Chain Adjust Tech - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Chain Adjust Tech

I need input on the tech of Versys chain adjustment. I know how to adjust and maintain a chain too well. But the V seems to be a special creature related to chain slack versus wheel travel. BTW, I read the previous post, but it doesn't address the following issue. This is a very important issue for both chain life and safety.

Because of the geometry of the Versys, the chain loses slack quickly as the wheel travels, so if I adjust it to a slack of 1 1-1/4 inches on the stand, when I get on it, that slack basically goes away. I have set my rear spring preload to the lowest setting so the ride isn't so hard. That, I know, causes more initial travel with me on the bike.

So, to arrive at a decent slack, I set the slack at around 1 inch when I am on it and it is on the pit stand. That way, when my wife rides with me, the added (she is around 125#'s) travel will not tighten the chain.

I recently took the bike in to the local K dealer for the 7500 mile checkup and the very experienced mech. re-adjusted the chain for me and sure enough, when I got on it, the chain was tight with maybe 1/4 inch of slack...way too tight in my estimation having had four previous bikes. What do you guys think???
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 02:25 PM
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When in doubt, better go too loose than too tight!

2007 Versys, 2003 Magna, 2000 VTR1000
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 03:57 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are testing the bike with you on it and "on the pit stand", the rear wheel will be off the ground and the chain will not be under normal riding tension.

The only way to do this, is sit on the bike with the front wheel chocked, or a third person holding you upright and have some one test the tension on the chain. Same thing when you are two up, have someone hold the front handle bars and another test the chain.

From my experience the Versys reacts the same way any chained bike does, KLR, Triumph's etc etc. I've got 13000miles on my chain and have never had to adjust it. I lube it every 300-500miles with this stuff and it looks like it will be good for another 13k.


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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Machog, when the bike is on the pitstand, it is the same as when it is on the ground. The weight is on the spring just the same. BTW, I also use the Dupont lube..good stuff.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 05:20 PM
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Always good to learn something new! Never occurred to me, tx for setting me straight.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-01-2009, 11:58 PM
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You are thinking about this too much. If you follow the adjustment recommendation and slack in the manual it'll be fine when you sit on it and throughout the wheel travel (which is the same regardless of your static sag).

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Gustavo View Post
You are thinking about this too much. If you follow the adjustment recommendation and slack in the manual it'll be fine....
Ditto. Where I come from, there're two sayings: RTFM and RMWL.

Translated (loosely): "Read The Funky Manual" and "Ride More, Worry Less".
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 04:51 AM
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I have always adjusted my bike chains with my all-up weight sat well back on the seat, and fairly slack at that. Always at the slack end of the recommended adjustment range.
A friend of mine went touring France with his wife on the back of a Transalp and lots of luggage. Half way through the trip the rear wheel bearing failed. He had set up the chain as Honda recommended with no one on the bike. When he did the same after new bearings fitted and then put him and wife on board it was rock hard.
That's why the new bike from (I think) KTM are making a big sales point of the chain sprocket center being in the same position as the swing-arm pivot so equal chain tension everywhere in the stroke.
All bikes should be made like that. Maybe one day.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 09:22 AM
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That's why the new bike from (I think) KTM are making a big sales point of the chain sprocket center being in the same position as the swing-arm pivot so equal chain tension everywhere in the stroke.
All bikes should be made like that. Maybe one day.
Ted99uk
Only a few bikes have that feature (BMW 450 enduro that I remember off the top of my head, can't think of any KTMs). The downside is that you have to disassemble the swingarm (remove wheel, suspension, caliper, etc. etc.) to install a new counter-shaft sprocket. It's OK on race bikes where users expect to be wrenching on the perfect setup, but way too much hassle on a street bike. Imagine the average user that takes his bike to the shop to replace chain and sprockets, with this setup, the cost of chain replacement can easily double just on labor time needed. Despite the technical advantages, I'm not sure it'd be so popular.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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That's exactly what I am saying. Gustavo, I have read hundreds of posts here on this site and I agree that many folks do worry too much. BUT, what I am saying is true, the slack goes away when the wheel travels with rider weight on the bike, and it's not a little. Have you ever tried to measure the slack WITH rider weight on the bike after adjusting the chain?

The failure of the bearings and/or the chain breaking is what I am worried about. It really is not smart to blow this off and have riders at risk.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Racerman View Post
That's exactly what I am saying. Gustavo, I have read hundreds of posts here on this site and I agree that many folks do worry too much. BUT, what I am saying is true, the slack goes away when the wheel travels with rider weight on the bike, and it's not a little. Have you ever tried to measure the slack WITH rider weight on the bike after adjusting the chain?

The failure of the bearings and/or the chain breaking is what I am worried about. It really is not smart to blow this off and have riders at risk.
Yea, I questioned the adjustment method as well, but as Gustavo pointed out, the manual is pretty much right on. Any bike irregardless of make, should have the chain slack measured when the countershaft and rear sprocket centerlines are at thier greatest distance apart, {when the two sprockets and the swingarm pivot are in alignment} therefore creating the least amount of chain deflection. I use a ratchet strap and winch it down to that point, and leave about 3/4 inch slack.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 11:35 AM
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Confirm this with me- I also had the bike in the shop for new tires and when I got it back it was mucho tighter than I had it.

