How to Tighten a Dirt Bike Chain in 15 Minutes Step By Step

]Taking care of your dirt bike should be your priority, and tightening a Dirt Bike Chain stays top on the list. Even if your dirt bike is mechanically fit but your chain isn’t tightened, you would not get the best ride.

Tightening is an essential step that saves you and your bike from an accident. Besides this safety rule, a saggy chain is likely to damage your chain sprocket and even its crankcase, which is not cheap!

So Instead of ruining your ride and bike, you better get your chain tight. Wait, What? Don’t you know how to tighten a dirt bike chain? Fear not, as we are here with this detailed dirt bike chain lube guide.

But, what does tightening a chain mean? Everybody takes it differently. Some beginner riders pull it too much so that it would break through tension. Instead, tightening should be in a perfect range. A loose tight derails from the sprockets, while a too tight chain wears out your entire sprocket & tears the chain.

Before tightening the chain of your dirt bike, you need to ensure the availability of some tools you will be using. After that, you will get to know the exact steps you need to take to tighten that chain. Along with tightening and adjusting, we will help clean and lube your dirt bike chains with the right lubes and a few other tips!

Tools To Tighten a Dirt Bike Chain

Dirt bike chain tightening is not rocket science if you follow the same steps and get the required tools.

  • A 24-36mm Crescent Wrench aka Monkey Wrench (As Per your Bike’s Requirement Preferably Adjustable Torque Wrench)
  • Spanner Set (Ideally 10-14mm or better know your measurement from the User Manual)
  • A Stand for your Dirt Bike (If required)
  • Exhaust Plug (To prevent damage through water)
  • A Hammer (For striking and unlocking extreme bolts)
  • Chain Cleaning Brush (If your chain is cloaked and dirty)
  • Chain Lube (Check our Recommendations below)

If you properly take care of your bike chain and it is clean already, you don’t need to wash it. But, if it seems messy and greasy, you better wash and dry it out so it won’t make trouble while it’s tightening.

How To Clean Dirt Bike Chain

This as well isn’t rocket science. Simply get warm water in a bucket and wet your chain after brushing it initially. Get your brush and start cleaning its surface thoroughly from both sides. You may need to do it multiple times.

Now, Rinse your chain with water and wait until it dries. If it still can’t remove the grease, you can always use a degreaser cleaner to sort it out. But, a degreaser should be on X-Ring chains, so their ring rubber stays safe.

Step By Step Guide on How to Tighten A Dirt Bike Chain

  1. Loosen the axle nut with the help of a Crescent Wrench on the rear sprocket. You may need to apply force as it is usually pretty tight, so don’t panic. You might need a dirt bike stand to put your bike on here, but it is unnecessary if you can manage it.
  1. Now, you have to lose the lock nuts next to the axle. One out of them would lose on the right side and the other one on the left side. To tighten them back, you need to do the opposite. It would tighten or loosen the chain more so you can readjust it.
  1. Here comes the actual thing you need to do. Once you unlock both these nuts, you need to measure the chain slack, which is the balance of tightness or looseness. Ideally, it should be under 2 inches between the lower part of your chain and your bike’s swingarm.
  1. If the slack is under 1.5-inch or 50mm max, it means your chain is loose and too tight if it is more than 1.5-inch. You now need to tighten your chain to touch the given range (50mm/refer to your manual).
  1. Now, how would you do that? You would first tighten the adjustment bolt from the left side. There would be some notches and marks in the axle block.
  1. You need to adjust the bolt evenly on both sides to these notches. Otherwise, your wheel can’t spin, and you will experience instability and lousy suspension. In the end, simply tighten your lock nuts and the axle nut as per recommended torque. Double-check everything, and you are all set with it!

See how to remove the dirt bike chain here

Best Chain Lubes For Dirt Bikes

Once you are all set with the tightening and locked everything, it’s better to get your hands done on lubing your chain. So, you can experience a smooth ride. If your chain is oiled correctly, it will last longer than a less maintained or no lubed chain.

