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Last autumn I got a new Cannondale Evo Six after five years with my Jamis Xenith and threeish full drive train rebuilds. This time I was determined not to leave my components on too long and get trapped into an old worn chain with the same rings. This spring I changed my chain for the first time after 2792kms. My heart was in my mouth when I heard the deadly chunk-chunk of a slipping chain (had I procrastinated too long by skipping a few wet weekends to do the change?) Well it slipped three times on that first ride then bedded in and has run smoothly ever since.

I've just ordered a new chain; my new chain is solid at 75% on my Park tool (bit of play at 65-70) so I reckon I have about a fortnight left in it. Now on another 2210kms. So I am happy I am keeping an eye on my chain. However, now I wonder how long I can keep my cassette going? I know some of you will say change the cassette with every chain, but we are not looking at pro team money here. And my second chain proved to me that changing the chain in time is vital. What do you reckon, will my current cassette (5002km) sustain me, when would you change this and crank?

19 comments

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VeloUSA [272 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E [3435 posts] 2 years ago
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Buy a new cassette (you'll need it at some point regardless).

Fit the chain.

Take it for a test ride.

It is likely to skip on the most used cogs first. If it does then replace the cassette.

Two chains per cassette is fair but I think it depends on how long you let the chain go between changes, among other things.

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wycombewheeler [1342 posts] 2 years ago
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Sound advice from Simon. You need to change cassette with chain if you only change chain when you can feel a problem. If you keep an eye on your chain and change it early you could get two or three chains to one cassette.

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crazy-legs [1022 posts] 2 years ago
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I normally reckon on 3 chains per cassette and 3 cassettes per chainset. Seems to have worked out OK so far...

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Leviathan [3057 posts] 2 years ago
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3/1, fingers crossed that means I can bob on another chain soon and have a smooth summer. But at 2500km per chain it isn't cheap this cycling business. I just hit 964km in 30days on Sunday after doing the Cambridge Gran Fondo. I'd like to hit a personal record 1000km in a month some time this summer, which means a chain should last all of 10 weeks. No wonder I used to run them for too long. My first Halfords Carrera road bike only ever had one chain, one cassette, and one crank to rule them all.

Thanks guys.

 

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Charles_Hunter [149 posts] 2 years ago
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What chains are you using / buying, out of interest. 

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Chris James [449 posts] 2 years ago
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I have various wheels and cassettes so it can be difficult to track exactly how often everything gets changed, but as long as I change the chain at, or before, 1% stretch on my fat spanner gauge (which I think exaggerates wear) then I find that cassettes last ages - i.e. almost never change them. I have a cassette that is 10 years old on the wheels that I have relegated to the turbo and that runs okay with a new chain.

I do get through chains regularly though! I use KMC X9 and X10s on various bikes.

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Simon E [3435 posts] 2 years ago
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Leviathan wrote:

3/1, fingers crossed that means I can bob on another chain soon and have a smooth summer. But at 2500km per chain it isn't cheap this cycling business. I just hit 964km in 30days on Sunday after doing the Cambridge Gran Fondo. I'd like to hit a personal record 1000km in a month some time this summer, which means a chain should last all of 10 weeks.

1000 km in 30 days? Go for it!

How was the GF? Velothon Wales was on Channel 4 the other day, it looked like fun.

I usually get at least 4,000 km from a chain (KMC X9-93, £10 each) in all weathers. I lube little & often, no degreaser, just WD-40 on an old t-shirt to get some of the crud off before wiping it dry and re-lubing. A new chain every 3 months or so is not a huge expense in the whole scheme of things.

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le Bidon [47 posts] 2 years ago
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I tend to replace both every 3k miles - so 3/4 times per year. Keep everything nice and clean, not too much lube, not too much degreaser. I've done 23,000 miles in the past 3 years and have changed one chainset (but because it was flimsy, not worn).

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keef66 [75 posts] 2 years ago
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I change chains once they get to 0.75% worn, and try the new chain on the old cassette first.  Doing this, cassettes seem to last at least for 4 chains, and I've never needed to replace a chainring yet

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BBB [489 posts] 2 years ago
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CHAIN ROTATION!

Depending on the cost of chainrings/cassette (it can vary a lot) it's best to run 2-4 chains in rotation.

Rotate them say 300-500 miles (it takes seconds with quick links) and simply use the whole drivetrain as long as you can.

Using this method you will never throw away any chain too early or replace it too late. No need for a wear indicator either, ever.

From the "point of view" of other drivetrain components, using x number of chains in rotation is like running a single uber chain with 1/x of wear rate. The wear on components is reduced, especially in the beginning.

One more overlooked advantage is ability of using another chain in case of a serious mechanical that damages the current one (chain suck, rear mech in spokes drama etc...) You know that at least one of the other chains will mesh with other components.

