Maintaining Your Bicycle Chain
Proper bicycle chain maintenance will allow you to keep your bike in tip-top condition for riding. Learning how to take care of your chain can save you time and energy.
A bicycle chain is known for failing at the worst time. This problem of a jumpy or jerky chain can be removed entirely, though, if you do some chain maintenance on it regularly. This means that you check your chain at least two times per month or after you ride it for about 10 hours if you ride quite a bit. You also want to be sure to do a chain check if you have been riding in bad weather.
You should replace your chain if it is rusted, tight, worn out, or you have ridden more than 1000 miles on it. A new chain with 24 links should measure 12 inches, and if it is too long, even by 1/16 of an inch, then you want to replace it so that it does not damage the chainring or sprocket. If you are replacing the chainrings or sprocket, you need to replace the chain so that you do not damage the new chainrings and sprocket.
Photo Hindrik S on Flickr
» The 100 Bicycles project: 100 different bicycles photographed in detail. This is bicycle number #25.
To learn more about this project see the 100bicycles group.
The metal parts of the chain do not really stretch, but the chain does get longer because of the sleeves and pins wear and tear. Lubricating the chain regularly will help the chain to last longer. If you want to lubricate correctly, you will want to put just a lubricant drop into each chain pin. This may take you a little time, but it will be well worth it when you increase the life of your chain.
Leave the lubricant on the chain for about 15 minutes, and then wipe the excess off with a clean cloth. This will help to keep the chain from catching dirt and grime while riding. It will also keep your chain in tip-top condition.
If you need to clean your bicycle chain, then you can use a degreaser or dish soap. This is a great way to remove lubricant, grime, and grease to help your chain to work better. After you clean it, remember to lubricate it again. It would be best to put the cleaner on the center of the cleaning cloth or sponge and then place it around the chain. By backpedaling, you should clean the chain sufficiently. Ensure that you rinse the rag each turn until you do not get any more dirt on it.
Leave the chain on the bicycle when you are cleaning it to keep it from becoming weaker. While you are getting the chain clean, then you can inspect it for any links that may be too tight. A tight chain can cause the chain to jump and jerk. If you find a tight link, you can loosen it by flexing it between two points that are located at about give links away from the tight link. If you cannot loosen it, then you will have to replace the chain. Keeping your bike chain lubricated and clean will help it to last much longer and work much better.
If your chain seems to be making some noise and cleaning does not stop the noise, you will have to replace it. If pedaling becomes difficult, then it will be time for a chain change as well. By paying attention to detail and maintenance, you will have a bike chain that you can use for a long time.