How To Check Motorcycle Chain Slack

Keeping your motorcycle chain in good condition is essential for smooth and secure riding experiences. A key component of chain upkeep is monitoring the slack, which is the looseness or play between the chain and the sprockets. In this article, we’re going to guide you through the process of inspecting the slack of a motorcycle chain, step by step.

Step 1: Park Your Motorcycle on a Level Surface

Before checking the chain slack, it is essential to park your motorcycle on a level surface. This will ensure that the chain is not under any tension or stress while you are measuring the slack.

Step 2: Clean the Chain

Before checking the chain slack, it is important to clean the chain thoroughly. A dirty chain can cause inaccurate measurements and may even lead to damage to the chain or sprockets. Use a chain cleaner or soap and water to remove any dirt, debris, or lubricant from the chain.

Step 3: Locate the Chain Adjusters

Most motorcycles have chain adjusters located on either side of the swingarm. These adjusters are used to tighten or loosen the chain as needed. Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of these adjusters before proceeding with the slack check.

Step 4: Measure the Chain Slack

To measure the chain slack, follow these steps:

  1. Position yourself near the rear wheel and locate the middle of the chain. This is where you will take your measurement from.
  2. Using a ruler or tape measure, measure the distance between the middle of the chain and the swingarm. Make sure to measure at the point where the chain is parallel to the ground.
  3. Compare your measurement with the manufacturer’s recommended slack specification for your motorcycle model. This information can usually be found in the owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website.

Step 5: Adjust the Chain Slack

If your measurement indicates that the chain slack is outside of the recommended range, you will need to adjust it. Follow these steps to make the necessary adjustments:

  1. Loosen the chain adjusters on both sides of the swingarm by turning them counterclockwise.
  2. Move the rear wheel forward or backward as needed to achieve the desired slack measurement. This can be done by loosening the axle nut and sliding the wheel along the swingarm.
  3. Once you have achieved the correct slack, tighten the chain adjusters on both sides of the swingarm by turning them clockwise until they are snug against the swingarm.

Step 6: Check for Proper Tension

After making any adjustments to the chain slack, it is important to check for proper tension. Follow these steps to ensure that the chain is properly tensioned:

  1. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes to allow the chain to warm up.
  2. While the engine is running, use your hand to lift the chain off the rear sprocket. The chain should have some resistance but should not be excessively tight or difficult to move.
  3. If the chain feels too loose or too tight, make further adjustments as needed and repeat the tension check until you achieve the desired result.


Checking motorcycle chain slack is a crucial aspect of maintaining your motorcycle’s performance and safety. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can ensure that your chain is properly tensioned and functioning optimally. Regularly checking and adjusting the chain slack will help extend the life of your chain and prevent potential issues on the road.