Running without the chain tensioner


Well-Known Member
Jun 3, 2012
Vancouver, British Columbia
Not only can you do it, it's the best way to go if your setup will allow it. Best to do it on a chain that's been run in, or, finished it's initial stretching.


New Member
Feb 18, 2017
Took out a link on the 415 chain, she's tight! It's a new chain so it will stretch. No more pulley noise, doesn't rub on frame but it's a tight fit all the way around.

Nashville Kat

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2009
Jacksonville, Florida
Quick notes-

It's easier to install and use any half links on the pedal chain than the motor chain

a derailleur automatically tensions a pedal chain- I don't like a lot of cogs myself- finding them dead weight- though they make a nice lightweight three speed freewheelnow- 16-19-22 I think it is about $12from China,or you can jus use a single cog and set the hanging derailleur stops so it never leaves that cog-and then you don't need shifters or cables and stops- you can get a cheap derailleur for 12 or 15 these days.

I've used matched chains on single freewheels for years- with no tensioner and no issues- except the chains do stretch differently over timre,so something may need adjustment every couple of years.


a guy who makes cool bikes
Aug 18, 2009
living the dream in southern california
It's the best way to go. There's a couple of simple ways to do it ("simple" depends on your own abilities.)

One way is to cut down the rear motor mount block, or add shims to space the motor away from, or closer to the frame.

The best way to do this is with the bike upside down (drained of fuel, unless you have one of those magic, rare gas caps that don't leak.)

Get the pedal side chain tensioned first, with the engine chain slack.

Loosen front motor mount and remove rear mount.

Slide engine foward or backward till engine chain is tensioned.

Check the gap in the rear motor mount, then cut the motor mount block to fit, or add shims between engine and mm block.

Tighten rear mount, and you're good.

That's the theory, anyway. The reality, is you'll probably find your engine chain too tight. When it looks like you need a half inch block, it'll more likely be 1/4". Experimenting with different shims will get it right.

Method two, is go up or down a tooth on the pedal side chainring or cog.

Rule of thumb I've found, is one tooth up or down will take up +/-, a half-inch on the motor side.

Going up or down two teeth will do nothing. You'll end up adding or removing a link in the motor side, and be back where you started.

Finally, all this is useless if you have a bike that the engine chain will rub excessively on the frame.

Then you'll have to mess with wheel spacing, frame spacing, etc.

But I've never built a bike that I couldn't figure out, no matter what the frame shape, so it can be done.