How do you know if your chain is worn?

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How do you know if your chain is worn?

Chain wear is something that can easily be missed when your bike is running well and you aren’t thinking it needs any work.  As the rollers of your chain wear on the bushing section of the inner link the distance between pins will expand. As that distance expands it will cause the rollers to wear out the teeth of your cassette cogs or chainring.  As the cogs and rings are worn by the chain, your shifting accuracy will slowly diminish. If left too long before replacement the cogs and rings will wear so far that putting on a new chain will cause your drivetrain to skip.  Chains are the least expensive part of your drivetrain to replace. Replacing your chain when needed will save you from having to replace cassettes and chainrings as frequently. In some extreme cases the chain will break. There are a few ways to measure for chain wear.

One basic ways are the lift off test.  It involves shifting into your biggest chainring in the front and smallest cog in the rear, you will then lift the chain away from the chainring.  If it lifts more than a little bit it is probably worn. This is a basic way to know if the chain has wear, but it will not help you to know how worn.

One very good way to measure for chain wear is by using a chain wear indicator tool.  These tools are designed to act as a “go / no go” type gauge to let you know if your chain is worn far enough to replace. It can also give you an idea if you may have let the chain wear too far to the point where your drivetrain may have been affected. A couple of good chain wear indicators are the Park Tool CC3.2, The Rholoff Caliber 2,  and the Pedros Chainchecker Plus II. All companies use a similar procedure for use and work well.  When buying a chain wear indicator consider the number of gears your drivetrain has and confirm that you get one approved for your bike (some don’t work with 12 speed).

A chain checker is an inexpensive tool, and easy enough to figure out for anybody to feel comfortable with it.  Even the newest riders can benefit from an occasional check while cleaning up their bike and lubing their chain after a ride.  If you aren't a mechanic, your chain checker will let you know when it’s time to go see your local shop to have a chain installed.  Checking your chain often will save you some cash in the long run and keep your bike happy.

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