How much does a Bike Chain Cost?

If you are an avid cyclist, you already know bike chains don’t last forever. 

The average life of a bicycle chain ranges between 3000 to 8000 kilometers.

After that, you’ll need to replace the bike chain, ensuring flawless performance. Keep reading as we share information about bike chain costs, replacement tips, and everything you need to know about bike chains. 

How Much Does a New Bike Chain Cost?

There isn’t a specific answer as many factors influence the chain cost. These factors include the chain type, quality, bike size, and where you purchase the chain.

On average, bike chain costs range from $10 to over $50. 

The price also changes according to the type of bicycle you own. Road bikes use thinner chains, whereas mountain bike chains are thick and less likely to break. 

The quality of a bike chain is a major cost-driving factor. If you go for a cheap quality chain, they are most likely to break and wear out within no time. There’s an evident performance difference between cheap and expensive chains. 

Therefore, picking a quality chain over cheap ones is always worth it. Cycling enthusiasts and pros recommend investing in a stainless-steel chain as it prevents corrosion and rust buildup and has impressive durability. 

close up of a bicycle sprocket

Still, it is best to research your bike type, the suitable chains, and its cost from different retailers before making a purchase. If you have an older bike model, newer chains might not be compatible. Make sure you choose a chain according to the bicycle model and type. 

Some chains are also built for specific terrains, so ask the retailer if you have particular terrain requirements. 

Evaluating the above factors can precisely answer how much a new bike chain costs. When choosing a vendor, ensure they offer quality products and compare your options before making a purchase. 

You can find most bike chain manufacturers selling their products online at affordable rates. Visiting a bike repair shop is another option if you want a quick replacement, but the cost would be slightly higher than an online vendor. 

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How Long Do Bike Chains Last?

As mentioned earlier, bike chains last for 3000 to 8000 kilometers. 

Over time, the bike chain will wear off, affecting the sprockets and even breaking it. Inspecting the bike chain can reveal whether it needs replacement or is repairable. 

Several factors are listed below that influence how long your bike chain lasts.

  • Different weather conditions affect the chain life differently. Cold temperatures make chains work efficiently and last longer.
  • The weight of the rider also influences the overall lifespan. An overweight individual riding the bike will put more pressure on the chain, increasing wear than an average-weight person. 
  • Choosing a bike chain made of quality materials will undoubtedly last longer than a cheap chain. 
  • Riding the bike regularly at fast speeds also increases wear and tear. 

Related post: How to remove rust from bike chain

When To Replace Your Bike Chain

No matter how well you maintain your bicycle, its chain will eventually wear out. Here are a few ways to test whether the bike chain needs a replacement. 

Manual Measuring Test

Although inaccurate, the manual measuring can determine the level of wear the chain has endured. To test the chain, lift it away from the front chain ring. 

If the chain lifts quickly and creates a space that can potentially fit more than half the size of a chain link, replacing your bike chain becomes necessary. 

Note: If you have a mountain bike, shift the chain to the smallest clog on the rear wheel and the largest on the front chain ring before lifting chain

The Ruler Test

Two metal rulers and a tape measure

This simple method uses a ruler to evaluate the extent of wear and tear. Chain links get elongated over time, indicating that the chain needs to be replaced. 

  • Take a small 12-inch ruler and place it on the chain rivets. 
  • Now mark both ends of the ruler. 
  • Ideally, the zero and the 12-inch marks should be at the center of the rivets. 
  • If the 12-inch mark doesn’t fall on the center of the chain rivet, it means your bike chain has elongated and should be replaced. 
  • When the chain elongates, the rivet center that should ideally fall at the 12-inch mark deviates more than 1/16 of an inch to the right.
  • Your chain is good to go if the mark falls under 1/16 inch. 
  • Unfortunately, if the rivet exceeds 1/8 inch from the 12-inch mark, the damage has gone beyond the chain. A worn-out chain left for long damages the sprockets, which might also need replacement. 
  • Not replacing the elongated chain damages cassette sprockets, further increasing the expenses on repairs. 
How to measure chain wear with a rules

The Mileage Rule

Most bike riders and industry experts suggest replacing bicycle chains when you’ve covered 8,000 kilometers. It’s a general rule and can vary depending on the chain usage, wear, and quality of the chain you purchase. 

