How Tight Should A BMX Chain Be? (Solved!)

BMX chains should have the correct tightness for you to enjoy the swiftness in jumps and stunts. But what is the right tightness? How tight should a BMX chain be?

A BMX chain should not be too tight or too loose. The correct chain tension should have a ½ inch vertical deflection. That means you should be able to pull your chain by hand by a half-inch upwards or downwards.

If the deflection is less than ½ inch, the chain will be too tight, which means pedaling, moving the crank, or making turns will be hard. If the deflection is more than the expected ½ inch, the chain will be loose, and the chances of jiggling on the chainstay will be high. 

But what should you do when your BMX chain is too tight or too loose? What if you find a tight spot on the chain? Well, this guide will explain everything you need to know about BMX chain tightness.

But first, let’s answer our title question next:

how to tighten a BMX bike chain

How Tight Should A BMX Chain Be?

A BMX bike chain tension should always be moderate. That means that the chain should not be too tight or too loose. Realistically, BMX chain tension should have ½ an inch deflection.

If you wonder why, well, it’s primarily to avoid injuries. It should enhance the down and up movement by at least a half-inch.

If the chain is too tight, you won’t be able to make turns, and alternatively, if the chain is loose, it will keep snapping off the chainring.

What to Do When Your BMX Chain Is Loose?

Most likely, your bike chain becomes loose after years of usage. So, if you notice that your BMX chain has become loose, you should fix it immediately. You’ll need to adjust your BMX chain tension.

How to Tighten a BMX Bike Chain

If this is your first time, you may wonder how to go about it. Relax as I have got you covered. Here’s how to tighten BMX chain:

  • Place your BMX upside down or on a bike stand

The first step is to put your bike in a good position. You can turn it upside down or place it in a bike stand like the Park Tool PCS-9.2 Bike Repair Stand (Check on Amazon). This stand comes in durable steel construction to last you longer.

Should A BMX Chain Be Tight
  • Make the rear-axle loose

Now that you can easily access the parts loosen the rear axle nuts slowly by using a socket wrench. That will ease the rear tire.

  • Tighten the chain

Now you can retract the rear tire so that you can access the chain. Once you do, check the chain tension, then start tightening it by moving the chain both ways (up and down) by a half-inch.

But be careful not to overtighten it. Remember, for greater efficiency while biking, you need to get the correct chain tension, and we are talking about a ½-inch vertical deflection.

  • Tighten the rear

Now, you need to tighten the rear axle nut back so that the rear tire does not touch the frame or the chain.

  • Test the chain

You need to test the chain before hitting the road to ensure that all is well. You can do this by spinning the rear tire.

You did well if the tire spins without touching the chain or frame. But if it touches either of the two, you should repeat the whole process.

Also, note that if you repeat the process but the chain fails to tighten, get a new chain.

How Do I Know If My BMX Chain Is Too Tight

What to Do to a Very Tight Chain

While many complain of their BMX chain being loose, there are instances when your BMX bike chain can be too tight.

Just like a loose chain can cause dangerous falls and accidents when doing stunts, a tight chain can cause chain breakage, which can also cause damage to other parts. For this reason, you should attend to a tight chain just like you attend to a loose one.

But how can you know if your chain is tight? Well, if you experience pedaling difficulty, especially when making turns, the probability of your chain being too tight is much higher.

To be sure, you can check for chain tightening by turning your bike with tires facing up, then using your hands to spin the tire, and if it moves slower than it should, your chain is too tight.

Loosening your bike chain is easy. All you need is to follow the steps below:

a) Lube the chain

Maybe the cause of chain tightness could be a dry chain; the first thing to do is lubricate your chain.

But first, you should clean your bike chain from mud and dirt. You can do this by using a rag and water. Hold the wet rag on the chain and slowly backpedal to get rid of the filth on the chain.

Then, apply the bike chain lube to both the inner and the outer part of the bike chain. Then use a dry rag to wipe off the excess lube. If you are looking for the best chain, you can consider the WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube (Check on Amazon).

Why Is My BMX Chain Loose

b) Loosen stiff links (tight spots)

If you lube your chain but still find it hard to pedal, it’s now time to check on any stiff link on the chain. It’s called a tight spot. It happens when the entire chain is loose, but a specific part is too tight. Usually, a tight spot is a result of loose sprocket bolts.

You can do this by backpedaling the cranks. Your focus should be on checking if there is any link that clicks and jumps.

Once you get the stiff link, you can loosen it with your hands or with a chain tool. Ensure you twist the bike chain forth and back until the link loosens.

Once done, start backpedaling the rear wheel slowly and check if it’s stiff or runs hassle-free.

But if, after all these efforts, the chain keeps skipping or there are several stiff links on the chain, you should consider replacing the chain.

c) Prevent snapping

Let me also share a secret of what professionals do on their loose bike chains. Well, they use a chain catcher. A chain catcher prevents your bike chain from snapping, especially when landing after a high jump.

One chain catcher they use is the K-Edge Pro Braze-On Chain Catcher (View on Amazon). This bike chain catch guarantees excellent performance as you will relax knowing that there is a lower chance of your chain snapping.

chain catcher

Should A BMX Chain Be Tight?

A BMX chain should have the correct tightness. By all chance, avoid a tight chain. For example, if the chain is too tight than it should be, it will be a difficult task to move the cranks. 

That implies that taking turns will be a major problem. Also, a tight chain will affect other parts surrounding the chain, like the chainring.

For all these reasons, always ensure that the chain tension has a ½-inch deflection vertically. That will allow easy movement and efficient wheel rolling power.

Should A BMX Chain Be Too Loose?

There is no chance of a BMX loose chain. That is because a loose chain may come off and will start to bounce on the chainring when performing. In the long run, such a BMX only improves the chances of crashing.

People Also Ask

1. Should A BMX Chain Be Tight?

No! A BMX chain should neither be too tight nor too loose. A too-tight chain will make it hard to move the crank or make turns.

Still, a tight chain will significantly negatively impact areas surrounding the bike chain. So, always ensure that your bike chain has a tension of ½ inch vertical deflection.

2. How Do I Know If My BMX Chain Is Too Tight?

It’s easy knowing if your bike chain is too tight. You can do this by turning your bike upside down and turning the rear wheel. If it spins, producing a clicking sound, then it’s too tight. 

Also, if it becomes tough to pedal, the chain is too tight.

3. Why Is My BMX Chain Loose?

A loose chain can be due to the chain being too long, slack, clogged, or worn out. Also, a loose chain can result from backpedaling or forceful pedaling. While any of these could cause a loose chain, you should ensure to attend to it immediately to avoid injuries. 

In Summary

A BMX chain should not be too tight or too loose. If it’s too tight, it will be hard to turn the crank or make turns, while if it’s too loose, it will sway in the chainring and will be difficult to pedal.

The chain should have the correct tightness, a vertical deviation of ½ inch. If you can’t obtain this chain tension on your own, then take your BMX bike to the nearest BMX bike repair shop or any general bike repairer, and they’ll fix it for you.