The first upright bicycle that was outfitted with a chain was developed in the late 1800s. The basic design of the mechanism to make the bicycle run remains almost unchanged. Modifications have been done on the bicycle frame, the seat, the materials used for the frame, shape of the handlebars and the size of the wheels but overall the design is the same. The bicycle has been a mode of transportation since the 1900s and has evolved to become used for recreation, sports and exercise activities by children and adults.
The chain is one of the major components of a bicycle as this connects the rear wheel to the crank set that makes the bicycle move forward. The chain needs to have the right tightness to regulate the speed of the bicycle. Here are some pointers on how to tighten a bicycle chain.
- Turn your bicycle upside down so that the handlebars and the bicycle seat are flat on the ground. For a single speed bicycle, the chain assembly is very simple. It goes around a small sprocket between the seat and stays located at the center of the rear wheel. The other end of the chain goes around the bigger sprocket attached to the junction of the seat tube and the down tube. The sprocket is part of the crank set that also includes the crank arms and the bicycle pedals.
- The points of the rear wheel axles have deep notches that are fitted with a bolt that holds the rear wheel in between the two axles. To take up the chain slack and tighten it, loosen the bolt and pull back the rear wheel until the chain is taut then tighten the bolt. Make sure that the rear wheel is sitting up straight between the axles.
- The bicycle chain is installed differently when you have a multi-speed bicycle since there are more gears on which the chain will be attached for the different bicycle speeds. With a multi-speed bicycle the chain has to be removed from the bicycle because the only way to tighten the chain will be to remove one or two chain links.
- A chain link is composed of two plates with holes on both ends where pins are pushed through. The pins connect the chain link plates to each other. A manually-operated chain tool is needed to pop the pins from the plates. It is a small tool that you can buy from a bicycle parts shop. Insert the chain in between the slots of the chain tool, aligning the pin with the mandrel and turn the handle of the screw to force the pin off the plate hole. Remove the pins on one end of a chain link to break the chain apart.
- Thread the chain again on the sprockets to check how many chain links should be removed. Remove the required number of chain links. Take care not to push the pin all the way out of the plates that will be used to join the chain back as it will be very difficult to reinsert the pin. The pin is wider in the ends than in the middle that is why it can be a tad difficult to reinsert it. Use the chain tool once again to join the links together.
Follow how the chain had been fed into the sprockets using your bicycle manual. Please note that there are chain plates that are shaped differently, which will require another model of chain tool to be used. Make sure that you check your bicycle chain and buy the correct chain tool.