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Chainline on Bicycles without Derailers
Translations of this article (older version): German German flag

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by Sheldon "Fixed Gear" Brown
revised by John "Infernal Gears" Allen
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Chainline

Read this article in connection with the lead article on chainline, It covers chainline measurement, and adjustment of the front chainline (at the crankset). This article covers the adjustment of the rear chainline of a fixed sprocket or single-speed freewheel.

The word "chainline" refers to how straight the chain runs between the front and rear sprockets. Ideally, both sprockets should be in the same plane, so that there is no sideward motion or stress to the chain. This constitutes "perfect chainline". This article covers issues specific to bicycles without derailers.

Chainline Standards:

Application Dimension Notes
Track/Coaster Brake
Traditional One-Speed
Older internal gear hubs
40.5-42 mm Older bikes with 110 spacing would be on the smaller end of this range
Newer bikes with 120 mm spacing normally use 42 mm. Many newer internal-gear hubs have spacing of 135 mm, and a large chainline.
Singlespeed MTB 52 mm Wider chainline need for chainstay clearance on MTBs.

This is close to the chainline of the outer ring of a typical MTB triple

Rohloff Speedhub 54 mm
(58 mm w/13 tooth)
Singlespeed MTB
Alternate
47.5 mm White Industries ENO hubs use this chainline, which lines up with the middle position of a typical MTB triple.
It's also fairly close to the outer position of a typical "road" double.

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Measurements

I have measured a selection of track sprockets, single freewheels and hubs with respect to chainline (units are millimeters.) The "Chainline" column is the distance from the mounting shoulder to the centerline of the sprocket teeth.

To figure the actual chainline for a given combination, add the number from the "chainline" column of the sprocket or freewheel to the corresponding "chainline" column of the hub chosen.

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Fixed (Track) Sprockets
Model/Type Nominal Width Chainline
(From Shoulder)
Measured width Total thickness Thread Thickness
Campagnolo 3/32" 7.0 2.0 8.0 7.8
Campagnolo 1/8" 6.5 3.0 8.0 7.2
E.A.I. 3/32" 7.13 2.2 8.23 8.05
E.A.I. 1/8" 6.73 3.02 8.24 8.05
Miche Quick Change Splined 3/32" 5.85/5.15 1.9 7.72 7.3
Miche Quick Change Splined 1/8" 5.85/5.15 3.0 7.72 7.3
Phil Wood 3/32" 5.86 2.3 7.01 7.01
Phil Wood 1/8" 6.05 3.02 7.56 7.06
Shimano Dura-Ace 3/32" 6.49 2.11 7.55 7.55
Shimano Dura-Ace 1/8" 7.05 3.05 8.58 7.7
Soma 3/32" 6.37 1.86 7.3 7.3
Soma 1/8" 6.9 3.00 8.4 6.9
Sugino Gigas 1/8" 7.0 3.0 8.5 7.5
Sun Tour Superbe 3/32" 6.22 2.26 7.35 7.35
Sun Tour Superbe 1/8" 6.93 3.05 8.46 7.5
Surly New (2005) 3/32 6.4 2.0 7.4 7.4
Surly New (2005) 1/8" 5.9 3 7.4 7.4
Surly Old 3/32 5.28 2.05 6.31 6.31
Surly Old 1/8" 5.07 2.7 6.42 6.42

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Single-Speed Freewheels
Model/Type Nominal Width Chainline
(From Shoulder)
Measured width
ACS 3/32" 7.96 2.16
Shimano 3/32" 7.89 2.08
Shimano 1/8" 8.67 3.0
Tristar 1/8" 7.71 2.96
White Industries 3/32" 8.73 2.17
 
Single-Speed and Fixed-Gear Hubs
Model/Type Track/MTB OLD Spacing Adjustable?* Chainline
Center to Shoulder
Left Side Right Side Drillings
Ambrosio large flange Track 120 ? 36 Fixed Fixed 32
Campagnolo small flange 2002 Track 120 Yes 36 Plain Fixed 28, 32, 36
Campagnolo C-Record Large flange Track 120 Yes 35.9 Plain Fixed 28, 32, 36
Gold Tec Track 120, 130, 135 Yes 39.5 Fixed Fixed 32, 36
I.R.O. Track 120 No 36.0 Fixed/Free 32
Kogswell MTB 135 No 45.3 Fixed Fixed 32
Miche Track 120 Yes 36.3 Plain Fixed 28, 32, 36
On-One Full Monty MTB 135 No 43.3 Plain Free 32, 36
Phil Wood Track Track 120, 126, 130 No 36.75 Plain
Fixed
Free
Fixed 28, 32, 36
Phil Wood K.I.S.S. Off MTB 135 No 45.35 Plain/Free Fixed/Free 32, 36
Shimano Dura-Ace 7700 Track 120 Yes 35.3 Fixed 28, 32, 36
Shimano Dura-Ace 7700 Small Flange Track 120 Yes 35.3 Fixed 28, 32, 36
Shimano Dura-Ace 7600 Large Flange Track 120 Yes 35.4 Fixed 28, 32, 36
Sovos Track 112 Yes 33.5 Free Fixed 36
Spot MTB 135 No 47.25 Plain Free 28, 32, 36
SRAM
Singlespeed
Track/MTB 120, 130 Yes See in IG Hub list Plain Fixed/Free
(Switchable)
32
Surly Track Track 120 Yes 36.22 Free Fixed 32
Surly 1 x 1 MTB 135 Yes 46.5 Free Fixed/Free Drillings
Suzue Basic Track 117-120 Yes 34.74 Free Fixed 28, 32, 36
Suzue Promax (cartridge) Track 120 Yes 35.0 Free Fixed 28, 32, 36
Suzue Promax NJS Track 120 Yes 35.0 Fixed Fixed 28, 32, 36
Von Dessel MTB 135 No 45.9 Free Fixed 32
White Industries ENO Track/MTB 126, 130, 135 No 39.1 Free Fixed 28, 32, 36

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Chainline Adjustment, Sprocket Spacers and Dishing

Chainline may be adjusted at the rear wheel by rearranging spacers on the rear axle, and with a steel frame, also by re-spacing the rear dropouts to allow use of a longer or shorter rear axle. Adjustable hubs use conventional threaded axles, so you can increase the OLD spacing by removing the locknuts and adding spacer washers.

If you add equal thicknesses to both sides, the chainline is unaffected, since it's measured from the middle outward.

If you add more spacers to one side, or move them from one side to the other, you can change the chainline, but this will render a double-sided hub unusable on one side or the other, since you'll be increasing the chainline on one side while decreasing it on the other -- unless you also use a double chainring in front. Moving spacers from one side to the other also will disturb the alignment of a disc brake.

axel-set photo

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Thanks to John Dacey, Marten Gerritsen and Nilay Kothari for some of these data.

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