You measure in the middle of the sprockets, the top of the chain pressed up all the way and the bottom of chain pressed down all the way, correct- you are measuring the outside of the chain, top and bottom?
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 11:46 AM
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Confirm this with me- I also had the bike in the shop for new tires and when I got it back it was mucho tighter than I had it.

You measure in the middle of the sprockets, the top of the chain pressed up all the way and the bottom of chain pressed down all the way, correct- you are measuring the outside of the chain, top and bottom?
If you are going to use the sidestand method, yes, halfway between the distance of the sprockets. I'm a little confused about your measurement though.....simply move the {bottom half} chain up and down and measure from the center of the link, the top or the bottom...it doesn't matter as long as they remain constant. One other note.....rotate your wheel until you feel the tightest point on the chain, and take the measurement at that point on the chain. Most Chains do not wear evenly and {most} have a "tight" spot.

Last edited by redline; 02-02-2009 at 11:50 AM.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-02-2009, 12:20 PM
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Just a little point: chain adjustment measurements are set to ensure that the chain does NOT become overly tight throughout the rear wheel's travel. The tightest point will come when the countershaft sprocket, the swingarm pivot and the rear axle are DIRECTLY IN LINE. IF you use straps to establish that geometry, you can adjust to have MINIMAL (but NOT NONE!) slack at the tightest point on the circumfirence of your chain, then remove the straps and re-measure slack on the side stand, and ALWAYS adjust to that amount (without the need to use straps again). That's what Kawasaki has done to give us the range of 1" to 1.4" slack as per our owners' manuals.
The AMOUNT of weight of you and your passenger has NO bearing on the slack, and will ONLY be a concern IF the slack is too little so that the chain is TIGHT when the three points are directly in line which will cause SOMETHING to fail (bearings or chain).
Hope this helps someone....
Ed
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-10-2009, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by fasteddiecopeman View Post
Just a little point: chain adjustment measurements are set to ensure that the chain does NOT become overly tight throughout the rear wheel's travel. The tightest point will come when the countershaft sprocket, the swingarm pivot and the rear axle are DIRECTLY IN LINE. IF you use straps to establish that geometry, you can adjust to have MINIMAL (but NOT NONE!) slack at the tightest point on the circumfirence of your chain, then remove the straps and re-measure slack on the side stand, and ALWAYS adjust to that amount (without the need to use straps again). That's what Kawasaki has done to give us the range of 1" to 1.4" slack as per our owners' manuals.
The AMOUNT of weight of you and your passenger has NO bearing on the slack, and will ONLY be a concern IF the slack is too little so that the chain is TIGHT when the three points are directly in line which will cause SOMETHING to fail (bearings or chain).
Hope this helps someone....
Ed

That's not exactly true. Kawasaki could not have done that. I just completed a very accurate study on my Versys and found some interesting things. Here are some of the results:
1) I set 1 1/2 inch of slack in the chain at static ride with no rider.
2) I adjusted the axle back and at 0.053" (which is one turn plus 0.003" of the adjuster bolt), the chain went stiff (no slack)
3) one inch of vertical axle movement from static ride height moves the rear axle back 0.119". This is why we must add shock preload to the spring to reduce the vertical movement of the axle when we ride so the chain doesn't go tight. The ride becomes very stiff that way.
4) the amount of rear axle rearward movement that takes place when you put the front sprocket - front swingarm pivot - rear axle inline from static ride height angle is 0.220" (much more than the 0.053 it takes to remove the 1 1/2" of slack)
5) the angle of the swing arm (in relation to the sprocket - front pivot) is 8.0609 degrees measured on my Versys at static ride height and this is excessive. Lowering the rear of the bike will reduce the swing arm angle to a more acceptable amount where we would be able to set 1.0 to 1.4 inches of slack with the rider on and not worry about the chain going tight as the swing arm goes to and past inline.

I am going to experiment with installing a shorter spring (6" vs 7') of the same rate (est. 900#/inch) and installing a spacer so that the rear will be lowered (axle moved up) by about one inch. With the average load between just me and with myself and my wife, that would put us about 0.75" below inline and I would see about 0.013" of rearward movement of the axle through 1 1/2 inches of travel. That way I can set my chain to 1.0" slack and not worry about the chain going tight.

Last edited by Racerman; 02-10-2009 at 02:57 PM.
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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Racerman View Post
That's not exactly true. Kawasaki could not have done that. I just completed a very accurate study on my Versys and found some interesting things. Here are some of the results:
1) I set 1 1/2 inch of slack in the chain at static ride with no rider.
2) I adjusted the axle back and at 0.053" (which is one turn plus 0.003" of the adjuster bolt), the chain went stiff (no slack)
3) one inch of vertical axle movement from static ride height moves the rear axle back 0.119". This is why we must add shock preload to the spring to reduce the vertical movement of the axle when we ride so the chain doesn't go tight. The ride becomes very stiff that way.
4) the amount of rear axle rearward movement that takes place when you put the front sprocket - front swingarm pivot - rear axle inline from static ride height angle is 0.220" (much more than the 0.053 it takes to remove the 1 1/2" of slack)
5) the angle of the swing arm (in relation to the sprocket - front pivot) is 8.0609 degrees measured on my Versys at static ride height and this is excessive. Lowering the rear of the bike will reduce the swing arm angle to a more acceptable amount where we would be able to set 1.0 to 1.4 inches of slack with the rider on and not worry about the chain going tight as the swing arm goes to and past inline.

