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Follow these chain care tips & extend the life of your chain

How long will my chain last before replacing it? Great question!

Chain life varies depending on the following:

  • Day-in, day-out care
  • Different bicycle types, such as mountain bike, road bike and cross bike
  • Exposure to elements during use, such as mud, sand, moisture and salt
  • Techniques used in shifting gears
  • Chainline: How straight the chain runs between the front and rear sprockets. Both sprockets should be aligned so that there is no sideward motion or stress to the chain.

Experience has shown that there are 4 simple actions you can take to extend the life of your bike chain:

  1. Clean the chain using a dry shop towel or rag after each ride.
  2. Periodically, give the chain a thorough cleaning using a degreaser that can strip away caked-on debris and congealed oil. Following your manufacturer’s instructions.  Here at Freewheel Cycles shop, we clean and prep the chain and apply Chain-L oil whenever we observe excessive noise from the drivetrain.
  3. Periodically use a chain wear indicator to measure chain elongation. This simple step alone can prevent high cost repairs and help you to prevent excess wear on other components of the drive chain, also ensuring continued shifting precision.This quick check should be done every 300-500 miles on a road bike and 100-300 miles on a mountain bike. Today’s chain wear indicators are easy to use. They measure pin pitch over 12 inches with a steel scale and show the amount of elongation (the standard you want to maintain is approximately .100 thousandths).
  4. Refine your gear shifting techniques, focusing on timing, pedaling speed and cross-chaining.
    1. Timing: It’s typical to wait too long before shifting into the next gear. Anticipate shift changes so that you can shift before needed.
    2. Cross-chaining: The proper relationship of the chain to the gears is the straightest line. Avoid selecting gears where the chain runs from big-to-big or small-to-small. Improper chain selection propagates excess chain stretch. You especially don’t want the gears that make the chain cross over at an extreme angle. These “criss-cross” gears are bad for the chain and sprockets. The more frequently you shift into these noisy, inefficient gears, the more prematurely the chain will wear out. Select the gear so that the chain forms the straightest possible line between the cog and the chainring.

There are times when difficulty shifting and chain elongation are indications that service is needed, so it’s always best to have your bike checked when this happens. In addition, our preventive maintenance program can help to avoid this and other problems that take your bike out of service for even a day.

Questions? Please contact us at Freewheel, where no question is too small.