 

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madcarew [858 posts] 2 years ago
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A cassette per chain? I don't think so. My current cassette has been through at least 5 chains (Ultegra cassette, 105 / ultegra chains. So long as you change the chain before it is over-worn then you should get very little sprocket wear (they are hardened steel after all). I do 10 - 13,000 km a year and race regularly. Like chains, keeping them clean is important. As an aside, I don't believe your couple of skipped teeth was the chain 'bedding in' by altering any property of the chain. It's much more likely it was derailleur mis-alignment or something similar. Sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing by checking chain wear and replacing regularly. I reckon to get over 20,000km per cluster. (80kg, cat 2)

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Simon E [3435 posts] 2 years ago
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BBB wrote:

Depending on the cost of chainrings/cassette (it can vary a lot) it's best to run 2-4 chains in rotation.

Rotate them say 300-500 miles (it takes seconds with quick links) and simply use the whole drivetrain as long as you can.

Using this method you will never throw away any chain too early or replace it too late. No need for a wear indicator either, ever.

Not saying it doesn't work, and if you're happy that's great, but it sounds too much faff for me.  I don't rotate tyres, tubes etc, not going to start doing this (don't you have to number and remember/record mileage done on each chain?), it's more work than 30 seconds with a chain checker every now and then.

BBB wrote:

One more overlooked advantage is ability of using another chain in case of a serious mechanical that damages the current one (chain suck, rear mech in spokes drama etc...) You know that at least one of the other chains will mesh with other components.

Nah. If I break a chain and the new one skips then the cassette needs replacing. Simple enough.

@Leviathan - if a chain checker is at 75% I'd replace the chain immediately (especially if it's on a 10 or 11 speed cassette, which cost more to replace).

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Leviathan [3057 posts] 2 years ago
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Sorry for a slow reply, I've had other things on my mind, as below.

Tour of Cambridge. There is quite a lot of hyperbole from the organisers about this being the best sportive/event in the country. I think not. Not that it was not good. It is a nice closed road with lots of like minded people to slipstream with. The claimed route was 80miles but turned out to be more like 84. The longest I've gone in two years, but I have to prepare for London 100. It is dead flat, which I don't mind at all, sustaining speed can be a challenge just as much as climbing a big hill. If you have an obsession with elevation this is not one for you.

I did find on some of the long windy open fen roads that some people were quite lazy about taking the lead. I would find myself at the front of small groups and grinding in the wind, but turn a corner and the same people would cruise off. On a couple of longer straights I had to slow quite a bit and wave people through to get them to take a turn up front. I know it isn't a team event or a pro race, but yeah, come on people...

And some of the villages with dozens of Vote Leave posters. Lets just say I think they should keep their voting preferences to themselves. I feel sorry for those who might disagree who live in the area.

It was well organised except for a squeeze point after 2 miles that really slowed all the 'sport' category I was in, more stagger needed. It also didn't seem to have to many feed/water stations for the distance, perhaps a lack of volunteers.  

Given it is more expensive, not as well provisioned, not as long/tall, London it is not. Given that the Great Manchester Cycle was cancelled this year, this is the nearest thing if you like closed flat fast events.

28.77kph for 135.2km

Meanwhile, on Tuesday 7th after this event my bike was stolen, so all my little gripes about chains/indexing etc have been solved. More on a new thread...

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StraelGuy [1585 posts] 2 years ago
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I tend to change chains at about 1,200 miles when the .75% indicator looks like it's thinking about slipping through in the next couple of months or so. I've been through 3 chains on both bikes and the cassettes both look and feel fine.

 

My mate on the other hand who is not remotely mechanically minded just rides the living shit out of his bike and replaced the whole drivetrain when everything's absolutely on it's last legs and slipping .

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StewartM [18 posts] 2 weeks ago
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As I understand it, the more stretched your chain is, the more it prematurely wears the cassette, as a stretched chain engages on fewer teeth, wearing it more. So, in one respect, any ratio of cassettes to chains is achieveable. If you are on the conservative side with your chain and throw it out sooner, not only are you increasing the "chains bought" side of the equation, but you're reducing wear on the casette, and reducing the "cassettes bought" side of the equation. I've heard numbers as high as 7:1, but that would be by throwing your chain out before it really hits that tipping point of wearing the cassette prematurely. 1:1 and 1:2 are in my opionion too far the other way. In reality, you're eeking too much out of your chain at the expense of the cassette.

I work to about 3:1, 2000kms for the chain (probably throwing it out a bit early) and 6000km per cassette.

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SpikeBike [122 posts] 2 weeks ago
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I have only just started keep track of this. Before I just took the bike to the lbs and they always said chain needs replacing as does the cassette and that's probably true as I never cleaned the drive train. Now I regularly clean and check the chain. 105 chain lasted 1600miles (sorry still work in miles) before it allowed a 0.75 chain checker to slot in. Having changed the chain twice and having some slippage I would say if you get 4000 miles out of a cassette you are doing well. That is less and a penny a mile! So don't be stingy

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ktache [986 posts] 2 weeks ago
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Rohloff, in a bizarre twist, sell a cassette wear checking tool.  

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Team EPO [163 posts] 1 week ago
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I am no bike guru but I do find using the chain checking ruler like thing works well for me - vid below explains how to use it

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJfTulNH4sk

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Park-Tool-CC-3-2-Chain-Indicator/dp/B000BR3LHQ/...