Adjust Chain on 800 Drifter


Unlike its shaft-driven 1500cc counterpart, Kawasaki's Drifter 800 features a chain drive to propel the rear wheel. Regular chain tension adjustments are made using the chain adjusters on both sides of the rear axle. A line mark is engraved into the top of the adjusters, indicating the position of the axle in relation to a set of line markings imprinted on the swing arm. Once the chain has been adjusted, the rear wheel will be aligned using these marks.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You'll Need:

  • Socket set
  • Breaker bar
  • Wrench set
  1. Find the tightest portion of the chain by rolling the motorcycle forward slightly and pushing the bottom portion of the chain downward with your finger. Center the tightest portion of the chain between the motor and the rear wheel.

  2. Pull the clevis pin out from the right end of the rear axle. Loosen the rear axle nut using a socket and a breaker, but do not remove the nut. Use a wrench to loosen the lock nuts on both chain adjusters on the end of the swing arm.

  3. Tighten the chain by pulling the rear wheel towards the rear of the motorcycle. Loosen the chain by pushing the rear wheel forward. Push down on the lower portion of the chain at its tightest point. The chain should have 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch of slack.

  4. Align the rear wheel using the markings on the chain adjusters and swing arm. Check that both adjusters are evenly adjusted and loosely tighten the chain adjuster's lock nuts with a wrench.

  5. Check the chain's slack again, pushing down on the tightest portion of the chain to ensure that there is 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch of slack in the chain. Readjust the chain as detailed in Step 3, if necessary. Completely tighten the chain adjuster lock nuts with a wrench.

  6. Tighten the rear axle nut with a socket wrench and slip the clevis pin into the right side of the rear axle to secure the nut.

Tips & Warnings

Check the alignment of the rear wheel before riding the motorcycle. An improperly aligned wheel can adversely affect the motorcycle's handling, leading to a loss of control that could result in injury or death. Misaligned wheels can also cause excess wear on the motorcycle's chain and sprockets.
Check that the chain adjuster and rear axle lock nuts are securely tightened before riding the motorcycle. Loose chain adjuster and axle nuts could create a loss of control that could result in injury or death.


"The Professional Motorcycle Repair Program; Professional Career Development Institute;" Prentice-Hall; 1995
"2006 Kawasaki VN800 Drifter Owner's Manual"; Kawasaki Heavy Industries; 2006

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Not affiliated with Kawaski. Kawasaki, Vulcan and Drifter are trademarks of Kawasaki.