There is nothing like riding with a smooth, quiet drivetrain. Over time, it is easy to take the health of your drivetrain for granted and overlook the noises that you start to hear when riding. Here are the top three chain issues we see at the shop:
Problem One - Not Cleaning Your Chain
Maintaining your chain is one of the easiest things you can do yourself and is the best way to avoid future repair bills. All you need to clean your chain is a rag and a spray bottle with water and a little bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Just spray the lightly soapy water on the chain and wipe it off. Even if you just wipe your chain once a week with a dry rag you will be way ahead of most people.
Dirty chains pick up dirt and sand that wear on your components with every pedal stroke. Left unchecked, this means that both your chain and cassette will wear out faster than they should.
Problem Two - Ignoring Chain Wear
Speaking of wear, your chain should be replaced every 2,000 - 2,500 miles depending on how well you maintain your chain. As the miles add up, the links in the chain deteriorate increasing the distance between links causing poor shifting and noise.
I know what you are thinking, “sure checking that would be easy if I had a fancy chain-checking tool like you have at the shop”. The fact is, you can do a pretty good check with a ruler. Just line up the end of the ruler on a chain pin and count 23 more pins. The 12” line should line up with a pin. If it doesn’t you probably need a chain.
Problem Three - Not Drying Off After a Wet Ride
We have all been there, you cut your ride short because a sudden storm has left you drenched and miserable. You race inside to take a shower and get some dry clothes leaving your bike wet in the garage or worse, out in the elements to fend for itself. Water is the enemy of your drivetrain. Water causes the lube to come out of the links leaving corrosion in its wake.
A quick wipe down with a rag does wonders for keeping your chain healthy and it only takes a few seconds.
Bonus - Don’t Kill Your Chain With Kindness!
As bad as the three main problems are, Over lubricating can be just as bad. Too much lube picks up dirt and grit and immediately goes to work destroying your cassette. I have seen chains with so much lube they look like they were pulled from the La Brea Tar Pits! More lube is not the answer. If you need to know how to clean your chain the right way, stop by the shop for a free lesson! I am happy to show you where and how to lube your chain.