I am generally using SRAM chains with a powerlink. For a new chain there is no indication of a preferred pulling direction or inside/outside. If we demount a used chain that has never been taken off before at, say, about halfway life, are there obvious wear marks that show in which direction it was pulled and which side was on the outside?

Does it make sense to maintain the direction and orientation, or perhaps to reverse one or the other?

  • 2
    It doesn't really matter. It might actually be "good" to reverse directions part way through, or maybe not. But it's not going to make much difference either way. May 26, 2020 at 23:38

1 Answer 1


It makes no real difference - the rollers in a chain turn all the way around, and the wearing surface is the internal diameter of the roller, not the external diameter of the pin.

There are some fancy chains which have a marked outside and an inside, and may state a top and bottom too, but this is more about matching the shifting lands and pins and ramps on a cassette.

Some chains are asymmetric in their outer plates, which looks "wrong" if installed upside down.

Other chains, noticeably half-link or BMX chains can have plates over the top, so the two outer plates are one piece folded over. This is done for strength, and cannot be flipped either. These chains don't work with derailleurs so you're unlikely to have one.

enter image description here A chain that can be reversed but not flipped.

  • 1
    The external surface of the pins and the ID of the bushings are the wear surfaces that cause elongation. Wear to the rollers does not contribute to elongation. The rollers just get shoved around by the outside of the bushing part of the inner link, or the bushing on an old chain. Look at the pictures at sheldonbrown.com/chain-wear.html . May 27, 2020 at 1:32
  • @NathanKnutson interesting - in my experience the rollers/bushings wear down, and the pins in my chains tend to have minor scoring at worst. Then again I've been waxxing for a while so that may have a significant effect. This may need more testing. ... also I wonder if pin quality has a bearing on wear.
    – Criggie
    May 27, 2020 at 1:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.