What Happens If A Motorcycle Chain Is Tight?

The motorcycle chain is a connecting link between the rear wheel and the engine, and as such plays a major role in the safe running of a motorcycle. This is a critical part of motorcycle maintenance, and requires the right tools and a little bit of knowledge to follow.

Knowing your motorcycle chain if it is properly adjusted and tensioned it can do a great job of getting you from A to B.

What happens if a motorcycle chain is tight?

When the motorcycle chain beyond the manufacturer’s specification, it can cause undue wear on the sprockets, chain, and other parts.

On-road motorcycles normally have a play of 2-3 cm and off-road motorcycles usually have a play of 3-4 cm. If there is less play than this, the chain is too tight and the tension is too high. A strong tension may cause the chain to snap during drive, a potentially dangerous situation. In addition, wear and tear can significantly reduce the chain’s lifespan.

What happens if a motorcycle chain is loose (low tension)?

A chain may come off while driving if there is too much play and the tension is weak. In addition, caution is required as it can impact gear changes and lead to trouble.

To maintain proper chain play, you should check the owner’s manual for drive chain precautions, and make regular inspections so that the play is adjusted to a good value.

Read more: Why Does My Motorcycle Chain Keep Getting Loose

How to Check Your Motorcycle Chain Tension

Follow these steps to check your bike chain:

  • Turn off the engine (be careful because your chain is still hot)
  • Set the gear into neutral and support the motorcycle with a main stand or paddock stand.
  • Swing the chain up and down at the slack measurement position between the front and rear sprockets. This will measure the swing width.
  • Rotate the wheel again and measure the runout width of the part with the least slack to determine if it is within the reference value.

As long as the chain play is within the specification value after performing the above work, there is no need to adjust it. Adjust the chain if it is different from the manufacturer specification.

How to Adjust Your Motorcycle Chain

Note: Always refer to your motorcycle’s owner manual before performing any adjustment on your motorcycle chain.

A good practice is to adjust your bike chain once a month or after 1,000 kilometers of riding.

Follow these steps:

  • Loosen the nut on the axle shaft
  • Loosen the lock screw of the adjustment nut
  • Adjust the chain by turning the adjustment nut.
  • Re -tighten the lock screw of the adjustment nut
  • Re -tighten the nut on the axle shaft
  • Check the chain line to see if the chain is straight

You can also watch this video from Baggers Magazine below.

The adjustment nut needs to be adjusted evenly on both sides, so if you are not accustomed to self-maintenance, it is recommended to ask your mechanic or bring your bike to your dealer.

Is a tight motorcycle chain bad?

Once a chain is stretched beyond a safe limit, the additional load placed on the rear sprocket can cause failure in the sprocket or the chain itself. This can lead to expensive repairs as well as a loss of power and speed.

A tight chain can cause a lot of damage to your engine and transmission in the long term, so if your bike is still new, you probably don’t want to risk it.


A motorcycle chain that is too tight puts strain on several components of the bike and will wear down sprockets faster, cause the engine to work harder, and cause the suspension to be tight and uncomfortable. A motorcycle chain that is too tight may ultimately break, leaving your bike powerless.

Keeping your motorcycle chain serviced, as well as changing the oil and tires, is essential for safe riding. Chains transfer power from the engine to the rear wheel and often overlooked by motorcycle riders.

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