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How to Replace a Bike Chain?

changing bike chains

In the last century, when bicycles were single-speed, the chain was designed to last a lifetime, so bike chain replacement was virtually non-existent. It was enough to grease it once a year, before the start of the season, and you could ride until fall.

Modern bikes have a fundamentally different design. Now we use 2-3 front and 7-10 rear gears to overcome the complexity of any terrain. A large number of sprockets require a flexible link that can move around and hit any sprocket. Nowadays bicycles require more care, and therefore every cyclist should know how to change a bike chain and we will give you some tips.

Changing Bike Chains Reasons

installing new bike chain guide

The flexibility of a bicycle chain makes it easy to change gears, but the flipside of its design is rapid wear. The distance between the axles (pins) increases over time, and the bike chain stretches. It doesn’t quite fall into place on the cogs and deforms them. At some point, the sprockets will wear out so much that the chain can no longer be held on them and will jump to the neighboring gears. Also, the rear sprocket gets a lot more damage than the front sprocket because it’s more engaged.

When to Change a Bike Chain?

On average, a unit lasts between 500 and 3,000 km, depending on use. If you use your bike for occasional rides in sunny, dry weather, on smooth pavement and terrain, it will last much longer without replacement than if you ride it in the woods and mud, in all weather, with frequent climbs.

Anyway, a chain gets stretched over time, and if you don’t pay attention and replace it, it starts to warp the sprocket teeth. When this happens, installing new bike chain will not help – it will still slide off the worn sprockets, so you will have to replace them together. What to do to prevent this from happening:

  • Initially, it is better to install bike chain with a long service life. There are models in which it can go over 10,000 kilometers.
  • The chain stretches much faster when it is skewed (for example, a person rides a large sprocket in the front and rear). To reduce misalignment, use the middle sprocket in the front as a working sprocket, shifting to the large and small only when the terrain demands it.
  • Do not use thick grease. That grease lasts a very long time, and it gets all the dirt on it, which just kills the chain. Popular WD-40 is also not suitable for this purpose. It is efficient for cleaning dirty parts after a dirt forest raid, but not for greasing.
  • Some riders use the “rule of three chains” – they buy three of them and rearrange every 500-600 km, thus the sprockets wear much more evenly, which allows increasing the resource of the entire set.

How to Grease a Chain?

putting a chain on a bike

Before greasing, you should clean the chain and sprockets from dust and dirt residue, this can be done with an old toothbrush. Then grease the bike chain and pedal to make sure the grease gets in to all the gaps. It should be as dry as possible on the outside to prevent dirt from sticking to it. It is done by blotting it thoroughly with a paper towel and then wiping it with a damp cloth before putting a chain on a bike.

What’s the best thing to use? Special bicycle greases are ideal, which, by the way, vary depending on the season. It’s better not to use aerosol versions – firstly, 60-80% will fly by, and secondly, you can accidentally or by inexperience pour the surface of the brakes, and then have to stop with your feet.

Grease the bike chain every 200-300 km, watch its wear, and correctly switch speeds, and you will not have any problems with your iron friend.

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