Chain slack measurement!?
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  1. #1
    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    EDIT: What I really want to know is if the chain slack should be measured with the bike on the centerstand, or with the bike on the side stand. Because the tension is higher with the bike resting on the side stand.



    Chain slack...I've always measured in on the dual sports as follows: Put tape measure from the ground vertically so that it goes up past the side of the lower part of the chain, in the middle (between the front and rear sprocket centers), push the chain down from the resting point as far as it will go (with some force but not excessive force), measure where it is at that point, then pull the chain up as far as it will go, and measure. The difference between those two extreme points of travel is your chain slack, correct? Every other post on various internet forums swears that it is done either this way or the other way (starting from resting point and measuring how far up it goes only). I thought my method was correct; it makes sense to me. However when I measure it like this on my Ninja with it sitting on the center stand (as it says to do in the factory service manual - the other one doesn't f'ing say either way...which needless to say pisses me off a bit...), it tightens up a bit when you put the bike back to normal resting position on the kick stand. And then the chain seems too tight to me, like about 1 inch of slack, as per my measuring method. Does this sound too tight for a Ninja 500? From what I've read from a few sources, it seems like it should be fine. But to me it just FEELS too tight, like being that tight could cause problems...?
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

  2. #2
    Senior Member lizrdbrth's Avatar
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    I never trust the manual's chain tension rec's on any bike, but that's just me.



    My "right" way involves some work the first time around. Pull the bottom pin from your shock and move it out of the way. Jack up your wheel until the chain is at its tightest point (roughly horizontal). Adjust the chain just to the point where it doesn't bind at the longest point in its arc.



    Put the shock pin back in and sit the bike on its kickstand, then measure the slack. That will forever be your minimum slack measurement with the bike on the kickstand, and you'll never need to worry about it again. If you ever change rear sprocket ratios take the time to do this again, as the measurement will change a bit.



    After doin this measure the chain slack from the TOP of the LOWER run of chain to the bottom of the swingarm, from a measuring point that you will use consistently. Much easier to eyeball than the wigwag method in the field.



    I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.

    Powdercoated '87 frame, extended swingarm, YZ fork legs, ATV tire, 14/55, XT350 tank, spliced quick-release seat, disc brake conversion, beeg headlight, beeger rack, Lizrdcooler, Lizrdventz and bunch of other stuff all covered in invisible ink.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizrdbrth View Post
    I never trust the manual's chain tension rec's on any bike, but that's just me.



    My "right" way involves some work the first time around. Pull the bottom pin from your shock and move it out of the way. Jack up your wheel until the chain is at its tightest point (roughly horizontal). Adjust the chain just to the point where it doesn't bind at the longest point in its arc.



    Put the shock pin back in and sit the bike on its kickstand, then measure the slack. That will forever be your minimum slack measurement with the bike on the kickstand, and you'll never need to worry about it again. If you ever change rear sprocket ratios take the time to do this again, as the measurement will change a bit.



    After doin this measure the chain slack from the TOP of the LOWER run of chain to the bottom of the swingarm, from a measuring point that you will use consistently. Much easier to eyeball than the wigwag method in the field.


    I may resort to this if I absolutely must, but would prefer not to have to do that (like me or hate me, I can be lazy, when other options exist, at least). Thanks for the advice.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

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  5. #4
    Senior Member kj7687's Avatar
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    Ok well after much research on the topic, I came to the sketchy conclusion that the manual IS correct, that the slack IS supposed to be checked with the bike on the center stand, and that 1.4 inches on the center stand (maybe 1 - 1.25 inches when on the side stand) is not too tight. I hope I'm right and I won't be stressing the countershaft bearings and seal... I took it for a spin and got some groceries on it. So far seems great.
    KJ, just KJ, ok.


    Current rides:
    2004 GMC Sierra 1500, 1999 Toyota 4Runner

    Past rides: 2015 Yamaha XT 250, 1997 Suzuki DR 200, 2007 Honda Ruckus, 2007 Yamaha TW 200, 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 500, 2009 Kawasaki KLX331S; 1994 GMC Sierra 1500, 1987 Nissan Pathfinder, 1992 Acura Integra, 1986 Honda CRX, 1989 Jeep Cherokee, 1994 Chevrolet Astro Van, 1979 Volkswagen Rabbit, 1984 Jeep Cherokee

  6. #5
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    I use a modified version of lizardbrth's method that accounts for different loads on the rear suspension. I roll the bike up on the lift, jack up the lift, put one of those fancy track bike holders under the swingarm so the wheel turns freely, then strap the back of the bike, pulling down on the frame until the chain reaches its tightest point. Then I spin the wheel until the chain reaches its tightest point. Wheel sprockets aren't round, and not supposed to be unless you want a constant harmonic howl. Then I adjust the chain until it doesn't run smooth anymore, then back off just a bit. Then unstrap the bike, remove the track stand, and rest the bike on the center stand or prop the rear wheel up so it hangs freely at full travel. Measure from a fixed point on the swingarm to determine how much slack. Always do chain adjustments with the back wheel off the ground at full travel for consistent results.




  7. #6
    Senior Member peruano's Avatar
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    Lizrdbrth and Qwerty have some reason here. My local MC mechanic had the back wheel off the ground, pulled back on the wheel until if felt right to him, and honked on the axle fasteners. Its been that way for more than 2000 miles and still measures within specs. He obviously knew what he was doing by feel, and didn't need any measuring device. Tom
    Tom - TW200 2002, Kawasaki VN 500 2006

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  8. #7
    Senior Member Beewerks's Avatar
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    Stupid question probably, but will running with a chain that is looser than spec cause any damage to other parts of the bike? I know it will probably wear the sprockets faster.
    '05 TW200--15/50 gearing, Cyclerack, XT350 tank

    '81 KZ750--project bike

  9. #8
    Senior Member RodneyReed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beewerks View Post
    Stupid question probably, but will running with a chain that is looser than spec cause any damage to other parts of the bike? I know it will probably wear the sprockets faster.


    If you get too loose you risk derailment which can cause major damage like broken cases, broken hubs, or a crash. I don't know that this happens on a TW, but on a motocross bike a loose chain will hit the tire and rub away the sides of the knobs.

  10. #9
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    For some reason a loose chain makes some TWs difficult to shift.




  11. #10
    Senior Member Fishman393's Avatar
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    Thanks Lizrbrth and qwerty, I just adjusted completed this with a new set of 14/50 sprockets ans an RK428so chain. Final adjustment was one click shy of 4 between 3 and 4 on the adjusters. This gave me 1.75 inch measurement as mentioned above with the reference point being the rear of inside chain guard bracket. Thanks again. I also found this tip on you tube for proper chain maintaince and lubing should anyone require it. I used the PJ Blue lube.

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