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  1. #1
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    I’m a chain breakin’ fool!

    I must be a clydesdale? (well, I did used to be a hill eating roadie) In just over a year and a half I’ve broken three chains, and I managed to stretch out a heavy-duty single speed chain on my Surly 1x1 in less than 1,500 miles. The first two breakages happened on my lightweight aluminum framed 29er, and now yesterday (Saturday) I managed to break a link on my Surly Big Dummy. Sure, I was going up a steep hill with my boys in tow, a person could argue that cargobikes weren’t designed for going up a steep hill with cargo in tow (they’d be mad wrong to bring this point up), but I really hadn’t expected it. The bike only has about 500 miles on it. I had my chain tool, so I was able to get the rig back home OK. What a bummer though, to break a chain, but I suppose it could have been worse (I didn’t crash).
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  2. #2
    Devo
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    what chains are you using?

    I'm a fan of KMC chains
    in the past I had used Z9000's with no problems
    but as of last march, it seems that the batch I had changed 2 of my bikes over to, they started to rust, which was not the case in the past.

    at anyrate:
    last august/sept while on tour from Eureka to Morro Bay, sure enough, while in Morro Bay, I banged the gears while sprinting across an intersection, and bang! a side plate cracked.

    same thing, chain tool, extra quick link, and viola! done.
    only to have it happen again during that last 20 miles to my door step.

    so now all my bikes I'm using KMC X9.99
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelfPropelledDevo
    what chains are you using?
    Also, what solvent for cleaning...

    g

  4. #4
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  5. #5
    Devo
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    my gut feeling is that these are instances where the quality control has been compromised.

    on the Big Dummy, the chain is so freaking long, that even in the big/big chainring/cog combo, the chain receives little "cross chaining" stress.
    that is; the length is so long, that the angle is reduced.

    the last run of chains I went thru, I had been using the same model of chain on 2 bikes. The Dummy ate the first chain, and the Pug was close at hand.

    I simply changed all the chains: however.... it opened up the typical can worms on both bikes.
    new drivetrains for both.
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  6. #6
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    yep

    I snapped a chain a few weeks ago on my BD, a side plate split in half as I was just getting going. I was unloaded and at 145 pounds and 57 yrs old I don't think I overstress a chain. First one i ever broke. It was a SRAM, not sure which model.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SelfPropelledDevo
    what chains are you using?
    Stock chain—SRAM PC971. This is a 2010 model Big Dummy. Although the temptation was there to pick up two seemingly “bulletproof” stainless steel Wipperman Connex 9sX chains, the $80+ per chain sorta made me instead favor a couple of $25 SRAM PC971 chains (more money left over for beer! ) although I know that inevitably something is going to break someday.

    Meanwhile, fast-forward to today, now I am wearing out the Raceface XC bottombracket on my Surly 1x1 that I installed less than 1,000 miles ago! The drive side bearing cup is making grinding noises although nothing has come loose. Maybe I am some sort of clydesdoofus afterall!

    In terms of basic maintenance/cleaning on my bikes’ drivetrains, I use your basic nontoxic soap-based chain cleaner, rinse off with water, spray excess water out of drivetrain with compressed air, and then top off chain links with Dumond tech chain lube.
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  8. #8
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    Not on a cargo bike, but the last time I busted 3 chains in such a short interval, it ended up being that just two teeth on one of my chainrings were ever so slightly bent. This was a pretty new bike, so I don't know if it was defect, a bad shift somewhere, or it just got clanged at some point, but those two teeth just eventually pried a weak point loose in every one of those chains.

    Long shot, but maybe take a look at your rings?

  9. #9
    Devo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    Stock chain—SRAM PC971. This is a 2010 model Big Dummy. Although the temptation was there to pick up two seemingly “bulletproof” stainless steel Wipperman Connex 9sX chains, the $80+ per chain sorta made me instead favor a couple of $25 SRAM PC971 chains (more money left over for beer! ) although I know that inevitably something is going to break someday.

    Meanwhile, fast-forward to today, now I am wearing out the Raceface XC bottombracket on my Surly 1x1 that I installed less than 1,000 milesit ago! The drive side bearing cup is making grinding noises although nothing has come loose. Maybe I am some sort of clydesdoofus afterall!

    In terms of basic maintenance/cleaning on my bikes’ drivetrains, I use your basic nontoxic soap-based chain cleaner, rinse off with water, spray excess water out of drivetrain with compressed air, and then top off chain links with Dumond tech chain lube.
    sounds like you are doing all the right things.
    I'm a big fan of Dumond tech. I use it on every bike I work on.

    as to chains, I've been using KMC X9.99 chains. Typically they are about $27 each.

    it seems to me that I'm seeing a trend in bearings.
    that is, I think there are a lot of cheap bearings out there.
    what I mean; is that my feeling is that mfg's are using cheaper grade bearings

    not that I'm trying to pitch the ceramic bearing speal, but on that tangent there is a lot to learn about ABEC and Grade ratings. Not all bearings are the same.

    in the world of outboard bearings, I've been on a set of steel ABEC 5 Enduros that I pressed in some cups. For $20 they are a rockin deal!
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  10. #10
    ballbuster
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    No solvents! Use a thin chainlube like ProLink, flush the stuff through, rag it off, then use a thicker lube like DuMonde Tech or Finish Line Wet Lube.

    I've been running that for years on XTR chains with Powerlinks, and its been flawless. I get like 700-900 mountain miles on a chain.

    Solvents kill the chain lube. Since there is no way to flush out all of the solvents, they will keep on killing your chainlube. Just say no.

