Okay, if you’ve found this article, my hope is that you want to maintain your bike a little more than most. 


But the odds are that you’ve had to pay a pile of money to replace a bike chain or you walk a couple miles home with a bike with a broken chain.

As a avid bike tinkerer, with a penchant for DIY, I’ve learned the ins and outs of bike maintenance through hands-on experience. Today, I’m focusing on a crucial yet often overlooked component: the bike chain. Here’s an Amazon link to the Bike Hand Chain Checker.

ith a bad chain the gage will fully insert into chain
With a bad chain the gage will fully insert into chain

Why Your Bike Chain Matters

Your bike’s chain is pivotal for a smooth ride. It’s the first part to wear out, protecting more expensive components from damage. Neglect it, and you might end up walking home.

DIY MTB Pro Tip: Ever wonder why I swear by narrow-wide chainrings? They keep my chain where it belongs, enhancing my ride. Dive into the details HERE.

Checking Chain Wear: A Simple Guide

Checking bike chain for wear with a chain checker
Checking bike chain for wear with a chain checker

Checking your chain for wear is straightforward with the right tool. Here’s how:

  1. Get a Chain Checker: This tool is a must-have for any cyclist and costs less than $10.
  2. Use the Tool: Insert the checker’s prongs into your chain’s links. If it drops in easily, it’s time for a new chain.
I've been using my Bike Hand chain checker for years
I’ve been using my Bike Hand chain checker for years Amazon link 👉 Bike Hand Chain Checker

Step-by-Step Demonstration: Using the Bike Hand Chain Checker

To give you a clear understanding of how to use the Bike Hand Chain Checker, I’ve prepared a practical demonstration. Watch as I show you the simplicity and effectiveness of this tool on both a new and a worn chain, ensuring your bike maintenance is both easy and efficient.

The Importance of Maintenance

A worn chain not only affects your ride but can also damage your bike’s cassette and chainring. Regular cleaning and lubrication can significantly reduce wear, extending your chain’s life. A quality replacement chain costs around $25, a new cassette around $75, a chainring $25.  The labor at a shop to replace all this well over $100.

DIY MTB Pro Tip: Rust can be a chain’s worst enemy. I tackle it head-on to keep my rides smooth. For my go-to rust removal strategy, READ MORE.

DIY Replacement

Replacing a chain is a straightforward task that many cyclists can do at home. Numerous YouTube tutorials provide step-by-step instructions, making it unnecessary to visit a bike shop for this service.  Below is a list of chain repair how tos, I like the one from GCN How To Replace a Bicycle Chain

DIY MTB Pro Tip: Get a chain checker, I’ve been using my BikeHand Chain Checker for years. A great tool, an affordable price, it’s like an bike insurance plan. Check the current prices with this Amazon shortcut link 👉 Bike Hand Chain Checker

What a good chain looks like using the checker
What a good chain looks like using the checker

Chain Check or Chain Wreck: The Choice is Yours

Maintaining your bike’s chain is essential for a safe and efficient ride. Regular checks and maintenance can save you money and prevent inconvenient breakdowns. Keep your chain clean, lubricated, and check it regularly to ensure your bike is always ready for your next adventure.


David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or making YouTube videos at 👉 DIY Mountain Bike Read more about David HERE.

MTB Tools I Love and Recommend

Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand Repair Stand
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Bike Hand 37 pcs Tool Box
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure
Topeak Smartgauge D2 Air Pressure

I own each of these tools and only recommend things I own and use.

  • Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand.  Nice mountain bikes don’t have a kick stand so keeping your MTB safe but conveniently stored is essential.  I keep my bike on my stand whenever I’m not riding it.  This makes it easy to lube the chain, inflate the tires and adjust the derailleur.  Highly recommended – Bike Hand Bike Repair Stand (👈 Link to Amazon to see what thousands of others have said)
  • A basic MTB toolbox for replacing a chain, adjusting brakes and dialing in the fit.  Bike Hand has a 37-piece box that has most of the specialty bike tools to keep your MTB properly maintained.  The Bike Hand brand is value packed for the avid rider.  Check out the competitive prices with this link to Amazon 👉 Bike Hand 37 pcs Bike Repair Tool Kit
  • Get a good air pressure gauge, if you get just a tiny bit serious about MTBing you’re going to start playing with tire pressure.  A couple psi can make your tires sticking or not.  Get a good gauge, I highly recommend the Topeak Smartgauge D2, it’s accurate, flexible and easy to use.  An Amazon best seller, here’s a link 👉 Topeak Smartgauge D2
  • Carry a multitool with you on every ride.  I’m serious, most of the time you can MacGyver something to get back to the trailhead if you have a multitool.  I’ve got the Crank Brothers M19, it’s worn, rubbed and abused – but it still works.   Thousands sold on Amazon – check it out with this link 👉 Crank Brothers M19