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Cycling Workshop

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.

Cyling Holiday

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 Progressive plan Cycling 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.

Chain tips

    • Clean your chain every few weeks to prevent muck build up
    • 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!
Removing dirt and grime from a chain is easy, and best of all - you shouldn’t need to remove it from the bike. If it’s not too grimy, spray a few links at a time with WD4O, degreasant or a specialist bike chain solvent, and run the chain through a piece cloth. It it’s badly clogged, then the best solution is to buy a chain bath. These have brushes inside which clean the chain, while soaking it in solvent. Use an old toothbrush to remove muck from the freewheel, chainring and rear derailleur. Once all the dirt’s been removed, dry the chain with a clean rag before applying lubricant.

Well Oiled!
Little and often is the key to successful chain lubrication. It’s better to wipe a chain down and apply a little oil on a weekly basis than it is to drench the chain in oil once a year. Modern wax-based lubricants, like the Teflon-based Teflon-Plus from Finish Line, are good because when left to dry they don’t attract dirt – but they do need more frequent application and are best suited to dry conditions. When it’s wet, you will need a more ‘clingy’ lubricant. You can buy spray lubricants, but because you need to be precise about where the oil goes - and you don’t want it on the brakes or tyres - traditional methods are best. Dribble a small amount of oil on the middle roller part of the chain (not the side plates), while turning the pedals backwards until the whole chain has received a thorough soaking. Don’t use vegetable-based three-in-one oil; it will gunk up your chain, and won’t offer nearly as much rust protection as a mineral- based oil. When finished, gently wipe off any excess oil to reduce the risk of the oil attracting further grime.
And that’s all there is to it!

Progressive plan Cycling Common chain problems

    • Chain ‘stretch’ – wear in chain pins and their brushings causes the chain to have excessive lateral or sideways flexibility – causing imprecise gearchanges and skipping
    • 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.