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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a little confused and wanted to hear some opinions.

Yeah there's mucho threads about drive chain adjustment / tension / alignment etc etc etc here. I just ran into something new though. I've been riding bikes with chains almost all my life and I've never come across anything like this. Our manual tells us to adjust for such and such free play (I can't remember exactly what) and to use the little markers at the axle carriers for alignment reference. The idea is to show the same hash marks on both sides of the axle carriers to make sure the axle is parallel to the output shaft of the motor (right?). Or at least close. I submit this isn't close enough.

My chain has always been the noisiest chain I've ever heard. It also got hot, more so than I thought was acceptable. I thought this was the nature of the beast, until this last trip to CA to the GP. I found, at one point the inner side of my rear sprocket was wearing while the outer wasn't even being touched. I would expect to see some contact but not one side shiny from the chain and the other totally clean. Well, clean as in not being rubbed. I bought one of those chain alignment tools (Motion Pro) and found something out. If I use hashmarks as an alignment tool, the chain is way off to the inside. If I use my 'old school' method of measuring, as close as possible, from the center of the swingarm to the center of the rear axle, I get similar results, off to one side. Not as bad, but still off. If I use the Motion Pro tool, I can actually see how my rear sprocket is in reference to the chain, and get a real alignment.

I just rode in to work this morning (65 miles) and the chain was quiet, not hot when I got to the shop, and it it was perfectly aligned going around the rear sprocket, no side plates touching the sprocket. I could see daylight between the chain side plates and the sprocket.

The only real way to tell with certainty is to get a measurement between the front and rear sprockets to make sure they're spaced and parallel. I don't have the tools to do that accurately, but it seems I'm closer to perfect than I can get 'by the book'. Thoughts?
 

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Another day lived!
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Interesting. I have 26,100 on my original chain. I use the marks on the swingarm for alignment. I do have more of a shiny on the inside of the rear sprocket but it's not that bad. I do have about a centimeter of stretch left on the chain before replacement. I keep it lubed and cleaned probably more that most and don't have any problems with it as far as noise. I read on here before that you could not trust the alignment marks on the swingarm, now I'm wondering how true that statement is. Makes me want to buy an alignment tool and check it out. If it is off (mine) it's not by much. I am going to have to look into this one. Thanks for sharing.
 

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The Angry Blue Mantis!
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Good thread. After mounting my own tires recently I got a feel for how alignment works to an extent.

You can get the chain aligned right but when you do the rear wheel may not be aligned with the front wheel correctly. The key is to arrive at a happy medium of compromise between chain alignment and wheel alignment. I used the string method to get my wheels aligned with each other while seated (using a helper).
When I got my wheels aligned the rear sprocket was close enough to alignment with the drive sprocket for government work.

- J
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would also add (just found this out too) that while riding hands off, I now track straight where I always 'pulled' to the left (!). I thought my 'pulling' was just because my balance was wrong. Now I'm starting to wonder though. More craziness: I had a buddy hold up the bike, and I put a long 'c' beam against the side of the rear tire, maybe 6 inches off the ground, and put in a wooden spacer to hold similarly against the front wheel, and the handlebars were straight, indicating the wheels are parallel (close to it anyway). Then I used the hash marks method, measured it the same way and the bars were slightly off. I mean really slightly, but off just the same. I did everything in reverse, using the motion pro tool to align the chain again, checked it against the front with the beam, the handlebars are straight, and the chain is still riding around the rear sprocket as close to perfect as I can get. The hash marks show half a mark more on the left than on the right. Oh what a difference a half a hash mark makes.
 

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I'll have another IPA!
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I'm a little confused and wanted to hear some opinions.

Yeah there's mucho threads about drive chain adjustment / tension / alignment etc etc etc here. I just ran into something new though. I've been riding bikes with chains almost all my life and I've never come across anything like this. Our manual tells us to adjust for such and such free play (I can't remember exactly what) and to use the little markers at the axle carriers for alignment reference. The idea is to show the same hash marks on both sides of the axle carriers to make sure the axle is parallel to the output shaft of the motor (right?). Or at least close. I submit this isn't close enough.

My chain has always been the noisiest chain I've ever heard. It also got hot, more so than I thought was acceptable. I thought this was the nature of the beast, until this last trip to CA to the GP. I found, at one point the inner side of my rear sprocket was wearing while the outer wasn't even being touched. I would expect to see some contact but not one side shiny from the chain and the other totally clean. Well, clean as in not being rubbed. I bought one of those chain alignment tools (Motion Pro) and found something out. If I use hashmarks as an alignment tool, the chain is way off to the inside. If I use my 'old school' method of measuring, as close as possible, from the center of the swingarm to the center of the rear axle, I get similar results, off to one side. Not as bad, but still off. If I use the Motion Pro tool, I can actually see how my rear sprocket is in reference to the chain, and get a real alignment.

I just rode in to work this morning (65 miles) and the chain was quiet, not hot when I got to the shop, and it it was perfectly aligned going around the rear sprocket, no side plates touching the sprocket. I could see daylight between the chain side plates and the sprocket.

The only real way to tell with certainty is to get a measurement between the front and rear sprockets to make sure they're spaced and parallel. I don't have the tools to do that accurately, but it seems I'm closer to perfect than I can get 'by the book'. Thoughts?
Great synopsis. I firmly believe that an owner should check wheel alignment at least one time using the string method to see how far off the marks on the axle adjusters read. Then, once you have that reference, you can always get real close no matter what work is performed.
 

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Interesting thread indeed. When I have adjusted my chain in the past I did it by measuring between the swing arm pivot & the rear axle. No special tool, just a tape measure and a pretty well trained eyeball. Using this method the chain seems to track very well and I have no issues with the bike drifting in the "no hands" mode. I've looked at my notches and they appear to be very even when I have done my measured alignment so I figure I could trust them (at least on this bike).

I haven't tried the string method and I'm not sure exactly how/what you are looking at there. I would like to try the check between the front wheel & rear and then see where my bars are. First I have to find something straight around here that is long enough...
 

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I use a laser level and shoot the beam down the chain from rear to front for alignment. I also put the beam on center of rear tire and spin tire to see if the tire "wobbles" from being off. and then try to correct by adjusting between the two
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
dammit now ^^that's^^ a good idea!
 

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Another day lived!
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I use a laser level and shoot the beam down the chain from rear to front for alignment. I also put the beam on center of rear tire and spin tire to see if the tire "wobbles" from being off. and then try to correct by adjusting between the two
I have a laser level. I'm going to have to play around with that one. Thanks.
 
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