Quick chain check

2/12/2024

The frequency of cleaning and lubricating your bicycle's chain can vary. If you have any questions about your specific bike or chain, let us know in the chat in the Tempo app and we will try to help.

Regular Riding in Good Conditions: If you ride your bike regularly in relatively clean conditions (like on city roads or paved trails), aim to clean and lubricate the chain every 100-200 miles.

Harsh or Wet Conditions: If you frequently ride in wet, muddy, or very dusty conditions, you'll need to clean and lubricate the chain every 50-100 miles.

Seasonal or Occasional Riders: If you ride less frequently or seasonally, it's good practice to clean and lube your chain at the beginning and end of the season.

Check the chain

  1. If your chain appears dirty, gritty, has visible debris or rust, it likely needs cleaning and re-lubricating.
  2. If you chain looks fine, run your fingers along the chain (be careful not to hurt yourself on the sprockets, and be prepared to wash your hands). If it feels dry or gritty, it needs cleaning and lubrication.
  3. If it looks and feels fine, while you are riding, listen for any unusual sounds coming from the chain, like squeaking or grinding. These noises often indicate a dry or dirty chain.
  4. If your chain is making a weird noise or isn't shifting correctly, try manually moving the chain through a cycle and watch for links that don’t bend smoothly. Stiff links can cause skipping when pedaling or shifting and need cleaning or lubrication.

If your chain needs to be cleaned and lubed, here’s a simple guide to help you do it effectively. If this looks like a lot of work, or if you don’t have the tools, Tempo can help you find a local bike shop or mobile mechanic who can do it for you:

Clean the chain

  1. Place your bicycle in a stand or flip it upside down so it rests on the handlebars and seat.
  2. You will need a chain cleaner tool or a brush (like an old toothbrush), degreaser (or soapy water), rags you don't mind getting greasy, and gloves to protect your hands if you don't want to spend a few minutes washing them later.
  3. Apply the soapy water or degreaser to the chain using your brush or chain cleaning tool.
  4. Rotate the pedals backward, moving the chain through the cleaner tool or brushing along the chain’s length to remove dirt and grime.
  5. After thoroughly degreasing, rinse the chain with water to remove any remaining degreaser and loosened dirt.
  6. Thoroughly dry the chain using a clean rag. Make sure it’s completely dry before applying lubricant. If you haven't cleaned your chain in a while, or ever, you might need to repeat steps 3-6.

Lube the chain

  1. Select a lubricant appropriate for your riding conditions: wet lube for wet climates or dry lube for dry climates.
  2. Apply the lubricant to the inside of the chain, targeting each roller between each link. Turn the pedals backward to ensure even distribution.
  3. Allow the lubricant a few minutes to penetrate into the chain’s rollers.
  4. Wipe away excess lubricant with a clean rag by gently holding it around the chain and rotating the pedals. Excess lube can attract more dirt.
  5. Rotate the pedals and check the chain movement. It should move smoothly without noise.

Eventually even a well-maintained chain will need to be replaced. If in doubt, have a professional bike mechanic evaluate the chain. They can advise on cleaning, lubrication, or if it needs replacing. Tempo can help you find a local mechanic to check or replace your chain.

When our family bought an electric cargo bike earlier this year, one of my biggest fears was that this lovely and expensive new machine was going to get stolen. So I got the best lock money could buy, and I started to investigate: did I need ebike insurance?

First, I called my homeowners insurance provider to see if they would cover the bike if it were stolen. To my surprise, because it’s an electric bike, not only did my policy not cover it, they wouldn’t even add it for an additional fee or sell me a separate policy for it, the way they did for our family car.

Instead they referred me to an insurance company that specializes in bikes and ebikes. I bought a policy from them and sleep a little better for it.

I’ve heard similar stories from other ebike owners. And I’ve heard worse.

What can happen without ebike insurance

The saddest stories are the ones where someone assumed their homeowners or renters or car insurance covered their ebike, and after it was stolen or seriously damaged, it turned out it wasn’t covered.

And then there are the stories about people whose ebikes were covered by their homeowners policy, but their premium went way up when they made a claim for a stolen ebike.

Why it’s hard to insure an ebike

When it comes to insurance, ebikes land in a gray area outside standard homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Here’s why:

  • Ebikes are new in terms of the insurance industry. Most of the several million ebikes in the U.S. were purchased in the last two years. Insurers aren’t familiar with them, and insurers don’t like to be surprised by unfamiliar products.
  • Ebikes are more expensive than regular bikes. Policies that cover bikes, like most homeowners or renters policies, might have also covered ebikes until the insurer had to pay much larger claims than they expected to replace a damaged or stolen ebike. See above about insurers and surprise. So some policy terms got changed.
  • Finally, ebikes get stolen a lot, and not only from people’s homes. They are ridden and locked up outside all over the place, which makes them more vulnerable than other valuable household items.

Steps to take to properly insure your ebike

The odds that your ebike is covered by your existing insurance is lower than you may think. Here’s what to do to find out if you need ebike insurance:

  1. Call your insurance company and find out what they cover. Things to bring up: coverage of accidental damage, theft, and travel (like what would happen if you flew somewhere with your bike and the airline did a number on it). Does the insurance company consider your ebike a “luxury item”? If you’re happy with the coverage, great! You’re good to go.
  2. Consider bike-specific coverage. If you aren’t covered, or feel like the coverage you do have isn’t enough, here are some things to think about.

Bike insurance covers all kinds of bike specific things, not just theft. Think damage to the bike from a collision, medical payments if you are injured in a collision, insurance for the bike if you are traveling with it or racing it, or a bike rental while your bike is being repaired. Some policies even cover things like accessories (like bike lights and panniers) and riding clothes.

Bike claims won’t affect your other insurance premium. Should you need to make a claim on your ebike, your home insurance premium won’t change or get canceled.

We can help

Want to learn more about ebike insurance? Join Tempo and get easy access to insurance quotes, and other ways to protect your ebike right inside the app.

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