How Long Does a Bicycle Chain Last?

Every bike has been there – you’re enjoying a nice, sunny day out taking a ride on your bike and then the chain gives and you’re basically cycling in place. It’s a huge inconvenience to every biker, especially if you are far from home and don’t have any tools on you that would help replace the broken bike chain. Although broken bicycle chains are inevitable, they don’t have to be brought on by total surprise.

In this article, we go over how long a bicycle chain lasts and the maintenance you should be giving your bike each month in order to ensure a long, happy life for your bike chain. And, in turn, a long, happier life for you and your bike during these longer bike rides! Taking care of your chain is the first step, after all.

What is a Bike Chain?

Even if you are a novice bike rider, you may not realize what a bike chain is and what it does. A bicycle chain is a roller chain that powers the pedals to the drive wheel of the actual bicycle. The power driven from the roller chain to the drive wheel actually propels the bicycle forward, creating the actual movement of the bike and allowing the wheels the hug the road.

Most bike chains are made from plain carbon or alloy steel. Fancier materials or elements can be used in order to make the bike look flashier, but the base of a chain is comprised of carbon or alloy steel.

How Long Does a Bike Chain Last?

So, typically, a bike chain can last anywhere from 500 to 5,000 miles, depending on the type of chain you buy and the number of miles you put on your bike. If you ride your bike very seldom, or only go on the occasional evening ride, your bike chain can last years with good maintenance. If you use your bike every day and own a mountain bike that is used for rugged terrain, you may need to replace your bike chain more often.

Again, maintenance is super important when it comes to increasing the longevity of your bike chain, but situations do happen where it’s unavoidable and a chain will snap. This can occur from an unusually strenuous ride, or even if a bike chain is weak and at the point of breaking anyways.

If you use your bike chain very seldom and take good care of it. Your bike chain could last for a good 5-6 years. That’s if you’re doing everything right. The more common length is about 2-3, if you aren’t taking super good care of the chain.

Bike Chain Maintenance

In order to ensure to longevity of your bike chain, it’s important to properly care for it. In order to do so, you need to make sure your chain is properly lubed up. Lubricant will help keep your bike chain running smoothly as the chain quickly propels forwards to help you go as fast as you’d like. Since the torque of the chain is essentially what keeps the bike moving forward, you need to make sure the chain is able to do so with as much lubrication as possible. A dry chain will become brittle and could bust much easier compared to a well lubricated chain.
Cleaning motorcycle chain with dedicated chain brush
Bicycle Chain Cleaning

It is also suggested that at least once a month, or twice a month if you have the time, you wipe your bike chain completely clean from the prior lubrication you used in order to add brand new lubrication that will help the chain become more slippery and enable you to ride easier. If you use new lubricant over old lubricant time and time again, the chain will muck up with old lubricant that will cake and add more girth to the chain, making for an uneven and unsteady ride. This may also make you, the rider, have to use more force just in order to propel forward. This will be harder on the bike, the chain and you, as the rider.

Types of Chains

As mentioned earlier, the standard types of chain are composed of carbon or alloy steel. These are the standard types of chain, but you can always use other elements such as titanium or chrome to add a flashier look to the bike.

Some types of chain boast to last longer than others, but this only matters if you’re willing to pay the hefty price tag for some of these more modern chains. All roller chains are different, but there is plenty of information out there to give you a rundown on which bike chain will work suitably with your bike. It may seem like a standard part of the bike, but there are all different kinds of bikes, so, naturally, there are all kinds of different chains, too. Not only different in markup, but different in length and size, too. It’s up to you to find the necessary chain that will work well with your particular bike. Any employee working in a bike store should be able to help you fit and pick out the perfect chain for our bike and meet your exact specifications.


So, as you can see, there are lots of different things to consider when it comes to, not only choosing a bike chain, but also taking care of it properly to ensure your chain lasts as long as possible. Maintenance is the key word here, as a chain will only give you what you put into it. Although it’s a bicycle that doesn’t have any mechanical or electric parts, it’s still an item that requires plenty of care and maintenance to ensure it’s giving you the best.

Hopefully this article has helped clear up any questions you may have in terms of wondering how long your bike chain will last. Again, there are so many different types and sizes of chain, you just need to find out which one will work for you and your needs.