5 Bike Parts You Might Need To Replace

Have you noticed your bike starting to make some odd noises, taking a little longer to stop, or the shifting isn’t quite as crisp as you remember it being? Maybe you’ve tried adjusting the derailleurs yourself, or even taking it into the shop, but the problem still hasn’t really been fixed.

That's because the problem might not be what you think it is.

Some parts of a bike have a set "wear life". As you put in the miles, they gradually wear out and need to be replaced.

Here are the Top 5 Wear Parts you need to check immediately.


1. Chain

Most bike chains are designed to last between 1,500-2,500 miles, depending on use and the manufacturer.

HOW TO CHECK: Use a chain wear measurer or a ruler to check chain wear (read our in-depth guide here). If significant wear or “stretch” has occurred, it’s time to replace your chain.

HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE WEAR: Regularly clean your chain to remove grit and grim that can wear down the chain links. Apply a high quality lubricant after cleaning to prevent metal-on-metal wear.

BEST FIX: If your chain is worn, replace it with a compatible chain (use 9-speed chains if you have 9 gears in the back, 10-speed chains for 10 gears in the back, etc…). Also replace your chain if you are installing a new cassette.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Excessive wear can take a chain to the breaking point. Chains can literally snap mid-ride, leaving you stranded, or worse, cause a crash.


2. Cassette

The cassette is the cluster of gears on the back wheel. Over time, even with proper maintenance, the chain will eventually wear down the cassette.

HOW TO CHECK: Look at the space between the teeth to see if they are worn down, or look uneven. A well-worn cassette will have teeth that have been significantly worn on one edge, making them take on more of a wave shape.

HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE WEAR: Regularly clean your chain and cassette. A dirty chain acts like a belt sander, and wears away the metal on the cassette. Dirt and grease stuck to the cassette cogs can have the same effect.

BEST FIX: Whenever you replace your chain, replace your cassette. If your cassette is worn, replace with a compatible one (count how many gears are on your old cassette, and replace with one of the same number). Remember, SRAM and Shimano are cross-compatible, but Campagnolo is not.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Your shifting will become sloppy as the chain fails to properly mesh with the cog teeth. You may also go through chains quickly as they wear out faster.


3. Chainrings

The chainrings are your front gears. Over time, the teeth on the chainrings will become worn down.

HOW TO CHECK: Like the cassette, the space between the teeth will become worn out and enlarged. In most cases, you’ll be able to see that the chain is no longer really sitting properly in the teeth.

HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE WEAR: Regularly clean your chain and wipe down your chainrings. Again, a dirty chain can act like a belt sander and wear out the teeth faster.

BEST FIX: You don’t need to replace chainrings when you replace a cassette or chain, but you should check them about once a year. If your chainrings are severely worn , it’s time to replace them with compatible chainrings (for chainrings it’s best to stay manufacturer and model consistent, especially with 11-speed cranksets; e.g. always replace Shimano 9000 chainrings with Shimano 9000 chainrings, SRAM 22 with SRAM 22, etc…)

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Initially your front shifting will become sloppy, and then the chain will start dropping off the chainrings when you shift as it no longer interfaces with the chainring teeth. You may also chew through chains more quickly.



4. Brake Pads

The brake pads are the part of the brake that contacts the rim (or disc rotor). Over time the friction will wear them down. This can be very, very dangerous.

HOW TO CHECK: You will notice you have to pull more and more on the brake lever to get the brakes to engage. You may also hear a metal-on-metal screech when you brake. This happens when the rubber has completely worn away and the pad backing is contacting the rim or rotor.

HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE WEAR: Regularly wipe down the brake track on your wheels using rubbing alcohol for alloy rims and disc rotors or a gentle household cleaner for carbon rims. You can also use a medium grit sandpaper to clean the brake pads themselves.

BEST FIX: If your brake pads are worn, replace them immediately with compatible pads (consult with the manufacturer or visit a shop to find the right ones). Click here to learn how to replace road bike pads. Click here for disc brakes

WORST CASE SCENARIO: If your brake pads become completely worn away, you will no longer be able to stop your bike. Let your imagination take you from there.


5. Cleats

If you use clipless pedals, the cleats can become worn down and stop interfacing correctly with the pedal.

HOW TO CHECK: Your foot will be moving around in the pedal a lot, and you won’t feel like the engagement is as solid. You may also hear a squeak while pedaling, not hear a solid “click” when you clip on, or visually notice significant wear on the cleats.

HOW TO PREVENT PREMATURE WEAR: With road cleats, try to avoid walking in your shoes too much, especially on rough surfaces like gravel. For mountain bike shoes, make sure to regularly wash the mud and grit off for better engagement and less wear.

BEST FIX: Replace your cleats with compatible ones (stay manufacturer and model specific; e.g. Look Keo/Delta, Crank Bros, Speedplay, Time iClic/RXS, Shimano SPD/SPD-R, etc…if you’re unsure, consult the manufacturer website). Click here for information on proper cleat placement.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Your foot may start randomly unclipping as the cleat no longer engages with the pedals. You may also start to notice knee or ankle pain.



General Cycling