When should I replace my chain?

Why should you replace your chain?

As you crush kms and race for segments you will be putting wear and tear on your drivetrain. Leaving grit and grime in its wake. You may not notice a change at first, but if left unkept, there will be a constant decline in shifting performance.

Regularly cleaning and lubing your drivetrain will keep it running smoothly and make it last longer, but chains, cassettes and chainrings all eventually wear out. The first to go is usually the chain. Using an over-stretched chain may wear out your cassette and chainrings at a faster rate, requiring a complete (and expensive) drivetrain replacement. Use a chain-checking tool to determine if the chain has worn past the recommended level, then follow the steps below.

How to Replace Your Chain

Tools for the Job


  • New cassette and chainrings

  • Rubber gloves / safety glasses

  • Bike stand 

  • Lube


  1. Removal: Remove the old chain. Locate the quick link, and using the quick-link removal pliers, squeeze together to pop the pins. If your chain doesn’t use quick-link, or you are not keeping the old chain, use a chain breaker tool to push out a pin. Please note that some chain breakers are not compatible with all chains, so ensure that the chain breaker you use is appropriate for your chain. For example, most chain breakers will work with 8/9/10 speed chains, but some 12 speed chains require a specific chain breaker.

  2. Measurement: There are 2 ways to measure a chain, either using the length of the old chain and basing the length of the new chain off that, or using the largest chainring and cassette cog.

    1. Method 1, Using your current chain: You can compare the new and old chain, removing links to match the old one. Laying out the chains to check length isn't very accurate, as the old chain will have stretched, and you'll get dirt and grease from the old chain on the new chain if you lay them out together. We recommend counting the number of outer links on the old chain and then counting out that many outer links on the new chain. Although this method is easy, it assumes that the chain that was on your bike was the correct length, which it may not have been, even if it was the stock chain from the factory. This method also won't work if you change the size of your cassette or chainrings as the required number of links will change. The next method accounts for those variables.

    2. Method 2, using the largest cog and largest chainring: To determine the correct length, wrap the chain around the largest chainring and largest cassette cog without pasing the chain through the derailleur. Pull the two ends of the chain together and count out 2 extra links if your bike uses a 2X system, or 4 extra links if your bike uses a 1X system. Make sure the break point is at an outer and inner link for non-quick-link, and inner/inner point for quick-link. Note: For full suspension bikes, measure the chain once as above, then once again with the suspension fully compressed.


  3. Cutting the chain: Now that you have measured the chain correctly, you can use your chain breaker to 'cut' the chain. If you're using a chain pin, ensure that one end of the chain is an outer link and the other is an inner link so they can be joined with the pin. If you're using quick link, make sure both ends are inner link as the quick link will act as an outer link.

  4. Rejoining the chain: For quick links, insert the side of the quicklink with the directional aero facing you so that it travels in the direction the chain moves while pedalling. Then put the other end of of the quick link on the other side and pull them together so they interlock. You may have to stomop on the pedal to fully engage the quicklink. You should hear a strong clunk when they fully lock in, and the pin should be pulled all the way to the outside of the link. For chain pins, line, the chain pin up with the hole in your chain and insert it. Tighten it until there is a small lip on the tool side that you can catch with your finger nail. Remove the tool and break off the long, pointed end of the pin.

  5. Get out and ride!


  • Instructions are for most SRAM and Shimano products

  • SRAM and Shimano 9 speed and lower are interchangeable

  • 10 speed Shimano chains are mountain and road specific

  • Some chains are directional

  • Check compatibility of tools for 12 and 13 speed chains, Campagnolo and SRAM eTap AXS Flattop chains

Our full collection of chains can be found here.