But, you must make sure you opt for the correct chain lube, especially if your bike hosts X or O Ring chains. Sometimes, X-Ring chain lubes don’t work fine with the O-Rings as they can distort their rubber. Some lube repels water while others don’t.

WD-40 Chain Lube

Undoubtedly, The Greatest Lube Of All Time!

This is a universal lube; nobody can deny its performance and quality. It helps clean the grease from the chain and protects it from wearing and tearing. You can use it for all bikes of any type of platform, and it will work perfectly.

You can use it to lube your dirt bike chains for any condition, whether it is dry or rainy. Its powerful NO WAX formula lubricates the chain at its best and prevents it from rusting. WD-40 can always be an excellent chain oil for dirt bikes & this is a beast lube you’ll ever get.

Maxima 77908 Synthetic Chain Lube

Maxima designed this synthetic chain lube for off-road and on-road dirt bikes, giving outstanding coverage to many chains. It helps improve the performance and increase the lifespan of a dirt bike chain with its synthetic formulation.

This Made In USA chain lube protects the chains from rusting and doesn’t fade its color as some others. Most importantly, it works on O Rings chains as well.

Motul 13 is another excellent dirt bike chain lube for all dirt bikes, whether off-road or on-road. It is a comparatively light lube and doesn’t catch a lot of debris, but it also depends on your use case. Motul made it work fine both with X & O Rings chains.



Frequently Asked Questions On Dirt Bike Chain Tightening

  1. How To Tighten A Dirt Bike Chain by Yourself?

Loose both the axle and lock nuts with a wrench and spanner. Check the slack of your chain and adjust the locking nut in the axle block on a good range from both sides. Recheck the slack and tight both its locking and axle nut properly.

  1. Why Should You Tighten A Dirt Bike Chain?

You should tighten a loose dirt bike chain, so it won’t damage the swingarm and doesn’t come off from the rear sprockets. If you maintain the correct slack of your dirt bike chain, you can overcome the risk of snapping. Similarly, it shouldn’t be tight enough to disturb your bike’s suspension or damage the sprocket and engine’s drive shaft.

  1. How Tight Should A Dirt Bike Chain Be?

There are a couple of dirt bike brands & they all recommend their range of tightness. Ideally, however, your dirt bike chain should have a slack of under 1.5-inch when you measure it through the swingarm and your bike chain. It should not be loose enough. Otherwise, it would keep coming off and shouldn’t be too tight to damage the sprocket.

  1. How Long Does A Dirt Bike Chain Last?

Well, it depends! It depends on how you ride, where you ride and how you maintain your dirt bike chain. Usually, a quality dirt bike chain is supposed to last at least 1000 Miles and can last up to 5000 Miles depending on the chain type and the chain brand you opt for. You must replace your dirt bike chain after 5000 miles to avoid wear & tear.

  1. How To Lube A Dirt Bike Chain?

Lubing a dirt bike chain is easier than you may think. There are some ways to do this, but the best is to start cleaning that chain first and letting it dry. Now point your lube towards the swingarm and start rotating your wheel in either direction until you give it a complete turn. Give it two or three turns for an optimal application. You can apply separate layers of lube on your chain’s middle, inner and outer sides.

  1. How Often To Lube A Dirt Bike Chain?

There is no general rule on how often to lube a dirt bike chain. But, you should lube your chain whenever you wash it—lubing the chain before every ride is also good but would be a bit costly. It also depends on how often and where you ride it.

The Bottom Line

Tightening your dirt bike chain should be listed in your pre-ride or maintenance schedule list so you can’t get into trouble. You need to tighten your chain regularly and always maintain a healthy slack between your chain and the swingarm of your dirt bike.

Also, tightening it out is much more straightforward than you think. We have listed every step in detail with pictures and an instructional video, so you can easily do that within 15-20 minutes. Ensure wrench and spanners with your owner manual, and don’t forget to lube your chain!