Common MTB Chainring Wear Symptoms (2023 Guide)

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Are you here looking for MTB chainring wear symptoms?

If so, then you may already know how important that round spiky thing on your mountain bike’s drivetrain is.

This topic is of great significance because, often, a worn-out mountain bike chain sits well on the chainring for quite a long time. This causes the chainring to wear out easily.

Hence, one must be watchful about the signs of wear on the chainring.

What Does An Unworn Chainring Look Like

Unworn MTB chainring
Unworn Chainring

When you place a new chain on an unworn chainring, it will stay snug on the ring.

You would not see any light passing through the place where the chain comes in contact with the ring.

The chainring originally has flat teeth ends, which get sharpened as it wears off.

Why Is It Important To Replace Worn Chainrings

Replace Worn MTB Chainring
Replace Worn Chainring

It is important to replace a worn chainring because if ignored or delayed for later, it can be very dangerous, and even fatal in some instances.

Mountain bike rider could get thrown off the bike any time when riding with an excessively worn-out chain.

If you have a freshly replaced chain, then it is important to check for chainring wear. A worn-out chainring could cause the new chain to wear off easily.

Moreover, a worn chainring can also cause damage to other drivetrain components.

In addition, riders may experience chain slippage, and squeaky noises while riding your MTB with worn chainrings.

Looking For MTB Chainring Wear Symptoms

Chainring Wear Symptoms
Chainring Wear Symptoms

Wondering how to assess chainring wear?

First, you have to carry the chain and transfer it to the second ring. Check if the chain and the chain ring stay intact.

If you can see light through the point where both the ring and the chain meet, it indicates wear.

You can also check this using a line roller.

Keep the tiny ring on the line roller in the space between the teeth, and it should stay intact in that space.

If there is space for the roller to roll, it indicates wear.

Tools Used For Replacing Chainrings of MTB

chainring replacement tool
Tools for Chainring Replacement

Every chainring may look the same, but essentially, they are not.

Replacing a mountain bike chainring can get cumbersome if you are not aware of the type of chainring you are dealing with.

For example, the chainring of a mountain bike is different from that of a road bike.

Also, a traditional chainring is different from a compact one.

Some chainrings come with crank-arms, and some without the crank-arms.

Some chainrings have bolts on the exterior, while there are others with bolts that are mounted.

The most common tools used are the Allen key, chainring nut, and a crank puller.

How To Replace Worn Chainring

Once you start noticing your mountain bike’s chainring wear symptoms, you have to consider replacing it with a new one.

This helps to improve the performance of your mountain bike.

Replacing a worn chainring will also prevent a new chain from wearing, and will prevent further damage to the drivetrain.

To replace a worn chainring, you have to first lift the chain off the ring and put it on the inside.

Next, with the help of an Allen key, you have to pull the bolt.

Now, loosen the chainring using a crank puller. Once you pull off the crank, remove the chainring from the crank.

This chainring can be now replaced with a new one.

How To Choose Matching Set of Chain, Cassette And Chainring

MTB chain
Ideal Mountain Bike Chain

Typically, chainrings, cassettes, and mountain bike chains have standardized compatibility, across the manufacturers.

However, it is important to make sure that the number of sprockets is taken into consideration while choosing the chain or the chainring.

You can ignore the number of rings on the crank.

You just have to make sure you select a chain and chainring that are compatible with the number of sprockets in the cassette. The number of rings on the crank does not matter.

For example, MTB chains designed for higher speeds are narrower than the normal chains, and the sprockets are placed very close to each other.

The number of sprockets will determines the spacing between the MTB chain.

The chain width of 6.7 and 8-speed bikes are typically the same across manufacturers.

Chain rings that fit your MTB’s crank spider, and are made for these speeds will be sufficient.

9 Common FAQs on MTB Chainring Wear Symptoms

1. How long does an MTB chainring last?

Typically, a mountain bike chainring will last between 1,500 and 10,000 miles and above.

On a well-maintained mountain bike, it would probably last beyond the limit shared above.

If you have been riding a road bike in the past, you may know that a chainring on a road bike will last more than 50,000 miles.

If you are wondering why this difference exists, just think about the kind of terrains that they both ride in, and you will have your answer.

