When do you change your chain? Update > It may be too late!

by bikeboy76   May 27, 2013  

Thanks for the replies a few weeks ago to the question: When do you change your chain?

http://road.cc/content/forum/79848-when-do-you-change-your-chain

Sadly it seems I might be too late. I got a shiny new 10 speed shimano chain and fitted it yesterday. I also carefully took apart the crankset, rear mech and cassette and cleaned them, put it all back togther and dry lubed it (yep chain doesn't need it but drive will.)

I took it for a spin this morning and the chain was beautifully smooth, BUT when I moved up gears to the top two little rings, CHUNK, CHUNK, CHUNK. It started skipping on the 12T and 11T. These are my main 'pushing hard' rings and see lots of flat out use training for my upcoming sportives.

I guess I will clean the old chain and refit it to the cassette. They will work together fine for the summer but it may mean I have to change the lot in September. It is a long slow and expensive business keeping you bike on the road. I did get 6000km out of the last rebuild and will get more I guess. At least I have a the new chain and some time, back to ebay to save 'shimano 10 speed cassette' as a search.

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Bear in mind that a worn chain will also wear the teeth on your chainset (though not as quickly as the cassette). I'd strongly recommend a new cassette ASAP, especially if you have some important events to ride. Don't spoil the ship...

10 speed Tiagra is £20 at Wiggle/CRC, 105 is £32.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1779 posts]
27th May 2013 - 22:20

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I just changed my chain after almost 3000km - putting my wear indicator on it for the first time it was more than .75% stretched, which is way beyond replacement time.
The new chain had fixed my shifting issues, so it would seem my block is ok for now.

I think you're meant to change every 2000ish km? Block every 4000ish, Chainrings every 8000?

posted by bashthebox [528 posts]
28th May 2013 - 8:08

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bashthebox wrote:
I just changed my chain after almost 3000km - putting my wear indicator on it for the first time it was more than .75% stretched, which is way beyond replacement time.
The new chain had fixed my shifting issues, so it would seem my block is ok for now.

I think you're meant to change every 2000ish km? Block every 4000ish, Chainrings every 8000?

Where did you get those figures? My chain and block have done 6500miles and they look fine to me and don't slip or cause any problems. I do mix up my rings and gears to avoid problems with the block but I can't see any major problem with the chain.

posted by Alan Tullett [1293 posts]
28th May 2013 - 18:30

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Seems like there is no fixed definition of when you should change, depends on how you ride and use your gears. I am going with this formula:
If in doubt; change your chain.
still got a problem; change your cassette.
still got a problem; change your crankset.
still got a problem; change your jockey wheels/derailleur.
still got a problem; give up all hope and eat cake. Crying

@Bash
'I think you're meant to change every 2000ish km? Block every 4000ish, Chainrings every 8000?'
Nice 4:2:1 philosophy, but might be a bit expensive, saves you cleaning too often.

David Bowie agrees with me

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posted by bikeboy76 [1048 posts]
28th May 2013 - 21:12

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Get three chains with your new cassette and use them in rotation (say every 200-300 miles) instead of waiting for the first chain to stretch by 0.75%.
Your cassette will live longer and you won't need to keep an eye on the chain wear. There will be no issue of replacing the chain too early (waste) or too late (skipping / excessive wear on a cassette).
More economical and idiot proof.

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [164 posts]
28th May 2013 - 21:41

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Is that cheaper though? Half decent chain is 30 quid, half decent block about 60. Add the magic links into that (can you even re-use magic links?) and I'm not sure if that's a false economy or not.

To Alan Tullet - have you checked your chain for wear with an indicator? Could be you've become accustomed to slightly dodgy shifts. Changing my chain the other day was like putting clean sheets on the bed. You forget how good it is.

Oh god, that makes it sound like I never change the sheets on my bed. I do. At least every 2000km.

posted by bashthebox [528 posts]
28th May 2013 - 21:55

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bashthebox wrote:
Is that cheaper though? Half decent chain is 30 quid, half decent block about 60. Add the magic links into that (can you even re-use magic links?) and I'm not sure if that's a false economy or not.

