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Drivetrains, and when to replace them

 

This setup was a functioning piece of rolling art we spotted at a race we sponsored in Sydney before the last Ice Age. It had two chainrings and two sprockets, all different sizes, but calculated to produce the same gear ratio, allowing both to run at once but still be a single speed. The floating chainring used a tensioner was a stroke of mechanical genius. This setup was a functioning piece of rolling art we spotted at a race we sponsored in Sydney before the last Ice Age. It had two chainrings and two sprockets, all different sizes, but calculated to produce the same gear ratio, allowing both to run at once but still be a single speed. The floating chainring used a tensioner was a stroke of mechanical genius.

In a lot of categories, people can be divided into two camps.

Gender for a start. Pepsi vs Coke. Red vs White. Red hot chillies or not.

Dealing with drivetrains is like that. By drivetrains I mean the greasy bits between your pedals and the back wheel. There are people who think that a chain should be replaced after 1000kms, even though it still measures up ok, because that way more life can possibly be extracted from the cogs.

Other people like to flog their entire drivetrain until something fails, then replace the lot. Having been witness to long arguments between adherents to both approaches, we are aware of the many pros and cons to be considered. We like the wear-it-completely-out method. Clean new lube before every second ride, every time if there is rain about, wipe chain clean after lubricating.

Ride until something breaks or ceases to function, then replace everything without further discussion.

Don’t know which camp one of our mates belongs to, but her drivetrain was either ready to die or had some sort of indignity performed on it that made the chain snap.

To her credit, she had a tool along for the ride, so she could set about a trail side fix.

As a sidenote, I always carry a chain tool. Walking 12 kilometres in bike shoes cured me of going far afield without one, ever again. And then there was that one time I found a young woman crouching beside her machine, touching the two ends of her separated chain together as if they might magically rejoin. I could have explained to her that the carpark was only about a three minute walk, but she was as lost as she was stalled, so I whipped out my trusty chain tool and fixed her bike. Knight on white horse moment, even if a sweaty and dirty knight, on a bicycle. But definitely worth having a chain tool for.

But I digress.

Our mate effected a repair. The ride could continue, and while further details are available it sounds like a good enough time was had.

The bike was not running sweetly, so she took it to the bike shop, where much hilarity and more repairs took place. Apparently there were quite a few missing links, the one she joined was frozen, and the chain was threaded around the derailleur incorrectly. That it ran at all is a testament to the resilience of modern equipment. The bike shop judged her repair to be a fail.

But on the day, our friend was able to ride an extra 25kms on the repair she performed with her own tools carted along for that purpose, and we reckon that is a win.