After punctures, unhooking the bicycle chain is probably the most common and perhaps the most nerve-racking problem cyclists face. This breakdown is especially uncomfortable, since it usually occurs at the most inopportune moment; which forces you to stop to place it, lose your rhythm and, if you have a bit of bad luck, the options of winning a certain test.
The mechanics of a bicycle are easy to master. Furthermore, most cyclists could do a PhD in this regard. However, the installation of elements in our two-wheeler is just as important as their maintenance, hence it is important to carry out a good tune-up from time to time. And, among the elements that should be prioritized at this time, is the chain, both for its “delicacy” and for the frequency with which it causes incidents.
When should a rider change the chain on his bicycle?
There are several theories about when is the ideal time to change the bicycle chain. In the cycling forums of the internet you can see everything. In them, you can see the attitude of the most cautious, who choose to do it at 3,000 kilometers. Others believe that it is best to do it at 5,000, while third parties say that, if there are no previous incidents, it is best to do this at 10,000.
What is the most accurate answer of the three? Actually, they could all be, but in reality none are, since the wear of the chain depends on various factors, including the model of bicycle in which this element is installed; and the characteristics of the rider’s activity. A chain does not deteriorate in the same way if the athlete only rolls for 3 hours a day, as if he goes out to train periodically on a steep surface that forces him to frequently change chainring and sprocket.
The simplest answer to the question posed in this section can be found in bicycle shops, where tools are sold, shaped similar to keys, which are called chain gauges.
How to use a chain gauge?
This simple device is able to offer us the most reliable information about the status of our chain, without the need to install an imaginary odometer in our head that measures the distance we travel. As you will see in the photograph, it has two measurements at its two ends, one corresponding to 0.75 and the other to 1.0.
You must put this chain in the hole that is between two links of it. If it marks 0.75, it means that it is stretched to 75% of its capacity, while its mark 1.0, it will be that it is at 100%. How should you interpret this data? Very easy.
There is a broad consensus among manufacturers that when the stretch of the chain exceeds 75%, it is time to start thinking about changing this component, since its probability of breaking or coming off its axis is quite high. What happens if it exceeds 100%? That the need to replace it is almost total, hence, at that time and for your safety, it is best that you break the piggy bank and buy a new one.
When should you perform this check? The first thing to say is that it never hurts to spend the 5 or 10 euros that this tool costs to always have it at hand. It is a small outlay that is highly recommended to ensure the complete set-up of your two-wheeler.
Once you purchase it, it is recommended that you use it every so often (twice a year may be enough) to check that its ends still do not enter the gaps between the links. That will mean that the life of your chain has not yet expired.