Chain Breaker. photo-Cor Vos

That New Chain Feeling

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I replace my chain every year, more or less. It tends toward less as I don’t have a set anniversary for new chains. Usually I notice the shifting is lagging a second and it dawns on me that the chain is in need of replacement. In my youth I would keep the same chain on the bike forever. I even used to take it off, and reinstall it inside out (?!) thinking…thinking that I was a cheap idiot. The result of that was the rear cogs were always ruined too, reinforcing the cheap idiot thing. Since replacing the chain on a yearly basis I’ve never had to replace a cassette. I’ve heard that the Fabian Cancellara’s of the pro peloton get a new chain once a week. The pros are fifty-two times more mighty.

This most recent chain replacement had me using a Campagnolo Chorus chain I had attempted to install on another bike and failed. I shamefully put the chain on a shelf until I had stocked up on Campagnolo’s special bullet shaped, don’t drop this on the shop floor or you will never find it, you only get one shot at this, very special chain pin. Maybe it’s like redoing your handlebar tape or filing taxes; these jobs only done once a year never go perfectly. Installing the Campagnolo chain is like what I imagine arming a field tactical nuclear weapon is like. It is cramped. It requires small hands. It requires excellent vision. It requires mechanical skills and you only get one shot at it. Luckily, for me, the whole mess was contained with a KMC 11-speed quick link, whew, done and dusted.

My point is, when one changes just one component on one’s bike, the change is very noticeable, The first few pedal strokes out on the road with a new chain is a subtle revelation. It feels different. It feels better. Damn it feels excellent.

Or is it all in the mind. This article was linked in the Velominati posts a while back. In a world full of anecdotal evidence I do enjoy an article where our perceptions are put to the test. Maybe my new chain feeling is all in my head? Who cares, I can still enjoy it and “in my head” is where enjoyment happens anyway.

// The Bikes

  1. A new chain is indeed a wonderful thing. No matter how often you clean and lube there is something extra slick and silent about a new one. What grease do the manufacturers put on them before packaging?

    Once a year though? I couldn’t wait that long except on the fixed because it’s 1/8th. Twice a year on the #1 and hardtail, every 3 months max on the wet/ winter bike. It’s been a long while since I too purchased a new cassette and the Park CC3.2 chain checker has been worth every penny of the £6 it was when purchased back in the day.

    To me chains are a throwaway consumable, a pleasing item to change out and saving money elsewhere, Dura Ace on the #1, 105 on the others.

  2. Thanks Gianni! Rules #2 and #3 admirably fulfilled… now off to hunt down a replacement ready for some weekend fettling.

  3. What JohnB said, I’m surprised it’s only once a year. After a big two month block, I had to change an 8 week old chain (it was Rival, because I can’t afford 1090 every two months).

    You probably could change it more often ;)

  4. About 1700 miles is it for me on a Record 11 chain, and it gets tossed. I always feel a chain is it’s best between the 200 and 1500 mile point. At least for me.

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