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Chain Slack??

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I need some guidance/advice from my fellow TT members.

This is an issue that's been a bit of a conundrum for me since I purchased my XR650L in '06. Prior to getting this bike, all my bikes were the old school dual shock bikes from the 70s and 80s, which seemed to be easier to figure out when to tighten the chains on (mainly because you had to do it every couple of weeks). With my "new" '06 XR650L, it's a bit harder (for me) to figure out. I seemed to have stretched the original chain, so last weekend I installed a nice new X-ring chain, and intentionally left it a bit slack so I wouldn't end up stretching it like I did the original. I checked it today after a nice rip and to me it seems like it needs to be tightened. It has about 1 3/4 to 2 inches of free play mid-way up the chain on the bottom. Is this good, or should I tighten it up? I remember with the original chain I'd tighten it when it got this loose, but then it would seem like it was tighter than the 1 5/8ths of an inch free play that the manual says you should run it at???

Opinions and personal experiences with what you run your chain slack at are appreciated! 🙂

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Well, with my new O ring chain, I had to tighten it almost daily for three days after the install.

Just maintain the 1 5/8" slack on the lower part of the chain IN THE MIDDLE>

Adjust as nec.

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... Prior to getting this bike, all my bikes were the old school dual shock bikes from the 70s and 80s, which seemed to be easier to figure out when to tighten the chains on ...

Yes! 🙂

& what I really wanna know is just when did we all decide that having 6 little skateboard wheels guide the chain around was somehow "better" than the cool little spring loaded chain tension sliders bikes used to have.

Only thing I have to say is too loose is better than too tight (but not too loose... uh, nope that's too tight :D )

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This is really easy to anwser. The swingarm moves in an arc. At the center of the arc, the chain is the tightest. Adjust it there to it's minimum. Now let the spring push the swingarm down, and that the minimun slack it has to have. Looser is OK, but you may get some whip, or surging, or it may fall off. With the long swingarm the chain just seems looser. Do not run it tight. To answer your question more directly, yes adjust it. Keep it at 1-5/8.

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What you can do is, make a short piece of 1/2x1/2 wood with marks corresponding to the deflection recc. above, if you adjust the chain and it has less than this its easy to tell its too tight.

If you always want to be as close to 'perfect' as possible, keep adjusting it (and un-adjusting it) until on the new spot on the adjuster its just at the spec.

Then, undo it one click, and mark that slack on the other side of the wood and label it 'do not adjust until HERE'.

Me, I worry about it being too loose, but on this bike its gotta be obscenely loose before its really 'too loose'.

A little loose might ghive a little more noise from the chain, but too tight is deadly to the front countershaft.

Anytime you think its too loose, just think of the chain slack on the last KTM you saw, now that's a lotta slack!

Dave

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Thanks for the replies guys! :D

What happened with the last chain was that it would have a little more than 1 5/8 slack (maybe 1 3/4 to 2 inches), so I'd tighten it and then it would be less than 1 5/8 (around 1 1/4 to 1 inch). That's how I ended up stretching the first one.

It's on 24 on the adjuster, and if I go to 25 it seems too tight. I hate those damn snail adjusters!! 🙂

I think I'll just leave it for now, until it gets flopping around like loaded clothesline in the wind. It should be ok running it a bit loose because the guides and sliders are in excellent condition, as are the sprockets.

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Not trying to scare anyone, just share a story, but I did have a 650L chain sling off the rear sprocket and wad up around the countershaft. It broke the case and TOTALLY GRENADED the engine and transmission. The bike was 11 1/2 months old, had 1300 miles on the clock, and a few days left on the warranty. I was running near redline when it happened and riding a wheelie. It is a miracle I didn't crash hard but I managed to hang on after things locked up.

Fortunately, Honda fixed it. My mechanic friend at the Honda/Yamaha/Kawasaki/Suzuki/Seadoo/Polaris dealership who did the work said only Honda would have done that. The parts alone were like $2,000.00 in 1995.

Problem is, I still to this day have no clue why it happened. I am very meticulous about chain adjustments and know for a fact it wasn't too loose or tight. I rode that bike and other XR650L's for many years since without a problem, but that incident is always in the back of my mind.

Anyone else experienced this or have clue why it may have happened? I

would be interested to hear your take on this.

Excuse me for hijacking this thread but I think it is along the same theme.

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Old Dog, I'm with you man! The chain seems loose, so I tighten it one notch on the snail adjuster things and then it seems way too tight! GRRRRR...I really hate that! Anyway, I also have a nice new x-ring chain. Also, I changed to a 48 tooth rear sprocket, so my chain guide seems to be rubbing my chain. I feel like a total idiot when I whip out a tape measure trying to find that 1 5/8 inch that our manual refers to - that seems a lot more loose than it should be, but it is what the manual says afterall. XR650 Dave above had some great info, and I learned from his post. I guess it's wise to just keep an eye on it and get used to it being a little more loose than it seems like it should be.

