Birzman's Chain Wear Indicator is a really simple way of telling whether any chain from singlespeed to 12-speed should be changed, and it doubles up as a chain hook to help hold your chain during assembly or repair.
Your chain will gradually wear. What difference does it make? Worn chains can skip, shift poorly and sometimes break – which can be dangerous. A worn chain will also wear sprockets more quickly than usual, so changing it in good time will save you money in the long run.
You can check for chain wear with a ruler but it's easier with a chain wear indicator. Birzman's is CNC machined from stainless steel and has a hook at one end that slots in next to a link pin.
There are three indicator prongs at the other end. If none of them falls into a gap between rollers (as in our photo) and is visible out of the bottom, your chain isn't 0.5% longer than its original length. The chain in our picture is one ride old, so that makes sense.
If the tallest prong drops through, chain length has increased by 0.5%.
If the middle prong drops through, chain length has increased by 0.75%.
If the shortest prong drops through, chain length has increased by 1%.
The figures are marked on the chain wear indicator; you don't have to remember them!
Different chains need replacing after different amounts of wear, hence the three prongs.
If you're using an 11-speed or 12-speed chain, for example, you should replace it when it is 0.5% more than its original length.
If you're using a singlespeed chain, you need to replace it when it gets to the 1% mark.
Measuring less than 14cm nose to tail, it's a bit shorter than a Park Tool CC3.2 Chain Checker that I have here (17.5cm), but that's probably not an issue either way. The Park Tool device has similar 0.5% and 0.75% indicators, but there's no 1% marker.
One other feature that the Birzman Chain Wear Indicator boasts is a chain hook. Say you're putting a new chain on your bike: you can use it to hold the ends of the chain in position without the links that you need to work on being pulled away from one another. A bent spoke can do something similar, but it's not nearly as posh. It's a simple job that the Birzman tool does well.
A chain wear indicator is the sort of thing that you'll buy once and only need to replace if you lose it or someone comes out with a new chain standard. The Park Tool CC3.2 Chain Checker that I mentioned earlier retails at £9.99 while Topeak's Chain Hook and Wear Indicator is £6.99, so Birzman's is a good price.
Overall, the Birzman Chain Wear Indicator does its job well across a whole range of different chain sizes, and the integrated chain hook is a handy little bonus.
Simple tool that measures the amount of wear across a range of different chains, with an integrated chain hook thrown in
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman Chain Wear Indicator
Size tested: Singlespeed to 12-spd
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Birzman says, "The Chain Wear Indicator quickly and accurately checks the degree of chain wear and stretch of single to 12-speed derailleur chains.
"The indicator comes with integrated chain hooks that help hold chains in place during assembly or repair."
That's about the size of it! You can't argue with that.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Birzman's Chain Wear Indicator can tell you whether the length of your chain has increased by 0.5%, 0.7% and 1%.
Let's be honest, it's a very simple construction, CNC machined from stainless steel.
It does a relatively simple job very well. The same goes for both the chain wear indicator side and the chain hook side.
I can't see it getting damaged during normal use.
It's three quid cheaper than the Park Tool CC3.2 Chain Checker. It all counts!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's obviously a straightforward job but it's done effectively. There's no real opportunity for a flourish here!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that you get three indicators for three different levels of wear is useful across a range of bikes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's not a lot to dislike in such a simple tool.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Park Tool CC3.2 Chain Checker is £9.99 at RRP while Topeak's Chain Hook and Wear Indicator is £6.99. The Birzman's price is very good considering that you get indicators for three different levels of wear plus a chain hook.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is quite difficult to mark. I mean, a chain wear indicator is a pretty simple device – there's no real scope for a flourish! This one works across a whole range of chains, it comes with an integrated chain hook, and it costs £6.99. That feels like an 8 to me.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.