10sp KMC chains (they come with reusable "missing links") start from £13.60 and you don't need spending more as in most of cases it won't buy you extra lifespan, just marginal weight savings.
Similar thing with cassettes. A basic £20 Tiagra one will most likely last as long as the more expensive models.
There's obviously a weight penalty coming with cheaper drivetrain components but you're not going to notice the difference.

Cycling can be cheap if you want it to be Smile

I don't follow trends. Trends follow me.

posted by BBB [164 posts]
28th May 2013 - 22:26

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Last time I swapped chains on my MTb I found I also had to tweak the cable tension on the barrel adjuster to avoid the chain jumping about which surprised me. Ymmv

posted by bigant [39 posts]
29th May 2013 - 5:43

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The rate of chain wear varies hugely, I don't think you can put a mileage on it. Different people put very different demands on chains - big ring mashers doing turbo work and hard training rides all year are surely likely to cause more wear than someone pootling around on sunny days only. That's before you consider issues like cross-chaining, riding on the same few sprockets or how frequently you clean and lubricate it.

I'd say the 4:2:1 ratio is more like 8:2:1 - a chainring should last longer than 4 chains! But then again, this too may very as a single ring will get more use than the inner on a triple.

Rotating chains with a cassette sounds like complication and you still have to buy 3 chains up front. Fit a chain, clean and lube it regularly then replace it before it's too worn and you'll get at least two, possibly three chains before the cassette requires replacing.

9 speed chains and cassettes are significantly cheaper than 10 speed and you're only giving up one intermediate cog Smile But whether 9 or 10sp Tiagra cassettes are just as good as yer fancy Ultegra with a tiny weight difference. KMC X9 and X10 chains seem to last better than average. Shimano chains are made for them by KMC.

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posted by Simon E [1779 posts]
29th May 2013 - 9:43

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You are right it is too late.

There are two approaches to this problem of chains wearing out.

You can just run everything into the ground and replace chainrings, cassette, chain and jockey wheels when everything starts squeaking at you and you can't shift properly or you can buy a chain wear indicator, check the chain regularly and just replace the chain when it wears out.

At the cheaper end of the market it probably doesn't make too much difference price wise but it's more hassle to get everything changed at once and one big lump to spend rather than buying a new chain every few weeks or months.

At the more expensive end of the market, the cassettes and chainrings are so costly that you will want to make them last as long as possible and so replacing the chain regularly makes economic sense as it prolongs the life of your expensive kit.

Any mechanic, maintenance book or manufacturer will recommend that you clean your chain regularly, check it for wear and change it when it is showing signs of wear. The advantage of this approach is that you take a greater interest in the maintenance and smooth running of your bike and are less likely to suffer a sudden failure when miles from home.

You fallen into the trap of replacing your chain too late and now need a new cassette to make it work with a new chain. You can refit the old chain and run it for longer but you may end up damaging your chainrings too and having to do the lot in one go.

I recommend that you buy a chain wear indicator, they are cheap, and use it every week after you've passed a few hundred miles on your chain. The tool takes the guesswork out of the replacement cycle. If you don't have a decent maintenance guide then it is well worth getting one. Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance is really good.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [304 posts]
30th May 2013 - 19:54

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something many mechanics don't use is actually the Park cassette checking tool, a very useful tool but seldom seen?

a worn chain is a worn chain...but as a previous poster mentioned, riders can ride their bikes very differently causing different levels of damage to the drivetrain

a chain that is stretched within tolerance limits (not terminal but requiring replacement) can be replaced with a new chain, yet the new chain on the original cassette will slip as 1-2 sprockets on the original cassette are worn through due to the rider's habits

we see this alot in London bike shops where commuters on road bikes are pushing the same cassette sprockets every day

personally? I will never clean my chain using any solvents, degreaser or chain baths.

The most brutual method would be warm soapy water with an old toothbrush, then rinse with fresh water, dry / wipe and treat with quality dry lube...

...before running the cranks backwards and pulling the chain downwards with hand pressure using an old, clean rag to work excess lube into the rollers and clean off any surface dirt

makes a massive difference to chain durability.

posted by hampstead_bandit [96 posts]
31st May 2013 - 20:08

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