I am going to experiment with installing a shorter spring (6" vs 7') of the same rate (est. 900#/inch) and installing a spacer so that the rear will be lowered (axle moved up) by about one inch. With the average load between just me and with myself and my wife, that would put us about 0.75" below inline and I would see about 0.013" of rearward movement of the axle through 1 1/2 inches of travel. That way I can set my chain to 1.0" slack and not worry about the chain going tight.
Racerman,
I BELIEVE you are somewhat saying the same things I am, but from a DIFFERENT direction. In #4, you mention .220". I believe what you are quantifying is the DIFFERENCE between the axle's POSITION at rest (measured from the countershaft sprocet's center), compared with it's position when the THREE positions (countershaft sprocket, swingarm pivot, and rear axle) are IN LINE - the point at which the CHAIN WOULD BE TIGHTEST ( which is what I said). Remember that the rear axle follows an ARC as it travels, and the point at which the rear axle is FURTHEST from the countershaft sprocket center is when the three points are IN LINE.
This should show you that NO MATTER HOW MUCH LOAD IS ON THE BIKE, the position where the chain is tightest WILL NOT, and CAN NOT change.
If you lower your bike (raising the rear axle), you can PROBABLY reduce the 'slack' in the chain at rest, as the rear axle will then follow LESS of an arc as it travels, but you still have to ensure that it does NOT fully tighten when the three points are in line.
Another point is that increasing the preload on the rear shock will ONLY change sag, nothing else.
Cheers,
Ed
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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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FastEddie,

Here is where you are missing my point. If it only takes 0.053" of rearward axle movement to tighten the chain at an initial 1.5" of slack, then moving the swing arm through the arc until all points are inline would move the axle 0.220" and the chain would break, if not able to stretch to compensate. You would need to put 4 or 5 inches of slack in the chain in order to not have a tight chain at the inline position and that is unreasonable. OR, in reverse if that is the way you want to see it....if I adjust the chain so it has no slack at the inline position (all three points lining up) then when I return the bike to static ride height with no load, the slack would probably be 4-5 inches.

The fact is, if you set chain slack at ride height with no load, by the time you sit on the bike, you will have lost most if not all of the slack. Try it. I did. My dealer set the slack according to the manual. I got home, sat on the bike and then had someone check the slack....NONE. That is why I am on this soap box.
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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 05:42 PM
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FastEddie,

Here is where you are missing my point. If it only takes 0.053" of rearward axle movement to tighten the chain at an initial 1.5" of slack, then moving the swing arm through the arc until all points are inline would move the axle 0.220" and the chain would break, if not able to stretch to compensate. You would need to put 4 or 5 inches of slack in the chain in order to not have a tight chain at the inline position and that is unreasonable. OR, in reverse if that is the way you want to see it....if I adjust the chain so it has no slack at the inline position (all three points lining up) then when I return the bike to static ride height with no load, the slack would probably be 4-5 inches.

The fact is, if you set chain slack at ride height with no load, by the time you sit on the bike, you will have lost most if not all of the slack. Try it. I did. My dealer set the slack according to the manual. I got home, sat on the bike and then had someone check the slack....NONE. That is why I am on this soap box.
IF what you are claiming is correct (it isn't), then UNLESS you start with 4 or 5 inches of slack, the chain would become OVERLY TIGHT BEFORE THE TIGHTEST POINT (when all three points are INLINE) at which point the weakest link would have to break!
The fact that my "V" has about 5,000 miles on it, some in harsh conditions using up MOST if not all of the suspension over large bumps and has yet to break a chain... guess 1 to 1.4" of slack (as per the manual) is enough.
If you want to confirm this, remove your rear shock (bike supported, of course!), line up the points and tie the swingarm to hold it, then adjust till there's just SLIGHT slack, let the rear wheel down to stock and MEASURE the slack.
Cheers,
Ed
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-11-2009, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Ding Dang Fasteddie... you were right. I did what you suggested, removed the rear bolt off the shock, raised the swing arm to inline and the chain slack barely changed. I should have done that in the first place. Crap.

Now I feel confident. I adjusted the chain to 1.4 slack at RIDE HEIGHT, NO WEIGHT like others said to do and tomorrow I'm gonna take that wonderful bike out for a long ride...temps here are forecast to be a high of 75, perfect. Sorry for the exchange, but I must have had the wrong idea about this. Cheers.
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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-13-2009, 10:29 AM
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What happens to the chain tension when Speedy's lowering kit is installed? I haven't seen any comments about checking slack after lowering the suspension.
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