Multistrada Chain Adjustment
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Adjusting a motorcycle chain isn't much fun, no matter how you slice it.
adjusting the chain on a Multistrada (the 620 anyway) is about as simple as
We've covered motorcycle chain adjustments before, with articles on
sprockets and a chain. Also
adjusting a chain on
the Triumph Tiger and
adjusting the chain
on the Ducati GT1000.
So there may not be much new in this article!
I haven't discovered any new
procedures that will make the job any easier or the chain longer-lasting, but every motorcycle has its quirks, and with the thought that maybe some
tips here will help other Multistrada owners or others, let's go through it
So why is it so easy to adjust the chain on the Multistradino? Well, since
the exhausts are centrally located up under the tail, the entire run of the
chain on the left-hand side is easily accessible. And both sides of the
620's double-sided swingarm are right out in the open, leaving the axle nuts
and adjusting bolts nicely exposed and ready for wrenching.
The amount of chain slack on the Multistrada should be checked with the bike
on its side stand, according to the owner's manual.
Actually, this is the
correct procedure for checking the chain slack on most bikes, but the
problem is that it can be very difficult to get under the bike to access the
chain in the middle of its run on some models -- like the GT1000 for
example. I usually put that bike up on a rear swingarm stand instead because
the low-hanging exhaust on the left-hand side makes it difficult to reach
underneath to measure the slack.
Ducati suggests moving the bike around until the tightest section of chain
is hanging in the center point to use for the measurement. This is always
more difficult to do than it seems and it's more of a matter of feel than
I usually don't get too uptight about it and simply walk the
bike back and forth over a short distance to see if I can tell if there's a
section of chain tighter than the rest. It's usually fairly easy to come up
with at least one section with less slack.
Like the GT1000, Ducati recommends 25 mm to 27 mm of slack in the chain,
which is only a 2 mm distance -- not very much, and difficult to both
measure and to get exactly correct when taking up the slack.
The slack must be measured from the same point to the same point on the
chain. In other words, hold the scale or the rule or the measuring device (I
sometimes use a Vernier caliper with the tips spread to the maximum
allowable slack) at the bottom of a link, then push up on the chain while
holding the scale in the same relative vertical position and measure how far
the bottom of that same link moves.
This is easier said than done (actually, it's not that easy to say either!),
and many owners have devices used to measure the slack.
I've always thought
it would be nice to make a something like a small stand that holds an
adjustable indicator that can be adjusted to point to the bottom of the
chain and another indicator that can be set to the top of the tolerance. The
stand could be placed on the floor and the indicators would stay in place as
the chain was moved up and down to check the slack.
Measuring Chain Slack
In the meantime, I usually lay on a creeper and hold a 12" metal rule on the
floor, used as a sort of rest to hold a smaller 150 mm rule that I use to
line up with the bottom of the chain. I then move the chain up and down and
measure the slack. With only 2 mm of tolerance, it's important to have the
lower indicator stationary to get a somewhat accurate reading.
By the way, the owner's manual suggests checking the chain slack at the center point of
the swingarm, measured from the center of the rear axle to the center of the
I measured this distance and then marked off the point exactly half-way with
a permanent marker on the swingarm (see photo below). I may eventually use a
center punch to prick a little indent at that point for really permanent
I also used a black permanent marker to color an edge on each of the 12 mm
adjusting bolts (photo below). This makes it easier to determine how far the bolt is
Black mark notes midpoint of the swingarm,
which is the recommended location to measure the slack.
Marking the chain adjusting bolts helps to know how far the bolts have been
The bike has a 30 mm axle nut on either side of the swingarm, holding the
rear wheel in place. Two 12 mm adjusting bolts are located at the rear of
each swingarm end; the bolts are used to tighten or loosen the chain.
I have two 30 mm diameter sockets for this job (photo above). One is a 6-point and one
is a 12-point, both 1/2"
drive. I prefer the 6-point socket because I think it gives better purchase
on the axle nut, but the 12-point seems to work fine on the Multistrada 620.
