December 6, 2009/ Jim Parker
As the weather turns colder, it may be time for some maintenance work in the garage.
A healthy drive chain is important on any bike. Chains can wear out after less than 700 miles… or last a few thousand miles if they are kept clean and lubricated. A key factor in wearing out a chain is dirt and grit penetrating into the links. When it comes to the life of your chain, mechanical load is not nearly as important a factor as whether or not the chain is kept clean.
On rear wheel drive (RWD) bicycles, the front wheel can sling dirt and grit back onto the chain. This is because most of the chain is positioned behind the front wheel. Front wheel drive (FWD) bikes are subject to less road grit on the chain because the chain is in front of the trailing edge of the front wheel. This is just one of the many advantages of FWD.
Other useful facts about chains…
When chains wear out, they get longer. A worn out chain will not smoothly mate with the teeth on the chain rings and cassette. This may not only cause rough shifting and chain skipping, but will cause extra wear on the teeth of the rings.
One link (two half-links) is exactly one inch long. Therefore 12 links of a healthy chain should measure exactly 12 inches. When 12 links measure 12 1/16 inch, its time to change your chain.
A typical road bike, or a FWD Cruzbike, has a chain with 56 or 58 links and is about 4.7 feet long.
RWD recumbents have a much longer chain. A chain with 126 links measuring 10.5 feet in length would not be unusual.
Use a “dry” lubricant on your chain. Oil will attract dirt like a magnet. Never use gasoline to clean your chain, the vapor is explosive and gasoline absorbs easily through your skin and is toxic to your body.
Take care of your chain and it should give you many happy miles of Cruzbiking!