Bicycle maintenance – How and when to change your chain

A sometimes often forgotten aspect of bicycle maintenance is chain replacement. Replacing your chain can help improve shifting performance, avoid premature wear on your drive train and also prevent any potential mishaps when your out on a ride. Generally, it is recommended that you replace or at least check your chain every 2000-3000km. This is highly dependant on the terrain you ride and your riding/gear shifting style. In my experience, you can generally replace your chain 3-4 times before your cassette needs to be replaced. Remember, if you change your cassette – always replace your chain to ensure smooth and accurate shifting. For now, we will focus on just the chain replacement.

Firstly, some tools you need to replace your own chain.

1. Chain checker tool (the Park CC-2 is my tool of choice This tool is a quick and easy way of checking chain wear, to ensure you replace your chain before it is too late.


2. Chain breaker tool: As the name suggests, this tool will enable you to remove your old chain and install a new chain, quickly and easily.

The first thing you need to do is ascertain the wear on your chain. The easiest way to do this is to utilise the chain checker tool. The tool provides you with a simple and quick way to check your chain wear. If you chain displays anything in between 0.5 and 0.75 on the chain checker tool, it is time to replace your chain. Whilst you can get more wear out of your chain beyond these guidelines, it will have an adverse effect on your overall drivetrain wear. Let’s face it, you would rather replace a chain rather than a chainring or new cassette.

Once you have determined you require a new chain, you will need to remove the old chain before installing your new one. This is where you will need the chain breaker tool.

Quick and easy steps to follow for chain replacement

1. Remove current chain by placing your chain inside the chain breaker tool (be sure to check manufacturer instructions on correct usage of your tool). Essentially, you remove a ‘pin’ that holds your chain together. You can remove any pin you choose.

(Side note: If you have a ‘quick link’, and want to re-use the quick link – you will require a different tool to remove your chain instead of the chain breaker)

2. Once you have removed your old chain, lay both old and new chains next to each other to ensure both old and new chains are the same length. Remove excess links until you are satisfied that both old and new chain are the same length.
(Note: This is dependant on whether your old chain was correctly installed)

3. Route your new chain over the small chain ring, ensuring that the chain runs between the front derailleur ‘forks’ Continue routing your chain through the pulley wheels on your rear derailleur
Tip: Pay attention and make sure your chain is inside of the small tab guides on your rear derailleur.

4. Connect either end of your new chain together by using the supplied ‘pin’. Place this loosely within the chain to start and ensure the chain moves as it should. Be careful not to do a full revolution of the chain as this may damage the pin which will be protruding from either side of the chain.

5. Use your chain breaker tool to push the pin through the two ends of the chain. Depending on your chain, this is usually inserted from the inside of the chain to the outside. You should have a large protrusion on the outside of the chain, where you have pushed through the pin.
Tip: Be careful not to push the pin too far. There should be less than 0.5mm of the pin on the inside of the chain showing. If there is too much showing, your chain will not run smoothly through the cassette.

6. Remove the protruding section of the pin by ‘snapping’. On most chain breaker tools, there is a little hole to quickly and easily snap this off. If your chain breaker does not have one, simply remove this with a set of pliers.

Once you have installed your new chain, your bicycle will feel brand new. Shifting will be quick and precise and you will be able to enjoy many more miles of cycling ahead. Remember, check your chain status frequently and you can minimise premature wear of your drivetrain.

By Ricky Swindale – Pushys sponsored athlete

Categories: Maintenance

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