Q: How often should I change my chain
to preserve the drivetrain on my bike?
My mechanic says I should change the
chain every 1000 miles and use three
chains, taking turns between each one.
—Cleber Tonus, who has a chain
A: It’s true that the chain should be
changed often to preserve the life of the
chainrings and cassette. If you let the
chain go for too long, the chain will wear
and stretch. This will wear the teeth on
your rings and cogs, so when you finally
do break the chain and go to replace it,
your worn cassette and chainring teeth
won’t mesh with the fresh chain and your
drivetrain will be a skipping mess.
Replacing your chain every 1000 miles
is about right; however, keep in mind that
there are many variables here. Chains that
are ridden in wet and muddy condi-
tions wear more quickly, as do
ones that are ridden in dry
and dusty conditions and never lubricat-
ed. We replace our chain at least once a
season under normal conditions and more
often if we put a lot of harsh miles on it.
As for rotating among three chains, we
don’t recommend it. You aren’t actually
gaining any extra miles; you’re just spreading the wear over three chains. If you’re
using a chain that doesn’t have a master
link, you’re also putting a weak link in every
time you break the chain.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
Q: I have a pair of Xpedo platform pedals
on my Trance and recently used them up
at Mammoth, but I am still using regular
pedals that do not add as much grip as I
would like. I want to get a pair of platform
pedals, but I don’t see any that come in
wide sizes. Message boards are mixed on
whether the normal-width pedals are okay
for feet like mine.
—Tony Reed, who has some big
A: Both Spank and Syntace make ped-
als that come in several different widths.
We’ve had great luck with the Spank flat
pedals in the past, so we’d steer you in
that direction first. Spank’s Spoon model
comes in 90-, 100- and 110-millimeter
widths. The 110s will likely give you the
support you’re looking for.
KEEPING IT REAL WHILE
KEEPING IT SAFE
After wrecking twice on my right hip, I
am in the market for some under-short-style protection. It seems most brands
offer something, but they all look pretty
minimal. Most have 1/2-inch foam padding,
which I cannot imagine does much beyond
a 5-mph crash. The G-Form short has
material that hardens upon impact, but it is
priced pretty high. Can you provide some
advice on the differences between the
foam and material like G-Form provides?
Is it worth almost twice the cost? I don’t
mind spending some money if it truly helps,
but I’m not sure how much of a marketing
gimmick it is. I typically ride singletrack
with rocky, gnarly descents and do some
enduro racing as well, so I don’t necessarily want a big, bulky pair of downhill shorts.
—Dale, who needs some protection
in his pants
A: The G-Form stuff works particularly
well. If the material can withstand a pedal
bear-trap moment and save our shins,
we’re confident it will save your hips in a
crash. We just wish G-Form would make a
bib short; we’ve been told they’re working
on it. Bottom line: this stuff is definitely
worth the price and provides solid protection without much extra bulk.