How to Tell If a Bike Chain Is Too Loose

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Estimated reading time: 2 min

It can be irritating to have your bike chain fall off your bike. It can come off while you are out riding it, or it might come off when you have it stored. There are incidents that can cause a bike chain to come loose, but there are also signs that your bike chain has stretched and needs to be replaced. Before you head out for a ride, you will likely want to make sure that your chain isn’t too loose.

When you are out riding, your chain can become loose. It may feel loose but stay on the track, or it could come off completely. It is important to know how to make sure it is tight enough before you head out. Continue reading to learn how to tell if your bike chain is too loose.

Check to See If the Chain Has Stretched

One way to find out if your bike chain is too loose is to check the chain to find out if it has stretched. Over time, bike chains do elongate because the internal components suffer wear and tear. You can actually get a tool called a chain checker to find out if your chain has elongated. This tool usually has two sides. One side is marked with 0.5 and the other is marked with 0.75. When you place the tool up against the chain, it will tell you whether the chain has elongated to .5% or .75% of its original length.

If you put the tool up against the chain and it doesn’t reach the 0.5 mark, then your chain has not elongated and is fine. If you find that it is 0.5, you need to replace the chain if you have 11 or more rear gears. If it is 0.75, you need to replace it if you have 10 or fewer rear gears.

It Falls Off Frequently

Your bike chain should stay on the track most of the time. If you have a fall or damage the bike frame, this can impact the chain as well, but under normal circumstances, it should stay in place. If you find that every time you are out riding your bike you have to put the chain back on, it is likely that the chain is too loose.

You could have the wrong size bike chain, or it could have elongated over time. Another possibility is that the bike frame is damaged. Sometimes you can remove a few links from the chain to make it fit. This can also happen if the frame or the chain is clogged with dirt. It is important to make sure that you keep the chain and its components clean so that it is able to work effortlessly when you are out riding.

You Can See It Drooping

If you stand back and look at your bike, you might see the chain actively drooping. It might be on the tracks, but if there isn’t enough tension, it is unlikely that it will stay there when you change gears. You can take it for a ride to double check and make sure that it stays on, but you should never see the chain hanging down. It should be tight but have some give.

It is not hard to tighten it if you notice that it is too loose. Having a loose chain can be an inconvenience, or it can lead to much bigger problems. You never want to be compromised when you are riding your bike. It should be a safe and pleasurable experience. When you learn how to tell if your bike chain is loose before you go out for a ride, you can tighten it or replace it to make sure that you are safe and ready to go. It is worth the time you take to check it out.

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