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Expanding a bit on the title, I ride a 27.5" KTM Peak XT with a 3x10 setup. The chain I'm currently using is of unknown provenience (it was already there when I bought the bike, and it wasn't new). It's been almost one full year with me, probably around 6-7 months with the previous owner and it was never changed.

The chain broke once, but I replaced the broken link with a quick release link and it worked well from that point on. I'm always carrying a QR link with me since that day, in case bad things happen while on track.

Having this said, I am wondering whether or not I should replace my chain ASAP or it's just a normal thing for chains to be reliable for this long.

Also, how often should this (change the chain) happen?

Thanks!

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There are two strong reasons to change your chain immediately:

Firstly, chains are supposed to be replaced regularly. Professional mechanics have a tool to measure chain wear (or can say by eye), but the rule of thumb for someone who replaces their chain on their own, is about once per year. In other words - bicycle chains are in no way recommended to be used until failure (because this wears off the much more expensive drivetrain components).

The second point (you really shouldn't be needing a second reason) is that if the chain broke, then probably the whole chain is damaged (e.g. due insufficient lubrication) and will soon break again.

  • Thanks, that's about what I was thinking, thought I'd double check my view with someone from the community. I'll accept your answer :) – Victor Nițu Dec 29 '15 at 14:53
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    @VictorNitu I disagree completely with this answer and would not recommend it as the accepted answer. If the chain has not stretched, and any damaged links have been removed/replaced using the proper technique (e.g., master link or replacement pins and correct final chain length) there is no need to replace the chain. I have correctly repaired broken chains and rode them without further problems. To be 100% safe, yes replace, but if you understand, and can work with chains, replacement is not an absolute. – Rider_X Dec 29 '15 at 20:33
  • @Rider_X while I agree with you to some extent, I think it's more thoughtful to encourage the safe side of things, therefore accept a "replace regularly" solution over a "you can live with it" one. Who knows how these things work might read between the lines and pick a more appropriate solution. It's probably worth mentioning that I'm going to buy a new one, but keep riding with the QR in my pocket until it snaps. Then change it back at home, just after the second damage. – Victor Nițu Dec 30 '15 at 3:53
  • @Rider_X, I agree that a chain, that is in tolerance, does not need to be replaced. My answer is "quick and dirty" - if you are not sure, replace the chain. Victor, chain stretch is a real problem. If you ride with a worn chain, you are shortening the life of your chainrings and cogs! Those cost about 10 times more than the chain. – Vorac Jan 2 '16 at 15:06
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The tool to check for "chain stretch" is incredibly cheap -- something every halfway-serious cyclist should have.

And chain breakage is most often caused by poorly executed shifting under load or a poorly adjusted derailer. (Though another cause is a poorly joined chain.)

(Poor lubrication is unlikely to cause the chain to break as a first indication -- excessive wear of chain and cogs is far more likely, and the chain will only break when wear has reached extreme levels.)

  • The only 2 times I had a chain brake were on a bike, which was used for 100km XC rides and I hadn't bother to oil the chain after every puddle of water and mud. The part from my answer, beginning with "secondly" is what the local mechanic explained after the incidents. – Vorac Dec 29 '15 at 14:58
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If it is still in tolerance then maybe ride it given you used a QR. But if it is over a year old the safe bet it is replace it.

If the rear cassette is near worn out is when I might ride it to get some more miles. Order a cassette and two chains mail order to save some money and you have them on hand. If you have a spare QR you are probably going to make it home.

But save it as a spare. I use them on kids bikes that are not going (well supposed) to ride far from home anyway.

  • I'll buy a new one whenever the shops will have new stocks, right now I can only find weird 2015 leftovers. Thanks. I don't have (or plan to have) kids, by the way :) On the other hand, I was smiling at the thought of a chain made entirely of QRs. Man that would make a good April Fools joke! – Victor Nițu Dec 30 '15 at 3:44
  • Don't follow leftovers. A chain of QR would expensive and not very funny. – paparazzo Dec 30 '15 at 8:05

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