Extending the life of your bikes drive chain

Adrian Brown
September17/ 2015

I have now covered another 8000 miles on my 2nd chain and cassette and 16000 miles on the front chain set with no sign of wear yet.

How do I do this see below.

How to extend the life of your bike’s drive chain.

With the cost of a new good quality cassette and chain coming in at around £66 (Ultegra 10spd), it makes good sense to get the maximum life out of them, 7ooo+ miles is possible.

So here are a few tips which will at least double their life.

Keeping it clean.

Clean the chain.
Most wet chain lubes double as excellent degreasers. Cover the chain in the lube, grip the lower segment of the chain with a piece of old tee shirt and pedal backward. Keep scrubbing until the chain sparkles.

Clean the cassette.
Take the rear wheel off the bike and squirt lube on the cassette. Floss between the cogs with a rag to remove the tenacious black grease.

Clean the front chain rings.
While the rear wheel is out put the chain on the smallest front ring. Now clean the large chain ring by removing all the black grease from around the teeth at the front and rear of the large chain ring. Now move the chain to the clean large chain ring and repeat for the inner chain ring.

Remember oil is good, but oil and dirt is grinding paste which will wear moving parts away.


Riding to extend the life of the drive train.

Keeping it clean is the 1st step and how you ride is the 2nd step.

The correct gear

Always try to keep the chain in a straight a line as possible. This can be achieved by staying in the middle of the rear cassette, never go to extremes e.g. small chain ring smallest sprocket on the cassette, or big chain ring biggest sprocket on cassette. You only need to look down to check if you are unsure.

When changing gear ‘come off the power’ for a smoother change. Also try to pre-empt changes before a hill so that you do not have to make those gear crunching changes half way up.

It is a myth that if you have a 10 speed cassette and two front chain rings you have 20 speeds, as many of the combinations are almost the same. E.g. 53/20 = 69.7 inch and a 39/15 = 68.5inch.

Note gear size is measured as the distance the wheel travels with one pedal revolution in inches.

Peddling action.

Try to keep a light touch when peddling when possible, if you are straining you are probably in the wrong gear, unless going uphill.

Try to maintain a cadence of around 90rpm and practice going up to 100 and more.

Note this is the number of revolutions per minute of one peddle crank.

Adrian Brown
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