Unfortunately our beloved two wheeled friends need some occasional tender love and care. Aside from getting a tune up here and there, your bike may require some additional parts before you set out on more adventures. One of the most commonly replaced items on your bike should be your chain. However, unlike changing the oil in your car, theres no real maintenance interval for chain replacement. This is because it all depends on you, thats right you determine how often your chain gets replaced! This is because it depends how often you ride, where you ride, how you ride, and how you clean/maintain your drivetrain. The more you ride and the harder the conditions the sooner a chain needs replaced. Luckily, there's a tool that can tell us when that is. Your local bike shop will have a chain wear indicator to help determine how worn a chain has become. This is a tool you, yourself can purchase and use to help better maintain your bike as well. By staying on top of chain wear, you can avoid having to replace a more expensive cassette or freewheel.
Now that thats all out of the way, the question becomes "what chain should I buy?". This is a fairly simple question to answer. There chains for the number of gears that come on your bike. Make sure to match the number of gears to the proper chain. Some manufacturers require a specific chain for their drivetrains, this is mostly on Campagnolo, but some shimano drivetrains require a unidirectional chain as well for the most optimal shifting. If you are unsure of which chain to get, your friendly neighborhood bike mechanic can help you out! Once you've picked your chain, the installation can be tricky. As some chains are unidirectional, and require different connecting pins or quick links. (see the images below). It's good to know which kind of connecting pin or link your chain uses and carry a spare in a seat pack, or bicycle bag, as well as a chain tool of some sort. This allows you to repair that pesky broken chain on the side of the road or trail. Though if you have any questions, it's good to come see your favorite bike mechanics for some tips!