How To Tighten A Bike Chain – 7 step guide

Are you wondering how to tighten a bike chain? If so, we have you covered! Chains are an essential part of your bike, so it’s vital to look after and maintain your chain to the fullest extent possible. Within this article; I will give you a beginner-friendly, step-by-step guide to tightening your mountain bike chain before going on to discuss the benefits of this for your bike and you the rider. 

Why should you tighten a bike chain?

If you are having troubles with your mountain bike chain being too long, or are a beginner, don’t worry – I had the same problem as you a few months ago and I can now share my own experience help you sort this out! Although tightening a chain might seem daunting at first glance, it’s just as easy as fitting a new innertube. By tightening your chain can help prevent several issues from occurring on your mountain bike from your chain falling off to chain slap (chain slap is where your bike chain hits the side of your bike as you ride). Tightening your mountain bike can also prevent your chain and derailer seizing up.

What tools you would need to tighten your chain.

Caution – before you adjust your chain, make sure you know what length it needs to be. If you make your chain too tight, this can cause your teeth on your cogs to wear down faster. Also, if you tighten your chain too much, it may make it that you can’t change to higher gears. But if you follow my step by step, you should be fine.

  • Link master pliers (to undo the master link on your chain).
  • Chain tool (to break the link between your chain to get to the desired length).
  • An extra pair of hands for the last step, you can do it by yourself but makes it more accessible.
  • A small plastic tub to place parts in while not using them, so you don’t lose them.
  • Bike Stand
  • Gloves

How to tighten a bike chain: step-by-step

Step one 

First, you will need to place your bike on the stand to support its weight. If you are not too concerned about scratches on your bike you can lean it on a wall (although make sure you also don’t mind scratches on the wall). 

Step two

Secondly, you will need to use the master link pliers and undo the master link and remove the chain from the bike and lay it on a flat surface.

Step three

Next, you will need to take the master link from the chain and put it in the tub, so you don’t lose.

Step four

Lay the chain on a flat surface and use the chain tool to remove the number of links to get the chain to the desired length.

Step five

Put your chain back on your bike and fit the master link back to the ends of your chain. 

Step six

This is where your spare hand can hold either end of the chain while you lock the master link back together.

Step seven

Test your bike and see how it feels.

What benefits come with tightening your bike chain?

When it comes to your chain, you must get it right.

This will allow you can unlock all of the rewards that come with a well-working bike. From personal experience, I tend to find that if you change your chain out every 1000-2000 miles and maintain your bike, you will see improved functionality and prolonged durability – helping you to enjoy your time out on the trail more whilst saving you money in the long-run. 

There are many bonuses of tightening your chain, let’s start with chain slap. Chain slap can get very irritating with the constant rattling of the chain hitting your bike. So, fixing this can help you keep your concentration on the trails, overall improving you as a rider.

Next, one of the many other benefits of adjusting your bike chain is that it prevents the chain from slipping off your cogs, halting you and your bike ride. I can’t stress how frustrating it is to be mid-ride, loving life, then having to stop to fix your chain whilst stops all of that momentum you have built on the trail! 

Are there any products which you would recommend to help me tighten my mountain bike chain? 

Park tool is a bike tool company that is world-renowned for delivering high-quality bike tools which come at a fair price. When I am looking to buy bike tools these are my first port of call. I would recommend investing in a pair of master link pliers and a chain tool. These products will last you a lifetime from a quality brand and will give you all of the versatility and functionality you need to tighten your mountain bike chain in no time.


I have been a keen outdoorsman since the age of 5, being exposed to the wondrous mountains of the Lake District, UK. Hiking has become more than a hobby for me as I completed survival skills training and competed in endurance challenges across Europe.

Recent Posts