The chainring of a bike is a critical part of the bike that helps to transfer the power from the pedals to the wheel. Therefore, good chainrings can greatly reduce the difficulty of your riding. Likewise, a bad chainring can make riding your bike more difficult. Fortunately or unfortunately, not all bike chainrings are universal.

Bike chainrings come in different sizes depending on the width of the bike cranks. Same way, chainsets are chainset are available in different types and sizes. The number of teeth in it often determines the gear range of the bike. For most riders, a medium-sized chainring is ideal, as they provide a good balance between gear range and durability.

In this article, I will discuss various issues about bike chainrings and chainsets. If you are an enthusiast bike rider, then this article is for you. So, please keep reading until the end to grasp the in-depth knowledge.

What Are Chainrings On A Bike?

Bike chainring refers to its front gear also known as crankset. It is connected to the rear gears through a chain and drives the bike forward by supplying power to the rear wheels.

Chainring has many teeth through which the chain passes. The size of the chainring may vary based on the make and model of the bike. Moreover, a chainring can have from 20 to 60 teeth. And, the front assembly with the chainring is commonly called the “crankset or chainset”.

Differences Among Chainrings, Chainsets, And Cranksets

Basically, chainset and crankset are the same things. I have noticed that many people all over the web want to know the difference between chainsets and cranksets. Besides, they want to know what the chainset or crankset is as well.

  • Well, this part of the bike is usually called the ‘crankset’ in the US and the ‘chainset’ in the UK. However, there is a difference between the chainring and chainset or crankset that many do not know.
  • The only difference between chainring and chainset or crankset is that chainset or crankset is a complete system. It provides power to the rear wheels through the chain and helps the bike move. But the chainring is the part of the crankset to which the chain is attached.

Are All Bike Chainrings Universal?

No, chainrings of all bikes are not universal at all.

If you want to change the chainring of your bike, you must know the BCD of chaining.

Then, what does BCD stand for? – BCD is the bolt circle diameter that passes through the center of the bolts on your crankset.

And, the Chainring can vary depending on the model of the bike, the company, and many more.

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How Long Does A Bike Chainring Last?

Bike chainrings last for a long time depending on your usage, maintenance, road conditions, and some more facts.

  • But we can calculate it like this: after every three chain changes, you should change the cassette. Moreover, you should change the chainring after every two cassette changes.

Usually, you can use your bike chain up to 1000 to 6000 kilometers.

  • If I take the distance as a standard of 1000 km, then you need to change the cassette after every 3000 km of bike riding. As such, you need to change the chainring of your bike after riding 6000 km.

How To Clean A Bike Chainset?

Since regular cleaning can increase the durability of your bike’s chainset, you need to be aware of this. Many people explain this cleansing method in many ways. I will explain chainset cleaning in 7 simple steps.

Step 1: Lift The Chain From The Chainring

To clean the chainset, first, lift the chain off the chainring and rest it on the frame just behind the gears. To do this, hold the chain up with your fingers and turn the pedals. And, this will give you access to clean all parts of the chainring and cassette. But It can take dirt on your clothes and body to complete the entire cleaning process.

So, wear old clothes and gloves to keep yourself clean.

Step 2: Clean The Bits Of The Grime

Now, clean the grime bits from the chain, chainring, and cassette using the tip of a knife or screwdriver. With prolonged use, you may notice a lot of buildups, especially on the chainring.

The tip of the screwdriver can play the most effective role in cleaning these. Because Grimes stuck in the rings also accumulate over time in cassettes and chains. So, carefully clean them from all places.

Step 3: Wipe Down With A Soapy Brush

Using a brush, soak all areas of the dirty chainset with soapy water. You can also use any good cleaner instead of soap water. Be careful not to miss any parts while brushing. Turn the chainring, cassette, and chain over and wet all areas thoroughly.

Step 4: Brush Well

Usually, the dirt in the chainset sticks tightly. After soaking for some time, brush all the areas thoroughly. You can use wire brushes instead of ordinary brushes.

So, brush better if the dirt is not removed from any place.

Step 5: Use Degreaser

Even after brushing with soapy water, some dirt may remain. In addition, water-insoluble dirt can remain on the chainset. So, use a degreaser to remove these types of dirt.

Take some amount of degreaser in a plastic disposable cup and rub it well using a paintbrush. Moreover, a stiff-bristled nylon brush will also work well in this case.

