Chain Tensioner Advice, and Superstar's Terrible Customer Service

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  • Chain Tensioner Advice, and Superstar's Terrible Customer Service
  • I’m looking for some advice, I purchased a chain tensioner from Superstar Components:

    This device turned out to be absolutely useless, as well as their customer service (I’ll get onto that).

    Due to the lack of information on Superstar’s site, I ordered that chain tensioner with the assumption that I can install it as follows:

    I went for a quick test ride, and the device was constantly clunking. I did some digging around, and found some useful posts on forums which suggest I was installing the device slightly wrong (always good when you can’t find any useful information on the seller’s site).

    The recommended way:

    I set about reinstalling the device, but a wasteful few hours later I really can’t get it to work as per the second photo. The chain tensioner constantly rams the chain straight into the chain stay, otherwise there isn’t enough tension to ride. I’ve shortened the chain as much as I possibly can, I’ve even tried a half link.. There is nothing more that can be taken off the chain at this time.

    Superstar’s Terrible Customer Service
    I did email Superstar explaining the situation and how unsuitable this device is for my requirements; had I known it didn’t work the way I require, then I wouldn’t have ordered it.

    Their response was nothing more than useless; they immediately set about blaming the issue on me. They included instructions on how to install the item (why did I have to email for this?), and told me that the majority of the fault is down to the installation and not the item; fair enough, but my email was simply stating how unsuitable it is for my needs.

    I have tried every possible way, I’ve even had a friend waste a considerable amount of time on this, and we simply can’t get it to work. So their instructions were useless, we tried their way, and every variety of that list.

    Anyway, I reminded them of my first email, and politely asked if they can offer me a refund; most companies at this point are more than happy to issue a refund, even if the issue was entirely my fault – take Chain Reaction Cycles as an example, they refund me regardless (ordered something the wrong size, etc), and they pay for all postage costs; even to get the new item sent back to me.

    However, Superstar are reluctant to customer satisfaction, and informed me that if I was to return the device and no fault was found, I would; a) not receive a refund, b) have to pay to post the item, and c) have to pay to collect the item. Now just to remind you, I’m not claiming for a fault in the device, I’m simply stating that it is not suitable, so in my circumstance I would face all these charges just because the item is not at all faulty (how is this acceptable?). They can easily take the device and resale it, what’s to lose?

    I don’t usually publicise my bad experiences, but the lack of support from Superstar has frustrated me; I’ve mistakenly ordered an item due to the lack of information they provide, and I’m now told I’m stuck with it. I hope you can all avoid the company for this sake.

    To highlight how stingy they are being, the item is worth £16.99.
    Says a lot about their products, if even they don’t want it back…

    What can be done with the chain tensioner?
    As I’m stuck with this device, I was wondering if anyone here has had to take one of these apart to reverse the mechanism? If so, would you recommend me doing this? After all, if I break it, then I guess I can send it back to Superstar as broken and get a refund [huh, if only].

    Alternatively, do you know of any good chain tensioners out there for my single speed set up? I require the tension to be applied downwards (as per the first image).

    Thank you.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    To highlight how stingy they are being

    yes, although they might not be the only one?

    If it were me I’d go for the next size cog at the back 17 or 18 teeth. Won;t make much difference on gearing but might give clearance on the stay?

    Is that your frame?


    I did email Superstar explaining the situation and how unsuitable this device is for my requirements; had I known it didn’t work the way I require, then I wouldn’t have ordered it.

    So, you bought the wrong thing, and you expect them to take it back and refund you?


    Premier Icon bails

    so in my circumstance I would face all these charges just because the item is not at all faulty (how is this acceptable?).

    Err, if you can’t fit it because of your own incompetence* then yes, that’s perfectly acceptable. You can’t buy stuff, muck up trying to fit it and then expect a full refund after the seller has paid to collect it.

    *I’m not saying you have been incompetent, it might be that you send it back and it turns out to be faulty. But to fit the scenario you posted, I’ve assumed the error is all yours.

    Yes, there should be instructions included with stuff, although they’re usually on the SS website if you need them.

    Is it too late for distance selling regulations? I think so as you’ve tried to fit it.

    To be fair, I guess you’ve effectively used the item by removing it from its packaging and trying to install it. Guess it couldn’t be sold as new anymore.

    Trying to get SS to work on a vetical dropout frame can be a bit hit and miss.

    Here’s a topic from the other day

    Seems like a fair thing to expect to me. They don’t provide fitting instruction, or explain how it works on their site. The tensioners I’ve seen in the past work in the opposite direction to that one, which seems logical to me. I’d have expected the same from that unit. They simply need to be clearer on their site.

    I reckon the OP is well within his rights to expect them to take it back for a refund.


