Spotter’s Guide to Worn Parts

We’re often [1] asked, “How do I know when such-and-such a component is worn out?” Generally it’s not hard to tell – worn parts tends to not work terribly well. But on the other hand it’s easy not to notice the gradually diminishing performance of a slowly-wearing part until it eventually moves beyond not working terribly well and on to not working at all. Since this tends to happen twenty miles from home when you’re riding on your own, it’s worth trying to spot things before they reach that point. To that end, we’ll be bringing you some selected examples of desperately-worn bike parts so that you know what they look like. Simply compare them to ones that you own and if there’s a close resemblance, buy a new one…

No. 1: Chainrings

It’s nearly always the middle chainring that goes first – most riders spend most of their time in it. Early signs of wear include chainsuck (where the chain refuses to let go of the ring because the teeth are starting to get hooked and ends up getting dragged between the chainrings and the frame) or chain slip. Visible signs are spiky, shark’s tooth-shaped or (eventually) completely absent teeth. By the time it looks like this one you’ve probably already crunched sensitive parts of your anatomy against the stem as the chain hops over the top of the sorry remains of the chainring teeth. Need to know how to go about replacing chainrings? Read our handy guide.

Thanks to Matt Booth for the photo. If you’ve got any pics of terminally worn-out bike parts, we’d like to see them – drop us a line

[1] OK, occasionally

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