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Love your drivechain and it will love you. - Cycleshack

March 7, 2020

Words by Richard Roberts

Love your drivechain and it will love you.

Unless you’re a tiger or maybe a vampire, pointy teeth are not your friend – especially when they’re on your bicycle.

The design of most conventional bicycles and current eBikes relies upon a drivechain that contacts metal on metal and leads sooner or later to bits wearing out. The components of your drivechain – the chainrings at the front, the cogs at the back, the chain and derailleurs – should be treated to some extent as consumable items that will need replacing over the lifetime of the bike.

Things that grind you down.

The lifespan of the drivechain is influenced by a number of factors, including:

Amount of use and weather

Use it a lot, it will wear out quicker, especially if ridden in all weathers with little or no care. That said a heavily used but well-maintained drivechain can last for years.

Maintenance: cleaning, lubrication and storage

In the shop we see a lot of bikes come in with drivechains covered in a sticky, grey paste. This is a combination of muck picked up from the road, oil and bits of very finely ground metal from the bike. Left to accumulate this gunk forms a grinding paste that will shorten the lifespan of your drivechain.
Just wiping your chain down with an old cloth on a regular basis can stop this building up. Then use a bike specific oil to lightly coat the rollers in the middle of the chain. You do not have cover the whole chain – indeed it is better not to as this attracts dirt.
At the other end of the chain neglect spectrum is the rusty dry chain that you can hear squeaking down the road. That squeak is a cry for help. A little bit of chain lube will keep things running smoothly and quietly and increase the lifespan of your drivechain.

Weight and riding style, including variety of gears you ride in and chain line

If you weigh eight stone and pedal perfectly smoothly your drivechain will probably last a long time. If like me you’re a heavyweight stomper, things will wear out quicker. Likewise if you ride at the extremes of your chainrings and cassette – that is small ring and small cog or big ring and big cog – the more acute angle of the chain will wear your chain, rings and cogs quicker.

 

Check your chain and increase your component life expectancy.

Chains on bikes tend to wear out more quickly than the other components of the drivechain, and once a chain is worn it can accelerate wear on chainrings and cogs at the back. As wear increases you might experience gears slipping and skipping. For this reason it is a good idea to check chain wear and replace the chain when it becomes worn. We have chain wear gauges in the shop and are always happy to check your chain for you. Just call in.

Alternatively, if you prefer to check your chain yourself we have gauges available to buy as well as a full range of cleaning products and lubricants. Again, we are very happy to advise on what might suit you best.