It’s easy to ignore bike chains, until they either snap, seize or fall off completely. That’s why regular maintenance to keep your cogs spinning freely is a must - and, thankfully, caring for your chain is easy and rarely requires any tools. Dirty chains not only wear more quickly, but they also cause other components on your bike’s transmission like the chainwheel, rear derailleur and freewheel sprocket to wear as well. What’s more, if a chain loses its flexibility, your gearchanges will become less precise as well. In short, there’s lots of reasons to keep your chain in rude health.
Before you start, though, it’s worth making sure your chain’s not worn out - you’ll notice if it sounds noisy or skips while riding. Another way to identify a worn chain is to measure across 24 links of the chain - if it measures much more than l2in (30cm), it’s probably past its sell-by date. Most last for several thousand miles, but if it’s been allowed to clog up then chances are it will need replacing much sooner - and chances are the teeth on the freewheel will have worn at the same rate as the chain, so you will need to replace both at the same time.
• To avoid wearing other transmission components, replace your chain every 1500 miles
• Buy a chain bath to thoroughly soak your chain without having to remove it from the bike
• Degrease new chains before fitting them – it’s there to prevent the chain rusting in transit and attracts dirt
• If you replace a worn chain, you will need to replace the freewheel as well
Keep it Clean!
Common chain problems
• Chain jumping – if your chain skips or jumps while pedalling, the cause might be an excessive build up of dirt, or possibly a seized joint by watching the chain pass through the rear derailleur jockey wheel while turning the pedals backwards
• Chain suck – this is where the chain gets stuck between the chainring and the chainstay and is the result of a dirty or worn chain and chainring.
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