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[Noob] First time adjusting chain...

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by gregkb, Apr 14, 2017.

  1. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Just went over 3,600 miles on my '15 F800GS. I finally got a center stand installed thanks to the guys in the shop at Morton's BMW down in Fredericksburg, VA who cut down an OEM stand to fit my factory-lowered short-man bike.

    This weekend I was planning on finally getting around to taking some of the slack out of my chain. It gets a little slappy during acceleration and deceleration, so it needs to be tightened.

    But...this will be my first time taking a wrench or socket or hammer or whatever to a part of my bike that goes around and around and could potentially kill me if I screw it up. At least, in my mind, if I don't get everything all perfectly aligned, the rear wheel is just going to come off the next time I'm doing 75mph down the Beltway.

    So, any of you folks - once you stop laughing at the noob idiot - have any pointers? Things to look for or avoid, tips or tricks? I'm not a complete moron with tools (I did manage to install my crash bar and bash plate with the loss of only three fingers and one toe), but this will me my first time tackling this particular job, on any bike...

    Muchas gracias!
    #1
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  2. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    pretty simple job, just follow the instructions in the owner's manual. make sure you don't over-tighten the chain as it will wear quickly. Make sure you torque the axle nut to spec.; if it is too loose, that is really the only thing that can mess you up. Good luck!
    #2
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  3. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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  4. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Cheers for that. For those who've done this a ton of times, how easy is it to screw up, or get something out of alignment? Is it a case of just following the steps and it's easy-peasy, or are there points where things could go south easily?
    #4
  5. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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    Read this to understand the dynamics of chain tension/adjusting as the swing travels up/down. Article.
    #5
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  6. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    IMO, it's very easy. loosen axel nut. put bike on center stand. loosen lock nuts on both adjusters. adjust both sides equally following the index marks making sure you have the correct chain tension. tighten lock nuts. tighten axel nut to torque spec. done. other than over-tightening the chain or the nuts, I really do not see what could go wrong. but I've been around long enough to know that if there's a way to screw something up, someone will find the way to do it!
    #6
  7. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    IMO, although interesting information, waaayy more complicated than it needs to be. :jjen
    Using calipers to measure chain sag? :dunno I use my foot and eyeballs to set it and never had a problem. :-)
    #7
  8. Effisland

    Effisland Long timer

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    It is easy to screw up, even for an experienced old hand.
    Some things to remember:
    - remove luggage or other weights
    - on centre stand, rotate tire to where chain is tightest. I don't mark this point on the tire but not a bad idea.
    - put on side stand. Measure chain deflection. Should be 35 to 45 mm. Avoid the lower end of this measurement
    - Make sure notches on both sides match
    - When increasing sag (loosening tightness) give the tire a kick to make sure both sides are sliding out easily. Probably not as necessary when tightening (decreasing sag).
    - Tighten main axle bolt then check sag again. Put back on centre stand and rotate tire, make sure it's not getting tighter at any other point.

    Avoid the temptation to over tighten or exactly match the 35mm sag distance. I find its better to have more loose chain.

    As the steps above demonstrate its not that simple of a procedure. I don't recall having such a process for other lesser bikes, but I believe the above will keep you riding smoothly and avoid chain issues.

    Don't over think the chain tightness. If there is some sag, its probably good. Once I tighten mine it is good for a long while and doesn't need regular adjustments. My first chain lasted 35,000 kms. Some here have chains last longer!

    Good luck and congratulations, you are no longer a noob!
    #8
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  9. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Thanks, @Effisland - that's a very helpful addition to the manual. I definitely won't over-tighten it, but it clanks against the underside of the swingarm at points now, so a little bit of tightening will hopefully set me up for a good long while. I'll post again if I manage to get this sorted without making my motorcycle explode :)
    #9
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  10. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Dammit.

    Can anyone recommend a 24mm socket that's thin enough to fit around the nut, and inside the vertical bar right next to it? The Husky one I just bought at Home Depot is too thick on the outer edges to fit cleanly...so even if I can get it off, I'm pretty sure it would throw off the torque readings when trying to refasten it.
    #10
  11. BygDaddee

    BygDaddee Where do I get a pie

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    Don't stress over torque, it's an axle nut, most people use the sole of their foot tension method just like you would if you changed your flat on the side of a trail. It's far more important to make the slack is within range and the axle straight according to the notches on the adjuster.
    #11
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  12. Capt CF

    Capt CF Pontificating Nobody

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    Mine is a Craftsman and it fits. Maybe stop by a Sears? Edit - that must be one burly socket. Even my Tekton impact sockets fit without hitting the stop although just barely.
    #12
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  13. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Do they still have Sears stores?!

    I'll see what I can find at the one down the road
    #13
  14. Wansfel

    Wansfel I'm not lost! The world is just a bit misplaced.

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    Using the existing toolkit should be considered as that is what you will have with the next flat tire out on the trail.
    #14
  15. Capt CF

    Capt CF Pontificating Nobody

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    lol..good question. I thought about that for a minute when I recommended it.
    #15
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  16. BygDaddee

    BygDaddee Where do I get a pie

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    Be careful too, it can be dangerous

    IMG_4133.JPG
    #16
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  17. vasuvius

    vasuvius wannabe something ... don't know what

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    the Husky 24mm deep impact socket from HomeDepot should fit fine. It takes a little bit of wiggling to get it to fit when first loosening the nut.
    #17
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  18. Spektrum84

    Spektrum84 Been here awhile

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    I think I picked up this 12-point 24mm socket from an auto parts store.
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #18
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  19. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    [​IMG]

    I paid a dollar for a tiny one of these simple inside calipers to carry in my tool roll, to check alignment of both sides before tightening down the rear axle.

    Fred
    #19
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  20. gregkb

    gregkb Been here awhile

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    Thanks, everybody! I did it and didn't die, my bike didn't explode, and I still have all my digits!

    The Husky 24mm socket did fit, but rubbed against the tensioner, so I returned it and picked up a Craftsman one from Sears (huh, they do still exist!) which fit a little more easily. Undid the locking nuts, gave the tensioning bolt a few turns (was really quite surprised at how even a 1/8th turn moved the rear axle that much), matched the bars on both side...gave the wheel a spin to see if it had a noticeable wobble to it, checked that the chain ran true, and then torqued it all back down. Hopefully good to go for another 3,500 miles or so!
    #20
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