    How many links did you remove from the chain? I only ask as it looks like the chain is far too short for it to work as designed (in second pic).

    Premier Icon philtricklebank

    On one’s tensioner works fine.


    I take it that your bike is the top picture and you want it to be like the bottom picture ? .I have one of these superstar tensioners and I had the same problem , chain slip under pressure . you need to take the circlip out the back and move the spring round to the next hole which then moves the tensioner up to the chain more . hope this helps

    Premier Icon bungalistic

    I’ve used this one before and it worked fine on both hardtail frames. It’s not sprung and can be run either way (top or bottom pic) to tension chain. Cheap too.


    You’ve opened, used and so rendered a non-faulty product unsaleable.

    Some companies may be more generous on refunds/exchanges, but that’s their perogative, not a right.

    The first picture is my bike (sorry, forgot to mention that).
    The chain has had about four links removed; I can push the chain up into the chain stay until there is any natural tension (hope that makes sense).

    As for the item, I wouldn’t expect them to take it back as faulty, but as a purchased made by mistake from the lack of information they provide, then yes I would. If you bought a top from a shop with no size guide, would you expect them to take the item back after trying it on? Yes.

    I agree, I should have done my research on the item, but I was under the assumption that all chain tensioners worked the same way and the site never told me otherwise.

    As for the packaging, the item came in a clear sealed bag; nothing more.
    After checking their agreement, they don’t return anything unless faulty, even if still in it’s original packaging.

    As for those offering suggestions, thank you. I shall try out what you’ve said, if not I’m quite keen to try out the on-one chain tensioner.

    Premier Icon geoffj

    11 posts and no octopron? 👿

    You’ve opened, used and so rendered a non-faulty product unsaleable.

    Some companies may be more generous on refunds/exchanges, but that’s their perogative, not a right.

    this +1

    Not sure how you’ve managed to balls it up if it is the same as the on-one tensioner etc. I’ve broken bits where the spring locates to the pivot off mine and it still works! The on-one one works pushing down IIRC like the first pic, if you’re trying to get it to push up that may be why there’s no tension? There’s also far too much chain in that first pic.

    Firstly, cool username.
    I assumed the tensioner should work as per the first picture, but it should be installed as per the second picture.
    So, sounds like the on-one chain tensioner is the one for me. 🙂

    Sounds like incorrect installation by incompetent mechanics 😀

    If that’s your bike in the first pic, I’m not surprised the chain “clunks”. That’s not the tensioners fault, there’s not enough of it wrapping round the cog at the back.

    If you remove a link, or remove a half link, that should sort it.


    Looks to me like the non colour coordinated seatclamp could be the real issue here.
    PS Your house could do with a lick of paint and some carpet too.


    First pic is a push down tensioner

    Second pic is a push up tensioner

    They are two very easily distinguishable different items

    If you bought a jumper & wore them as trousers I’d not expect them to take them back

    You’ve also got far too much chain going on in that first pic, if you want to take up that much slack, get the superstar zinger tensioner


    nathandavies – Member

    After checking their agreement, they don’t return anything unless faulty, even if still in it’s original packaging.

    This is concerning and potentially illegal.

    I’ve tried every possible way.
    And I’ve also shortened the chain since that picture was taken.
    Thank you anyway.

    The seat clamp is definitely an issue; will look into that.
    Prioritise the bikes, before the “house”; on a serious note.. That’s the garage of my flats.

    Sorry, I’ve not been clear enough.

    The first picture is a push-up tensioner, installed incorrectly.
    The point I was making; I thought it should work that way, that was my original assumption.. However, it should work like picture two..

    They are the same item..
    But however I try to install it, I get issues.

    If I was buying a push down one, I’d expect a push down one.. The site didn’t specify, and I assumed that all chain tensioners are universal.. So I figured they were all push-down.. For this, I kindly asked for a refund as it wasn’t made clear on the site.
    In clothes related terms, if I bought shorts because they looked like shorts on the site, but turned out to be three-quarter lengths.. I’d want them returned.

    And, as mentioned.. I have removed links from that chain since, but there is still some slack (too much for push-up tensioners to work).

    Premier Icon Northwind

    nathandavies – Member

    After checking their agreement, they don’t return anything unless faulty, even if still in it’s original packaging.

    What “agreement”? I can tell you it’s not true from experience, I’ve returned unwanted goods. But also it’s not what their website says either

    (there is a wee cheeky bit where they say DSA returns must be in resellable condition; that’s not enforcable and contradicts the rest of the page. But it’s otherwise pretty clear)

    SS customer service is… hmm, how to put it kindly… variable. Can be really good, can be terrible, depending if it’s Fruit’s time of the month I think. But this comment seems aimed wrong.


