Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When and how to maintain your chain

Maintenance depends very much on the conditions you ride in, obviously wet and muddy conditions prompt a more intensive schedule than dry and asphalt conditions.

Indicators to watch out for:

- reduction of shifting function;
- chain-Suck (chain sticking to your front chain wheel);
- squeaking noises from the drive-train;
- in a tunnel or passing an object reflecting sound, you can hear your chain rattle (it's too dry).

At all events, for road use: inspect your chain at least once every month or every 250 kilometres (150 miles) for off road use: at least once every 100 kilometres (60 miles).

- Clean your chain after each trip, especially after riding in the wet.
- Always use a piece of dry cloth to clean the chain and it's component parts.
- If neccesary, use an old toothbrush to clean between the plates.
- Do not forget the sprockets, front changer and derailleur pulleys.
- To remove mud or sand, use a bristle brush, if necessary with light soapy warm water.
- Never use acidic or alkali based detergents (such as rust cleaners), these agents can damage the
chain and may cause breakage.
- NEVER EVER use a so-called'chain washing machine' in combination with solvent. This is the one
and only sure way to instantly ruin your chain.
- Avoid the use of solvents, not only are these bad for the environment, they remove lubricant from the
chain's bearing.


- lubricate the chain every time you clean it, scrub it, or wash it with any solvent (the usage of solvent is
not recommended!);
- before lubricating, make sure the chain is dry;
- use a lubricant which initially penetrates the chain's bearing, and then turns'sticky' or'dry'. In this way
you can reach the chain parts which are most sensitive to wear;
- make sure you are using the appropriate lubricant - you can test it by spraying some on your hand-first
it feels like water (penetration), after some time it should become sticky or This'simple' chain is
probably the dry (durable lubrication);
- in order to avoid a build-up of excess grease, try to apply it on the critical places only, like the rollers.
Applying grease there helps to reduce chain wear and noise;
- apply just a little grease on the rest of the chain to prevent rust;
- remove excess grease from the outside of the chain;
- in the case of derailleur bikes: do not forget to pay some attention to the derailleur pulleys, chainrings
and cassette sprockets. Use the same principle as above for maintaining and lubricating them
- after lubricating, use a dry cloth to remove excess grease from the chain's outside, this prevents
attracting excessive amounts of dirt and dust.

Before re-connecting your chain, do not forget to clean the chain's ends inner bearings of chain ends, to make sure no dirt remains there. After cleaning, and before applying the connecting link, apply some grease inside and on the connector's pins.

"A chain is a chain, they're not so different"

We hope, after reading this brochure, you have become aware of many different applications, treatments and qualities in a seemingly simple product called chain.

This'simple' chain is probably the most important part of your drive train, when it functions well, you are not aware of it's existence, but when there is something wrong, you will either be annoyed with it's noise, or even worse: standing next to your bike with a broken chain.

On these pages we would like to give you some tips for maintenance and usage, most of which we follow ourselves. We hope that by using this information you will be able to prolong the chain's life and improve it's performance.

Liberty mechanic Faustino: "Good maintenance provides the conditions to win."

How to minimize chain wear
There are different treatments, which affect the chain's life in different ways. In general you may expect a much better performance if you use one of our Long Life or Hi-performance (X and X-SL) products.
Frequently people ask us: "how many kilometres can I expect out of a chain?"? Well, our road test results (over 350 different riders) produced a wide range of chain life which varied from 1000 km (heavy duty MTB) to 17.000 km (Road Racing). This certainly does not mean that the MTB rider was not satisfied with this result, in fact his com-ment was: "compared to my previous chain it lasted 200 km longer"
That is why it is very difficult to answer this question, because chain wear depends on the:
- usage (performance, shifting frequency, chain line);
- circumstances (terrain, wet, dry, mud, water, salt);
- rider's condition;
- degree of maintenance.

Prevent unnecessary chain wear

We can give you the following tips, in order to obtain the maximum mileage from your drive-train, irrespective of the type of chain:
- follow our maintenance tips;

- when shifting, try to keep the chain in as straight a line as possible between chain wheel and cassette
(e.g. do not use the extreme positions like the smallest chainring and the smallest sprocket, or the
largest chainring and the largest sprocket);
- when shifting, try to anticipate a situation (e.g. when going uphill, up shift early in order to prevent
excess force on the chain when having to change gear);
- before stopping, shift to smaller chainring, this avoids having to shift from stand-still.

Some people use 2 or 3 chains and change them every week (or every 500-700 km). According to them this reduces wear, particularly of more expensive cassette and chainrings. It makes sense.

To check the chain's elongation

The easiest way to check if your chain has worn down is when you feel the chain has lost its smooth running and agile shifting function.
A rough way of checking:
- put the chain on the outer chainring, and lift up the chain from the middle of the ring;
- if you can lift it more than half a link, the chain or chainring are probably worn.
If this is the case, chainrings and cassette sprockets may well also be affected!
KMC has developed a special digital chain wear indicator, the'Digital Chain Checker'. This tool allows you to exactly measure the chain's elongation, changing the chain on time (not too early and not too late) prevents excess wear on other drive-train parts, so you can prevent unnecessary high repair costs.
There are also other effective mechanical tools on the market which can help you determine whether your chain needs to be changed or not.
In general KMC recommends checks at the following intervals:
- road use and riding in the dry: every 500 kilometres?(300 miles);
- off road use or more demanding environments: every 150 kilometres (100 miles).

Note: The chain life varies; it depends on the product you use, the circumstances you ride under and the maintenance you adopt.

    • The easiest way to check
    • The digital way to check
    • Avoid extreme shifting positions!
    • Correct chain length
      Mount on smallest sprocket and smallest ring: the chain should to run as close as possible to-. But just free of the derailleur pulley

Connecting Link Instructions


  1. Fit chain with the correct length, clean bearing and lubricate
  2. Do not forget to lubricate the pin
  3. Insert both halves of the MissingLink into the chain ends
  4. Press both halves of the MissingLink connector together
  5. Lock in place by pulling the chain apart
  6. Opening: press both plates together while sliding the chain ends towards each other


  1. Fit chain with the correct length, clean and lubricate bearing and pin
  2. Insert pin plates into both chain ends
  3. Fit other plate over right pin
  4. Bend both ends of the chain slightly towards you and click in the other end
  5. Check connectors for correct assembly. Opening: bend chain slightly and pull off the plate


  1. Fit chain with the correct length, clean and lubricate bearing and pin
  2. Insert pin plate into both chain ends, then fit other plate over both pins
  3. Place spring over both pins (note: the closed side of the spring must be in the forward pedaling direction of the chain!)
  4. Use pliers to assemble spring

The material is from KMC web site. Thanks for that.


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