    I've never had good luck with SRAM chains. I think they use a soft cheese instead of steel when they make them. Only chains I ever broke, or wore out in under 400 miles.

  11. #11
    Devo
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    No solvents! Use a thin chainlube like ProLink, flush the stuff through, rag it off, then use a thicker lube like DuMonde Tech or Finish Line Wet Lube.

    I've been running that for years on XTR chains with Powerlinks, and its been flawless. I get like 700-900 mountain miles on a chain.

    Solvents kill the chain lube. Since there is no way to flush out all of the solvents, they will keep on killing your chainlube. Just say no.

    I've never had good luck with SRAM chains. I think they use a soft cheese instead of steel when they make them. Only chains I ever broke, or wore out in under 400 miles.
    holy c r a p
    if I was getting 700-900 miles out of chain... I don't know what I'd do.
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  12. #12
    fnar fnar brrraaaaap
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    it happens.....

  13. #13
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    Maybe you are changing gears to rapidly sometimes that can wear the chain down after a while. Have you thought about changing the gear wheels ?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Val Garou
    Not on a cargo bike, but the last time I busted 3 chains in such a short interval, it ended up being that just two teeth on one of my chainrings were ever so slightly bent. This was a pretty new bike, so I don't know if it was defect, a bad shift somewhere, or it just got clanged at some point, but those two teeth just eventually pried a weak point loose in every one of those chains.

    Long shot, but maybe take a look at your rings?
    My Surly 1x1 has been running a RaceFace XC Evolve single chainring plus bashguard, so all is good there. I had actually checked the chainrings on the Big Dummy and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that this is the THIRD bottom bracket I’ve gone through on the 1x1 (have gone through two sets of “Mr. Whirly” crank/bottom brackets). Yeah, the drive side bearing cup (RaceFace Evolve XC) is making awful grinding noises, but it held together on a grueling rocky downhill bashfest yesterday.

    UPS delivered the SRAM replacement chains yesterday for the Big Dummy (actually they are the slightly more expensive 991, not 971), and apparently the replacement DH-grade RaceFace (marketed as “more bulletfproof” than the current ones) bearing cups should be on the UPS truck already.
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  15. #15
    ong
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    I had a SRAM 971 on my hardtail that broke four times (over several hundred miles of offroad riding). Each time I shortened it a link, so by the end I had to be super careful about which gear combos I used... I replaced it with one of the KMC chains, and haven't had any problems since. I broke another SRAM chain twice on my Big Dummy... I think I've given up on those chains.

  16. #16
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    Wow, well, there are now two seemingly credible (moreso than the SRAM camp) claims for the KMC chains.

    Meanwhile, I just finished redoing the drivetrain on my Big Dummy. While cleaning off the chainrings it suddenly struck me as a mildly retarded idea to have a CARGO bike with a 48/36/26 setup up front—really now, when the hell am I supposed to be using the 48 when HAULING CARGO?!?!? I was having some lewd thoughts of swapping out for the 94bcd spare Surly Mr. Whirly parts I have lying around from my Surly 1x1… just going with a 42/33 and kissing off the idea of having three chainrings altogether… but I just cleaned everything front and rear, and then installed the new chain(s). Didn’t notice any anomalies with the condition of the teeth on any of the chainrings. I think it’s time to hit up that same hill with my boys in tow, you know, the one from my original post… just to see if this sh¡t will break again.
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  17. #17
    wants a taco
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, that this is the THIRD bottom bracket I’ve gone through on the 1x1 (have gone through two sets of “Mr. Whirly” crank/bottom brackets). Yeah, the drive side bearing cup (RaceFace Evolve XC) is making awful grinding noises, but it held together on a grueling rocky downhill bashfest yesterday.
    There is a good article on here somewhere (i think drivetrain stickies) about how to clean out and re-grease outboard bb bearings. I being as OCD as I am towards maintenance decided to see how well they pack outboard bearings with grease from the factory last time I replaced my bb. Needless to say there was very little grease in there from the factory and it seemed to be a very low quality grease at that. I cleaned all the factory stuff out, packed them full with phil wood grease and even after 2-3 years in all kinds of conditions my raceface bb is still running smooth.

    Another option out there is when you trash the bearings you can just press new ones in the old cups, enduro sells bearings for this as does phil wood and they seem to hold up much better than both raceface and shimano bearings.

    What has worked for me and most the customers at the shop is the cheaper/mid grade sram chains. I have seen lots of shimano failures but very few sram failures and we sell sram to shimano chains 2 to 1.

    I am in the group that thinks major cleaning in worthless on a chain, just re-lube, wipe off the excess and go. Just make sure to use a decent chain lube (lots of good ones out there despite what people on the interwebz say, I like pro-link and rock n roll personally)

  18. #18
    ong
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker
    ...really now, when the hell am I supposed to be using the 48 when HAULING CARGO?!?!?
    I switched last year to a Truvativ "Howitzer" style crank/BB setup, which I believe is oriented towards the freeride market. It's a bash/32/22 crankset, and with an 11-34 in back, it's still got plenty of high end for me. I only use the granny when I'm hauling passengers, really, but it's nice as a bailout.

    I had a triple on there at one point, but I never used the big ring, and I've had so many BB issues that I went with something really beefy; I was going through square-taper BBs every 8 or 9 months (the cheapo Shimano cartridge ones; UN-26, I think?). The bashguard -- well, I'm not exactly riding my Big Dummy through rock gardens, but I guess it keeps my pant leg a little cleaner?

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