Keeping the bicycle chain in perfect condition is essential. This means that it has to have adequate lubrication and not suffer from wear of its links to increase its life. But you have to be clear about the maintenance deadlines and know when it has worn out to replace it.
The correct functioning of the bicycle transmission depends first of all on the good condition of the chain. A dirty, dusty, muddy and rusty chain will make noise, cause skipping when shifting, and will not mesh well with the sprockets or chainring teeth, making pedaling difficult.
In addition, an improperly maintained chain will accelerate the wear of the chainrings and crowns teeth, which may force us to have to replace them ahead of time, with the consequent financial outlay. To get an idea of the difference in the cost of the replacement, the chain change has an average cost of between 25 and 40 euros, with similar prices both on mountain bike and on the road.
However, the cost of replacing cassette, chainrings (and chain, of course) can shoot up to 120 or 140 euros for a mid-range group. Much more if we have a high-end transmission group. And all of them without counting the labor, if you decide to make the replacement in a workshop.
How to know if the chain is worn?
There is a very simple method to know in a few seconds if the chain of your bicycle is worn and needs to be replaced. But this method requires a chain gauge. It is a metal or plastic tool that they sell in any cycling store and it measures the elongation or stretch of the links.
Wear on the links will cause the links to stretch and begin to rub against the crown and chainring teeth. The chain gauge is capable of measuring the percentage of elongation, with two main measurements: 0.75mm and 1mm, each located on each side of the gauge.
You must insert one of the projections on the 0.75 mm side into the hole of one of the links, and drop the other tooth on the chain. If the latter is inserted without problem inside another link, leaving the gauge completely parallel and attached to the chain, it must be changed because it will be worn.
On the other hand, if you try to insert the 1 mm side into the links and both projections go in, you will also have to change the chainring, cassette and sheaves, since they will also be worn. In this video from ThePersonTube you can see in detail how to use this tool well:
Incompatibilities between chains
It should be remembered that the average wear of a bicycle chain ranges between 3,000 and 8,000 kilometers. It is a wide margin because the deterioration will be accelerated or delayed depending on the use, the type of cycling practiced, the quality of the chain, etc.
Also remember that if you have recently started cycling you will inevitably have to change the chain one or more times during the life of your bike. And when that time comes you should choose one compatible with your transmission group.
It is not recommended to buy a 10 speed MTB chain to put in an 11v transmission or vice versa. You should also pay attention to the number of links in the chain. It is indicated on each product and, when installing it in your transmission, you must superimpose it on the old one so that the number of links and therefore their length coincide.
How to change the chain of your bicycle
Changing the chain is a simple operation that, as soon as you are curious and a little handy with the mechanics, you can do it at home without problems. But the above recommendations must always be taken into account: make sure that the chain you are going to install is compatible with the ratio of our transmission (2 × 10, 2 × 11, 1 × 12, etc.) and that it has the same length as the one. ancient.
Tips to extend the life of your chain
The chain is one of the bicycle components most exposed to wear and tear. But there are certain tricks to delay its degradation. Applying them, it is possible that it lasts several years, even riding a bike regularly.
Clean and oil the chain after every ride
More than a gimmick, it is almost a primary maintenance operation. After every bike ride, especially if you practice MTB, it is necessary to degrease, clean with water and grease the chain. In this article we explain what type of lubricant is most suitable for each situation.
Avoid crossing the chain
In double or triple chainrings choose a chainring-sprocket combination that does not cross the chain and thus reduces friction. In a 2 × 10 or 2 × 11 group, the most common on the road, combine the small chainring with the five large crowns and the large chainring for the 5 or 6 smaller ones.
Do not abuse the change
Many riders use the front and rear derailleurs more than they should. Sometimes it is unavoidable due to the type of route, whether it is a race, a demanding march, etc. But an intelligent use of the buttons, which go through a constant rhythm, will make the jumps between crowns or chainrings less and have a direct impact on the increase in the useful life of the chain.
Opt for a coated chain
It is advisable to get the replacement chain of the group mounted on your bike. If you have a Shimano Deore XT group, the chain must be the chain itself. But among the groups of each brand, and among the latter, there are numerous chain compatibilities, but always between transmissions with the same ratio (1 × 11, 2 × 11, 1 × 12, etc).
At this point, it is possible to customize the transmission with a chain with a special anti-corrosion or anti-rust coating (generally chrome), or with a special design, such as the flat surface of the SRAM Red AXS, which guarantees less friction and smoother shifting. Other prominent brands with durable chains are KMC, Taya or Sunrace, which have models that are compatible with the main groups on the market.