I can hear you now: “I just bought this bike! What do you mean I have to replace the chain?”
In some cases you’re right- chains should last a while. During a full season of riding and racing, I normally change my chains once or twice. Of course, since I rotate through five or six different bikes, this really adds up. For the normal cyclist who isn’t battling with a serious addiction, one or two chains a year isn’t much of an investment.
What is a serious investment is replacing cassettes and chainrings. These two components will wear with the chain. So if a chain gets stretched beyond normal wear, the chainrings and cassette teeth will also wear to accommodate the new chain length. You can see this wear on your chainrings if there is visible daylight between the chain and the chainwheel’s teeth.
Obviously, you can avoid this by replacing your chain regularly and before it starts to stretch out like this. Depending on conditions and maintenance, a chain should comfortably last 1500 miles. Off road bikes may see a shorter life and those of you on Tybee might also want to consider changing more often due to the corrosive nature of the salt water.
The key here, though, is the maintenance. A neglected chain isn’t going to make it 1500 miles and you may find yourself replacing chains way more often than you would like. Keeping your chain clean and lubed is the key to drivetrain longevity. We’re experiencing a rather wet fall/winter. Any time you find yourself caught in the rain you should make an effort to wipe down your bike and clean and lubricate the chain.
Here at the shop we rely on Dumond Tech for our lubrication. To clean the chain, put some of the Lite Chain Lube on a rag or old t-shirt and then run your chain through the rag. After this, you can apply the same lube to the chain rollers. Don’t simply pour the lubricant on the whole chain wildly spinning it in your work stand. Carefully drop the lube on each roller and then wipe of the excess. Excess chain lube can attract dirt and grime, this will only exacerbate the wear your chain experiences.