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Friday, July 7, 2023

How to Increase Chain Efficiency on a Bicycle

Increasing chain efficiency on a bicycle can significantly improve your overall cycling experience and performance. Here are some tips to help you increase chain efficiency:

  1. Keep the chain clean: Regularly clean and lubricate your chain to remove dirt, grime, and old lubricant. A clean chain reduces friction and allows for smoother pedaling. Use a degreaser and a brush to clean the chain thoroughly, and then apply a quality bicycle chain lubricant.

  2. Lubricate the chain properly: Applying lubricant to the chain is essential to reduce friction and prevent premature wear. Apply a small amount of lubricant to each individual link, and wipe off any excess to prevent attracting dirt and debris. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific lubricant you are using.

  3. Ensure proper chain tension: Check your chain tension regularly. A loose chain can cause skipping or slipping, while an overly tight chain can increase resistance and strain on the drivetrain. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the appropriate tension for your specific bicycle and drivetrain.

  4. Replace worn-out components: As your chain ages, it stretches and wears out. It is essential to replace the chain before it becomes too worn, as a stretched chain can cause poor shifting and increased wear on other drivetrain components like the cassette and chainrings. A chain checker tool can help you determine when it's time for a replacement.

  5. Maintain proper shifting technique: Smooth and precise shifting can reduce unnecessary strain on the chain. Anticipate gear changes, ease off the pedal pressure slightly, and shift gears smoothly to avoid putting excessive stress on the chain.

  6. Optimize gear selection: Choosing the right gear ratio for the terrain and your riding style can improve chain efficiency. Use a lower gear when climbing or starting from a stop, and shift to higher gears for flats or descents. Avoid "cross-chaining" by using extreme gear combinations, such as the big chainring with the largest cassette cog or the small chainring with the smallest cassette cog. Cross-chaining can increase chain wear and reduce efficiency.

  7. Maintain other drivetrain components: Check the condition of your cassette, chainrings, and jockey wheels regularly. Worn-out or damaged components can lead to poor chain performance. If you notice any signs of wear, consider replacing the affected parts.

  8. Pedal technique: Developing a smooth and efficient pedaling technique can reduce stress on the chain. Aim for a circular motion with consistent force throughout the pedal stroke rather than relying heavily on downstrokes. Practice pedaling drills and focus on maintaining a smooth rhythm.

Remember that chain efficiency is just one aspect of overall cycling performance. It is essential to consider other factors like bike fit, aerodynamics, and overall fitness level to maximize your riding experience.

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Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



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