How to Adjust the Timing Chain Tensioner

How to Adjust the Timing Chain Tensioner


Riding a dirt bike is an exhilarating experience and maintenance is necessary to keep it running smoothly. One of the most important maintenance tasks that should be performed on any dirt bike is adjusting the tensioner on its timing chain.

How to Adjust the Timing Chain Tensioner

    This crucial step ensures your machine’s engine will run reliably, efficiently, and with proper power output. If you’re new to working on two-stroke or four-stroke engines, then this guide will walk you through the process of how to adjust the timing chain tensioner on your dirt bike so you can get back out on the trail in no time!

    What is Timing Chain on a Dirt Bike

    A timing chain on a dirt bike is a critical component of its engine. The timing chain is located between the crankshaft and the camshaft. It helps open and close the valves at exactly the right time as the pistons move up and down in their cylinders. Timing chains, unlike a belt or timing gear, last much longer and maintain tension better over time.

    As such, it does not need to be replaced frequently like other components. However, if your dirt bike’s chain is not properly maintained or regularly checked for damage then it can severely affect your engine’s performance. A broken timing chain requires immediate attention from a mechanic to avoid costly repairs later on. Proper maintenance and regular inspections will ensure that your engine performs at its best for many years to come.

    What is the Correct Chain Tension on a Dirt Bike?

    Proper chain tension on a dirt bike is critical for performance and safety. If the tension is too loose, the power of your acceleration will be reduced and the chain will slip over the sprockets, wearing them down and potentially causing serious damage or even an accident.

    Proper Chain Tension on a Dirt Bike 
is Critical for Performance and Safety

    On the flip side, if it’s too tight, it can put unnecessary strain on your engine components such as the clutch and crankshaft causing accelerated wear and corrosion. The sweet spot for chain tension is typically around 10-20mm of slack when you press down in the middle of the chain. It’s a good idea to check your chain’s tension every time before tackling an off-road ride since chains can loosen up over time due to vibration and wear. To ensure accurate measurements, use a ruler or digital caliper instead of using your hands.

    Tools We Need to Adjust the Timing Chain Tensioner

    Adjusting the timing chain tensioner on a dirt bike is an important maintenance task that every rider should become familiar with. The tools you’ll need to properly adjust the tensioner are fairly basic, and can typically be found in any well-stocked motorcycle garage.

    They include an adapter that screws into the top of the tensioner and allows you to use a torque wrench; a feeler gauge or thin ruler; the bike manual; and a ratchet or other socket wrench to remove certain components such as camshaft covers, oils seals, and gaskets. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to set proper tension in the timing chain with ease, ensuring that your dirt bike performs reliably and efficiently during your next ride.

    How to Adjust the Timing Chain Tensioner

    Adjusting the timing chain tensioner on a dirt bike can be an intimidating task for a novice rider, as it requires knowledge of some motorcycle mechanics basics. However, with these five simple steps, anyone can customize their dirt bike and make sure the timing chain tensioner is adjusted properly.

    • Begin by removing the cylinder head cover and spark plug to get access to the slipper adjustment bolt, then loosen it one-quarter turn.
    Removing the Cylinder Head Cover
    • Next, use a torque wrench set to 3.2 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) to tighten the slipper adjustment bolt until it meets the stop spring, then loosen the bolt half a turn.
    • After that is completed, you’ll need to check that there is still enough camshaft clearance space by using feelers between the cams and chain guides which should be at least .006 inches.
    • If more clearance is needed loosen up the tensioner adjuster nut and push it away from the cam sprocket while tightening the nut evenly clockwise till desired free space distance appears.
    • Once this tensioning has been achieved correctly reassemble all parts in reverse order of disassembly and make sure everything is tightened back up properly.

    With these easy steps, your dirt bike will be well-maintained and ready for action!

    How Does a Dirt Bike Cam Chain Tensioner Work?

    The key to a dirt bike cam chain tensioner is its ability to maintain tension on the drive chain by delivering consistent pressure over its entire range. It keeps a steady strain between the camshaft and the crankshaft, which ensures that both parts turn in sync. To understand how this works, it helps to know the details of how a dirt bike engine is constructed—the camshaft sits in complex wooden cams inside the main cylinder head, while the crankshaft controls various valves that let fuel and air into the combustion chamber.

    The drive chain links these two components and holds everything together, but can sometimes slip due to heat or pressure shifts when revving at higher speeds. The tensioner slowly increases or decreases force as needed to keep all of these parts running together effectively. With this feature, dirt bikers can get more power out of their engine without worrying about costly damage stemming from loose components.


    In conclusion, it is very important to adjust the timing chain tensioner correctly in order to avoid damage to the engine. The steps outlined above will help you do this quickly and easily. Have you tried this process on your own vehicle? Let us know how it went in the comments below.

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