After breaking a chain off and before installing a new one I will set aside time to do two tasks:

  • Inspect and perhaps overhaul the RD pulleys without wrestling with the chain.
  • Turn the crankarm and carefully listen for noise and feel for friction in the bottom bracket.

Breaking a chain must be an opportune time for a list of tasks; what are they?

  • 1
    Buying a quick link or 10. Apr 11, 2023 at 20:59

3 Answers 3


When I have the chain off, I like to take the time to double check the limit screws on the rear derailleur. I find that's the easiest time visually line up the jockey wheels with the inner- and outermost cogs.

  • That's quite a surprising answer. In retrospect it makes perfect sense, at least when we follow the visual alignment method Shimano (and perhaps others) describe in their manuals, rather than Calvin Jones's turn-a-quarter-turn-and-listen method.
    – Sam7919
    Apr 13, 2023 at 14:31

Cleaning: My BB gets reefs of dried and hardened road debris building up. Its easier to see from the left, but removing the chain lets you wash that area better. I would also drop the rear wheel and clean the cassette in with the chain below. Once the wheel is out I'll inspect the rim brake track and the brake pads for embedded metal. And the front too.
I'd also scratch any dirt off the jockey wheels and rear derailleur, but I wouldn't unmount them unless they're not spinning well.

BB/Frame inspection: The chain makes it hard to get around the bottom bracket area, and the spider/chainrings also get in your way. With the chain off you can get in a bit easier to look for issues.

Chain clean, inspection, and wax: If the chain is off I will wipe it clean, then degrease in an ultrasonic cleaner. Then dry it naturally or using hot air. Then I'll deep fry it fully submerged in molten paraffin wax for 10 minutes or until it stops streaming bubbles. Then I fish the chain out with an old spoke wire hook, and let it hang and cool down. I refit it to the bike later and then sweep up all the little chips of dropped wax.

Reassembly: confirm the shifting's good and brakes are working effectively, and that there is no frame rub. Last thing is to inflate the tyres (always some bonus speed there)

  • Install a new cassette
  • Install new chainrings

Edit: Assuming they are worn down and need replacement (or you’d like to change gear ratios), of course.

  • I think the "break" is intentional (i.e. splitting the chain at the master link for cleaning or replacement). I don't think OP is referring to uh, a rapid unscheduled disassembly of the drivetrain.
    – MaplePanda
    Apr 12, 2023 at 9:08
  • 1
    I’m of course assuming they are worn down and need replacement (i.e. after 4 chains or so). New chainrings pretty much require a new chain and for a cassette it’s also a good idea.
    – Michael
    Apr 12, 2023 at 10:33

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