Replacing a worn-out bicycle chain is one of the best maintenance routines that will help prevent huge mechanical issues. You can easily know if your bike chain needs replacing by getting to the chain level and checking for any wearing signs, or you can use a ruler to measure the chain stretch and wear. This article describes how you can know that your bicycle chain needs replacement.

Getting Down the Chain Level and Check For Any Wearing Signs

The best way to tell if your bicycle chain needs replacement at a glance is by looking at the bicycle chain. You can get down to the chain level and observe for any signs of wearing your bicycle chain. Observe any signs of wear that may need replacement of your chain. It’s important to understand that some signs like rust and dirt will require proper cleaning, not a replacement.

Check for your chain’s elongation or breaking, which is the best sign to show that your chain needs replacement. If you don’t have enough money for the chain wear tool, you can choose to check for the elongation by pulling the chain to the outer chainring. After which, lift it for the chainring middle. If it goes off the chainring or more than half a link, either your chainring or chain are worn out, and you require replacement.

Using a Measuring Ruler to Check for Any Signs of Chain Stretch

When using your ruler to check if your chain has signs of wearing out, it’s essential to understand that a new chain is approximately 12 inches across all the 12 links. You may be required to replace your bicycle chain if there is more than 1 % elongation between the links. It’s good to have the measurements while the chain is still on the bike to get the proper measurements between the links.

When measuring for any chain stretch, ensure you place the zero mark of your measuring ruler directly on top of your chain pins. Then move the ruler across all the 12 links on your bicycle chain. For a proper chain, when you get to the 12 links, you need to be on the 12-inch mark because a new and appropriate chain has got a distance of 1 inch between each link.

After measuring if your pin center is 1/8’’ or 1/16’’, it’s past the 12-inch mark, it shows signs of more than 1 % elongation between the links. If you find any elongation past the 12-inch mark, you should consider replacing your chain and even cassette on your bicycle.

Additional Things That Can Cause Replacement of Your Bicycle Chain

Apart from checking for the bicycle chain stretch and elongation, some additional factors can cause the replacement of your bicycle chain. These factors may range from maintenance factors to physical or mechanical factors. They include:

1. When the chain starts slipping off

When using your bicycle chain and realize that it has started slipping off the sprockets. It indicates that you need to change your chain.

The slipping of your bicycle chain may signify a damaged chain, and failure to replace it might lead to a crash while riding because of the broken or slipping chain. Additionally, you can see some form of breakage on the chain when you closely observe them.

2. When your chain bends

A bent chain can make you feel very uncomfortable while riding and even lead to more mechanical damages. Therefore, you’ll need an immediate replacement for this chain. If you notice that you’re struggling to pedal your bicycle due to the skipping bicycle derailleur, it’s an indicator of a bent chain.

The bend may result from an object sticking in the drivetrain in the chain. Although you can also repair the bents appropriately, the best option is to completely replace the chain to have an effective riding and prevent any chance of breaking.


Having a well-maintained bicycle will ensure you get the best cycling experience and save you many resources you’d use for further mechanical repairs. The maintenance includes checking for the wearing off of the chains and replacing them immediately.

Due to their susceptibility to wearing off, there are too many ways you can use to check if you need to replace your bicycle chains. Checking for any elongations, bends and using a ruler to measure for any stretches are the best ways to check if your bicycle chain requires replacement.