Step 6: Rinse The Chainset With Water

After removing dirt from the chainset using soapy water and degreaser, rinse thoroughly with water and dry. For quick drying, turn the pedal backward for 1 minute. But don’t forget to place the chain in the chainring before turning the pedals.

Step 7: Apply The Lube

At last, wait for 5 to 10 minutes after the chainset dries and apply the lube.

Take the lube in an applicator and apply it to the chain by turning the paddle backward.

And, continue to apply on the same part of the chain two to three times until wet with lubricant. Although it’s difficult to keep it uninterrupted, try your best.

After applying the lube, again continue to rotate the pedal backward at a moderate speed for 40 to 45 seconds. And, this will spread the lube all over the chainset.

Finally, remove excess lube with a microfiber.

How To Remove Rust From Bike Chainring?

Rust can damage your bike’s chainrings quickly. So, take the initiative to remove any rust on the chainring as soon as possible. Although this rust can be a bit difficult to get rid of, here I will describe the easiest method. Just follow the steps below to eliminate rust from the chainring.

Step 1: Remove The Chainring From The Bike

You can still remove rust from the chainring while it is attached to the bike, but it will be difficult in most cases. So first remove the chainring from the bike. Most companies usually attach chainrings to the crankset via bolts. Unscrew the bolts and separate the chainring from your bike.

Step 2: Eliminate Surface Rust

Once you separate the chainring, you can see its entire surface. Now, keep wiping the rusted area using a cloth. Through this, you can remove the loose rusts.

Step 3: Use Degreaser

Degreaser will play the most effective role in removing rust from chainrings. You can use a commercial or a homemade degreaser made with vinegar and baking soda.

  • If the amount of rust is high, I would suggest you use a commercial degreaser. And, apply according to the instructions on the degreaser label.

In most cases, you may need to dip the chainring into it. So, follow the instructions on the degreaser label to know how long to soak.

Step 4: Use A Metallic Bristle Brush

After soaking for the allotted time, rub the chainring well with a metal bristle brush.

And, keep scrubbing the rusted areas thoroughly until the rust is removed completely. If it is not possible to remove all the rust by soaking it once, soak it in a degreaser and rub it again with a brush.

Step 5: Rinse The Chainring Perfectly

Once the rust gets removed, rinse the chainring thoroughly using clean water.

However, warm soapy water is a more effective ingredient for washing it. And, you should wipe using a clean cloth and dry.

Step 6: Apply Lubricant And Reattach The Chainring

Finally, apply a suitable lubricant to the chainring after drying well.

Because the lubricant will help to lubricate the chainring as well as prevent rust. Then reattach the chainring to the proper position of the crankset.

How Do You Check Your Bike Chainring?

Although regular chain changes help chainring last a long time, it needs routine checks from time to time. All you have to do is observe the teeth of the chainring.

  • Typically, when the chaining becomes old, the teeth decay and become smaller.
  • Also, the apex of the tooth erodes and becomes blunt at one stage as well.
  • But remember, some chainring teeth are already slightly smaller than others, which is a design.

Nonetheless, you will know your bike chainring is bad when the chain slips while riding the bike. If the chainsaws are damaged due to decay, you can usually notice decay in each of its teeth.

When Should You Need To Replace Your Bike Chainrings?

Bike chainrings do not need to be changed very often. Here are some signs to know when it’s time to replace your bike’s chainring. Below, I’m describing the symptoms.

  • If the chainring breaks.
  • The teeth decay and become equal.
  • Chainrings become ancient.
  • The chain slips while riding the bike.
  • The shape of the chainring becomes distorted or crooked.

How To Replace Your Bikes Broken Chainring?

Replacing a broken chainring of a bike is not a complicated task. And, you can do this yourself at home, which means it’s a DIY job, so save some money.

You just need very few tools to replace the chainring, most notably

  • a 5-millimeter Allen key,
  • and a special tool that prevents slipping when opening the chainring.

No worry, now I am going to describe the complete process in 4 steps that you can follow to change the chainring on a bike.

Step 1: Remove The Chainring From The Crank

Most bikes today usually have two (inner and outer) chainrings, connected by four different bolts. However, on more modern bikes, both chainsaws may be connected by the same (five) bolts. Anyway, first, you need to open the inner chainring.

