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How do I know when I need to replace my bike parts?

31 January 2022

As a cyclist, you often read about the importance of maintaining your bike well. We have written many blogs on how to replace bike parts yourself. Yet for many cyclists, it is not clear when to replace certain bike parts. Of course, in some parts this is easier to see than in others, and some riders will want to replace a part sooner than others. In this blog, we will explain how to check whether a bike part needs replacing to help you get ready for the new cycling season. And if you’re not sure about a part and whether it needs to be replaced, you can always have it checked out by a bike mechanic.

fietsonderdelen vervangen
If you know when you need to replace bike parts, the job itself is fun!

When to replace your bike chain

It is important to check on a regular basis whether your bike chain needs to be replaced. There are many conditions, such as rain and mud, that can cause wear on your chain. How fast it wears out also depends on the type of chain. If you replace your bike chain timely, you can avoid unnecessary wear to your cassette and chainrings.

When exactly does it need to be replaced? The best way to find out is to use a chain checker or chain wear indicator tool. Put the chain checker in the links of the bike chain and read the wear percentage. If you have an 11- or 12-speed chain, it is prudent to replace it when the chain checker indicates 0.5%. If you have a 10-speed chain it is 0.7%. Not sure at what wear percentage you should replace your chain? Find this information on the chain manufacturer’s website or contact them directly.

This chain checker indicates clearly that the bike chain must be replaced.

To make your bike’s drivetrain wear less easily, it is wise to clean and lubricate the chain regularly. But if it really needs to be replaced, read our How-To blog to find out how best to do this.

Chain checkers

Park Tool CC-3.2


BBB Cycling Chain Checker BTL-125


When to replace your cassette

When your cassette is worn out, it needs to be replaced. If you continue to ride with a worn-out cassette, it will affect shifting performance. We recommend replacing your cassette after two to three chain changes. Of course, this depends on the chain’s brand as well as on the conditions in which you ride. Plus, as mentioned above, your cassette will wear less when you clean your drivetrain regularly.

cassette vervangen
If you continue to ride with a worn-out cassette, it will negatively affect shifting performance.

So it is best to regularly check whether your cassette is worn out and needs replacing. This is more difficult than with your bicycle chain, as there is no specific tool for this. But the rounded teeth of the cassette are usually a good indication; so if their corners stand up a bit or start drooping like shark fins, you know the cassette is in an advanced state of wear. In such an advanced state of wear you can also see and feel a change in your bike chain, which starts to skip. Want to know how to replace your road bike or MTB cassette? Read our How-To blog.

When to replace your chainring

Your chainrings are also subject to wear, just like your bike’s chain and cassette. In many cases, you only need to replace your chainring after about five chain replacements, but of course this depends on the brand of the chainrings and on the (weather) conditions in which you ride. You can regularly check whether your chainrings need replacing; indications for this can be that the bike chain sits loosely on the chainring, that the teeth on the chainring are worn out or that shifting gears no longer goes smoothly.

Continuing to cycle with a worn-out chainring causes unnecessary wear to your bike chain and cassette.

When to replace your derailleur

In principle, a derailleur does not need to be replaced after a certain period of time. But it does need to be replaced if a serious crash has caused damage to your derailleur. You can also replace your derailleur before going into the mountains with your bike. What your derailleur can handle and when it should be replaced is explained in this blog.

Before taking your bike into the mountains it is wise to replace the derailleur.

Is shifting gears going much less smoothly? Adjusting the derailleur may help. How to do this? Read our How-To blog on derailleur adjustment. A badly aligned derailleur hanger can also be the cause of the problem.

When to replace your jockey wheels

An important part of the drivetrain you absolutely need to replace is the jockey wheels or derailleur pulleys. As these wear out slowly, it often goes unnoticed. If the teeth of your jockey wheels are getting pointy, they need replacing. Are you replacing your cassette? Then it is wise to replace your jockey wheels as well. How to do this? In our blog we explain how to replace your jockey wheels.

derailleurwieltjes vervangen
The jockey wheels contribute significantly to the smooth running of the drivetrain.

When to replace your derailleur cables

If you have readjusted your derailleur but it still does not shift properly, it is possible that old, rusted or split gear cables are the culprit. In this case it is wise to replace the gear cables. How best to replace these cables is explained in this blog.

When to replace the shifters on your MTB or road bike

Have you had a major crash with your bike? Chances are your gear shifters have been damaged. Shifters are lightweight and, therefore, vulnerable. Plus, they are in a vulnerable position on your bike. So, check them thoroughly and replace them if there is too much damage. Or have them checked by a professional bike mechanic.

As some of the most protruding parts of your bike, the shifters are likely to get damaged in a crash.

When to replace your (mechanical) brake cables

If braking feels very tough during your ride, it is wise to replace your brake cables. If your shifters start rattling when you are cycling, it is a sign that your cables have lost tension. Want to know how to replace your mechanical brake cables? Read our blog and find out.

When to replace your brake rotor

In general, a disc brake rotor wears slowly and does not need to be replaced soon. But it may eventually get worn out. When? Difficult to say. It depends on how many kilometres you ride, in which weather conditions you ride, and how often you replace your brake pads.

You can easily tell whether your brake disc is worn out by measuring its thickness. A handy tool for this is a caliper (or slide rule). In some cases, the minimum thickness in millimetres is printed on the brake rotor. The thickness is not the same for every brand and varies between manufacturers. If the thickness of your brake disc is below the minimum indicated number, the disc needs to be replaced.

