Motorcycle Single-Sided Swingarm Chain Adjustment

Learn how to adjust the chain on a single-sided swingarm-equipped bike.

Ducati, KTM, MV Agusta, Kawasaki, and Honda all have motorcycles with super-trick single-sided swingarms. With those swoopy suspension arms comes a different, though sometimes easier, way to adjust the chain. In this episode of MC Garage we talk about chain adjustment on a single-sided swingarm.

Swing-sided swingarms are usually found on higher-end motorcycles, and are chosen by engineers for a multitude of reasons. They allow for easier wheel changes (a useful feature for endurance racing and general maintenance); mufflers and side cases can be located closer to the centerline of the bike for better mass centralization; and they also just look super cool.

On of the most handy features of single-side swingarm is that it's easier to adjust and align the chain, though the tools are different. There's no need to loosen the axle and fiddle with adjustment bolts. You also don't have to trust that your axle alignment is straight using the stamped or machined hashmarks on the swingarm. Instead the alignment is always consistent as a beefy bearing carrier holds the axle and wheel at one end of the swingarm, and the pivot is fixed at the front, as long as the bike is assembled correctly, everything is always in line. All you have to worry about is tension.

chain maintainence on single-side swingarm equipped motorcycles.
In this week’s MC Garage we talk about chain maintainence on single-side swingarm equipped motorcycles.Alec Dare

To adjust the chain you need just a few tools. Depending on the make and model, you’ll need some sort of socket to loosen the pinch bolts on the eccentric adjuster. And then you’d need a hook spanner that fits in the adjuster, and a measuring device to check the chain slack. Finally you’ll need a torque wrench to tighten everything back up. That’s it.

Always start with a clean chain, it just makes life so much easier. Once the chain is clean, loosen pinch bolts just enough that it releases the bearing carrier ever so slightly. Loosen it too much and the weight of the chain could pull the adjuster to full slack. There needs to be a slight amount of friction in the system to hold your desired position while you check the tension.

With the carrier released, use a hook spanner to rotate the carrier to tighten or loosen the chain as needed. As always, check your service or owner’s manual for the correct measurement for your motorcycle. Once you’ve got it in the correct position, tighten the pinch bolts according to the specs in your manual.

That's it; tightening your chain on your single-sided swingarm motorcycle is easy and quick—just because it looks fancy doesn't mean the maintenance is difficult. Keeping your chain properly adjusted will prolong the life of the chain and sprockets, saving you money and worry in the long run. So keep an eye on it and adjust it at regular intervals. That's it for this episode of MC Garage, thanks for watching.