    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: the issue is not the tensioner, it’s the rest of the setup. Your chosen ratio doesn’t allow enough chain to wrap around the rear cog. Now, a tensioner would help this to some extent, but because of the ratio you’ve chosen and the length of your chainstays, it’s just not going to work. Rethink the cog sizes (i.e. go up or down 1 tooth perhaps).

    I’ve run the same push-down tensioner for years without issue. Yeah, maybe a push-up would give even more wrap-around but it’s not an issue on my setup.


    I’m not going to read all of the replies and your OP is too long and seems to have more content complaining about SS than technical descriptions but…

    That’s my photo you have used for your 2nd photo (the Merlin) so I’ll see if I can help. It was my first time attempting single speed and the tensioner I got was 2nd hand with no instructions. 😉

    It seemed to be a clone of the Surly one (little bit different) and it came with the push down spring and a roll pin in the metal plate that acts against the B-stop tab on the mech hanger.

    I ordered the push up spring from CharlieTBM and removed the roll pin from the back plate to convert it into a push up type that I could adjust. without the pin the only thing keeping the tension is how tight you do up the nut.

    It was just a case of using a cone spanner to adjust the back/tension plate to get enough push up tension. Yes I used a half link to get the chain as short as possible. I have to say it worked very well.


    There are a few things to check here…

    1/ Does the tensioner push up or down (I suspect the latter) To check this, push the tensioner up and see if it returns to the down position. A push down tensioner is set up like your first picture.

    2/ the setup in picture #1 has far too many links in the chain. (But it sounds like you may have already addressed this)

    3/ Check out these quick links ( – if you have the uni-connector type, then they are slightly wider than the other links in your chain, and may be catching on the the little metal loop of the tensioner’s jockey wheel. Use of the snap-on type of quick links is recommended, for this reason.

    4/ ideally, you should try to use the setup shown in picture #2 as it achieves better chain wrap, but this requires a different spring, in order to switch the tensioner to push-up mode (and I’m guessing that such a spring didn’t come with the tensioner)

    Good luck


    PS the tensioner in the 1st pic is a push down installed correctly but with too much chain length.

    The 2nd pic is a push up installed perfectly 8)

    The safest option for someone to supply is a push down tensioner. There is normally enough chain wrap if the installer isnt a muppet and has the chain too long as the chain wrap will be similar to a conventional deraillieur. By pushing down there is no risk of hitting the chainstay.

    But a neater looking and better solution is to switch it to push up. Surly provide both springs with their unit. Most just come with push down from what I have seen.

    Haha, thank you.

    I would agree, push-ups look far neater.
    Unfortunately, push-down looks like the only solution I can go for; or get a bigger sprocket as a few have suggested. The Superstar one I’ve been supplied is actually a push-up, which isn’t ideal..

    I’ll go through all useful posts later, and see what would be best. 🙂

    Thank you again


    I’ve always found push up tensioners clash with the chainstay whenever I’ve tried to fit one


    The setup I was running on the merlin was 32 front, 16 rear.

    Never had any clash with the chainstay, I left the protector on there as it was 1st ride so wanted to check.

    Do you have your chainline set correctly? The chainring should be fitted on the inside of the spider and the sprocket set in from the outer edge.

    Get a photo up showing how much slack you have in the chain, you really should be able to get it pretty good with a half link.


    Interesting. Their other jockey wheel tensioner ( is a push down. At least, that’s how I have it and it works as well as any other cheap tensioner I’ve used. Going purely on where the little cable guide is positioned on your version it looks like a push down too, buy it may just be the pic.

    Premier Icon vincienup

    I’ve never been seriously unhappy with Superstar.

    I love their brake pads and everything else I’ve had has been good.

    The one time we did nearly have a falling out was a missing parcel where I waited a couple of weeks before asking what had happened and they began sending emails that assumed it was a day late and then continued sending mails that were clearly standard #1, #2 and so forth. Once they actually read the complaint it was sorted next day.

    From this and what others have said it may be a bit ‘YMMV’ if there’s a problem, but these are rare.

    I know some companies spoil us with Returns policies but I honestly wouldn’t expect to be allowed to return in item if I’d ordered incorrectly and attempted to fit it as opposed to looking at it in package and going “doh!” Anywhere allowing returns of parts bearing signs of fitting that weren’t actually defective is going ABCD I’d say. Possibly occasionally on merits, but not as a general expectation.


    What I don’t get is how someone can complain about lack of info on the website but still buys the part anyway…

    The site didn’t specify, and I assumed that all chain tensioners are universal.

    That distils it perfectly. You made an assumption and got it wrong. That’s not their fault. Move on (to the colour scheme and high bars…)

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