You might not give much thought to your bike chain, other than to lube it before a ride, but how do you know when it’s time to replace your bike chain?
As your chain ages, each link’s internal bushings slowly lengthen. In turn, your now-longer chain puts added pressure on your cassette cogs and chainring teeth, causing them to wear faster. This also hampers shifting quality. So, how can you tell if it’s time? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about your chain.
The 2,000-mile rule. The general rule is to replace your chain about every 2,000 miles. Keep in mind that this is a GENERAL rule. No two chains wear in the same way, because no two riders treat their chains the same, so if you’re under that 2,000-mile threshold, it might still be time to replace your chain if you’re pretty rough on it. If you’re a gentle rider, you might be able to last far longer than 2,000 miles.
The Ruler Test. You can measure chain wear using a standard ruler. If you’re going to attempt this, keep in mind that modern chains have rivets every half-inch and you’re going to want to measure from one rivet to another that is 12 inches away. Keep your chain tight and align the ruler’s zero mark to the center of a rivet and see where the 12-inch mark lines up. If the 12-inch mark lines up dead center of the rivet, your chain is in great condition! If it shows more than 1/16 of an inch ahead of the 12-inch mark, it is time to replace your bike chain.
Cheap Insurance. Chains are relatively inexpensive. If you wait too long to replace your chain, you may have to replace your chainring(s) and cassette at the same time. When a chain wears out, it can cause ‘shark toothing’ of your cogs and rings. If your drivetrain is super worn and you replace the chain, you will experience skipping and other issues. Replace your chain more often and you can likely get a few chains out of your drivetrain. Wait too long and you’ll have to replace the drivetrain when your chain goes.
If you don’t want to go through this work on your own, or you’re still unsure how your chain is wearing, bring it in! We’ve got a special tool that can easily measure the wear of your chain. We’d be happy to test your chain out for you. After all, we’re here to help you make the most of every ride. If you have any questions about your chain or anything else on your bike, let us know!