Bike chain

chain Fixes, Reviews & Guides

Embedded thumbnail for Fix a Damaged MTB Chain

Fix a Damaged MTB Chain

Breaking a chain is everyone's worst nightmare but in reality it only slows you down if you don't have the tools and know-how to repair it. This informational video shows you how to repair a...

Part chain
Tools chain tool
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How-to: Chain Catcher Installation

How-to: Chain Catcher Installation

A chain catcher is a cheap and easy way to eliminate a dropped chain, which has the potential to damage a frame.

Chain Catchers

All are easy to install,...

Part chain
Tools hex wrench
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for DIY Chain Cleaning Tool

DIY Chain Cleaning Tool

The best way to clean a chain is to use a chain cleaning device. They are specifically made to do a really good job. You can improvise using two toothbrushes and a small piece of rubber, like from...

Part chain
Tools de-greaser
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Review of Park Tool Cyclone Chain Cleaner

Review of Park Tool Cyclone Chain Cleaner

Park Tool's Cyclone Chain Scrubber: 

It is basically a box that you fill with degreaser, open it up put it over the chain, and there are a few brushes on the inside that clean your...

Part chain
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Clean a Bike Chain

Clean a Bike Chain

Cleaning your chain is an essential part of bike maintenance that a lot of people neglect. Cleaning it will save you a lot of money in the long run and will make your bike run better. It will save...

Part chain
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Sizing and Installing a Mountain Bike Chain with Master Link

Sizing and Installing a Mountain Bike Chain with Master Link

A mountain bike chain is the most important component of the drive train. It takes the bulk of the stress and should be changed regularly. As it’s used, it stretches. A chain wear indicator can...

Part chain
Tools chain tool
Company: KMC
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Install and Remove SRAM Chain with Master Link

Install and Remove SRAM Chain with Master Link

Installing master links is really easy if you use this trick, but first make sure the master link is installed the right way. If you have a SRAM Chain, the arrow on the link should point in the...

Part chain
Company: SRAM
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Shimano Dura-Ace Chain 10-speed

Shimano Dura-Ace Chain 10-speed

Shimano Dura-Ace 7901 10-speed Chain Review:

Shimano’s chain has asymmetrical design, which provides better shifting and helps to prevent chain suck. This chain is at the top of Shimano’s...

Company: Shimano
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for Properly Tension the Chain on Fixed Gear or Single Speed Bicycle

Properly Tension the Chain on Fixed Gear or Single Speed Bicycle

How to tension the chain on a fixed gear or single speed bicycle:

Hang the drive chain on the seat stay, put the rear wheel into the frame as far forward/backward (depending on...

Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Check Fixed Gear or Single Speed Chainline

Check Fixed Gear or Single Speed Chainline

When getting a new freewheel or changing some aspect of the drivetrain on your single speed or fixed gear, it is important to check the chain line on the bike to ensure straightness.

Start...

Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Rotafix (tighten/loosen) a Fixed Gear Cog without Chain Whip

How to Rotafix (tighten/loosen) a Fixed Gear Cog without Chain Whip

How to Rotafix:

Rotafix is a technique for tightening or loosening a cog without a chain whip.

Why Roafix? Because standard chain whips do not fit 1/8” cogs, and you get the...

Tools greaserag
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for DIY How to Make a Bike Seat Lock

DIY How to Make a Bike Seat Lock

This is a DIY video on how to make a saddle chain lock.

This will help prevent anyone from taking your seat when your bike is locked up, and it is easy to make with a couple of spare parts...

Tools chain tool
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Install a SRAM Bike Chain

How to Install a SRAM Bike Chain

Chains are where you can get a lot of grit and just plain dirtiness accumulating so it’s something you should clean and maintain on a regular basis. If you need to install a chain, remember to get...

Company: SRAM
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for K-Edge Chain Catcher Overview

K-Edge Chain Catcher Overview

You saw it happen to Andy Schleck in the 2010 Tour de France, a dropped chain could be the difference between winning and losing. It's also a great way to keep your frame from getting the bottom...

Part chain frame
Company: K-Edge
Type: Review
Embedded thumbnail for How to Pack Your Bicycle in a Bike Box for Travel

How to Pack Your Bicycle in a Bike Box for Travel

The Bike Tube Hint: Don’t rush off and buy a professional bike box or bike bag. First head over to your local bike shop and ask if they have any leftover boxes from when bikes were shipped to...

Company: Park
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for DIY Index Rear Bike Gears

DIY Index Rear Bike Gears

Most cyclers are familiar with the sweet sound of a gear clicking into place when they make a flick of their shifter. In a perfect world this isn't accompanied by any quick jerking and with little...

Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for How to Replace an SRAM Crank and Bottom Bracket

How to Replace an SRAM Crank and Bottom Bracket

I'm Mike from tree fort bikes. Today we're gonna show you how to remove and install a SRAM crank and external bottom bracket.

To do this work we're going to need a few tools, a 16 notch...

Company: Park
Type: Repair Tutorial
Embedded thumbnail for Simple Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Adjustment

Simple Shimano XT Rear Derailleur Adjustment

Hey this is Johnny Bravo from Performance Bicycle. 

Derailleurs guide the chain from here to gear and when they work they're great but when they don't your stuck and your frustrated,...

Company: Truvativ
Type: Repair Tutorial
SRAM Groupo

Sram Road Bike Components: A Comprehensive Overview

Officially launched in 1988, Sram is a relatively young company with a lot of design ingenuity and the original maker of the Grip Shift. They’ve been making their way up through the bike component...

Blog Tags: SRAM Groupos
Type: Blog entry

Shimano Components Groups for Road Bikes: A Comprehensive Overview

Shimano is a major components company. That said, there are TONS (and I seriously mean TONS) of different options that you can choose from when you buy a component group from this maker.

...

Blog Tags: Shimano groupos
Company: Shimano
Type: Blog entry

Bike chain

The chain is a component of the drive train that transfers power from the chainring (directly powered by the rider) to the cassette/rear tire. A roller chain works by having shared links on the ends of evenly spaced cylinders. It's driven by a toothed sprocket to transfer power.

There is usually a high level of tension and lots of wear on the chain from excess debris caught during use, which shortens the life of this component. The chain is intended to be cleaned and lubricated often to reduce friction and improve efficiency.

 

Chains are normally a cheap component to come by. Single links can be purchased for pennies, and the median is under $50 even for decent, competitive whole chains. Obviously there are extreme cases of chains on Amazon.com for $300 or more. There's a big market out there, but even any nickel-plated chain of the right size will do the job just fine. 

Replacing a bike chain is very easy. 

Maintenance is making sure the chain is cleaned and lubricated as often as possible. It will always wear during use, but the life of the chain can be increased dramatically with a little lube.

If the current chain hasn't already broken, it will need to be with a chain cutting tool. The new chain should be cut to the same number of links as the previous one. Now's a great time to take note of how much that old chain has stretched! 

Chain cutting

The chain stretches over time by the links cutting into the rollers simply during use. Changing gears on some bikes isn't such a smooth transition, which speeds up wear. The links biting into the rollers cumulatively results in the chain stretching out a couple of millimeters. If your chain checker doesn't fit, it's time to replace the chain.

Chain checker

Wear isn't limited to the chain. The sprocket teeth (front and rear) wear down as well, and not having sharp teeth to grab the chain can lead to chain slippage or even missing a shift. If you happen notice a flaw in the chain, it could be from a bent link. The failing link can be found just by slowly pedaling backwards and listening to the chain pass through the rear derailleur.

Bending the chain

With the new chain measured and cut to length, it's time to feed it through the drive train.

Connecting the chain

Route the chain through the rear derailleur and onto the largest rear cog, but let it hang around the bottom bracket to give some slack to make the connection.

Chains are joined in 3 ways:

  • Special pin - Newer chains will have a reusable pin for removing and installing the chain for cleaning
  • Master link - unique link that is snapped on 
  • Any pin - Chain ends are connected by putting a regular barrel roller through two links to complete.

When the chain is joined, make sure the joining link is bending properly as all the others. You can now feed it onto the chainring in the front, and the bike is ready to go!

The chains on bicycles are manufactured for 1/2" pitch. Pitch is defined as the distance between the same point on two teeth of a sprocket, so essentially it's the distance between the rollers in the chain.

sprocket pitch

Width of the chain varies from 11/128", 3/32", 1/8", 5/32", and 3/16". Different bikes use different widths of chain. For example, BMX  and other common single-sprocket bikes use 1/8" chain, but racing and touring bikes use chains of 3/32 and wider. 

It's important to find the right size of chain. Too wide, and it rubs against derailleurs and other cogs, too narrow and it gets lost in between gears on the sprocket. 

Chain width

The length of a chain should be determined by your bike's standards. It can be cut to the correct number of links by using a chain cutting tool. In general, the chain on multi-speed bikes must be long enough to shift onto the largest chain ring and the largest gear at the same time, but also not too long so that the slack cannot be pulled out when on the smallest gears. On single-cog bikes, the chain is simply the distance between the front chain ring and the rear sprocket.