part to stops everything from falling apart.

Summing Up How to Tighten a Bike Chain

A chain is the fuel of a bike so, it needs care and regular check-up. I am a bike rider for the last 7 years thus how to tighten a bike chain is not a big deal to me. 

 I have tried to describe the whole process in different sorts of bikes so lightly. If you are still confused about the methods then, try to consult with a reliable bike shop near you. They will not only fix your chain but also clean it like a new one. 

If you need to replace the bike chain, you can read this best bike chain in 2020, specially written for you. 
Have a safe ride with your bike!

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Cayley is a rehearsed columnist, editorial manager, and item analyzer. With 7 years of experience surveying bikes and bike accessories, She appreciates dragging the most recent items through some serious hardship, assisting riders with tracking down the correct bikes and bike accessories for them, and sharing the best counsel, clues, and tips to assist them with benefiting from riding.

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