Walk around at any motorcycle gathering and count the bikes with limp, sagging chains. Often, the worst examples also are bone dry with rust and/or crud built up on them. Since you’re a MO
reader and regularly clean/lube your chain, you’re ahead of the game. However, you still need to make sure that the chain’s slack is within specifications. If you lube your chain regularly, you will probably not need to adjust it every time you return from a ride, but as a chain nears the end of its usable life, you will need to adjust the slack more and more frequently.
Although a rear stand is not required to adjust your chain, it will make the process much easier. When your chain is cold, measure the slack halfway between the sprockets by moving the chain up and down. Press down on the chain slightly to make sure it is at its lowest point. To get an accurate reading, hold a tape measure in front of the chain and look across the top of the links. Adjust your line of sight until the tops of both sides of the chain line up, which assures your eyes are perpendicular to the chain and parallel with the top of the links.
Next, move the tape measure so that one of the inch markings aligns with the top of the chain. Now, press the chain up until it is tight, and, bringing your vision up to align the top of the chain again, note the measurement. A little math will tell you if you if the slack is within your bike’s recommended specifications. Since chains don’t always wear evenly, check the slack measurement in a couple of places. If you need to adjust the chain, set the chain tension to accommodate the tightest point. Also, if the chain is dramatically tighter in one place, consider replacing it.