How to Check for Chain Wear
Demonstrates how to measure a worn out chain using Sheldon Brown’s ruler technique.
One of the most common problems I hear about is chain skip, which is when your pedal slips forward while pedaling under pressure. This is usually either caused by a stiff chain link, worn freehub body, or by a worn chain and freewheel. In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to diagnose a worn drivetrain.
Watch the stiff link tutorial first to make sure that isn’t your problem. Once you’ve ruled out a stiff link it’s time to check if your chain is actually worn. Chains will ‘stretch’ over time, because the pins and bushings start to wear, which causes them to start skipping. There are many tools available that measure chain wear (listed to the right of the video), but the easiest and most accurate way to check is by simply using a ruler.
Measure the Chain
With your chain still on the bike, place the ruler’s ‘0’ inch mark directly above the center of one of your chain pins. Now count 12 complete links. A complete link equals 1 inner and 1 outer. A rivet on a new chain should line up exactly with the 12 inch mark using this method.
According to Sheldon Brown, if the rivet is less than 1/16″ past the mark, your chain is ok. If it’s between 1/16″ and 1/8″ past the mark you’ll likely need a new chain, but your sprockets should be ok. If it’s more than 1/8″ past the mark, you’ll have to replace both the chain and rear sprockets.
Cassettes & Freewheels
The reason you’d have to replace the rear sprockets is because they generally wear with the chain. While the chain is ‘stretching’, the gap between the teeth on your sprockets also gets wider and wider. This causes the chain to ride up over the teeth and slip while pedaling under pressure. If you install a new chain on an old sprocket, you’ll probably be able to see gaps of light through the teeth as shown. Here’s how to replace a cassette or a freewheel.
Your front chainrings generally won’t need replacing. Because of the larger diameter, the front chainrings usually take twice as long to wear. If worn they are very easy to spot, as they’ll start looking like shark teeth. Here’s how to replace your chainrings.
- Park Tool CT-5 Chain Tool
- Park Tool CT-3 Chain Tool
- Park Tool CC-3.2 Chain Checker
- Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker
- Wippermann Chain Wear Indicator
- Park Tool CG-2 Chain Gang Chain Cleaning System
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
I came across two riders with flats on yesterday's ride. The usual response as I roll by and ask, "Do you need anything?" is, "No, I'm good," but today, someone was in need. The first guy, fit, full kit, nice Colnago, was good to go. Then, about seven miles later, on the opposite side of the road, a guy sitting on the side of the road with a wheel between his legs and with his wife, I presumed, st...Read more
I just ordered and received new wheels for my bike. Both the old and new are TLR, but I run with tubes. On my old rim, tape is installed. So…when I ordered the new wheels, I also ordered tape. Today, when the new wheels arrived, I noticed that both included a plastic (?) rim strip. I installed the strip on both rims, which gets me to my question…. Do I also need the rim tape? I would think not...Read more
Hey guys, First post here. I've tried searching, but I don't know what you call this. I have a vintage Schwinn Passage that I picked up a few months ago. At first it worked well, but recently it's been giving me trouble. When I shift, the chain pops into the higher (larger) gear, but then sits on top of the chain ring. What ends up happening is that the chainring will keep turning, and eve...Read more
Two weeks ago I bought a new Trek Checkpoint ALR5 bicycle. Bike rides pretty well. It has aluminium frame. I bought it primaraly for bike packing trips as it has ton of mounting points. After riding it for 2 weeks and hitting some easy gravel roads I found two relatively small dents on bicycle's frame. I don't know when I got them. Maybe they are caused by flying rocks from the wheels. Maybe this ...Read more
I am heavier than many cyclists. I ride longer distances then many cyclists. A lot of my riding is on rough tracks. While riding my 29 inch mountain bike, spokes broke in the back wheel. https://forums.bikeride.com/thread-8373.html I replaced them with 3 mm spokes. Not long after, cracks formed in the aluminum rim in two places. It became obvious, I could not go on repairing this wheel. I came...Read more
Recently, I was in one of the local bike shops. Someone had brought a bike back to have the back wheel re-trued. There were actually cracks in the rim, originating from the spoke holes. I have had the same problem with my bike. In past decades you could buy a bike, and the wheels were strong. With modern rims, the aluminum is getting thinner and thinner. Now the rims crack. With heavy riders, a...Read more
Went to fix the slow leak on my gravel bike's rear tyre. Found the culprit: a small cut near the middle of the tyre. The good news is it gave me an excuse to order a pair of Panaracer 43c semi-slick GravelKings (most of my local rides are more road-focused) to try out. Meanwhile, I was considering ye olde vulcanised patch repair to the inside of the tyre and superglue to the outside, but I'm thi...Read more
My hydraulic brake failed, and I replaced it with a cable brake. The brake is internally routed through the frame. The challenge is, how to get the new brake cable in through the frame, and out the other end. Here is what I did. 1. I pushed the internal brake cable through the hydraulic brake hose, while it was still in the frame. 2. I slid the hydraulic brake hose out, leaving the internal br...Read more
Any updates on the recall? The last I saw was this from CPSR. https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2023/Shimano-Recalls-Cranksets-for-Bicycles-Due-to-Crash-Hazard...Read more
Hi, So I bought a used Schwinn Meridian sight unseen online auction for $59 & drove 8 hours round trip to get it. It appears to be brand new actually. When I got it home, the next day I checked out my score. When I sat on it and pressed on the pedals, they moved but the bike did not. I inspected the bike and realized that whoever put this trike together, forgot to put what appears to be ...Read more
I spotted this great mod on YouTube yesterday. In nutshell: " XT cage installed on a GRX 812 11-speed derailleur lets you shift through an 11-51T cassette" I quickly priced it up in the UK. Via shrewd online shopping, you could do this with new parts for around £80. Less, obviously, if you have the 812 already on the shelf/buried in a box of crap. Seems like an excellent, easy upgrade to me. T...Read more
Hi, I search posts but no luck. I just got my wife a used LIV tempt MTB. We want to make it more of a comfort bike. Looking to Handlebar upgrade recommendations. Thanks in advance....Read more
Hi I have a trek domane 2.3, and I have changed the rear tyre to 28 (it was 25 originally) The tyre rubs with the brake arm (v brake), I fear it doesn’t seem to be compatible Is there any way to adjust the position of the brake arm? I just need it to ne around 2mm higher Thanks...Read more
good afternoon, i have spent the last week cleaning and changing parts on my old 2009 Schwinn Meridian Trike . The rear axle is in need of lubrication. Where is this done? do I just remove the axle retention nuts on each side and lube the bearings? What is a good brand of bearing grease available at Oreilleys? Thank you...Read more
What causes the brakes to lock-up i have only rear foot brake on my cruiser im sure it has to do with the hub but was wondering if its an ez fix or major overhaul?...Read more