Does this brake rotor need to be replaced? It is easy to measure this.

If the minimum thickness is not printed on the brake disc, you can use the caliper to measure a part of the rotor that has been used for braking and a part that shows no wear. If the difference between them is more than 0.20 millimetres, you need to replace the brake rotor.

Another reason to replace your brake disc is that it is bent. It is easy to determine if it is: lay the rotor on the table and press one side with your finger. If this makes the other side come up, the disc is bent and needs replacing. Want to know how to replace the brake disc on your bike? Read our How-To blog.

Cyclus Caliper 150 mm


When to replace the brake pads on your road or mountain bike

Do you have a bike with rim brakes? Then your brake pads indicate clearly when they need to be replaced. Many brake pads contain three grooves. When you buy new brake pads, these grooves are a few millimetres deep. When you have been using the same brake pads for some time, the friction material will start to wear and the grooves get less deep. When the grooves on the brake pads are barely visible anymore (1 millimetre), you know the pads need to be replaced.

In new brake pads the grooves are clearly visible.

When the grooves of the brake pads are worn out, the pads may damage the rim. It is wise, therefore, to check your brake pads regularly. If you suddenly hear a different sound when braking, chances are you are braking with the steel in the pads rather than the friction material. If this is the case, you are in fact too late in replacing your brake pads.

When to replace your disc brake pads

Do you have a bike with disc brake pads? Then it is also important that you check them thoroughly every now and then. If the pads have worn out or become dirty, it is time to replace them. Read this blog to learn how to replace your disc brake pads yourself.

replacing disc brake pads
It takes just 20 minutes to replace the brake pads yourself.

When to replace your pedals

Another bike part that needs regular maintenance and/or replacement is the pedals. Fortunately, this is not a difficult job. But how do you know whether or not your bike pedals need to be replaced? Do you feel too much play and cannot fix it by fitting new cleats to your cycling shoes? Or is there play in the axle? Then it is wise to replace your bike pedals. Do you hear a strange creaking sound when cycling? Then it may help to remove and clean the pedals and put them back in place. How to replace your bike pedals is explained in this blog.

pedalen losdraaien
Removing pedals can be difficult if they’re stuck.

When to replace your handlebars

There are no strict guidelines on when to replace your bike’s handlebars. But if you have fallen with your bike, you may well have to replace them. In such cases we always recommend having the handlebars checked by a bike mechanic because besides visible damage or dents, the bars may also have incurred invisible damage.

Do you have a road bike and are you curious to know which handlebars suit you best? Read our Buyer’s Guide on road bike handlebars and find out. How to replace your handlebars is explained in this blog.

When to replace your handlebar tape

Your handlebar tape will have to be replaced every now and then, perhaps when it looks dirty or worn out. Over time your bar tape can also lose some of its cushioning capacity or its comfortable feel in your hands. Finally, your handlebars may oxidise when you have been sweating a lot. Fortunately, wrapping new handlebar tape is an easy job to do yourself, and is demonstrated in our How-to blog.

stuurlint vervangen
Wrapping bar tape is not difficult at all!

When to replace your wheelset

Do you have rim brake wheels? Then you should replace your wheelset when the rims are too worn in. You can see this when the wear indicator on the rim is gone. If you have fallen with your bike and there is a wobble in your wheel that you cannot fix, you will have to replace the wheel(set). Or you may need to replace wheel bearings, which may end up being more expensive than replacing the wheel as a whole. Want to know how to fix wheel wobble? Read our wheel truing blog.

When to replace your bike tyres

The tyres are yet another part of your bike that will wear. When to replace them depends largely on the type of tyre. On many road bike tyres you will find wear indicator holes. Are these holes worn down and no longer visible? Then it's time to replace the tyre. Do you have a mountain bike? Then the state of the knobs (or studs) indicates how worn the tyre is. If the knobs are no longer nice and straight but frayed, it is best to replace your MTB tyre(s).

buitenbanden controleren
After every ride, check your tyres carefully for any sharp objects that may stick through them.

If you’re going to replace the tyres of your bike, it is prudent to replace the inner tubes as well. Inner tubes are also subject to wear; the rubber may get somewhat brittle over time.

binnenband vervangen
Inner tubes can also wear over time.

When to replace your saddle

Every cyclist knows that a good saddle contributes to a large extent to your riding comfort. An uncomfortable bike saddle can cause saddle soreness and other physical discomfort. It is difficult to find a bike saddle that suits you perfectly. Do you want a different saddle and need help finding one that is right for you? Read our bike saddle selection guide.

fietsonderdelen vervangen
It takes no more than 15 minutes to replace your bike saddle!

When you have found the perfect saddle, it's important to replace it eventually. After a few years, your saddle can start to wear and cave, which means you no longer get the support you need. So take a good look at the sides of your saddle to see if it has caved. This generally happens sooner with cheaper saddles with a nylon shell than with carbon or carbon-reinforced saddle shells.

Need help replacing bike parts?

Not sure if you need to replace certain bike parts? Or have you read our How-To blogs and are still running into problems while replacing parts? Feel free to contact our Customer Service team and we’ll help you out!

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Eva van den Berg

Eva van den Berg

Since starting work at Mantel, I’ve been reading and writing about bikes on a daily basis. This added to the fact that I am testing new products, has caused me to get excited to expand my own bike collection. I wonder what the inside of my garage will look like in a few years. Luckily I have a big garage at home!

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