Have you had the experience of putting weight on your pedal – to put some power into your pedal stroke and your chain slips over the teeth of your sprocket. I am having this issue with my mountain bike at the moment… resulting in a ride that is not very enjoyable.

It is likely that I need to replace my chain and because I did not replace my chain earlier (when I needed to) I may also need to replace my rear cassette and/or chain rings

Let’s learn about …wear on your bike chain and when should you replace it so you can get the best out of your bike by caring for your bike.

A bike chain will wear over time. As you ride and your bike chain rotates the components of the chain will slowly wear out. The rollers and rivets wear down. This wear results in the chain becoming longer. A lengthened chain will not fit well with the parts of the bike it connects with and can result in

  1. Poor changing of gears
  2. Wearing down of the teeth of the sprockets/cogs and the chain ring
  3. Skipping over the teeth of the sprockets/cogs

To understand more about the bike chain see Know your Bike Chain

Replacing your bike chain before it becomes too worn is a really good idea.  It prolongs the life of other more expensive parts on your bike like the rear cassette and chain ring so regular checking will save you money and make sure you enjoy your ride.

Test the length of your bike chain

You need to test the length of your bike chain regularly to know when to replace your chain. How regular will depend on how often you ride but roughly work around every 3 months especially throughout your riding season. If you think you chain in getting close to needing replacement and you are riding more regularly consider checking every 6 weeks.

How to test the length of your chain. Using a chain wear tool gives you the most accurate knowledge on knowing when to replace it. I have also included a couple of methods that do not require a specific tool.

  1. The most accurate way to test is using a chain wear tool. Find out how to use this tool
  2. Place your chain in the largest chain ring at the front and the smallest chain ring at the back. On the front chain ring try and lift the chain out and away from the chain teeth. If this is easy to do, and there is air it is likely you need to replace your chain.
  3. You can measure with a ruler. Measuring in inches is the easiest way to determine if your chain has lengthened. (Each pin is 1/2 inch apart) Place a piece of string in the chain and count 25 pins and then put another piece of sting in the bike chain.
    • Measure from mid pin to mid pin between the string. If measuring greater than 12 inches it likely you may need to replace your chain.
Chain wear too on bike chain 500w

Chain wear tool – provides an accurate measurement on when you need to replace your chain.

Testing chain length -lift off chain rings

Largest chain ring at the front. Smallest cog/sprocket at the back – Can you lift the chain from the teeth of the chain rings.

Testing bike chain length - tape measure

Place a piece of string within the links –  count 25 pins – place another piece of string after the 25th pin. Measure the distance from pin to pin (between the pieces of string) Is it greater then 12 inches?This shows a very lengthened bike chain.

get Better and goRide – Bike Repair – Check your bike chain length – know when to replace it.

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Bike Repair – How to replace a worn bike chain

Bike Tools- Bike Chain Wear Tool

Bike Tools- The Bike Chain Tool

Know your bike chain

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