Monday, January 12, 2015

Buying Spare Parts: Chain, Chainring and Cassette

The following keywords and keyphrases will be important in this article:

How to change a chain

How to install a new chainring (crankset, chainset or crankring)

How to replace the entire cassette (or cogset)

I'll start with explaining the jargon and make it as short as possible using 3 phrases. The chain is the most obvious part, which you should know already. The chain is connected from the cassette to the crankset. On (e.g.) mountainbikes, the chain moves through the back derailleur and along the front derailer as well. That's it. Just think that the chainRING is the part at the pedals and has the form of a ring. The cogset is the part attached to the hub of the backwheel. If you know what a 'cog' really means, then you always know what the cogset is. A gear or cogwheel is a machine part that has cut teeth, or cogs, which mesh with another toothed part to transmit torque or force. In the case of a bicycle, the toothed part engages with the chain. To ensure smooth transmitting of force and to make sure that the tooth of the cassette connects to gap of the chain, the distance between tooth and gap has the be exact match. The derailers are used to push the chain on a smaller or bigger ring or cog, depending which gearshift you use (left or right of the handlebar; front or back derailleur).

Protip: if your chain is worn out, you will probably have to put your chain back on your bicycle every time you shift gears. Reason for this is that a teeth connects with the chain itself in stead of the gaps between the chain pins. It will cause the chain to be pushed off the cassette or chainring, making the chain jump a gear lower or jump of the bicycle altogether.

That is basically how it works and a quick description of what parts are important.

Spare-part list for maintaining your chain, chainring and cogset

Things that you always need to disengage the chain and it is wise to disengage the chain:

Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute Chain Tool


20 Pcs Black Bicycle Bike Chain Master Connecting Link 0.5" Pitch

Things you might need, depending on the problem you have:

KMC X8.99 Bicycle Chain (1/2 x 3/32-Inch, 116L, Silver)

SRAM PC 971 P-Link Bicycle Chain (9-Speed, Grey)

KMC Z510 1-Speed 1/8 112L Bike Chain (White/Black)

Shimano HG31 8 Speed Mountain Bike Cassette

Shimano CS-6700 Ultegra Bicycle Cassette (10-Speed)

Shimano FC-5700 105 39T 130BCD 10 Speed (Silver, 130x39T 10 Speed)

Race Face 104mm Single Chain Ring

Tri-Flow TF20006 Superior Lubricant, 12-Ounce Aerosol

How to maintain your bicycle chain and how to attach/detach a bike chain

How to Lubricate the Chain Correctly

  • Step 1: Put your bicycle on a spot where you can afford to get your surroundings a bit dirty
Put your bike in a garage or outside (if it is not raining). Preferably you'll put it on a spot where you are able to tilt your bike in case you do not have a bike stand. It might be a good idea to get your tools ready right after step 1.

Things you'll need:
  1. Degreasing detergent or any citrus detergent
  2. A lube that is suitable for a bike (not automobile oil, household oil that contains vegetable oil or WD-40 and other thin sprays)
  3. 2 rags and a bucket of water (to thin the degreasing detergent)
  4. Flathead screwdriver or some thin scraping tool
  • Step 2: Tilt your bike in a stable position and start analyzing the parts we've talked about earlier
It's not high-tech rocket science but you'd still need a bit of an oversight to make adjustments, so take your time to look at the parts. Maybe it is a good idea to make a picture of the back derailleur or backderailer, as it is probably the most complex part.
  • Step 3: Clean the derailleur and remove dirt from the cassette/chainring
Use the flat screwdriver from step 1 or anything that looks similar and start cleaning the derailleur. You have to clean it thoroughly, as dirt or mud will continuously contact the chain and damage it over time. As soon as you've cleansed the derailer, you can move on to cleaning the cogset and crankset. Do not use too much force! Too much force could damage the teeth of your chainring/cassette, which in its turn will damage the chain, rendering the maintenance not only useless but also destructive.
  • Step 4: Clean the chain itself
There are dozens of ways to clean a chain. Some argue that you'd have to remove the chain to do a thorough job; some say that the same result can be achieved without removing it. I'd say that for regular maintenance, it probably isn't a necessity.

You start by getting the remaining products ready mentioned in the first step. Take the bucket of water and add a bit of degreasing detergent. Make the a rag wet and wring it out. Go to the tilted bike, wrap the rag around the chain and start pedaling. Just make sure that it is as clean as possible.
  • Step 5: Lubricate the chain
Feel free to do it any way you like. I usually use a single drop per chainlink and move along the chain by pedaling slowly by hand. If you have moved all the way along the chain, you'd have to pedal for a minute, so that the lubricate can get settle on places it wouldn't normally reach.
  • Step 6: Clean up everything
Take the clean rag and move it along the pedal like you did on step 4 (but without detergent or water). Excess lube will be removed and you are will be able to shift gears more comfortably. Another upside is that it will decrease wear.

How to replace a bicycle chain

  • Step 1: take your chain tool and remove a chain link pin from the old
Align the chain tool pin with the pin of a chainlink and twist the handle, so that the pin gets almost all the way out. Do not remove it entirely from the chainlink, as you might have difficulty getting it back in, just in case you might need the chain in the future. Lay the chain across the table or let it hang down from a nail on the wall. You will have to use the length of the old chain to see if it has the same length as the new chain.

  • Step 2: comparing chains
Is the new chain the same length as the other one? If not, remove any amount of chainlinks necessary to get the same length. Should the old chain be just a bit longer, this might be caused by wear. It is better - especially when the chain is old - to make the chain a bit shorter. A longer chain could jump off when changing gears, so if it fits tight, everything should work as it should.

  • Step 3: put the new chain on the bike
It is best to start with the back derailleur, as this part is the most tricky. In case you have made a picture of the derailer, you can use it. Move the chain around the cassette and pull it right of the derailleur over a roller. After that, you pull it to the left over the other roller and move it back to the right so it faces towards the chain ring. Pull it over the chainring and screw in the pin. Test the chain by taking a test-ride and be sure to shift all gears to see if it shifts the way it should.

And that's how changing a chain works.

How to replace a bike chainring and a cogset

It is so easy, especially if you've read through the previous tutorials. Loosen the chain and - in some cases - remove the pedals. Unscrew the chainring or cogset and install the new chain- or cogring.