These Three Signs Tell When To Replace Bike Chain


Proper chain maintenance is important to keep your bike in its peak condition. Otherwise, it can negatively affect speed and performance, among other issues. While chain cleaning can help address the problem, there are times when you need a bike chain replacement and not just repair or maintenance. 

Aside from learning how to remove a bike chain, you also need to know when to replace bike chain. Keep on reading and we’ll talk about some of the signs you should watch out for. 

Watch Out For These Signs When to Replace Bike Chain 

If you are clueless about when to replace the chain in your touring bike, mountain bike, or any other bike, below are three of the things that you should keep an eye on. When they happen, these are signs that you are immediately due for a bike chain replacement. 

1. Chain Elongation 

This is the most common sign that you need a bike chain replacement. This happens when the chain stretches longer than usual, which makes it longer. As the bushings wear, the inner diameters will increase, and the pins will groove out. In turn, the bike chain will stretch. 

To measure chain elongation, a quick solution is to do an eye test. In this case, all that you have to do is to place the chain on the outer chainring. Lift the chain from the center of the chainring. If you can lift more than half a link or both links, then this is an obvious indication of wear and that you will need a bike chain replacement. Also, try to lift three to four links. If you can see daylight beneath the links, then take it as a sign that the chain is elongated and will need a replacement. 

Doing the ruler test is another way to test chain elongation. The chain in a road bike has rivets every half an inch. A chain-link will measure one inch, including the inner and outer links, both of which are half an inch each. You cannot tell the difference is you measure a single link. With this, measure in 12 inches. While doing this, you need to exert tension to improve the accuracy of the measurement. From the 12-inch mark of the ruler to the center of the link pin, if the distance is less than 1/16-inch, the chain is alright. If it is 1/8-inch or beyond, then you need a replacement. 

If you do not want to go through the hassle of using a ruler, then using a chain wear indicator is a good idea. This should be a part of your bike tool kit. Use the curved edge of the tool to hook in a chain-link. If it fits completely, then this is a sign that your chain will need a replacement.  

2. Severe Rust and Corrosion 

Another obvious sign on when to replace bike chain is when there are severe rust and corrosion. Start by determining if the bike chain can be saved. In some instances, cleaning the bike chain will be enough to get rid of rust and make it function like new. However, there are also a lot of instances when the chain can no longer be spared and hence, a replacement is warranted. 

Rust in bike chains can be caused by various factors. One of the most common causes is chemical exposure. It creates a chemical reaction known as oxidation. It transforms metal into iron oxide, which is what we call rust in layman’s term. Exposure to mud and road salt can also speed up the formation of rust. It is also likely to happen when you do not properly store bicycle outside or you do not use a bike cover, especially if you will be leaving your bike outdoors for a long time. Regular cleaning and bike maintenance will also help in the prevention of rust not only in the chain but also in the other parts of the bike. 

If the bike chain can still be spared, you can use a bike degreaser in having it cleaned. Before you return it, applying a bike chain lube will help to protect it from future problems. However, if most of the parts of the chain are already rusty, there is no sense in saving it. You are better of replacing it with a new set. 

3. Poor Bike Performance 

Replacing the bike chain is also a must when your bike suffers from poor performance. However, take note that the chain is not solely the one to blame if your ride quality is poorer than the usual. Other parts of the bike can also be the culprit, such as the pedals or the brakes, among other things. 

If the chain is the problem, one of the most common things that will happen is that you will have difficulty shifting gears. The process is not as smooth and as reliable as before. It is common for the chain to skip between gears. The bike may shift twice instead of only once. The most common culprit for this problem is a loose cable. However, you can also blame it on the chains. Aside from poor shifting, a worn chain will also affect the efficiency of your bike. 

When the bike chain starts to show signs of wear, the pitch increases. In turn, the chain will be rolling higher on the tooth. Aside from increasing cog wear, it also reduces the point of contact. This is when the chain will start skipping, negatively affecting shifting. 



Q: How do I know if my bike chain is worn?


To know if your bike chain is worn, pay attention to elongation. You can use a ruler or chain wear checker to know this. Alternatively, pay attention to the presence of severe rust and corrosion. Problems in the bike’s performance, such as problems in shifting, will be also indicative of bike chain wear.

Q: How many miles should a bike chain last?


A bike chain lasts about 2,000 to 3,000 miles. This is the recommended mileage according to most mechanics. After this time, it is best to replace the bike chain to ensure the peak performance of your bike.

Q: When should I replace my cassette?


Replace your cassette after biking approximately 2,000 to 3,000 miles. The best practice is to replace the cassette along with the chain replacement. This will make sure that the drivetrain is in perfect condition for your bike’s optimal performance.

Q: Should I replace my rusty bike chain?


Yes, you should replace your rusty bike chain, especially if the case is severe. If it is severely rusted, the problem can spread to the other parts of the bike, and this will make things worse. Meanwhile, if it isn’t severe, then you can clean the chain and try to remove the rust.

Globo Surf Overview 

Make sure to keep an eye on the things listed above to know when to replace bike chain. Elongation, rust, and poor performance are the main signs that you will need a bike chain replacement. In some instances, cleaning the bike chain will be enough. However, with the signs earlier mentioned, using new chains can be the better option!

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!