Take Care of Your Components, and They’ll Take Care of You

Tips To Preserving Your Drivetrain


When you invest in a bike, it is important to learn to use the equipment that comes with it. You will enjoy your ride more, and you will extend the life of your parts. Shifting is just as important as anything else, so here are some tips to help you improve your riding.

For starters, we recommend reducing applied pressure on the pedals during shifts. Drivetrains have been improved over the years so that they will still shift even if there is too much pressure on the pedals. But by simply easing up on the pressure a bit, the shifts will be smoother and your chain, cogs and chainrings will last longer.

Before we get into proper shifting, it is important to keep your drivetrain clean, lubed and tuned up to extend its life. We have chain cleaners for sale in the shop, such as Motorex Bike Clean, to help you get your chain clean and keep it that way.  See our recent blog post on this topic!

Every six months or so, it is a good idea to inspect your chain and measure to see if it has been stretching.


Pick a chain pin on the top side and measure to any pin 12 inches away. Links are exactly one-inch long, so you should be able to measure exactly 12 inches between two pins. Be sure to measure center-to-center on the pins.  If the measurement is 12 1/8 inch or longer, it’s time to replace the chain.

Remember: cogs wear out at about the same rate as the chain. If you put on a new chain, you will eventually run into skipping cogs – which is at best annoying and at worst dangerous!

On The Road Tips:

Shift Before Hills:

Even though the hardest place to put less pressure on your pedals is when you are struggling to get up a steep hill. Try changing gears before the steep part of the hill so you can make the shift with out stressing the chain and pedals.

Front Shifts:

Remember when you are shifting the front derailleur that the chainrings are significantly different in size! This means your derailleur has to work hard to move the chain from one to the other. If you can add some finesse to this shift, you are much more likely to get a clean, smooth shift. And, you’ll eliminate problems associated with high pressure shifts such as having the chain come off.

There are three or four set spots (shift ramps/shift gates) on the chainrings to make it shift. The chain (while moving forward) needs to contact these ramps to be pulled up onto or down over the chainring. It is very important to hold the shift until the chain comes into contact with a shift ramp. When the chain is under load (meaning there is force on the pedals) this is the only spot where the chain will shift. Ideally, shifting should be done with little load on the chain. When the chain is under load the derailleur will just flex and laugh at you instead of making the shift happen. When there is no load on the chain the derailleur will be able to move it.

Getting Your Chain BACK On:

Usually, you can shift the chain right back onto the chainring if it falls off. This is usually impossible when climbing a hill, as you will lose momentum and have to stop. However, any time you are riding and you can coast for a few seconds, you can almost always get the chain back on by gently pedaling and shifting the front derailleur to move the chain toward the ring.

(When a chain comes off repeatedly, something is wrong and you should have us take a look at the front derailleur adjustment.)

Stay tuned to RoadBikeOC for more cycling tips!

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