Using a Chain Tool

It’s a metal rod with pointed ends below each side. The chain tool provides precise measurements and is relatively easy to use. 

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  • Insert one pointy end of the chain tool into the chain link.
  • The other sharp end will not fit into the chain link if your chain is good to go. 
  • Unfortunately, if the other end fits in as well, consider making a purchase. 

Ever wondered what happens if you don’t replace the chain? Well, repairs and replacements will cost you a lot of money. The more you delay replacing the worn-out chain, the more it will cause damage to other components of the bike. 

Related post: How to tighten a bike chain

Problems Caused by a Worn-Out Bike Chain

bike mechanic working on bike chain

Here’s what a worn-out chain can do to your ride. 

The Efficiency of The Drivetrain

The drivetrain in a bicycle is an integral component. A long chain severely affects the chaining teeth and cassette cogs of the bike. A worn-out chain subsequently wears off the drivetrain system.

Chances of Breaking

a broken chain link

An old chain is more likely to break than a new one. If you avoid replacing the chain, it can break at any instance. 

Imagine your bike chain snapping in two while riding in the countryside. The ride can quickly turn into a disaster. 

Replacing the bike chain on time is always the right strategy. 

Riding Experience

Worn-out chains drastically decrease the riding experience. You will put in more effort than usual, and the bike ride will not be smooth. 

Opting to replace your bike chain when necessary will help you maintain your ride and save you money in the long run. 

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bike Chain in The Shop?

Besides paying for the new chain cost, the bike repair shop charges from $20 to $50 for a chain replacement.

A professional mechanic takes around 10-15 minutes to replace one. 

bike-mechanic-testing-bike-pedals

Still, check what type of bike chain they are replacing. You can also purchase the bike chain on your own and request the mechanic to install the new chain for a fee. 

When finding a bike repair shop, choose a reliable and trustworthy service to ensure the best results.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bike Chain Yourself?

It’s possible to replace the bike chain yourself. If you are a DIY enthusiast, changing the chain won’t be an issue and can help you save money. Look for a chain according to the bike type and quality. 

Always consider buying from a quality manufacturer. Quality chains might be expensive, but investing like this reduces expenses as you are less likely to replace the bike chain often. 

Replacing a bike chain is not a complicated process. You’ll have no problem replacing the chain if you know how your bike drivetrain works. 

Tools You’ll Need

bike wheel and sprocket on bike mechanic workspace

The tools used to replace the chain can vary with different chain models, but in general, here are the tools you’ll need.

  • Pliers
  • Chain splitting tool
  • A Sharpie to mark the chain.
  • Replacement chain.
  • Chain lubricant.

How To Replace a Bike Chain Yourself

How to replace your bike chain yourself

Replacing the chain will be easy if you’ve already replaced them before. If not, here are detailed instructions to follow for the best results. 

Removing The Old Chain

Most chains require a chain splitting tool to split the chain for easy removal. Specific chain models may also have a quick (master) link that can be squeezed together to detach the chain.  

  • Use the chain splitting tool and push the pin on any chain link to come out. Twist until the rivet or pin holding the chain together comes out. The tool has slots where chain links can fit in.

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Checking The Cassette

  • After you have removed the chain, thoroughly clean the cassette and chainrings. Look for any signs of damage on the chainring teeth. If you find damage, changing the chain would not do much. 
  • If your chainrings and cassette are in good shape, proceed with cleaning the cogs, as it will improve the bike riding experience.

Treading The Chain

  • If you have a gear-shifting bike, use the smallest sprocket and chainring to wind the new chain.
  • Insert one end of the chain through the front derailleur, pull it, and make a loop through the rear cassette. 
  • Now, place it around the upper jockey wheel and the derailleur cage. 
  • Go all the way to the lower wheel to complete the threading process. 

