How to Check for Bike Chain Wear

How to Check for Bike Chain Wear

February 1, 2021

Your bike chain does a lot of the heavy lifting when you cycle, and the more you ride, the faster it will wear out. No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road (or away from civilization) with a snapped or loose bike chain. The better you maintain your chain, the less likely that scenario becomes. How do you know when your bike chain is so worn down that it requires replacement in Naples, FL? Read on for some tips.

Bike chain anatomy

Your bike chain has two main parts: the inner link and outer link, which are connected with pins. The spacing between the links is important—that’s the part of the chain that connects with the “teeth” in the gears and helps move the bike forward. If the spacing is off, your gears won’t be able to function properly.

Your chain pins should be no more than a half-inch apart. If you notice spacing oddities, it may be time to replace your bike chain.

How to check for wear and tear

There are two main types of wear and tear. Chain stretch and “slop” are easily identified, once you know what to look for.

First, chain stretch occurs when your chain links are pulled farther and farther apart. This leads to slow and inconsistent shifting, which can make biking a lot more difficult. The more wear and tear you put on your bike (especially if you like to bike off-road), the more likely you’ll see chain stretch.

To identify chain stretch, all you need is a ruler. Twelve links should measure 12 inches from the middle of the first pin to the middle of the last—and if they’re longer than 12 inches, your chain is stretching. Anything over 12 and 1/16th of an inch indicates that there’s a problem. You can also purchase a chain checker for this purpose. Whichever way you decide to check your chains for stretch, make sure you replace the chain as soon as it extends past 12 inches for 12 links.

“Slop” is the term for side-to-side chain wear, which usually results from too much torque. If you find yourself going uphill or shifting gears while carrying a particularly heavy load, you might be subject to chain slop.

To identify chain slop, check for chain stretch first. If you don’t detect any stretch, make some adjustments to your derailleurs or shifters. If that doesn’t take care of the problem, you may have chain slop.

Finding out exactly whether you have chain slop may require a visit to a bike service shop—or you can simply replace the chain to see if that solves the problem. Either way, it’s smart to replace chains at the first sign of wear or damage—failing to do so can cause problems with your gears and other bike mechanics.

For help identifying bike chain wear in Naples, FL, call Big Momma’s Bicycles today. We offer bike service and repair appointments as well as sales and rentals.

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