I ride a single speed bike and it seems to be tougher than it should be to pedal. It is comparable to one of the higher gears on a multi-speed bike. I'm getting the feeling that my chain may be too tight.

It has a 44:16 gear ratio.

Would a looser chain make it easier to pedal?

Obviously you don't want the chain too loose or you risk having the chain pop off.

  • 1
    What makes you think that this is not just due to the ratio? While the right tension sure is important, I'm not sure how large of a difference in efficiency you could feel within the range of tensions which properly work at all. Can you compare to another bike with a similar ratio?
    – Nobody
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 22:06
  • A 44:16 should be pretty normal for most people in a not very hilly area.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


If the tension is too high, the drivetrain will bind. If it is too low, the chain will drop (which is dangerous on a fixie, since it can catch and lock up the rear wheel relatively easily).

You basically want the highest tension such that the drivetrain doesn't bind.

See Sheldon Brown on how to set chain tension properly.

  • 3
    Most of the useful information on cycling online is either at sheldonbrown.com or parktool.com.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 14:37
  • 1
    The chain could also bind/be loose if it is irregularly worn. Not all the links are going to wear and lengthen in the exact same way.
    – Carel
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 19:21
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    RIP Sheldon Brown Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:05
  • 1
    It was 8+ years ago.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:06
  • 1
    If the chain isn't worn then it could also be a matter of fabrication tolerances and a really too high tension. It happens with new chains. Moving the rear axle forward 1 or 2mm may improve smoothness greatly.
    – Carel
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 7:10

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