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Best way of centering back wheel and tensioning chain?(8 posts)

Best way of centering back wheel and tensioning chain?Steve Young
Nov 14, 2003 8:45 AM
Does anyone have any tips for how to do this well and efficiently. I have taken out my back wheel a couple of times lately for various reasons and each time I put it back I have a difficult time getting it aligned in the drop-outs and having a correct (1/2" deflection at mid-point) tension in the chain.

Is there something I'm missing here - any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Do Chain tugs (?) address this problem. If so any recommendations? I'm not looking for pure speed (i.e. I'm just doing this in the garage in no particular hurry) but it would be nice to be able to simply drop the wheel in and cinch it up without taking 20 minutes to readjust it about a dozen times to get it where I want it.


Good question, as I'm curious too...jtferraro
Nov 14, 2003 9:08 AM
I changed a flat tire Tuesday morning and now have the same question. I didn't even know about the 1/2" deflection at mid-point criterion - I'll have to check that out. I first eyeballed the tire to make sure it was aligned between the chainstays, close to where the BB is, and eyeballed the trackends to make sure there was "X" amount of space both fore and aft of the axle. I actually tried to position the axle in the same spot (paint worn off where axle nuts resided). Next, I slightly tightened up the axle nuts to prevent any movement or slippage, then put my finger or thumb between the tire and chainstay to get a feel for the spacing on both sides. I then tightened up the axle nuts. No problems w/Tuesdays short 16 mile ride (it started hailing!).

Good question, as I'm curious too...Steve Young
Nov 14, 2003 10:09 AM
Have a look at page 15 of this link if you're interested in chains.

The other salient point about the chain tension (which complicated aligning everything) is that the chainring may not be completely round - thus it is recommended to identify the point where the chain is tightest and make sure the deflection is adequate at that point.

This second link covers the whole manual which is excellent - I haven't made so much progress reading it yet but am gradually working through.


P.S. The thumb in the gap between the tyre/wheel and chainstay is a good idea - thanks.
re: Best way of centering back wheel and tensioning chain?desmo
Nov 14, 2003 9:12 AM
For track ends and nutted axel. I wrap a few fingers around the front of the wheel and then work them down between the wheel and seat tube, holding the sidewall with my index finger and thumb. This tensions the chain and allows you to hold the wheel center while viewing from the rear as you cinch up the nuts. If it hurts just a little you're probably right on the money. If it really hurts then you made it too tight.
2 of mine have adjustable dropout screwsDave Hickey
Nov 14, 2003 9:46 AM
I just pop it in and pull it back and tighten the bolts.

If you don't have them, it's trial and error. I like to tighten the drive side first with the front of the wheel slightly off center toward the drive side. Then when I pull the non drive side, it centers the wheel and doesn't change the chain tension.
I do what desmo & Dave Hickey do.cmgauch
Nov 14, 2003 10:24 AM
My '03 Fuji's chain ring has a distinct tight spot so before I tension the chain I pedal around to the tight spot & then go to it. I don't sweat the amount of deflection - tight but not too tight.

What I do....Spiderman
Nov 14, 2003 2:10 PM
I found the best and most efficient way is to put the wheel in the dropouts. Pull it straight back until the chain is taught. Tighten down the non drive side while leaving the drive side very loose. Using one hand, pull the wheel sideways between the chainstays (using the chainstay for leverage)until the drive side is taught. While holding the wheel in that position tighten the drive side locknut.

Loosen up the non drive side, and pull it so the rear wheel is evenly spaced between the chainstays, voila, you are set.

Check the chain tension, look for a little play in the tight spot of the chain. if it is too tight, repeat until desired chain tension is reached.

After a few times you get used to it. As mentioned above, you can pedal around to the tight spot of the chain and do that also.. I just find it easier to worry about that at end (mainly cause i know the feel of it)
Thanks for all the suggestions (nm)Steve Young
Nov 14, 2003 3:26 PM