How to Tighten the Chain on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Vehicles all terrain Vehicles rely on a motorcycle-style drive chain Vehicles propulsion. The chain itself requires little maintenance, mostly in the form of regular tension adjustments. Constant use slowly stretches the chain's links, causing the chain to loosen and eventually slip from the rear wheel's sprocket. To compensate Vehicles this, tighten the chain using a set of tensioners positioned below the rear axle's pivoting hub. Vehicles recommends a chain adjustment every three months, but make adjustments earlier if the Vehicles has been subjected to extreme riding conditions.

Under The Hood:

 How to Tighten the Chain on a Polaris Trail Blazer

Detach any chainguards or other guards from the swing arm by removing the mounting bolts with the screwdrivers. Use the socket wrench to loosen the castle nuts on each side of the axle shaft.

Tighten up the tensioning rods at the back of the swing arm with the allen wrenches.

Retighten the castle nuts on each side of the axle. Reattach any chainguards and take the bike for a spin to make sure it is functioning properly.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set

  • Allen wrenches

  • Screwdrivers

 How to Tighten the Chain on a Yamaha Raptor

Lift the ATV's rear wheels off of the ground, using a jack placed below the engine. Support the ATV's frame with jack stands.

Grasp the chain's upper strand between the front and rear sprockets. Measure the chain's slack, using a ruler or tape measure, by pushing down firmly on the chain, then lifting the chain as far as it will move. Ideally, the chain must have a range of motion between 1.18 inches to 1.77 inches.

Spin the rear wheels until the hub nuts on the right side of the rear swingarm are visible through the holes cut into the rear brake disc. Loosen the hub nuts, using a socket wrench an a 14 mm socket.

Loosen the chain adjuster lock nuts on both sides of the rear swingarm, facing the engine, using a 12 mm crescent wrench.

Turn both chain adjuster bolts, using a socket wrench and a 12 mm socket clockwise to loosen the chain, or counterclockwise to tighten the chain. Turn the bolts in even amounts to keep the rear wheels aligned. Check the chain slack periodically, as described above, and make adjustments until the chain slack is between 1.18 inches to 1.77 inches.

Check the rear wheel alignment, using the alignment notches cut into both sides of the swingarm and both rear axle hubs. Adjust the tightest side of the rear axle, using the chain adjuster bolts, until both rear axle hub notches are aligned with the corresponding swingarm notch.

Check the chain slack again, as described above. Tighten the chain adjuster lock nuts against the swingarm, using a 12 mm crescent wrench, if the chain slack is between 1.18 inches to 1.77 inches. Adjust the chain, as needed, if the chain slack is not within the specified range.

Tighten the rear hub nuts to 65 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and a 14 mm socket.

Remove the jack stand and lower the ATV's rear wheel to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Ruler or tape measure

  • Socket wrench

  • 14 mm socket

  • 12 mm box wrench

  • 12 mm crescent wrench

  • Torque wrench

 How to Tighten the Chain on a Polaris

Park your ATV on level ground and shut off the engine. Raise the rear end with a tire jack so you can access the chain in the back of your ATV.

Loosen the two clamp bolts on each side at the back of the ATV. Insert a drift into the hole of the bearing housing.

Turn the bearing housing downward --- the chain should begin to be taut. Tighten the chain until it has about ¼ to 1/2 inch of play.

Tighten the two rear swing arm clamp bolts to pull the rear axle backward. Lower the ATV to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Tire jack

  • Wrench

  • Drift

 How to Tighten the Chain on a 1984 Suzuki Quadrunner

Park the Suzuki Quadrunner on level ground. Allow the drive chain to completely cool before proceeding.

Place the chain link tool over a pin on a link on the bottom side of the chain. Turn the handle on the tool counterclockwise until the pin is forced out of the hole on the link. Repeat for the opposite side of the link and remove the link from the chain.

Connect the two ends of the chain, making sure that the holes on the links line up. Insert one pin into the holes.

Place the chain link tool over the pin. Turn the handle counterclockwise to force the pin into place to secure the chain together.

Items you will need

  • Chain link removal tool

 How to Tighten a Chain on a Motorcycle

Put the bike up onto its center stand with the engine off. If the bike does not have its own center stand, stands such as the Steel Horse swingarm stand are available. The chain can be tightened when the bike is on the side stand but a center stand allows you to judge balance of the rear wheel better. Differences in slack can also be a problem when adjusting a chain using the side stand compared to a center stand.