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Well, the XRL just isn't made to wheelie, you were abusing it...

hehe

Dave

u r correct! :worthy:

...but it was made to be abused :ride:

...here in lies the conundrum 🙂

:D

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Well, the XRL just isn't made to wheelie, you were abusing it...

hehe

Dave

Don't tell my XRL she's not supposed to wheelie. 🙂

If I don't bring the front end up at least once every time we go for a ride, she gets angry with me :worthy:

:D

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Don't tell my XRL she's not supposed to wheelie. 🙂

If I don't bring the front end up at least once every time we go for a ride, she gets angry with me :worthy:

:D

+1 on that....

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My chain seemed loose to me, here's how I checked it.

It was 25 and seemed loose so I went a click tighter......seemed fine

"SIT ON THE BIKE" after I did and compressed the swing arm - the chain had no play - was way tight. 🙂

So I went back to 25 (where the shop had adjusted it) "SAT ON THE BIKE" and checked it and the chain had slight play - not to tight at all.

If doing by feel or by eye, it will mess with your head. The best advice was by about 3 people - "Adjust to the spec it calls for" (Better a little loose than too tight)

:D

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My chain seemed loose to me, here's how I checked it.

It was 25 and seemed loose so I went a click tighter......seemed fine

"SIT ON THE BIKE" after I did and compressed the swing arm - the chain had no play - was way tight. 🙂

So I went back to 25 (where the shop had adjusted it) "SAT ON THE BIKE" and checked it and the chain had slight play - not to tight at all.

If doing by feel or by eye, it will mess with your head. The best advice was by about 3 people - "Adjust to the spec it calls for" (Better a little loose than too tight)

:D

So, are you saying go by the "specs" of 1 5/8 measured while your sitting on it? Because that would make sense to me, as when I measure it with nobody sitting on it, it looks loose, but when I tighten it up one notch on the snail adjuster it seems tight. If so, I need a "buddy" to help me when I get on the bike, so he/she (most likely the wife or daughter) can measure the slack.

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Yes check it with someone on it.

To be sure it's not too tight when the swing arm is compressed.

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Yes check it with someone on it.

To be sure it's not too tight when the swing arm is compressed.

That's how I do it. 1 5/8 to 1 3/4 with ME on the bike. That's how it was adjusted when the chain flung off too, destroying my engine. 🙂 Guess there'll just never be an answer for that mishap.

XRLDave and Headtrauma can rest in the fact that I am now too old and chicken to ride many wheelies. :D

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That's how I do it. 1 5/8 to 1 3/4 with ME on the bike. That's how it was adjusted when the chain flung off too, destroying my engine. 🙂 Guess there'll just never be an answer for that mishap.

"well there's ur problem..." the 1.38-1.75" (35-45mm) freeplay spec is with the rear wheel off the ground at the loosest position...

...if u set it to that spec with the suspension compressed(weight of bike and/or rider:naughty: ) it was WAY too loose! :worthy:

if u check and adjust it once properly then check it again unloaded on the sidestand and remember that amount of freeplay it's easy to recheck it before each ride...

if u change ur preload and/or spring it will need to be rechecked and adjusted per the specified methiod again.

i have found my chain will almost touch the bottom of the swingarm under static sag(weight of the bike) for the proper adjustment.

this ain't rocket science boyz...

:D

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If you're really worried, follow Cap'n Midnight's advice- its the same advice I give.

Weight the bike down so the centers of the countershaft, the swingarm pivot, and the rear axle all lie on the same line.

Strap the seat down to the top of the rear tire.

The chain is now at its tightest, and at this point must have some slack.

The 1-5/8 slack is with the rear suspension extended.

Dave

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If you're really worried, follow Cap'n Midnight's advice- its the same advice I give.

Weight the bike down so the centers of the countershaft, the swingarm pivot, and the rear axle all lie on the same line.

Strap the seat down to the top of the rear tire.

The chain is now at its tightest, and at this point must have some slack.

The 1-5/8 slack is with the rear suspension extended.

Dave

exactly...

the Clymer Manual even says to ride the bike for five minutes to heat the chain 🙂 ...don't they know it's friggen 90 degree outside :worthy: ...maybe i need to cool mine :ride:

:D

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So... for over ten years I have been riding my L with the chain too loose. Go figure. Once I discovered it was as tight as a banjo string with my weight on the bike after a pretty good stretch of roadwork. I had been setting the slack with the suspension fully extended and thought that was the cause. It scared the dickens out of me and I never did it that way again. I figured too loose had to be a bit better than waaaay to tight. Maybe that is why I slung a chain. 🙂 I think I remember that if I set it for 1 5/8 while fully extended, the thing seems EXTREMELY tight at the bottom of the travel. Is this the way it is supposed to be? Say it ain't so! A super tight chain worries me to death.

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