Tech Tip: Chain Alignment

Keeping your chain adjusted is a basic and important maintenance task that every rider is familiar with. Keeping the chain slack in the proper range will extend the life of your chain and sprockets, and prevent premature wear on the swingarm, countershaft, and rear wheel bearings. Making sure your rear wheel is properly aligned goes hand in hand with adjusting your chain. Proper wheel alignment is critical for good handling and can even affect tire and chain wear when it is badly out of line.

This job is a piece of cake, right? You just line up the adjuster with the marks on each side of the swingarm, and you are done. How hard is that? What many people don't know is that on many bikes, the marks on the swingarm may not be even accurate due to manufacturing tolerances, and by using them you can unintentionally misalign your wheel, causing a variety of problems.

If you have a look around, you will see many different ways of measuring wheel alignment, from simple and inexpensive, to crazily complex and wallet-emptying. However, there is one simple fact that you need to take into consideration before you go too crazy with some of the solutions out there. This is the reality you only have two adjustments for your rear wheel, the left and right adjusters on the swingarm. That's the only thing you can change. So using lasers to align the rear wheel to the front, or long reference rods to measure one side against the other is a waste of time and money.

Now, we have to make an assumption here, and I hope this holds true with every bike out there. If the manufacturer who made your bike did their job correctly, the countershaft, swingarm pivot and rear axle are all in the same plane, and the countershaft and rear sprockets are perpendicular to the shafts they are mounted on. If this is the case, all we have to do to achieve proper wheel alignment is to make sure that the rear sprocket is in line with the run of the chain.

This is where the Motion Pro Chain Alignment tool comes in handy. You simply clamp the tool body to your rear sprocket, and look down the indicator, which will clearly show whether your sprocket is in line with the chain. If not, make the proper changes to your adjusters, and tighten up the axle. No more worries as to alignment.

The Motion Pro Chain Alignment Tool MSRP is less expensive than replacing a prematurely worn out chain and sprockets, and will make sure your rear wheel is properly in line.



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