Place newspaper or cardboard under the chain and then clean the chain and sprockets. Chain lubricant sprays are available which will cling to the chain and prevent fling onto the back wheel and disc brakes. Avoid getting any onto the brakes or to other parts of the bike as chain lubricants are sometimes sticky. Let the cleaner soak for a few minutes. Manually run the chain by spinning the back wheel slowly and use a rag to rub the chain clean. Chains should always stay lubricated so make sure after cleaning that it runs smoothly.

Measure the slack in the chain. The manufacturer's manual should have a section on the correct tension limits for the chain. Measurement should be made midway between the countershaft and the rear sprocket by pulling down the lower chain, pressing up on the top chain section and measuring the gap between two opposite chain rivets. Turn the back wheel and repeat this process at several points along the chain to ensure the chain is uniformly stretched. A chain with points of different stretch needs to be replaced. If the measurement is within limits, you do not need to adjust the chain or only make slight adjustments.

Check your rear wheel alignment with the front of the bike. This can be done by eye or by placing string horizontally around the bottom of the front tire and stretching it back to the rear wheel. The string acts as a line of sight. Wheel balance can be judged by how equal the distance of string to bike is on each side.

Loosen the axle nut slightly. There are chain adjusters on either side of the axle. Loosen the adjuster locking nuts and turn the adjusters until the rear wheel is in balance and the chain appears at the correct tension. Re-lock the adjusters with the locking nuts. Tighten the axle nut, and replace the locking pin (if your axle nut has one) with a new pin. Lubricate the chain while spinning the back wheel slowly. Check chain tension again. Recheck locking nuts before driving.

Items you will need

  • Spanners or torque wrench

  • Manufacturer's manual or maintenance specifications

  • Chain lubricant/cleaner

  • Tape measure

 How to Tighten a Chain on a 400 EX

Locate the four Allen bolts on the very back of the swing arm. The swing arm is the metal bracket that connects the frame of the 400EX to the rear axle.

Loosen all four Allen bolts with an Allen wrench. Do not remove the bolts just loosen them so you can rotate the axle carrier inside the swing arm.

Grip the axle carrier with a paint of channel locks. You can locate the axle carrier by looking between the sprocket and the swing arm. The carrier has a split through the center of it. If you do not have a pair of channel locks, you can edge a large flat-head screwdriver between the split in the axle carrier. However, using channel locks will prevent the carrier from breaking.

Rotate the channel locks towards the back of the ATV. This will tighten the chain. Stop rotating the axle carrier when you can press down on the top center of the chain approximately 1 ½-inches.

Tighten all four of the Allen bolts to lock the axle in place.

Items you will need

  • Allen wrench set

  • Channel locks

 How to Tighten the Chain on a Yamaha Warrior

Place a jack below the Warrior's motor to lift the rear wheels at least one inch above the floor.

Grasp the lower portion of the chain at the midway point between the motor and the rear hub. Hold a ruler against the back of the chain and lift the chain until it is tight. Take note of the distance the chain has moved. Ideally, the chain should not move more than 1 1/2 inches. If the chain's slack allows more than 1 1/2 inches of travel, the chain is loose. Alternatively, if the chain has less than 1 3/16 inch of travel, it is too tight and requires loosening.

Loosen the bolts on the top and bottom of the rear hub with a 14 mm socket and a socket wrench. There are two bolts above the hub and two below the hub. Do not remove the bolts.

Slacken the lug nut on both of the chain tensioner's adjustment bolts, located below the rear hub, using a 12 mm wrench.

Turn the chain tensioner's adjustment bolts evenly with a 12 mm wrench to adjust the chain. Turn the bolts clockwise to tighten the chain or counterclockwise to loosen the chain.

Check the chain's travel again. Adjust the chain further, if the chain's tension is still less than 1 3/16 inches or greater than 1 1/2 inches. If the chain's tension is within the specified range, tighten each of the adjuster bolt's lock nuts against the tensioner body with the 12 mm wrench.

Tighten the rear hub's upper bolts to 72 foot-pounds and the lower bolts to 36 foot-pounds, using a 14 mm socket and a torque wrench. Remove the jack and lower the Yamaha Warrior's rear wheels to the floor.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Ruler

  • 14 mm socket

  • Socket wrench

  • Torque wrench

About the Author

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