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  • SINCE 1922


Replace your bike chain regularly

Bicycle chains gradually wear and elongate with use. Once your chain’s wear has progressed beyond a certain point, it does permanent damage to the cassette and chain rings. With average chain maintenance, most cyclists find that a chain replacement interval of around 1500 miles is appropriate.

Chain wear

Over miles of use, the parts of a chain are constantly moving against each other. This constant movement will gradually wear down the surfaces under load. As this wear progresses, the chain will elongate or appear to stretch. The gears that are driven by the chain are precisely machined to mesh with the chain. As the chain wears and elongates, it gradually changes the shape of the teeth on the gears that it drives. Once the chain’s wear progresses beyond a certain point not only does it move to different gears less smoothly but the wear causes changes to the gear’s teeth making it impossible to replace the chain without also replacing the gears: the cassette and chain rings. It is not only cost-effective to replace the chain before this point (you can replace many chains for the cost of the cassette and chain rings), but it also keeps the bicycle’s drivetrain working better.

Checking for chain wear

The most precise way to determine if a chain is due for replacement is by measurement. Different manufacturers specify different techniques to measure their chains. At Landry’s we have found that the Rohloff Caliber 2 chain-wear tool provides a quick and accurate means of measuring most chains. This tool is available at all Landry’s locations for purchase.

Chain maintenance

Proper chain maintenance is primarily about lubrication and cleaning. Start by selecting a lubricant designed for bicycle-chain use, and check that its formulation is appropriate for the kind of conditions that you will be riding in: wet and muddy or dry and dusty. While some lubricant manufactures suggest less frequent application almost all spray-on lubricants perform best when they are applied before every ride and after every wet ride. Apply the lube at one position while rotating the crank rapidly. Three or four revolutions of the crank should be sufficient to apply a thin coat of lube to the entire chain. Stop applying lube but continue to rotate the crank for a few minutes to allow the lube to work its way in between the moving parts of the chain and loosen any accumulated road grime. After the lube has worked in, take a rag and carefully wipe everything you can off the chain while continuing to rotate the crank. It is not possible to wipe too much off so continue to do this as long as you can tolerate it or until the rag comes off the chain clean.

The method described above will keep your chain clean, running smooth, and maximize the mileage you can get out of each chain. Most chain manufactures recommend that you do not soak a chain in degreaser as this will drive all the lubrication out of the chain and accelerate the wear. Our experience at Landry’s supports that advice not to degrease a chain. 

If your chain becomes so grimy that you cannot clean it with the lubrication technique described above, then it is better to replace it rather than risk the damage to the gears that a rapidly wearing degreased chain will cause.

– Ken McLean, Landry's technical director

Questions?  Contact or visit your local Landry's Service Department for assistance.

More Tech Tips from Landry's

Check out more tips on basic bicycle maintenance to keep you and your bike riding smoothly.

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