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DIY Repair

In The Stand: How to Replace a Chain on a 2007 Bionicon Golden Willow

German engineering at its German-est

This is the weirdest bike we’ve ever featured on In The Stand, and it’ll probably hold that title for a while. The Bionicon Golden Willow harkens back to an era when travel-adjust forks were considered to be an upgrade, and when we still accepted bikes that required a lockout lever to properly climb. At the time, the Bionicon concept seemed like a more effective, even more convenient alternative to the band-aids we were using to make our bikes pedal better.

Pressing Bionicon’s handlebar-mounted button while leaning forward would extend a cartridge on the shock and compress a cartridge in the fork, putting the rider in a position that would feel unnatural and awkward on flat ground, but was comfortable and efficient on the climbs. And doing the opposite in preparation for the descents could net you a geometry combination that would be too impractical for a trail bike, but worked for the Bionicon. And lucky for us, the components that make all this possible are still functioning. All we have to do in this repair is replace a chain that is starting to wear.

Drivetrains wear out, but the reasons are not so simple. Our chains stretch over time, and it’s that stretching that causes the most damage to our cassettes and chainrings, not the pedaling. So, to extend the life of the most expensive components in our drivetrain, it’s best to occasionally replace the least expensive: the chain. You can get a sense of how much your chain is literally stretching by lining a ruler’s zero-inch line with the center of one of your chain pins. If you look 20 links to the right and the pin is past the 10-inch line, it’s time to replace your chain.

More accurate is a chain-checking device, because it measures the wear on the bushings that actually run on the teeth. Some are static, some have a dial or a lever that tells you how far you are from needing to replace the chain. Once you see any play when setting a checker in a chain, it’s probably worth it to just start fresh. We walk you through the process while breathing new life into an old bike that, itself, can actually breathe.