I'm building my own fixie (almost a cliche, sorry) and I debating whether or not to buy chain tensioners. I will be riding my bike with a fixed gear most of the time. One of the reasons I ask is because I see a lot of fixies without them. So I was wondering whether or not I really needed them. Personal preference is welcome.

  • 2
    If you have horizontal dropouts or track forkends you don't need a tensioner
    – azer89
    Commented Apr 9, 2015 at 23:46
  • You shouldn't really be trying to build a new fixie without horizontal dropouts or a track forkend anyway -- it comes down to faffing with gear ratios or using something like an eccentric hub or some other hack.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:50

2 Answers 2


You don't need a chain tensioner (by this, you presumably mean something like the Surly Tuggnut and not a pulley which will snap on a fixie). This article from Lennard Zinn (or equivalently, the one he cites from Sheldon Brown) covers how to tension your chain.


If you have an elliptical bottom bracket you won't need a tensioner. Ditto for dropouts that allow horizontal movement.

If you are very lucky even a vertical dropout frame won't need a tensioner but as chains stretch over time this probably won't hold true for long.

When the chain is too short you will have parts of the crank rotation that are very stiff. When the chain is too long it risks coming off and jamming the wheel causing a dangerous skid. In this case a chain tensioner (which could be an old junk derailleur) is a good idea.

  • 2
    You can't use a pulley-type chain tensioner with a fixed gear.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 14:28

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