Essential Tools: Chain Checker or Bike Chain Gauge


March 24, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Cycling News



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Tool Name & Pseudonyms: Bike Chain Gauge, Chain Checker, Chain Stretch Gauge, Chain Wear Indicator 
Price Range:   
NEW: $5-$80  USED: $2-$25
Styles: 
Combo gauges that will check KMC, SRAM and Shimano chains for all types (fixie, single speed, 6-11 speed chains)
Classification: 
Essential Tool
Minimum Functionality: Must measure your chain type for wear (based on brand and speed)

There are a lot of bike wrenches out there who would argue that a chain checker isn’t necessary.  Some would say that a ruler works well and others would say that you should replace your chain either 1) when it breaks or 2) based on the number of miles on it.  Most recommend replacing your chain every 1500-3000 miles depending on the brand – here’s what we think.

Features & Benefits

As a chain gets used it begins to stretch.  It’s made of metal so, over time it pins will get loose, the joints/links will get worn and the actual link material will stretch.  You won’t know how stretched it is unless it 1) breaks or 2) you use a chain gauge (or ruler) to check the distance between links.  If it’s outside the recommended range it’s time to replace it.

There are some chain checkers that cost more than $30 (and even one that’s almost $60!).  We don’t feel like they’re much better than the $10 Park Tool CC-3.2 Chain Wear Indicator that you can buy on Amazon. It does what it is supposed to do but some feel that it gives too many false positives since it “stretches” the chain to derive the measurement.

If you feel that’s a possibility then the Pedro’s Chain Checker Plus is also a great option – we like Pedro’s around here because they’re creative with their tools.  This one has built in hooks for holding a chain while you install master links as well as a built-in chainring bolt tool!  Now that’s creative.

Please check out our extensive section on bike chain checkers.

Who is it perfect for?

Perfect for someone who has a bike, rides their bike and that bike has a chain.

Why Buy it?

If you want a quick way to tell you if your chain is starting to reach the end of it’s life then a chain checker is for you.  Sure, you could just wait until the chain breaks, which is a sure sign that it’s worn out and needs to be replaced, but that doesn’t always happen at the most convenient times – in our experience anyway.

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS

What do you think?  To vote just click on the star ratings above or leave your rating and a comment below.

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