When it comes to bicycle maintenance guides, one thing that comes to mind is chain wear. Ironically, it is also less understood and ignoring to replace your bicycle chain despite the wear can lead to expensive repairs.
Cyclists often have the misconception that the more you ride, the more the chain wears out. However, that is not entirely true. Riding distance is not the only indicator of chain wear. The only way to keep track of chair wear is through measurement.
The rate at which your chain wears off depends on…
- The distance that you cover.
- The terrain which you ride on. If you do a lot of climbing, it puts a lot of stress on the drivetrain and chain, therefore it wears off quicker
- Your riding style. Do you ride off-saddle frequently?
- Your drivetrain maintenance practices. A dirty chain wears out faster than a clean one. Click here on how to maintain your bike chain.
What is Chain Wear?
Generally, chain wear is referred to as “chain stretch.” Why? Because the chain’s pitch extends in length as it wears down over time. And it is due to the brushings wearing with the chain pins over time. It is often recommended that you should replace bicycle chains when it reaches 1 per cent growth from the original 0.5-inch pitch.
Most people ignore the chain wears, which isn’t a good indication. Chain wear leads to decreased efficiency and poor shifting. Furthermore, a worn out chain is weak and can snap under operation which is never good. However, not taking steps to replace your bicycle chain despite the damage can cost you big bucks.
The chain is very efficient at making the gears match the pitch of the chain. So if you replace a chain before it’s worn out, the gears on the cassette and chainring last much longer.
Why do I need to replace my chain? It still looks fine…
Yes, an old chain still keeps you going. However, you have to think of the long-term implications; you will be wearing out your drivetrain quicker.
As the chain ages, the links on each internal bushing will lengthen over time. The lengthened chain puts added pressure on your cassette cogs and chainring teeth, causing them to wear off faster.
If you insist on using a worn out chain, your shifting quality will be diminished and the lifespan of your drivetrain components will be shortened too. Which is cheaper? Buying a new chain or a whole set of drivetrain components?
How can I measure chain wear?
You can measure chain wear on your bike with the help of a chain checking tool or measuring tape or ruler.
If you’re using a ruler, a new chain should be around 12 inches across 12 links. Remember to hold the ruler or measuring tape from the chain’s middle pin to the next middle pin. If there is a 1 per cent elongation between the links, you may require replacing your bicycle chain.
Keeping check of your chain can save you on expensive repairs in the long run.