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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I follow the owner’s manual for chain tensioning, but it does not say just how much pressure one should apply to the chain to measure the chain tension. It seems the chain has some “give” so I can easily measure 1” of slack with some force applied up and down with one finger, so maybe that’s good, but it feels kind of tight to me even in the rest position.

Thanks for your advice, 20 year Harley rider, so I am new to this chain thing...
 

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I measure it near the front of the rear tire which is about half way between the sprockets with either a tape measure standing up from the floor, or a ruler pressed against the tire in a vertical orientation. Regarding the amount of force, I press about hard enough to bruise a fresh tomato (how’s that for a reference!?). You can press harder, but the measurement won’t increase by a significant amount.

I measure the maximum amount of deflection at the top of the chain from pressing down on it to pressing up on it.

Notice the link to similar threads below this thread. They may explain it better there.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Kd70qc, thank you. I don’t see linked threads? All, sorry, just noticed the tech section where this should have been posted.
 

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I would say maybe 5 pounds. To where tension just starts to be felt, plus a little more, to settle the chain into all the sprocket teeth. I adjust chains to between 1.2 and 1.5 inches.
 

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I use my foot, Can you lift the chain slack 1-1 1/2 inch? Slack is just that, the loose amount that allows the swingarm to do its thing without the chain getting tight.
There may be a slight difference if the bike is on the side stand or the center stand.
Looser is better than tight.
 

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When you press a stick or your soon-grimy finger upon the middle of the chain, its shaped changes from a gentle curve (known as a catenary) to a pair of less gentle curves (also catenaries.) At forces reasonably easy to apply, these less gentle curves closely approach straight lines visually. That limiting "shape" limits how far your stick can move from one extreme to the other without breaking something.[a] With 10 pounds of force, it gets well with a tenth of an inch of the hard limit. The factory recommended chain slack check method and result limits already accommodate some variation in how much force people will apply. So you can be confident that pushing until it looks straight (without using a straight-edge) is good enough.

[a. The stick (or your finger) will break before the chain or swingarm does. ]

If you really want to over-think or over-do that adjustment, there was an earlier thread here on the subject.
 

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I use my foot, Can you lift the chain slack 1-1 1/2 inch? Slack is just that, the loose amount that allows the swingarm to do its thing without the chain getting tight.
There may be a slight difference if the bike is on the side stand or the center stand.
Looser is better than tight.

This!

Catenary curves or not :grin2: it's better to err on the loose side than tight.

To tight a chain can damage the bike. The primary shaft seal and eventually the bearing itself can fail because of excessive tension.

I push up the chain at about the halfway point on the swingarm (with my boot) it should just about touch the swingarm.

Never measured the actual travel looks to be about 1.5" or so. When the bike is on the sidestand there is a slight sag apparent in the chain.
 

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Hi,

... 20 year Harley rider... new to this chain thing...
Wow, that makes me feel old. I remember when Harleys had chains, and bikers wore a master link in their boot buckle in case of chain failure.

But to the point, not much pressure is required, just push on the chain until it feels snug. As mentioned, a bit on the loose side of the spec is better.
To check wear, try to pull the chain back from the center of the rear sprocket. If you can see daylight between the chain and sprocket, it's shot. Replace it and both sprockets as a set for best results.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks all. I had set it too tight after I had switched to a 16T sprocket this winter. Once I loosened it a half turn just now this whole slack thing made much more sense. I had it at 1/2” and I think I could even hear a difference in noise. Hope I didn’t damage anything, probably rode 40-50 miles like that.
 
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