TORQUE CHAIN CHECKER
Keeping an eye on chain wear with replacement earlier rather than later, can save you a lot of money and annoyance. The Torque Chain Checker is, therefore a handy little tool to keep in a prominent spot. There are lots on the market, however, with some offering more accurate readings and others covering the ever-growing range of chain widths.
Pros: neat and cheap.
Cons: covers the basics only.
The Torque Chain Checker is a traditional style, light, chain wear tool. With 0.75% and 1.0% pins, it covers most chains from single speed, through older six, seven, eight, and nine speeds, to ten speed. Nickel-plated with a sand-blasted finish, is decent enough at this price point, as is the press cut rather than laser cut.
Does the job neatly. Checking it out on a worn – later replaced eight speed chain – and a brand new nine speed, calibration appeared to be spot on.
Having a fleet of my own, plus family bikes, to work on, the Torque covers most of my machines. However, with an eleven speed on my tourer, I’ve invested in a second chain tool to check for the 0.5% wear. OK, that may require more frequent chain replacement, but a decent chain is not that expensive, and the precision will save money on the drive train.
Clearly, gauge-type chain wear tools, such as Park Tool’s CC-2, and digital versions will give more accurate readings. However, even they measure form roller to roller rather than pin to pin, so some suggest that a twelve inch ruler, correctly aligned with the pins, is the best chain length tool of all (change when 1/16of an inch out).
However, chain wear tools, such as the Torque Chain Checker, are a convenient way to get a quick idea of the chain wear without getting the bike to eye level.
A quick Google gives a list of videos on how to check for chain wear as long as your arm. You can also read Michael’s advice on chain care and replacement.
Fundamentally, for six to ten speed chains, if wear is at or over 0.75%, replace the chain. If it is at 1.0%, then the likelihood is that the cassette, even rings, may need replacement, too.
Whilst you won’t go far wrong applying the same principle to eleven speed chains, many mechanics, including those at Park Tools, recommend changing eleven speed chains at 0.5% wear. The same would apply to twelve speed chains.
For a single speed chain – or with hub gears – then replace the chain if it is at or over 1.0% worn.
Given that you don’t fancy using your twelve-inch ruler, then full-time mechanics may prefer to fork out fifty pounds plus for a digital version, or thirty pounds or so for a one with a mechanical gauge. Those with eleven or twelve speeds, will still find it cheaper to buy an additional tool. Frankly, at £4.99 the Torque is very much in line with a number of others (some of which bear a strong resemblance to it) that cover the core chain types. You’ll find them for as little as three pounds forty-nine. Or you could just raid the kids’ pencil case.
A useful tool for the home mechanic to deal with an often-ignored aspect of the bicycle – one that can save you a good deal of money, if frequently employed. Enthusiasts, might prefer something more accurate, and those with a modern fleet may need a 0.5% tool.