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Home / Tips and Tricks / How a chain check can save you hundreds of bike maintenance – View Geek

How a chain check can save you hundreds of bike maintenance – View Geek



  Rohloff chain wear meter
A Rohloff chain wear meter is just one of the dozens of comparable tools available. Ian Slack

If you use a chain check to measure how much your bicycle chain has stretched, you save a lot of money on maintenance costs during the life of your bikes. J Don't forget to use it!

Wait. What? Stretch bicycle chains?

It seems counterintuitive that something so heavy and made of steel can stretch, but bicycle chains do. The steel itself does not stretch. What happens is all the small rolls, bushes and pins that form a chain wear, and when that happens, the "pitch" of the chain ̵

1; the distance between each link – grows very lightly. The industry standard pitch for derailleur chains is a half inch (12.7 mm) distance between the pins. A chain is considered to be considerably worn if it exceeds that standard pitch by one percent. Because the chain has to fit into the teeth of the sprockets and chainrings, what happens is that a stretched chain puts more pressure on the sides of the teeth, causing them to wear out faster.

  Stitch measurement bicycle chain
If you have a ruler next to the links, you can see how the pins align every half inch on a standard stitch chain. Ian Slack

Symptoms of stretched bicycle chain

Over time, a chain and the rear cog grow together, and if you try to place a new chain on a worn cog, it wins & # 39; It fits well in the worn teeth. It will actually skip if the chain slides over the teeth. It is usually most noticeable to go up a hill under pressure and can be very unpleasant if you stand on the pedals when the pendulum suddenly swings forward and threatens to steer you over the handlebars.

You can ignore the problem and a chain and sprocket get old together. But what happens then is that you eventually get the chain “slop”, which is extra flexibility as the chain wears. A sloppy chain also does not respond to the action of the derailleurs and you get poor shifting and other problems such as extra noise.

Finally, a worn chain is weaker and more prone to breakage.

The problem has only got worse because manufacturers are inventing drive lines with more and more gears and chains that are getting narrower. The newest chains with 12 speeds are almost a full two millimeters narrower in outside diameter than the chains with 5 speeds from a few decades ago. The inner diameter is also slightly shrunk, which means that the gears and chainrings are now narrower and more sensitive to wear . If you add factors such as hollow pins and outer plate recesses to high-end – and super lightweight – chains, then a chain can have a very short lifespan.

Okay, so Chains Stretch. What does it measure?

Here you can save a lot if you buy a chain checker and don't forget to use it regularly, especially if your bike was delivered with an expensive component group. If you replace a chain before it becomes too stretched and widen the teeth on the rear sprocket, you significantly increase the life of the cassette and the chainring by preventing excessive wear. Since the chain is the cheapest to replace on your powertrain, you can save hundreds, depending on the level of components you use on your bike. For example, let's take high-end Shimano drive lines. With XTR and Dura-Ace cassettes between $ 150 and $ 200 and chains with $ 35, changing chains to extend the life of the gears is no problem.

Just don't forget to use it

If you do buy a chain wear meter, you should remember to use it regularly, because if you wait just a little too long, the chain will stretch, you will not understand the problem and stuck when replacing both the chain and the cassette. The number of kilometers you drive is not a good indication of when your chain can wear, as conditions such as grit chain wear can accelerate considerably. A good rule of thumb is to measure every time you clean your bike and oil the chain. It only takes a few seconds, so why not?

How to use a chain check

  Rohloff chain check
This brand new chain shows the gap between the bottom of a Rohloff chain check and the links when it has fallen. Ian Slack

You can use a ruler of a foot to measure the distance between the chain pins, but it is difficult to do it right. The pins must be exactly in line with the 12-inch markings and slightly more than a percent longer than that considered to be beyond the point of replacement, so it's a bit tricky. Chain discs, on the other hand, are inexpensive and very easy to use. The most common designs have a hook on one end that fits over a chain roller, and the other end has a small meter that protrudes like a person's nose. You drop that end into the link and if it goes too far down, the chain is worn to the point that it needs to be replaced. Some chain wear gauges – such as the Rohloff show above – have two sides for different types of gears, depending on the material they are made of, such as aluminum or titanium. On the Rohloff I use the "A 0.075 mm" for aluminum, even for steel gears. I have noticed that waiting for the "S" side is too late and will skip worn chains.

The best chain controller options?

Rohloff Caliber 2 chain wear indicator

Long favorite with professional bicycle mechanics, the Rohloff Caliber 2 chain wear indicator is a bit more expensive than its competitors, but I have discovered that they are very reliable as soon as I decided to always use the "A" side as my standard for when a chain needs to be replaced. The small shape makes it easy to use and store.

The professional's choice

Park Tool Chain Checker Bicycle Chain Wear Meter

The design of the Park Tool Chain Checker Bicycle Chain Wear Gauge is a bit different, and it contacts the chain in three places instead of two – according Park contributes to the accuracy. It is compatible with any derailleur chain – including the new Sram eTap AXS – to determine when a chain has a wear of 0.5 to 0.75 percent.

3 contact points

Pedro & # 39; s Tools Chain Checker Plus 2

The Pedro & # 39; s Tool Chain Checker Plus 2 has the same design with three contact points as the Park version, but it also includes a chain hook on the other hand that is used to hold the two ends of your chain together as you prepare to insert the main link when installing a new chain.

Does more than one thing

KMC Digital Chain Checker

If you are a geek and want to get full of Mac Daddy, then the KMC Digital Chain Checker is for you! KMC claims to be the most accurate chain wear meter on the market, but unlike other designs, it requires human pressure to push the rollers apart to measure the distance rather than the "drop-in" style of cheaper tools who do the work.

Go all the way for it!

Use a chain check and save

Just like changing the oil in your car at specific mileage intervals, consistently measuring your bicycle chain with a chain-rack tool is just a very easy way to save a lot of money for bicycle maintenance and keep your rides on optimum performance. The meters are so cheap that there is no reason not to. And now that most chain manufacturers (including Shimano) are offering masterlink systems with their chains, replacing them is much easier than before when you had to know how to push chain pins in exactly the right amount when connecting the two ends of the chain. All you have to do is use a tool to break the chain to the same length as the old one and connect it to the main pin, and you're ready to ride, so no apologies!


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