Chain tension

Big John

Über Member
Has anyone ever used an old rear mech to tension their single speed chain? Saves spending a fortune on a chain tensioner providing you have an old rear mech knocking around (and I bet we all have garages/sheds full of bike bits) and a spare gear cable. I've road tested it and not only does it work but because my chain had a bit of slack it's made it quieter too. Before anyone's says 'why not just pull the wheel further back or remove a link' I've tried all the conventional methods, with the exception of forking out on a half link chain, and this seemed the cheapest solution. Of course the downside to this is you need a spare rear mech. I only used the top jockey wheel, by the way.
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Sharky

Guru
Location
Kent
I am a little surprised that you can't get it right with horizontal fork ends, but if it works with your method all OK.

Presume this is with a single freewheel? A fixed option might have problems.

Re chain tension - are you expecting it to be really taught? With a SS the chain should have enough slack to move up/down about an inch at the mid point. Also chain wheels are never true circle's and tension varies slightly as you rotate the pedals. Find the tight spot and tighten the wheel at that point.

Hope this helps, but if you knew this already, apologies and hope it works OK.

Single speeds are great fun and gives a better workout than gears. Fixed are a bit marmite.
 

dave r

Dunking Diddy Dave Pedalling Pensioner
I just use a male/female half link if I'm having trouble getting the right length on the chain on my fixed, they don't cost much more than a fiver.
 
OP
Big John

Big John

Über Member
Agreed - not pretty what I've done but it does work. Been riding fixed and single speed for years so know about chain lines and tensions and never had a problem until I used this frame. Like the suggestion of a male/female half link addition and the use of a v brake caliper arm is genius but requires welding skills by the looks of it 😉
These forums go to show that a lot of us enjoy the problem solving challenges that cycling brings without having to 'buy' our way out of trouble.
Thanks for the comments 👍
 

Chris S

Guru
Location
Sparkhill
Then buy a whole half link chain for the price of two links. You will probably have enough for the rest of your life.
 

dave r

Dunking Diddy Dave Pedalling Pensioner
Perhaps we should buy one between us and split it into (say) 10 lengths of 10+ half-links? :whistle:
Sounds like a plan, but even 10 might be more than I need, ^_^ I only use a half link if i need one to get the chain length where i want it, so I don't always have one in my chain, and if I do it lasts the life of the chain, somewhere around a year.
 
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ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Sounds like a plan, but even 10 might be more than I need, ^_^ I only use a half link if i need one to get the chain length where i want it, so I don't always have one in my chain, and if I do it lasts the life of the chain, somewhere around a year a year.
I have a chain tensioner to take up the slack on my DIY singlespeed bike. The dropouts don't really allow much movement so I was toying with the idea of shortening the chain by one pair of standard links. I'd add one half link to try to make it work without the tensioner and then remove the half-link if/when the chain got too long. I think it might just work... :whistle:

The other option that I have if it doesn't work, is to turn the singlespeed back into a geared bike and use my old steel Basso as my singlespeed road bike. I know that works because I took the gears off it to use it as a singlespeed on my turbo trainer. It doesn't have super-long dropouts, but they are nearly horizontal and are long enough to allow some adjustment. A half-link on the chain would allow me to push the axle further back into the dropouts and I could always take it out again later once the chain got too long.
 
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