3 Facts About Your Bike Chain That You May Not Notice

The chain is a vital component of a bike, yet no one realizes its importance until it gets broken. If everything goes smoothly, you don’t give it much thought; if something goes wrong, the chain is all that you notice.

To assist you to get the most out of this essential drivetrain component and to recognize how remarkable your loop of metal links truly is, we have compiled six things about bike chains that you may not know.

Put an end to the filth and sullying by cleaning your chain. A chain needs regular cleaning to remain in top condition. Every expert and weekend warrior has their own way of turning a wrench. Master mechanic Calvin Jones of Park Tool always uses the company’s degreaser in his Chain Gang, while Josh Simonds, inventor of NixFrixshun chain lube, recommends simply wiping the chain with a clean cotton rag after each ride, and when the chain becomes overrun with contamination, scrubbing it with a nylon brush and hot water and Dawn liquid soap. If your bike is very grimy, you may either have it ultrasonically cleaned at a local shop or remove the chain and shake it in a Gatorade bottle containing degreaser.

After washing the chain, make careful to dry it thoroughly and apply lubricant, wiping off any excess.

Maintaining a regular replacement schedule for your chain might help your drivetrain last for a lot longer. Most mechanics will tell you that, depending on how often you ride, you should change your chain every 2,000 or 3,000 miles. During the three weeks of the Tour de France, many cyclists go through many chains on their primary bikes.

Using a chain checker, which analyzes how much your present chain has stretched, is the simplest approach to decide if you need a replacement. According to Jason Smith of the Colorado-based research firm Friction Facts, even though a well-maintained chain may technically last over 8,000 miles, it becomes far less efficient as it wears and elongates, with two watts of lost power for every one percent of elongation.

In addition, the grime that accumulates on your chain lube serves as a grinding paste, shortening the lifespan of the pins and rollers. Smith claims that doing so causes an increase in the center-to-center distance of your chain, which in turn causes the gears to wear out faster. A new chain, chain ring, and cassette will cost you at least $300, far more than the typical replacement cost of $50.

The way you ride might shorten or lengthen the life of your chain. Most cyclists would agree that riding at a higher cadence is not only more productive but also saves money. The chain’s lifetime is greatly reduced when subjected to the increased tension that results from pedaling in a higher gear. If you don’t want your chain to stretch out, you should also avoid cross-chaining, which is when you use the large chainring and the large gear in the back.


a 35-year-old web developer and cycling coach based in Boulder, Colorado. Over the past ten years, my passion for cycling has transformed from a casual hobby into a way of life. As a lover of all things cycling, I am thrilled to share my journey with others who share the same enthusiasm for this incredible sport.