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Proper chain adjustment method

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  • Proper chain adjustment method

    Hi, everybody!

    A couple weeks ago I picked up a nice, low-miles 2007 ZZR600 with 6219 miles on the clock (quite a bit more now ) and have several questions about this bike. I'll do the right thing and keep them to separate topics, but this is the most pressing question I have and therefore my first post here. This ZZR is my second bike, replacing the '95 Ninja 500 that I picked up a few summers ago and taught myself on. (Side note, I LOVE the ZZR but very likely would still be riding the Ninja had the oil pump not bit the dust last fall resulting in near-catastrophic engine failure )

    Anyway, my question concerns the Great Debate over how to properly adjust/align the chain - more specifically, the "string method" (or chain alignment tool) vs. using the marks on the swingarm. I've done a bit of reading on this in the past and it seems to be pretty evenly split. Some folks swear that using a string or alignment tool is absolutely the ONLY way to do it, while others - including my friend and riding mentor who has ridden and raced for 30+ years - say that there's nothing at all wrong with using the marks on the swingarm.

    My thoughts are that if you're not supposed to go by the marks on the bike itself then why would the manufacturer put them there in the first place? I used the lines on my Ninja's swingarm for 3 seasons and never had any issues with it. I just got a pair of paddock stands a couple days ago (never needed them with the Ninja, as it had a center stand) so I took advantage of last night's beautiful weather to, using the frame markings, do a much-needed adjustment on the chain.

    So, those of you who read this, what are your thoughts on the matter? Also, being new to the ZZR world, I'm open to any other input, tips, tricks, etc., you folks are willing to offer.

    I'm attaching a few pics of my beauty. As you can see it has been down, though not too badly. I have a new ZG windshield to replace the cracked one as soon as the well nuts ship, and a new OEM stator cover is on the way soon. One of the front rotors is a bit messed up so I have a new pair plus brake pads to install as soon as receive the set of Michelin Pilot Power 2CT I have on the way. I do most of my cycle work myself, and if I can't do something then I enlist my buddy who's been wrenching and riding his whole life.

    So anyway, enough babbling from me Thanks in advance for any info and advice you guys can give me. For those of you who are in the U.S., I hope you all have a safe Memorial Day weekend.


    20200508_173326[1].jpg 20200508_193455[1].jpg 20200508_193506[1].jpg
    Last edited by GKNByNW; 05-23-2020, 08:12 PM. Reason: Fixed a typo :-D

  • #2
    I use the marks on the swingarm.

    Once I get the chain adjusted, I spin the wheel and take a look to see if the chain is running straight / aligned to both sprockets.

    You'd really have to be WAY off on your adjusters to do any damage IMO.

    Been doing it that way for 30 years and never had an issue.
    I have neither the time,or the inclination, to explain myself to a man, who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I'd rather you just say 'thank you' and go on your way.


    • #3
      I've owned a few bikes now and never found the swingarm marks to be far out.

      The string method has its own drawbacks and long straightedges would be better. There was a member here (DWC) who used 6' fluorescent tubes.

      Sent from my SM-G980F using Tapatalk

      "You don't get slower with age, you just get more cautious." Michael Rutter

      06 Ocean Blue ZZR1200, the coolest colour.
      99 Yamaha R1


      • #4
        Swingarm marks method works for me too. I have ways to check it over the years that included alignment "tools and fixtures" but
        always would look at the marks after using those and found the marks to be close enough.
        "If it ain't broke, don't fix it...
        but sometimes it just needs a mod"


        • #5
          Because the marks are so close to the center of the wheel, any imperfection in their manufacture or use will be magnified at points farther from the center (such as the sprocket perimeter). Also, using the marks also relies on four parts (2 swing arm marks and 2 axle pointers), any of which can introduce its own bit of imperfection.

          In contrast, methods such as strings and pointers, while potentially being inaccurately applied, at least have the benefit of more directly measuring the things that you care about.

          Note, however, that each method is actually aligning something different. Marks measure axle alignment; strings (or fluorescent tubes, etc.) measure tire alignment; sprocket pointers measure sprocket alignment. We hope these all amount to the same thing, and they generally do for our purposes, even though they do vary at some level of precision.

          So, what to do?
          1. Unless you are a racer, don't worry or obsess about minor imperfections in alignment. Virtually every bike on the road is imperfectly aligned. People say they've never had a problem; and that is true, because any effect of good-but-imperfect alignment would manifest in very lightly less fuel economy, imperceptible tire wear patterns, or a chain life slightly less than it might have been. There is no practical way to perceive or measure such things, so nobody notices or cares.
          2. If you prefer to use the marks, but you just want to be sure they aren't the rare set that was grossly off from the factory, then use one of the other methods one time to check that the marks are good enough.
          3. If using the marks, do be sure that both of the axle blocks that carry the pointers fit very uniformly to the axles; if they are worn or damaged, replace them or use another method of measurement.
          4. Do be as precise as possible when using the marks, because errors are magnified.
          5. Occasionally check that your wheel bearings and swing arm bearings/bushings have no discernible slop.
          What I do, FWIW: When working in my shop, I use a MotionPro pointer that mounts on the rear sprocket. On the road or at the track, I use the marks.
          How To Cheat on Personality Tests
          1. When asked for word associations or comments about the world, give the most conventional, run-of-the-mill, pedestrian answer possible.

          2. To settle on the most beneficial answer to any question, repeat to yourself:
          (a) I loved my father and my mother, but my father a little bit more.
          (b) I like things pretty well the way they are.
          (c) I never worry much about anything.
          (d) I don't care for books or music much.
          (e) I love my wife and children.
          (f) I don't let them get in the way of company work.
          From <cite>The Organization Man</cite> by William Hollingsworth Whyte, 1956


          • #6
            on my old dragbike we used the 2 crankshaft centers to align the chain


            • #7
              Hey, everybody! Thanks for the replies. There's too much info here to reply individually to everybody, but I have read all the replies and I appreciate it. You've all pretty much confirmed what I was believing to be true


              • #8
                OMG that puurrrrddddddyyyy

                / back to thread
                Proud Father of a US soldier

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mellowyellow View Post
                  OMG that puurrrrddddddyyyy

                  / back to thread
                  Thanks, Mellow :) I found this bike kind of by accident on the website for a dealership about 20 minutes from home and I had my eye on it for months before finally being able to make a move a couple weeks ago. It's hard to tell from the photos but the left side fairing and the stator cover are scraped up from a lay-down by a previous owner, but not too bad and nothing that affects rideability at all. I've got a new OEM stator cover and gasket shipping hopefully soon, and I'll probably look cleaning up the fairing at some point. Otherwise she's in great shape for 13 years old.