Just like pumping your tires, maintaining your chain is important in keeping your bike rolling. The steps for proper chain maintenance are really simple, but it’s still an often-overlooked part of many peoples bike ownership. With that in mind, here’s a simple guide to maintaining and ensuring the safety of your chain and drivetrain.
Your Chain is Dirty. It’s okay, most of us without paid mechanics contend with the same problem. If your chain is dry and rusty, you need to use more lube. If your chain is black, sticky, or ‘gunky’, you need to clean it and possibly use less lube in the future.
Cleaning your chain can be difficult and messy, which is why SuperB make a chain cleaner kit. You can pick one up for $40, and it comes with everything you need to keep your chain looking and running like brand-spankin’ new.
Super B Drivetrain Cleaning Kit
LTP Part number: 345122-02
MSRP: $39.99 (full kit)
We’ve all heard a cyclist ride past us sounding like they’ve got a horde of angry mice trapped in their drivetrain. A squeaky bike is a really good indicator that your chain is dry, and even if yours isn’t making noise, it’s a good thing to check. It’s a really safe bet that you aren’t lubing your chain enough… it’s one of those things that nobody does often enough.
The rule of thumb for chain-lubrication frequency is to re-lube your chain once every 5 rides in dry/clean conditions, and every 2nd ride in wet or dusty conditions. Sound like a lot? We told you that you weren’t lubing your chain often enough!
To lube your chain, select the product that best suits your needs (consult your local bike shop for help with that!), and apply it as shown in the video. Don’t forget to wipe off the excess lube, as a greasy chain will attract more dirt.
Tri-Flow Chain Lube
LTP Part number:348200-01
Chains wear out. Two schools of thought concerning this phenomenon are:
a. Chains lasted longer back in the good old days of 3-speed drivetrains, or
b. You ride more than you used to, shift more than you used to, and are putting more power into your new drivetrain components becuase your entire bike isn’t flexing around you like a gigantic pool noodle.
There’s a really easy way to test whether you’ve managed to log enough riding time to warrant a new chain. Grab a Super B chain checker, and measure it! Simply slide the gauge onto the chain, and if it fits, that tells you that your chain is worn to that point, and needs replacing.
Super B Chain Wear Indicator
LTP Part number: 385087-01
Remember that a worn/stretched chain will start to wear your drivetrain, causing it to skip, and requiring replacement. To save big bucks in the long-run, investing in a chain-checker is a simple way to stay on top of your chain’s lifespan. Generally one can expect to replace a chain 3 times before the whole drivetrain needs to be replaced. How long will your chain last? There are so many factors that need to be accounted for when judging chain life; mileage, maintenance, power output and shifting aggression among others. Some serious mountain and road riders will go through 2 or 3 chains a year, while many commuters replace chains a couple of times per decade.
Staying on top of your chain’s condition is vital to good overall bike maintenance. Taking care of your chain will save you time, energy and money later on! We hope you found these chain-maintenance tips helpful!