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Chain/idler friction

Hi guys. I'm a new owner (purchased 3 months ago) of an old Thunderbolt. I love almost everything about the bike (foregoing the unfortunate circumstance of it not being a Phantom or p-38, of course), except for the fact that the upper portion of the chain seems to be sagging a bit too much, as it makes contact with the metal housing on the front idler as it passes through that area, creating a constant whirring metal against metal annoying sound (not to mention the added friction). The design appears to be identical on all Lightning models.
For some reason, I've seen pictures of some Lightning bikes on line that appear to have the chain a bit low like mine, & others where it is where it seems that it should be, hovering above the idler assembly. I'm assuming that the former are not adjusted properly, like mine.
I've taken it down to my LBS (who, like every other LBS in this area, have very little experience with recumbents in general, Lightnings even less so), who tell me that it seems that this is the way it's supposed to be, but I can't believe that such a brilliant design in every other way would allow this.
Please advise.

Hi Ray-

Scroll down the gallery area of this site and you can find two pictures of T-bolt bikes. The first has a low seat, and the chain seems to be in proper position, resting a inch or so above the front idler chain catcher thingy.

The second picture shows a high seat version of the bike, with the chain routed ON TOP of the rear idler. I had not noticed this before today.

Figuring out what is going on with your bike is not easy from afar. But one thing is clear: if the chain is rubbing against the metal chain keeper device in front, then something has gone wrong. Your local bike shop helper is mistaken in thinking that the bike is intended to be this way.

I do not know what is causing the problem. Could the chain be too long, causing floppy chain syndrome? Does your bike have a "saddle" piece that the seat rests on that can slide front and rear?

I have almost no experience with the T-bolt, so cannot be helpful. Just taking wild-ass guesses.

Get on the phone with Tim Brummer at Lightning and explain the problem to him. Or find another bike shop with a more experienced recumbent person who can help you sort out the chainline problem. But you are right that something has gone wrong with your bike, and you do not want the steel chain eating into the aluminum chain keeper.

Safe riding,

Thanks, Joel. I'll pass this info, along with the info I'm gathering on BROL, on to my LBS. Here, by the way, is a shot of my bike when I first picked it up a couple of months ago.

My LBS solved the problem by repositioning the front idler. Thanks for your suggestions, Joel.


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