Carbon Fiber Road Bike

How to Calculate Single Speed Chain Length?

The number of links comprises the length of the chain.

A new cycle generally comes with a chain, which has 166 links. If you get a bigger chain or higher number of links while buying a new one for a replacement, you need to shorten it by having an optimal length.

However, in a rare case, you may also find long chain stays. Then, you will have no choice, but to get another chain to extract a few links from that one to add so to another. This is all because you should have an optimal length before paddling for a smoother riding experience.

You might know that the risk of chain dropping is due to an extremely long chain. And this phenomenon is really painful.

In contrast, a tight and shorter chain than the usual size will put too much pressure on the drivetrain or even it may damage the drivetrain, teeth of crankset/groupset, freewheel, and tensioner if any or even bearings.

Follow the length of the old chain!

There are mainly two ways of calculating a Single Speed chain length. Number one method is to follow the length of the old chain, which you have detached from your bicycle. It is commonly used technique and known by a conventional method.

Generally, a new chain comes with a quick-link and you just need to get the exact length of the old chain and remove the extra links of the new chain if required. Finally, lock the chain with the quick-link. This process is quite easy and simple.

In this process, you will need a chain breaking tool. If you don't have one or you don't know how to do it efficiently, you may transfer this job to the technician to your nearest cycle repairing shop. You will be in a good hand.

Follow the mathematical calculations!

On the flip side, you may also follow the mathematical calculations in measuring the length of the chain. If you are after converting your commuter bike into a single speed bike then this technique is especially for you. Although two mathematical methods/equations are out there, both equations yield a similar result if the bike has a single speed or a fixed gear.

As such, we aim to present you a relatively simpler method to bring peace of mind. This method can be used not only for single speed bikes, but for most of the bicycles.The equation is, CL = 2 (CSL) + [(CT/4) + (FT/4) +1].


CL = Chain Length (in inches). [Need to round up the final result to the closest whole figure (in inches)]

CSL = Chainstay length (in inches), measures to 0.125" (the closest value)

CT = Number of teeth in the crankset (front one)

FT = Number of teeth in the freewheel/cog (rear one)

An example:

The crankset has a teeth of 42 while freewheel comprises 32 teeth. The length between center of crankset (bolt) and the center of the freewheel is 16.375". So, the equation would be,

CL = 2 (16.375) + [(42/4) + (32/4) + 1]

CL = 32.75 + 10.50 + 8.0 + 1.0

CL = 52.25

Therefore, the CL or Chain length would be 52 inches (rounded up). [If you get 55.50 then the rounded up value would be 56 inches]

Having the exact or at least, closet length of the chain is quite crucial. The pro bikes know the importance of the length.

If you would not want to damage the crankset and cog and enjoy a happy ride, try to get the optimal length. Hopefully, this article will help you have that one.

You might love to let us know your experience whether you get the proper size of the chain following this formula. We would also love to hear any comments, suggestions or development of the formula on your own!

Enjoy your ride and be connected with us!

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