  • Use the Allen key to loosen the bolts and separate the inner chainring.
  • Now open the outer chainring using the Allen key in the same way.

In this case, you may need to use the special tool on the reverse side of the bolt so that it does not slip. After that, remove the outer chainring after loosening the bolts.

Step 2: Grease The Bolts

Thoroughly clean the bolts after opening the broken chainring. Thus you should use a degreaser to clean the bolts. Once cleaned, wipe the bolts well and apply good quality grease.

Using grease will make the bolts easier to stick and loosen later.

Step 3: Measure The Bike Chainring

When you buy chainrings, you must buy according to the previous chainring size. So, measure the distance of its bolt holes to measure the chainring.

  • If the distance and number of both bolt holes are correct, attach the new chainring.

Step 4: Install The New Bike Chainring

Reassemble them in the same way you separated them to install chaining.

  • So, first, of the re-installation, put the outer chainring first and then the inner chainring.
  • If both chainrings need to be fastened with the same bolts, carefully attach the bolts to both chainring cranks by hand.
  • Finally, tighten the bolts properly using the Allen key.

Then, How Often Do You Need To Replace Bike Chainrings?

Bike chainrings can last for a long time and if you are a regular rider, then change the chainring after every 6000 to 10000 kilometers of riding.

Although there is a lot of disagreement on this, many recommend changing the chainring after 2,500 kilometers of riding.

However, the time interval for changing chainrings depends a lot on the rider. Proper maintenance can greatly extend the duration of their use. Besides, it may need to be changed even after 2000 kilometers of riding because of your negligence.

How To Choose A Bike Chainset?

Different types of chainsets are available in the market. depending on the bike and functionality, we see these different chainsets. So, any chainset may not be suitable for your bike. Below I am describing all the chainsets from which you can easily choose the chainset you need.

1. Standard Chainset

Standard Chainset.jpg

Image: Standard Chainset, Image Credit: BikeRenovate

The outer chaining of a standard chainset usually has 52 to 53 teeth. Also, the inner chainring has 39 teeth. These types of chainsets are most commonly used for road bikes. Many times, racers also prefer this type of chainset. If you are a casual rider, then you can choose a standard chainset for your bike.

2. Compact Chainset

Compact Chainset.jpg

Image: Compact Chainset, Image Credit: BikeRenovate

A compact chainset has 50 teeth on the outer chainring and 34 teeth on the inner chainring. These types of chainrings are becoming increasingly popular because they are inner chainrings. These make it easier for you to climb higher ground. Because of the small number of teeth in the inner chainring, it creates less pressure on the rider’s knees and allows the rider to move freely.

3. Single Speed Chainset

Single Speed Chainset.jpg

Image: Single Speed Chainset, Image Credit: BikeRenovate.com

You can call this single-speed chainset – the old model. These types of chainsets have been used for a long time. These chainsets have two advantages.

Apparently, they are not likely to wear chains. On the other hand, these types of chainsets are more durable than others.

4. Triple Speed Chainset

Triple Speed Chainset.jpg

Image: Triple Speed Chainset, Image Credit: BikeRenovate

Triple-speed chainsets are modern inventions. These chainsets have three chainrings with 50 teeth in the outer chainring, 39 teeth in the middle, and 30 teeth in the inner chainring.

If you ride a touring bike, these chainsets might be ideal for you. Because the smaller chainrings of these chainsets will give you more leverage when riding with heavy loads.

  • I hope, now you can easily select the chainset you need from the above four types of chainsets. As these are very important parts of a bike that can help you during the ride. So, choose a chainset considering your needs, road conditions, and bike type.

Are Bike Chainrings Interchangeable?

Yes, you can interchange chainring on most of the bikes.

But, there are some older model bikes that have the chainring fixed to the crankset.

And, to change these, you need to change the entire chainset. But the advantage is that today’s bikes do not use this type of chainset. You can easily change your bike chainring by yourself.

The Last Words

Since bike chainrings are not universal, you can change them according to your needs and convenience. Furthermore, a compact chainring allows you to ride the bike faster. They can also reduce your exertion when you climb uphill.

Moreover, a bike chainring replacement can cost you around $20 to $100. This means they are not cheap to work. So, they need regular maintenance.

Here I have already discussed in detail the maintenance and replacement of the chainset. Hope this article helps you to make your chainrings identification, purchase the right one for your bike, and the replacing & installation process easier.