Dr Hutch: Has turning chains up to 11 created cycling's weakest link?

Modern bicycle componentry is largely without fault – but through meticulous note-keeping the Doc thinks he's uncovered one area with room for improvement

Mar Cavendish's broken chain stage 13, 2021 Tour de Franceage
(Image credit: Chris Graythen?Getty Images)

What’s soft and buttery, with a smooth stretchy feel and a gossamer-like transience? That’s right, it’s an 11-speed bike chain. I don’t especially want to give the impression that I’ve just arrived from 1955, but stone the crows there’s not much bike riding in a modern chain.

Given my fairly modest mileage on my summer bike, I reckon I’ve had to replace a chain too soon if I can remember installing the previous one without having to look it up. (Yes – I write it down. Record keeping is just one of the reasons I’m so popular at parties.)

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Michael Hutchinson is a writer, journalist and former professional cyclist. As a rider he won multiple national titles in both Britain and Ireland and competed at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He was a three-time Brompton folding-bike World Champion, and once hit 73 mph riding down a hill in Wales. His Dr Hutch columns appears in every issue of Cycling Weekly magazine