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How Often Should you Change your Bike Chain and Cassette?
How Often Should you Change your Bike Chain and Cassette?

How Often Should you Change your Bike Chain and Cassette?

How Often Should you Change your Bike Chain and Cassette?

…Sooo I must confess, I am not great at taking care of my bike.

I love to ride it, but it doesn’t always get the maintenance that it deserves. As my 2019 bike (Des) begins to age, I am learning more about when and how often to care for it.

“Des” had taken me a lot of miles from 2019 to 2023. But at the beginning of the summer, he started throwing me off. Every time I applied torque on the chainring (usually riding uphill), the chain would pop off and I would go clattering to the ground.

These were all signs that I needed a new bike chain and cassette.

Table of Contents

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Bike Chain

The bike chain is an integral part of the drivetrain on your bike. In conjunction with the teeth on your chainring and cassette, the chain is what allows your pedals to turn your back tire. As you ride, the pull on the chain along with shifting causes the chain itself to stretch over time. As the chain stretches, it can wear down the teeth on your chainring and cassette. Shifting from gear to gear on the cassette also gets slower and more difficult.

You will definitely notice it!

Bike Chain
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Bike Cassette

The bike chain drops between each tooth of the cassette gear as it returns to the chainring. If the chain doesn’t lock in smoothly, with every rotation it wears down on the teeth. Eventually the teeth become rounded off or even shark like (imagine triangular sharp teeth). Without sturdy, square teeth the chain doesn’t like to stay on the cassette and will continue to jump off when you hit a bump or apply too much torque.

Here is what a pretty fresh cassette looks like (pictured below).

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Taking Care of your Bike

Again, I must be honest. I don’t do a great job of taking care of my own chain and cassette. If I did, my shifting would probably be a lot cleaner, faster, and smoother.

With that being said, I would like to get better at bike care and maintenance. When maintaining your bike, one of the easiest things anyone can do is to take care of your chain and cassette.

Cleaning and lubing your chain and cassette helps to prevent rust and wear. Depending on how often you ride and the conditions you ride in, the frequency of cleaning may differ from rider to rider. If you are riding in wet and dirty conditions, you will want to clean your chain every 100-150 miles. However, if you are mostly riding on clean and dry surfaces, you can probably double that distance.

I tend to clean my chain more often in the winter than the summer, even though I ride a lot less. The snow and salt are really bad for the components.

To clean the chain, I take an old, damp rag and thoroughly wipe down the chain itself. When it is visibly clear of dirt and grime, I add a thin layer of dry-lube as I pedal the chain around the chainring and my most commonly used gears on the cassette.

Note: Do not add lube to a dirty or wet chain. This just collects more dust and dirt!

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A very dirty bike!!!

When is it Time to Replace them?

When I picked up my bike from the shop this summer, I talked to the mechanic about how often the cassette and chain should be replaced in oder to avoid more falls in the future. He recommended changing out the cassette every 2,000-3,000 miles or once per year. After digging around on the internet, it looks like there is a wide range of recommended miles for changing out your chain and cassette.

I was pretty lucky to get 10,000 miles out of my original cassette, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting quite that long. The average milage of a cassette is probably somewhere in between the recommended distance and the limits I pushed my bike to (10,000 miles).

You will get more out of your cassette, if you take care of your chain and make sure it is clean and lubricated. Invest in a cheap chain measuring tool. It is a great investment and super easy to use.

When it is stretched to .75 = Get a new chain.

Chain Measurement Tool
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Check your cassette every 500-1,000 miles. If the teeth are still square, you are probably okay for another 500-1,000 miles. When the gears begin to look more like shark teeth and the chain begins slipping, it is time for a change!

Trust me. Having a good chain and cassette makes a better bike riding experience.

How often do you change your bike chain and cassette? Let me know in the comments below!

Safe riding out there and thanks for reading. ~KiteBikeVan

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