Chain Stretch: The Bête Noire of Constant Riders


Chain falls off when riding, chain engages poorly. Think of the chain on your bicycle like a belt: it holds the drive-train together as it propels your bicycle, but one cannot simply tighten the chain when it stretches.


The constant pull on the chain over thousands of miles causes the links to loosen, allowing “play” into the link-assemblies and this we refer to as “stretch”.


The only fix is replacement. Worn chains not replaced can cause further damage.

Stretched chains will not fit the rear cogs of the cassette as well, but will force themselves onto the teeth of the cogs, eroding them like the weather does sandstone. The resulting damage will not take aeons to occur, but the cogset will be made to fit your stretched chain. Any new chain will not fit the worn cogset, necessitating a replacement. This expensive replacement can be prevented by the timely swap of an old chain for new. To see our selection of chains at the Bike Friday web store, click here.

When to replace a chain depends on miles ridden, component choice, riding conditions, and extent of periodic lubrication (see previous newsletter). Chain stretch can be measured with a simple tool. Your local Bike Friday Dealer or favorite independent bike shop can do this for you.

Chains, tires, rims, brake pads, bearings, cables and housing are all pieces of your bicycle that wear out with use. Keeping an eye on that wear will help your Bike Friday maintain top condition. Call our Customer Service Department with any questions. 1-800-777-0258. Visit the Bike Friday web store to check out our selection of accessories, tools, lubes and other service related parts.