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Essentially a modified digital calliper, Feedback Sports' Chain Gauge eliminates the guesswork when determining chain wear. Compared to a metal chain checker or steel ruler, you're less likely to get errors due to you making a mistake, or tool wear. Being digital it's more expensive, so it will probably appeal to bike shop mechanics more than home mechanics.
To check the chain, you hook the calliper's crescent end in first, and then slot in the other end eight links apart. The reading is broadcast on the display in either metric or imperial. Figures from 0.00 and 0.40mm denote a fresh chain, 0.40-0.80mm a chain with some wear, and .80mm or more a chain that needs replacing.
A small brass screw can lock the arms, saving the reading for later inspection. This is useful if you're measuring the chain with your bike on the floor rather than at eye level, as the display's flat face is awkward to read unless you're looking at it side on. It could also be useful in a shop setting, to show the extent of the chain wear to a customer standing at the counter.
The display cuts out after five minutes of inactivity to conserve battery life. You get a spare 1.5V watch battery with the gauge, along with a carry case, a jeweller's screwdriver, and a set of instructions. The latter are pretty simple but thoughtfully there's a chain wear tolerance chart on the back of the tool itself.
The instructions suggest re-setting the unit every 30 readings for absolute accuracy. I didn't have a checked and calibrated control model for comparison, so can't be sure just how accurate the gauge is. I hit the reset button and used a factory-fresh 8-speed chain on my Univega as a yardstick. The gauge returned 0.01mm readings at three different points, so I measured the chains on my other bikes in the same way, confident to accept the gauge's readings at face value and replace chains accordingly. After using it a few times, checking chains becomes intuitive.
A precision tool that will repay the investment many times over. Its display would be easier to read on the top rather than the side
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Make and model: Feedback Chain Gauge
Size tested: Feed back chain gauge
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?
"Measuring chain wear and replacing chains at the appropriate time is an important preventative maintenance steps which results in longer life of expensive drive train components. This digital gauge accurately measures chain wear in millimeters or inches. Carrying case included".
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Measures up to 0.1' (2.5mm) elongation
Resolution: 0.0005' (0.01mm)
Fits all chains including 11 speed
Stainless hardened metal body
Metal Display housing with LCD
Auto Shut-off to save battery
1.55V battery included
Generally good, although it's been habitually returned to the case after each use.
Should prove durable but mustn't be chucked about like the simple metal gauges.
Will repay the investment if used regularly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Intuitive after a few practice runs, readouts have been consistent and seemingly reliable. The ability to save readings by turning the brass screw is a godsend since the flat positioning makes figures tricky to determine in situ.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Simple to use and takes the guesswork out of determining chain health.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Poor ergonomics of the display
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, assuming they had a big fleet or bike(s) with high end, sensitive components.
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)