Assuming my chain is showing that it's worn and getting close to needing replacement due to chain 'stretch'. I know you can flip single speed chainrings to extend their life when they become worn. Can I flip the chain around to extend it's useful life? I doubt it would double it due to some overlap in wear on rollers, but possibly extend it a bit by putting load on the opposite side of the pins.

  • I guess the big test would be to take my chain wear indicator and see if the measurement differs directionally.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 14:45
  • 1
    Chain wear indicator measures distance between 2 points. And distance is simetrical function: dist(A,B) == dist(B,A) Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 14:53
  • I would be measuring different sides of the pins/rollers to see if the wear varied by side. It would not be measuring the same 2 points.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 15:04
  • 4
    No. As others have said, the main "wear" that a chain experiences is in the plate joints, resulting in "chain stretch" that will be identical either direction. And when you use, eg, a chain stretch gauge you're inherently measuring both sides. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 16:02
  • 6
    (Keep in mind that when the chain is in use the front sprocket is bearing on the opposite side of the pins than the rear sprocket. The wear is about as symmetrical as can possibly be imagined.) Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


I would say that this won't have any effect.

Flipping the chainring on a single speed makes sense as you use the other side of the teeth on the chainring which have not been used before. But with the chain it's a different story: The stretch is independent of directions so reversing its direction won't change anything. Also on the small "rolls" in the chain links on which the chain lies on the chainring I wouldn't expect any effect as they aren't fixed in the links but can rotate and therefore should wear out equally all around their circumference.

  • The rollers would likely wear relatively evenly, but I wonder about the pins and plates that the rollers rub against under load.
    – Benzo
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 15:07
  • @Benzo: A majority of the load (therefore wear) is on the first couple of links going onto the cog - when the chain is virtually straight. Therefore flipping it would not make any difference.
    – mattnz
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 21:27

buy a new chain if the gauge indicates excessive stretch- just as you should. if you are a fanatic about extending your drivetrain's longevity- keep everything clean and lubed to the highest degree you find practical. and if you flip it over (there are FOUR different ways to fit a symmetrical chain)- remember- edges on the links will have to go thru the break-in process (link edges rounding off) regarding the left side of the larger chain ring (or chain rings if a triple) all over again- more so in a conventional crankset, as opposed to one featuring ramps and pins. i don't want to install my chain differently in any case- i mark it with a bread-bag tie before removal to assure proper orientation upon re-install. i ride my roadie only on the paved roads within my ranch- when i see dark sludge on my cog/chain ring teeth- its time for a cleaning/lube. after 4 years (>2K) of riding i have yet to detect any measurable stretch (love shimano chains). think about it- if you flip the chain over on the gauge- do you think it would measure differently?.....happy pedaling!

  • when i switched to a super-narrow, hyperglide chain i experienced slippery upshifting on my triple crankset. all the techs i talked to (except one) said i used the wrong chain and to 'live with it or get a wider chain'. the one exception (tony at alpine rides) said to stick with it and re-install it the same way each time. he was right- now my chain climbs right up my 32-42-52 chain rings. all it took was the breaking-in (rounding) of the link edges. he told me this and i was ultimately rewarded for believing him- can't believe he's a substitute bike tech!
    – tom murphy
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 16:03
  • 1
    But that doesn't make sense. The part of the bike chain that engages with the teeth of the cog - the rollers - well, they roll. So there is no "edges" or "side" to them. You could perhaps flip the chain rings around, but then the ramps won't be facing the right way and that doesn't extend the life of the chain. Could you maybe include some pictures to show what you're describing?
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 19, 2022 at 16:26

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