BobBob's Basics


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Chain Chain Chain: Keep it in line.

A bike chain is meant to be straight. If it gets bent it may break. This is to be avoided since it will never happen at a convenient time and place.

How do you keep your chain straight? An example will help. On my bike I have three rings on the crank (front) and seven rings on the cassette (rear). If the chain is on the big ring in front and the small ring in the rear it will be straight. On the other hand, if the chain is on the big ring in front and the big ring in the rear it will be very bent.

Front Position Rear Position Chain
2 4 Perfectly Straight
2 2-6 Straight
3 3-7 Straight
1 1-5 Straight

The implication is clear, to me anyway. Normal, relatively flat riding should be done in front ring 2, generally in the middle rings of the cassette. If I see a hill of any duration or steepness I should go to front ring 1 before I need to. Similarly, downhill runs will see more speed if I go to ring 3 for the higher gears.

See also the page on shifting. There is an analysis of gear ratios that should be helpful.

I learned this at an REI class on Bike Maintenance. Free and very useful.

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