2. When should I replace my chainring?

It is recommended to replace your chainring when you see the MTB chainring wear symptoms on your mountain bike.

This includes signs like sharpened teeth edges, chain slippage, difficulty to shift gears, and squeaky noises.

3. How do I know if my chain needs tightening?

If you experience chain slippage or difficulty in shifting gears while riding your mountain bike, check if there is excess slack in the chain.

Ideally, there should be a half-inch slack in the chain. When it’s more than that, it indicates the need to tighten your chain.

If you have just installed a fresh chain, and you think it’s too loose, you have to check if there are more than sufficient links on the chain, and you may want to remove the excess links.

4. Should I replace the chainring while changing the cassette?

Replacing your MTB’s chainring depends on whether your chainring has worn out or not.

If you have recently changed your chainring and are now planning to change the cassette, I don’t think you have to replace the chainring.

However, if the chainring has worn out, and looks like it needs replacement, you can do that along with your cassette replacement.

When you don’t replace the chainring, make sure that the new cassette is compatible with the chain ring that you already have.

5. Can I replace the chainring without removing the crank?

In some cases, it is possible to remove the chainring without removing the crank.

If you are replacing the chainrings with new ones of the same size, you do not even have to adjust the derailleur.

To remove the chainring, undo the bolts of the ring using an Allen wrench.

Once the bolts are all removed, slowly remove them through the crank arm. You can put in a chainring of the same size through the crank arm.

Once the chainring reaches its position, you have to push the bolts in their places.

Initially, tighten them a bit just to hold them in place.

Once all the bolts are in, tighten them one by one, so that all the bolts stay in place even while riding your mountain bike on the right terrain.

6. What is the best chainring size for MTB?

Chainring size is important as the gear range that you can achieve in your MTB is largely dependent on it.

The standard 1x MTB chainrings are available in 2-tooth increments.

The chainrings of 1x MTBs come in a factory-made standard-size.

In older 3x drivetrain MTBs, these standard sizes were that of the middle chainrings.

However, you can replace your chainring with another size, if you wish to do so.

Typically, cross-country mountain bikes come in 32t chainrings.

However, there are few enduro bikes and trail bikes available in 30t chainrings.

This is because cross-country riders will be most in need of top-end gearing to tackle fast terrains.

Enduro riders, on the other hand, would find it easier to climb up steep hills with easier gear.

And normally, enduro riders do not pedal that often while riding on rough descends.

7. Do you have to replace the chainring while changing the chain?

MTB chainring wears much slower than an MTB chain.

Hence, in most cases, you will not have to replace your chainring along with the chain.

However, you can check if the chainring is showing any signs of wear.

If you’ve been riding your MTB with a worn-out chain, it is most likely that you will notice MTB chainring wear symptoms on your chainring.

In that case, you have to replace the chainring as well. If it does not show any signs of wear, a good MTB chain clean-up will be sufficient.

8. How do you delay the occurrence of MTB chainring wear symptoms?

To slow down the MTB chainring wearing process, you have to clean the chain and the other drivetrain parts after every ride or as required.

Lubing the chain, the cables, and the derailleur regularly can help improve the life of the drivetrain parts, including the chainring, greatly.

The other parts that you can lube occasionally are the jockey wheels, levers, and pedals.

The longevity of MTB chainring is largely dependent on the chain, as they are always in contact with each other.

The better you take care of the chain and make timely replacements, you can get your chainring to work like new.

9. Do MTB chainrings last longer than cassettes?

Normally, chainrings are more durable than the cassettes in a mountain bike.

The rear cassette and chain of mountain bike are typically replaced more often than the chainrings.

That’s A Wrap!

I hope this article has provided you with the necessary insights into MTB chainring wear symptoms, how to prevent chainring wear, and the other important aspects related to the topic.

P.S. Did you find this article useful? If so, then do check our similar insightful resources on wearing MTB chains and ways to clean and lube them the right way.

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Team Biking KnowHow

Rohan runs Biking KnowHow along with his team. Rohan has been a mountain biker since 2005. His mission is to simplify mountain biking for everyone. All Biking KnowHow content piece is thoroughly fact-checked. Our content is backed up with leading research and inputs from expert cyclists.