Adjust The Length

man's hands working on bike chain with tool

Chains come in different sizes and must be adjusted to the desired length before joining the links.

Once you have threaded the chain, pull both ends together to see how many links you need to remove for a perfect fit. 

The goal is to adjust the length so it won’t drag and provide enough tension for a good riding experience. 

Attaching The Chain

You need to attach the external chain link with the internal link of the other end. Remember, open ends will always face backward. 

  • Take your chain splitting tool and put the link in. Twist the device until the pin pops out.
  • Look for the joining pin included in the chain packaging.
  • Take both ends of the chain and insert them into each other.
  • Now, insert the joining pin into the joined chain links to hold them together.

Pushing The Pin in Place

bike chain
  • Place the chain link with the joining pin on your chain tool.
  • Now slowly work your way to insert the pin so it flushes outside. 
  • Once the joining pin is flushed, remove the tool.
  • If you have done the process correctly, you’ll see the joining pin protruding from the chain link. 
  • Inspect the link you have joined and ensure it can move without issues. 
  • Once everything is in place, use pliers to cut off protruding end of the joining pin and make it even. 

 How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Bike Chain? 

The cost of fixing your bike chain depends on several factors like the extent of wear and tear, the type of damage, and the area causing the issue. 

rusted bicycle and chain
This type of rust can’t be saved

Most of the time, if a chain begins to falter, it is best to replace the chain instead of fixing it. 

Still, there are a few ways to fix the chain. Broken links, snapped chains, and bends in the chain are common issues that can be improved. You can either fix them on your own or visit your local bike repair shop for the solution. 

If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need a plier, a chain tool, and new links (if you are fixing broken or bent links). Fixing the chain DIY will cost less if you already have the required tools. 

Repair vs. Replace Bike Chain

Replacing a bike chain becomes crucial when the chain is completely worn out. Not changing the chain further damages other components on your bike. Replacing the chain will be the best approach in a situation like this. 

Chain replacement is much easier than fixing it. Whether replacing the chain or repairing it, both things can be done but require a bit of practice and tools to work with. 

The tools you need can cost between $30 to $100 and save you money for repair or replacement. If you opt for a mechanic, you will pay the service charges according to their work. 

Typically, a bike repair shop will charge you up to $50 for chain replacement and $20 for minor repairs. 

Tips To Make Your Bike Chain Last Longer 

female cyclist on road bike

Maintaining your bike chain results in better performance and a smooth cycling experience. Let’s explore some tips you can follow to increase the lifespan of your bike chain.

Cleaning The Drivetrain

bicycle cogs on wall

Over time, muck piles up on your bike chain, making it hard to peddle. You can clean the bike chain and the drivetrain using a simple cleaning cloth. 

Simply hold the lint-free cloth in your hand over the bike chain and slowly backpedal to clean the dirt off the chain. Repeat the process several times until it is spotless. 

Don’t forget to wear a safety glove when holding the cloth on the chain. 

Now lubricate the chain if required. Avid cyclists clean their chains after every ride, eliminating the need for extensive cleaning. 

Thorough Cleaning

Over time, you’ll notice the front drivetrain and rear cogs accumulate dirt and debris. Cleaning these areas is necessary to make the chain last longer and perform better. You will need a degreaser and a scrubber to clean these areas. 

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Simply apply the degreaser and scrub the areas to remove the muck. 

Once the scrubbing is complete, rinse the drivetrain, rear cogs, and the chain with water and let it dry. Lastly, apply lubricant to keep the ride smooth. 

If you live in humid and rainy weather conditions, the lube can wash off, resulting in the development of rust. Make sure you keep the chain lubricated, as this will increase the lifespan and performance of the chain. 

Following an adequate cleaning and maintenance routine is the way to increase the bike chain’s lifespan. 

Final Thoughts

The bicycle chain affects how your bike performs. A worn-out chain slows down the speed and makes the ride an unpleasant experience. 

Regular maintenance and on-time chain replacement will not only save you money but save you from the hassle of paying an unexpected visit to the mechanic.