Note that I have discovered that a 12-point socket can slip on some nuts that
require more than around 80 Nm of torque or so.
I mount the 30 mm sockets on 1/2" drive breaker bars for leverage to loosen the
nuts, which are held on with 83 Nm (61 ft. lbs.) of torque. This much torque
takes a fairly hefty pull, and I use the
split beam torque wrench (wBW review) to tighten the nuts the correct
amount when it comes time to reassemble.
After the first 550 miles or so, the Multistrada's chain had about 31 mm of
slack, which is 6 mm more than the recommended 27 mm maximum. So after
loosening the 30 mm axle nuts just enough to allow the axle to move, I
tightened the adjusting bolts equally by one flat on the bolt head; that is, I turned them about
Measuring the slack, I discovered that this tightened up the chain by 7 mm
-- which is a bit too much and made the chain slightly tight at around 24mm. But after moving the bike forward slightly, I realized that it was actually
pretty close to the 25 mm slack and I figured the chain would probably
stretch a bit anyway, so I let it go.
It's more difficult to put slack back in to the chain than it is to take it
out; to put slack back in, the axle nuts have to be loosened up, the
adjusting bolts backed out and the bike has to be pushed forward and stopped
quickly with a jab on the rear brake.
The momentum of the bike moving forward and the rear brake suddenly engaging
is usually enough to force the rear axle back in place.
But on the rare
occasions when this has happened to me (usually at my first attempt to
adjust the chain on a new bike), I'm never quite sure whether the axle has
been bumped back against the adjuster stops correctly, so I don't like
having to do this.
It's always better to sneak up on the correct adjustment
a little at a time if necessary, rather than tightening the chain too much
at first and then trying to correct it.
If the adjusting bolts are turned equally -- and there's no reason they
shouldn't be pretty close, especially if they are marked and closely
observed to make sure -- it probably won't be necessary to check the wheel
I have never found that I needed a wheel alignment after
adjusting a chain, as long as the adjusting bolts are tightened as close to
equal as possible. I've also found that it takes quite a bit to force a
motorcycle out of alignment and it has to be pretty bad to notice.
That's about it -- as in our other motorcycle chain adjustment articles, it
takes longer to describe the process than it does to actually do it. The
Multistrada 620 is one of the easiest bikes around for a chain adjustment
and it only took me about 5 minutes or so.
If you'd like to add some comments or if you have a tip of your own, feel free
to contact us at
See the reader comments below.
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From "B.N.": "Someone gave me a
great method for checking the alignment of the rear
wheel. It's the best method I have seen, and
makes it easy to adjust the wheel after removing it
to replace a tire or sprocket, or just to keep an
eye on wheel alignment.
I take a metal ruler about 18 inches long and
hold the edge against the side of the sprocket, with
the ruler laying on the lower run of the chain.
If the wheel is in alignment, the inner edge of the
ruler will be a constant distance from the inner
edge of the chain links.
Any misalignment is apparent by looking at the
distance of the edge of the chain at the near and
far end of the ruler. This is a lot easier
than trying to measure the distance from the axle to
the swing- arm pivot on both sides of the bike, or
any of the other ways I have seen alignment checks
Fortunately, I bought a Buell. Now I don't
have to deal with any chain issues at all!"
From "A.B.": "I just read the
article on the Multistrada Chain Adjustment and the
writer said "I've always thought it would be nice to
make a something like a small stand that holds an
adjustable indicator that can be adjusted to point
to the bottom of the chain and another indicator
that can be set to the top of the tolerance.
The stand could be placed on the floor and the
indicators would stay in place as the chain was
moved up and down to check the slack."
What I use to measure the chain slack on my Ninja
250, while being rather simple it does work, is a
small 2x4 board with a dowel rod inserted into it.
I then have a 50mm section of drinking straw with a
millimeter graph paper taped to it on the dowel rod.
The straw slides on the dowel rod of course and
allows me to quickly check the slack and then adjust
as needed. Hope this helps."