How Long Does a Bike Chain Last? 3 Easy Maintenance

Bicycles are an amazing line of vehicles. They are compact and lightweight. So, you can zip through the road as fast as you’d like. But there are a lot of other things when it comes to buying and using one. Now, the most common question when it comes to maintenance is how long does a bike chain last? Well, look no further because we have prepared this article on exactly that. You’ll get a complete overview of bike chains and everything surrounding them through this writeup.

In the article, we’ve talked about bike chains in general- how to maintain them and other variables when it comes to replacing them. So, let’s jump in, shall we?

How Long Does a Bike Chain Last

How Long Does a Bicycle Chain Last?

So, let’s start off with the big question itself. But, to get the answer, you’ll need to understand the rest of the article, because the answer is never specific.

Bike Type Chain life expectancy
Road Bike 2,000 – 5,000 miles
Mountain Bike 500 – 1,500 miles
Electric Bike (E-Bike))2,000 – 3,000 miles
Chain life expectancy

A chain can last anywhere from about 500 miles to 5000, depending on the quality of the chain, the sprockets, how the bike is ridden, and the maintenance.

According to Pro cyclist Daniel R Hicks

The Lifespan of a Bicycle Chain

Now, a bike chain can last from somewhere between 500 miles to even 5000 miles. But that depends on a lot of things such as your riding style, the kind of maintenance that you’re carrying out on it, and if you’re using the bike daily or every once in a while.

If you don’t go out that much with it, it’ll last years on an end with proper maintenance. But, if you go out on a ride with it every day, you’ll need to change the chains more often.

When to Change Your Bike Chain?

Here are the 3 simple steps

  1. Place The Chain Park Tool Inside Chain
  2. Squeeze and tighten and see the first point slide in
  3. If It does not go past the second rivet then you need to change the chain

Step 1: Place The Chain Park Tool Inside Chain

Place The Chain Park Tool Inside Chain
Place The Chain Park Tool Inside Chain

Step 2: Squeeze and tighten and see the first point slide in

Squeeze and tighten and see the first point slide in
Squeeze and tighten and see the first point slide in

Step 3: If It does not go past the second rivet then you need to change the chain

If It does not go past the second rivet then you need to change the chain
If It does not go past the second rivet then you need to change the chain

What Is a Bike Chain?

What Is a Bike Chain

So, let’s see what bike chains actually are. Now, the reason we are covering this is that sometimes, even experienced riders won’t know the true purpose of this important component.

Bike chains are roller chains that power the bike wheels as you paddle through. It helps the bike move forward, overcoming the friction of the roads.

Without these chains, you’d have to peddle a lot more and that wouldn’t have been convenient, would it? So, bike chains are one of the most important parts of a bicycle.

Types of Chains

Now, the bicycle chain comes in two main kinds, namely plain carbon steel and alloy steel. You might see other materials used. But those are solely to make the bike look flashy. The base is still one of the two kinds.

These chain types matter depending on your riding style itself. So, be very careful when you choose one for your bicycle. Believe it or not, it’ll make a solid difference to your experience. Hence, tread carefully while looking for chains.

Bike chain Maintenance
Bike chain Maintenance


Now, we’re in the main part of the article: the maintenance. It is the key when it comes to increasing the longevity of your bike. So, let’s see how:

1. General Maintenance

Firstly, you need to be concerned about the general maintenance of your bike chain. You’ll need to clean it regularly, and especially after riding on dirty terrain. Make sure you clean all the components, otherwise the chain will wear faster and break too early. Then, lube it properly to keep things running.

2. Riding Style

The maintenance depends highly on the way you ride the bike. If you’re a fast paddler, you’ll need to put in a little extra lubricant to make it wear less.

And, if you ride on rough terrains a lot, the durability of the chain might be hampered if you don’t clean it regularly.

3. How to Lube a Chain and When

Lubing is super essential when it comes to increasing chain life. So, make sure that you lube the chain regularly. The ideal time to do so would be once or twice a month.

Replacing the Chain

Replacing the Chain
Replacing the Chain

The chain needs to be replaced when it’s been worn out about 50% or so. Make sure to do this if you want to keep riding consistently because the chain breaking in the middle of the ride can be a complete bummer.

When Should You Replace a Bike Chain?

In the best-case scenario, your bike chain will last 5-6 years if you play your cards right. But, the ideal time to make this change would be 4-5 years after installation.

You’ll have to do it earlier if you use the bike on a daily basis.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Chain on a Bike?

Bike chains range from $5 up to $100. So, if you’re a beginner, don’t go for the fancy chains, the standard ones should do. However, do seek professional advice when you make the purchase.

Average Bike Chain Cost$10-$50
Average Chain Tools Cost$10-$20
Average Chain lubricant Cost $5-$15
Read More: How Much Does A Bike Chain Cost?

What is the best way to extend the life of my bike chain?

 extend the life of my bike chain
extend the life of my bike chain

There are many ways to extend the life of your bike chain. However, one way is by using a lubricant that is compatible with the material of your chain. When chain lube is worn and lubricants start drying out, this will loosen the chain’s connection with the sprocket.

