The rear wheel on my Surly Cross Check is right at the edge of the rear dropout but the chain is tensioned correctly. If I move the wheel back into the dropout so it is comfortably in the middle, I presume that the chain will no longer be tensioned correctly or will it? Does the rear derailleur compensate for wheel shift fore and aft?

If not will I need to get a longer chain? I asked the bike shop but they didn't seem keen on moving the wheel back into the dropout. They just said the rear dropout screws were correctly configured.

cross check dropouts

  • I wouldn't be happy if my wheel were right at the edge of my dropout, especially if it were a bike shop that put it there! There are several questions on here regarding chain length - for example - so much so I was almost tempted to mark this as a duplicate. Incidentally, one of the roles of the rear derailleur is to take care of tension. If the chain is the right length, and the derailleur adjusted correctly, the tension will always be correct.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 16:59
  • Can you post a picture? Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 16:59
  • Welcome to Bicycles Stack Exchange! Could you please include pictures of the dropouts?
    – freiheit
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 17:00
  • Note from Surly's site about the current Cross Check rear dropouts: "Semi-horizontal dropouts give you singlespeed compatibility and wheelbase adjustability. Adjuster screws are included to keep your wheel in the right place for optimal shifting if you go with derailleurs."
    – freiheit
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 17:00
  • Define edge of the rear dropout. Is it completely in or not? It does not need to be in the middle.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


When you have a multi-speed setup, the derailleur handles all responsibility of maintaining chain tension.

The Cross-check frame has the semi-horizontal dropouts so it can be utilized for single speed applications, and it's only for those applications that you control chain tension by wheel spacing.

Where the wheel goes in the dropouts for a multi-speed setup is not super important, so as long as it is completely "in" them, and there is plenty of surface on the dropouts your axel nuts/QR cams ares secured to, you should be fine. Having the wheel nearer the end does make it easier to pull the wheel out without getting too much grease on your hands.

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