Maintenance 101: Chain Replacement


When’s the last time you replaced the chain on your bike?

Follow up question.

How’s your shifting?

Replacing a bike chain is one of the most commonly ignored bits of maintenance we see. It’s a shame, really. Cassettes these days can easily cost upwards of $200, and an over worn chain does a fantastic job of wreaking havoc on this expensive piece of equipment.

How Do You Tell If Your Chain Needs Replacement?

There’s plenty of conflicting out there in regards to chain replacement, but the easiest way to see if your chain needs replacing is to swing by our shop and have our service staff use a chain checker to check the wear. This is an absolutely free service that takes approximately one minute to complete. Rider weight, riding style, weather conditions, and even your chains overall cleanliness can greatly affect the number of miles you get out of a chain. High mileage riders may need a new chain every few months to keep their bikes in good condition.


Why Do You Need To Replace Your Chain?

Quality bikes are astonishing things. Engineered by MIT graduates, developed in wind tunnels and designed to squeeze every possible watt from a rider’s legs, a high end bicycle has more in common with an actual rocket ship than you might imagine. The tolerances that match a chain to it’s cassette are extremely tight, and in the quest for lighter everything, modern cassettes are made with less material to shave weight. Over time your chain will stretch, and the cassette teeth will no longer match the chain. If you ever feel that your gears “slip” when under load, this is often the case. Not only is this unsafe, it indicates that you’re causing damage to the expensive drivetrain of your bike. Think of all the bits your chain touches. Cassettes, chain rings and even jockey wheels can suffer if you continue to ride on an old chain. The worst case, is that you wear away the teeth of these items and when a new chain is installed, it no longer matches. Needless to say, that’s one heck of an expensive tune up.


Can’t I Do This At Home?

Absolutely. We always encourage riders to learn how to service their own bikes, and are happy to point you in the right direction. A chain checker and chain tool are inexpensive items that can easily be purchased from any of our locations, but we find that most of our customers simply prefer the convenience of our Next Day Service and are happy to let someone else get greasy. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, and we’ll help you succeed either way.


Check your chain more often than you are now, and revel in the fact that your legs are so power that they can stretch metal. Also, if you have a mountain bike, it’s probably time to service your suspension.

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