So winter is on its way, and with it the probability of a fair amount of rain. In an effort to save yourself from hasty roadside chain repairs, now is a good time to have a quick look at the chain and give it some TLC. Before you get too carried away with cleaning just do a quick check to see if it needs replacing .
The chain check tool pictured is a cheap and easy way to check if your chain is at or near the end of its life. For bikes with multiple gears ie cassette I use the .75 gauge and for single speeds the 1.0 gauge.
Simply place the gauge on the chain as shown. This check shows that the chain has reached the end of its life. As you can see the end of the gauge falls into the link completely. If left it will cause the cassette to wear prematurely.
This chain still has plenty of life in it.
If a chain is left too long the cassette will wear much more quickly and when a new chain is fitted there is a very good chance it will jump teeth, meaning a new cassette will be needed.
Keeping the chain clean and lubricated with good quality bicycle chain lube will help it last longer and keep things running smoothly and gear changes slick.
So now we’ve established whether we need to change the chain or clean it, let’s look at cleaning.
Chain cleaning baths like this one are fairly cheap to buy and easy to use.
Simply open it up, fill half of the bottom section with a bike specific citrus based degreaser and mount it on your chain
Holding the chain cleaner securely, start moving the pedals clockwise causing the chain to pass through the bath, be careful to keep fingers or other body parts clear of the moving wheel! Keep going for a minute or two to clear away the built up grime. Remove the bath and dry chain with a clean rag.
Now that the chain is free of gunk and grime it’s time to apply some good quality bicycle chain lube. There are lots of brands offering dry or wet lubes for both dry and wet weather. So a good quality wet weather lube would be best.
Apply the lube at the cassette, pedaling backwards until the whole chain is coated. Change through all the gears and then remove the excess with a cloth.
Hopefully this will save you a breakdown and some money to boot!