The chain on a bicycle is one of the most important parts. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s the part that puts the whole thing together. It connects the front part of your drivetrain to the rear and through it, pedal power is converted into forward movement. Most of the chains that come with stock bicycles are made of steel alloy, as it’s one of the most durable materials. However, steel alloy is prone to rust and corrosion, so it’s not ideal.
So if the time has come for you to replace your bicycle chain, how do you find a better, more suitable one? The answer varies depending on the type of bicycle you’re riding, as there’s a wide array of bicycle chains available to suit specific types of bicycles. Moreover, different drivetrains accept different types of chains. For instance, a 9 speed cassette requires a different chain than an 11 speed one. It has to be thicker to fit in the narrower spaces between the sprockets.
As aforementioned, the chain must match the amount of gears on your drivetrain in order to fit. Generally, manufacturers produce bicycle chains that are compatible with most cassettes, but that’s not always the case.
Some chains need special rivets to rejoin once they’ve been split, and the old rivets become obsolete. You can learn more about this online or by asking in a bicycle store.
But how do you know when you need a new chain? All chains have limited longevity. Every time it drops into the valley that’s created by the teeth on a sprocket, chainring or cassette, you get friction between two metal surfaces. When you add the grinding paste that a transmission attracts, you get a lot of wear and tear. Eventually, the chain will start to skip over the teeth instead of meshing with them as intended. And that’s your cue that it’s time to get a new chain.
That being said, the state of the chain is of utmost importance for the safety of the rider and the performance of the bicycle as well. They’re oftentimes considered as consumables in the bicycle world, which means they’re expected to be replaced fairly frequently. Of course, you can prolong the lifespan of the chain by maintaining it properly. Luckily, chains are quite affordable components, and replacing it in a timely manner will help you protect the more expensive parts of the bicycle.