The Chain

Broken inner link

The bicycle chain could be described as the strongest link between the rider and the bike.

It really allows you to put the hammer down and turn that rubber into horsepower. With that being said the bike chain takes a lot of torque from your body. It must be built for abuse and built to last. Some riders also want it lite. Lets take a look at what makes a good chain and how to care for it properly.

Chains don’t ask for much. Give them some lube and they will go about their business without a peep, usually for several hundred miles when conditions are supreme. Force them into a gear under pressure and they are sure to snap or bend under the right load and possibly taking some components with it, i.e. rear derailleur, spokes, derailleur hanger. A bad shift could equal hundreds of dollars in repairs so be gentle when shifting. This will take time to finesse, do not worry we all finally get there.

  • Most chains in the market will work just fine. It all comes down to weight and dollars.

  • The more you spend the lighter the chain. Yes, the heavier less expensive chain could be deemed stronger and beefier.

  • If changed at regular intervals the chain will prolong the life of all the parts it comes in contact with like the cassette, chainrings and pulley wheels located on the rear derailleur.

  • Use a chain checker to measure a chains wear.

  •  Remember keep it clean, keep it lubed and

  • Always always wipe off all excess lube. You never want to see your chain or gears glistening under the light due to much oil. This will only attract more dirt.

     

There is no specific timetable for when a chain should be replaced. Just like brake pads and tires you must take into account the conditions the bike is ridden in. For example, are conditions dusty or muddy? How often is the chain being cleaned and lubed? Are you rough on your shifts or smooth?

The more dust and grit on the chain the faster  the chain will wear. Dirt is like sandpaper, it will slowly deteriorate things it comes in contact with. A clean and oiled chain is a quiet and productive chain. Not only will it shift nicely but it will hum along quietly on your ride.

A bad or rough shift will put stress on the chain links From the sides forcing the chain to bend in a way it was not intended. Keep your ears open as this can lead to the chain skipping on a gear. You should be able to this as well. If this is the case you can remove the bent link and reconnect it. Check if the chain still has enough length by shifting the bike gently with little to no force on the pedals, it’s best if you do this in a repair stand if possible.

You want to be in the largest gear in the rear (cassette) and the largest in the front chain ring. If the chain struggles to get into the last gear in the bog to big gears then the chain is too short. You will still be able to ride and shift  ok, just not in the big to big gears. Which is absolutely fine. These gears are considered cross chaining and this will apply to a bike with three gears (chainrings) in the font. This is counterintuitive and your chain will rub on the front derailleur making noise.

Most chains in the market will work just fine. It all comes down to weight and dollars. The more you spend the lighter the chain. Yes, the heavier less expensive chain could be deemed stronger and beefier. If changed at regular intervals the chain will prolong the life of all the parts it comes in contact with like the cassette, chainrings and pulley wheels located on the rear derailleur. Use a chain checker to measure a chains wear. Remember keep it clean, keep it lubed and always always wipe off all excess lube. You never want to see your chain or gears glistening under the light due to much oil. This will only attract more dirt.