Lubricate your bike regularly to avoid rusting of your chain parts as well as wear parts that can break off when they are over-tightened while riding on rocky terrain, or hills. Some options for a compatible lubricant are:

  1. WD-40
  2. Boeshield T9 Chain Lube
  3. Grease
  4. Varnish

What is the best way to lubricate my bike chain?

 best way to lubricate my bike chain
best way to lubricate my bike chain

There are a number of ways to lubricate your bike chain, but some of them maybe not as effective or affordable as others.

  1. Varnish – the chain’s life can be extended by applying a coat of varnish to your bike chain.
  2. Grease- one of the methods that are more effective than lubricating with oil and sugar, it will add lubrication to the chain after cycling through greases within lube grooves along each side of every cassette cog for maximum grease retention
  3. WD-40 – Use at your own discretion as lubrication is subject to wear and tear – For chain lube use only.
  4. Boeshield T9 Chain Lube – This product will withstand heat, shock, and the elements of your bike chain 22% Enhanced with Fluoro Wax Technology for true slippery performance and longer life between lubrication, and chain lubricant compatibility.

Different Bike Chain Use Case

Different Bike Chain Use Case – Typical motorbike chain shown below is a Shimano 7-speed chain/gear combination. The top row shows front sprockets and rear cassette cogs. The bottom Row show the left side of the top link, and the middle Link head of the right side. We’ll discuss various bikes, including road and mtb, in this section.

Different Bike Chain Use Case
Different Bike Chain Use Case

Road Bikes Chain

For Road bikes, chains will last for about 50 to 300 miles. You can get away with a 3,000-mile chain but make sure that the chain is well-oiled and lubricated in between oil changes.

It’s a good idea for road riders to replace their chain once or twice a year because of the grinding that occurs when they spin out. An Optima racing gearset is designed specifically for these types of cycling events where there are tons of turns and shifting goes up at speeds up to 60 miles or hour.

Mountain bikes Chain

Mountain bikes need a tougher chain that can take more abuse. They are used on rocky terrain, so the average lifespan will be less, at around 1,000 miles. However, mountain bike chainsaws for sale are available in various lengths and types.

A single link can be made from either steel or titanium; those with diamond-plate teeth last longer than the standard ones. For optimum rider satisfaction because of reduced rolling resistance and other benefits of using a titanium chain, you should select one with one to two links for your outdoor mountain bike.

Electric Bike Chain

Bicycle chains work differently in these models and they don’t last as long relative to other types of bicycle chains. The type of riding style also affects the lifespan of this kind of chain. For example, your life span may be shorter if you ride at higher speeds, or longer if you travel on rough terrains.

The average electric bike chain can last up to 3000 miles. The lifespan of the bicycle chain depends on rider’s skill and fitness level. When adjusting the height and tension settings for an electric bike chain, always make sure that your tires aren’t compressed at all. Doing this can cause chain wear and reduce how long your bike chain will last.

Is there any harm in lubricating my bike chain?

There is no harm in lubricating your bike chain.

However, there are some things that you should keep in mind while lubricating your bike chain:

• Never use any oil or grease on the drive train of a bicycle, it will contaminate the gears and bearings with dirt and grime.

• Make sure that you do not use soap or other such substances to clean the bike chain because they will remove the protective coating.

• Wipe the chain clean with Luke warm water, but do not use soaps or detergents.

• Make sure that you lubricate your chain immediately after a ride and dry it fully before riding again because bike oil must remain in contact with the surface of your bike drivetrain for as long-a possible to work effectively


That’s all we had to answer how long does a bike chain last. We tried to give in as much information as we could in the smallest sizes so that you don’t have to go elsewhere to find it.

Moreover, we hope that we could tell you all that you wanted to know and made sure that you’ll be able to handle your bike chain on your own now. So, get out there and conquer the roads with your ride and become the one with the wind.

We would appreciate some feedback from you as well. So, if you felt like there was something that we missed, or if you have something else in mind that we can cover, please contact us.

FAQ’s on Bicycle Chain

What is chain wear?

Chain wear is when a bike chain tends to deteriorate with time. So, as you keep using the vehicle, it’ll keep getting worse in condition. Therefore, you might want to keep an eye out for it.

What causes mountain bike chain wear?

Compared to older chains, mountain bikes nowadays have more gears and thinner chains. Hence, they tend to wear faster and break more easily. So, try keeping an extra one around.

How do I extend the life of my mountain bike chain?

Proper maintenance is key when it comes to making a bike chain last longer. So, firstly, buy a good chain. It’s an investment for the long run. Along with that, use less pressure while peddling and clean the chain after every dirty ride. But don’t forget to lube the chain, which will decrease the wear.

How long does a mountain bike chain last?

mountain bike chain usually lasts for 750 miles, provided that you ride on a single track. This might differ depending on the kind of maintenance you’re doing on the chain itself.

How often should I replace my chain?

With proper maintenance, your bike chain could last 5-6 years on a stretch. But that’s the best-case scenario. So, it’s better if you just change it every 4-5 years, just to be safe.

Should I replace my cassette when I replace the chain?

The answer to this one depends on things like how often you ride your bicycle and on what kind of terrain you do so. There are also other variables like the weight of the bike and its type. But you won’t need to change the cassette as much as you change the chains. So, getting a new cassette every 2-3 chain replacements should do the trick.

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