Living by the three to one ratio

Most cassettes will last about as long as three chains.


A new chain will last a couple thousand miles or about a season for most people. Obviously, this can vary widely depending on conditions, rider weight and about a million other variables you could encounter on the trail. New drivetrain components always work better than old ones, and if you’re fastidious about caring for them, they will always last longer. A new drivetrain may take a few rides to settle in, but once the cables have stretched out, your shifting should be relatively trouble-free for the first several hundred miles. Small noises and mis-shifts when components are relatively new are almost always adjustment-related rather than wear-related. If you’re having trouble getting new parts to work, be sure to go back and check less obvious adjustments like the B-tension screw, cable-housing length or even chain length if it was installed outside the factory.

Hooked chainring teeth are a sign that your drivetrain needs to be replaced.

As a drivetrain begins to wear, it will slowly become noisier. This will come on so slowly, you may hardly notice it. If chains rea replaced before they are significantly worn, most chainrings and cassettes will work smoothly for about the lifespan of three chains. Using a worn chainring or cassette beyond that will likely cause noise and shifting issues.

Chain checkers like this Park Tool CC-3.2 make checking for chain wear so easy it should be part of your regular maintenance routine.

If you’re battling bent parts rather than worn ones here, we’ll go ahead and save you some time. Derailleur hangers can be bent back reliably once. Beyond that, they’re too brittle and will break and fail. Derailleurs and pulley cages can be bent back to improve really bad shifting, but they will never be perfect again. If you can live with fewer gear choices and a few gears that” click” through the pedal strokes, you can keep riding them while you save up the money to replace them.

Although it’s a rare occurence, like anything, derailleurs can break out on the trail.
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