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How Often Should You Replace Your Chain?

The short answer here is, "Probably more often than you think." A bike chains job is to transfer every watt of power from your cranks to your back wheel, and that's a big undertaking. With performance bikes becoming lighter, and cassettes offering more gears in the same amount of spacing (i.e thinner chains), it's not uncommon for heavier riders to wear through a chain in as little as 1,000 miles. That's just a few months for someone who rides every weekend.

Rider weight, terrain, even wheel size and chainstay length can all affect the life expectancy of your chain so it's hard for us to set an exact mileage number for replacement.

Although there is no cut and dry length of time a road bike chain will last, there are several tools to measure chain wear, and some easy ways to extend your chains life. The best way is to maintain a clean and lubricated drivetrain. This means cleaning the grime off of your chain, and lubricating it every three or four rides. We love Rock & Roll Road chainlube, and a small bottle will easily last six months.

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Also, try to have your chain measured every month or two. Our mechanics can do this quickly, and staying on top of chain wear can greatly extend the life of your drivetrain.

What happens if you don't replace your chain?

Over time a chain will stretch. As the chain stretches, the spacing no longer matches up with the fixed teeth of your crankset and crank.

This process will eat into the finely machine teeth of the cassette and crank, causing your chain to skip under load. An altogether unsafe and unpleasant experience. Even if a new chain is thrown on at this point, the cassette won't sync up and you'll need to replace that as well.

Moral of the story. Next time your heading out for one of our many shop rides, have the service department check your chain wear. It just takes a second, and throwing on a new chain is so much easier than ordering a new cassette.

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