Ever wonder how to determine the correct length chain to use for your
bicycle? Are your chain problems due to a chain that is too short or
Your legs are magnificent.
Now, how about a matching upper body?
See my simple exercise routine.
Chain Stretch/Wear Check
Don't let a worn chain ruin your cassette and chain rings.
worn/stretched* chain does not mesh properly and will
quickly wear the teeth of your drive train making them nice and pointy.
After this has happened, if you put a new chain on, it will most
likely skip on the old drive train. The only thing you can do at this
point is replace the chain rings and cassette (or take up jogging).
Here's an easy way to check your chain wear. It can be done with
the chain on or off the bike.
Click to Enlarge
|Take a ruler (inches) and line up a chain pin on the
A new chain should line up exactly with a chain pin. [See
If the stretch is 1/16" or less, [See
Picture] you're in good shape.
it's between 1/16" and 1/8", you should replace your chain.
If it is over 1/8", [See
Picture] you'll probably need to replace not only your
chain, but also your cassette and chain rings.
those anal types (like me), Park Tools makes a wear gauge that lets you measure the wear.
Just slip it on to the chain and it tells you how worn your chain is. It doesn't get much easier than that.
It'll pay for itself several times over the first time it saves a drive
* Note 1: The chain doesn't actually stretch.
The rollers wear out, making the chain longer. This gives it the
appearance of having stretched.
Note 2: I've known people who take a different approach. They
simply run their chain until it fails. Then replace the chain cassette
and rings all together (by that time the cassette and rings are usually too
worn to work with a new chain). They figure the money they save on
chains will help offset the cost of the new components. But, unless
you're using really expensive chains, I don't think the math works out for
Weight Lifting and Cycling
Want to start an argument? Go to a group of cyclists and ask
whether a cyclist should train with weights or not.
Lance Armstrong's coach recommends strength training in the winter,
while many coaches recommend against it.
The confusion stems from the lack of properly done studies, the
confusion between professional cyclists and weekend warriors, and
strength training vs. bodybuilding.
Do you really need to be able to shift to all
rear gears when in the big chain ring?
I find that shifting is improved on a mountain bike by running a
shorter chain that is sized as if the middle front ring was the largest
ring and using the shorter (long cage) rear derailleur instead of the
more typical super-long cage used for mountain bikes. However, the
shorter chain won't shift into the largest (slowest) rear gears when in
the big ring. And the shorter cage will have too much slack when
in the granny (smallest front ring) and smallest (fastest) rear gear.
However, this shouldn't be a problem, since you really shouldn't be
using these combinations anyway. Just be aware of these
limitations and avoid attempting to shift into them.
Disadvantages: (Read and heed these warnings)
- You will not be able to use big cogs (rear wheel large granny
gears) with the big ring (front fast gear).
- If you try to shift into the now illegal big ring combinations,
you risk breaking your chain, derailleur, hanger, etc.
- If using the shorter derailleur cage, if you try to shift into
the now illegal granny ring combinations, you risk dropping your
chain due to the excess slack.
- Do this at your own risk!
- Crisper, faster, more reliable shifting.
- Can use a shorter rear derailleur cage.
- Less chance of over shifting (changing two gears when you only
clicked one gear at the shifter).
- Less chain slap.
- Less chain weight.
Add your Comments
Article on another topic
2006-03-26 Anonymous, Serious Competitor, age 50-59, wrote
2006-03-27 Anonymous, Weekend Warrior, age 40-49, wrote
You might note that when running a short chain, it may be difficult to
prevent the upper jockey wheel from contacting the large cog, even if
the 'B' adjustment is used.
2006-04-20 Anonymous, Industry pro, age 20-29, wrote
Add somthing about keeping the chainline as straight as possible and
the resulting effects on efficiency and chain wear.
Your way for determining chain length may work, but is
All you need to do is manually wrap the chain round the big
chainring and biggest sprock, bypassing the rear deraillear. Where
it then meets up +1 link is the chain length.
This doesn't work for a full bouncer (you could guess +2 links) but
then how does someone work out maximum chainstay length for your
Sitting at work with time to kill.......hence the reply!? Nice web
2006-07-08 Weekend Warrior, age 50-59, wrote
2006-08-05 Weekend Warrior, age 20-29, wrote
2006-08-14 Paul Chappin, Weekend Warrior, age 30-39, wrote
Easy way to tell if the chain is old. Better than buying a chain
wear tool or taking the bike to you LBS. Thanks.
2006-09-26 ccy, Beginner, age 20-29, wrote
how the manufacturing process to make the chain?
2006-12-04 Joe, Weekend Warrior, age 40-49, wrote
I have been riding bikes since I was 5 years old and until recently,
never experienced a broken chain. My son broke the chain on his bike
the other day. Do you know where I can get a chain tool or what the
cost of a new chain is?
epicidiot reply: Welcome to the world of bike maintenance.
Your local bike shop is probably your best bet for a new chain and chain tool. If you rarely change chains, it may even be worth it to have them
install the chain as well. Chains are typically $15-30 depending on the
quality, although even the cheapest are fine for general riding. If you
like to clean your chain, get one with a removable link, such as the
SRAM Power Link chains, so that you can easily take the chain off the
bike. Make sure the chain you get is the same speed (or higher) than
the bike you are installing it on. A 9-speed (the number of gears
on the rear cassette) chain will work on an 8-speed bike, but not vice
versa. The best book I've found for the average guy on bike
maintenance is Zinn & Art of Mtn Bike Maintenance.