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  1. #1
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    Reputation: bedwards1000's Avatar
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    Check and replace your chains!

    A public service announcement. I've recently turned 3 working drive trains into non-working, skipping under load drive trains by replacing my (over) worn chains. Don't let this happen to you! Chains are relatively cheap but higher end cassettes are not.

    How often does everybody replace their chain? I start to feel like I should at 1000 miles and probably actually get to it at 1200 or so but apparently that's not often enough even on a road bike. I think I'm pushing 3000 miles on my cross check chain right now, I just ordered the replacement cassette - I'm not even going to bother trying just the chain.

  2. #2
    Squeaky Wheel
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    Do yourself a favor and buy one of these. Each time you wipe down or lube your chain give it a quick check. I tend to get about 2000 miles out of a chain before it needs replacing.

    Amazon.com: Park Tool CC-3.2 Chain Wear Indica: Sports & Outdoors

  3. #3
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    The sad thing is that I have one. The thought process usually goes like: "I've only put about 1200 miles on this chain." and "The bike is shifting great", "It just dropped into the 0.75 slot", "I can put it off for a while"

    I remember you saying that you get 2K miles/chain without replacing the cassette and I was amazed back then. Maybe I need to change my choice of lube.

    I just bought 4 new chains to sit on the shelf so there is no excuse to change them the next time they measure bad.

  4. #4
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    It's such a crapshoot.

    The system I use is to buy at least 3 chains when I get a new cassette.

    Run the first chain for about a month or two.
    Switch to the second chain and run it for about a month or two.
    Switch to the third...
    Switch to the fourth...
    Switch back to the first and repeat until the chains are fully stretched.

    With quicklinks it's super easy, and it should work well. But...

    I have an almost brandnew XT cassette. I ran a SRAM chain on it for a few weeks last fall. I ran a second SRAM chain on it for May. Didn't ride that bike at all in June because of rain.

    Put a new KMC chain on at the beginning of July, and it skipped like crazy. One gear that's not even my favorite gear was basically unuseable. This is my #3 bike and the cassette has at most 500km on it.

    Since I know the cassette isn't worn out I decided I'd just ride through it. And it took at least 5 rides for the cassette and chain to start playing nicely together, but I still don't trust it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfangled View Post
    It's such a crapshoot.

    The system I use is to buy at least 3 chains when I get a new cassette.

    Run the first chain for about a month or two.
    Switch to the second chain and run it for about a month or two.
    Switch to the third...
    Switch to the fourth...
    Switch back to the first and repeat until the chains are fully stretched.

    With quicklinks it's super easy, and it should work well. But...

    I have an almost brandnew XT cassette. I ran a SRAM chain on it for a few weeks last fall. I ran a second SRAM chain on it for May. Didn't ride that bike at all in June because of rain.

    Put a new KMC chain on at the beginning of July, and it skipped like crazy. One gear that's not even my favorite gear was basically unuseable. This is my #3 bike and the cassette has at most 500km on it.

    Since I know the cassette isn't worn out I decided I'd just ride through it. And it took at least 5 rides for the cassette and chain to start playing nicely together, but I still don't trust it.
    Pretty common for a chain to take a week maybe 100 km to wear in to the cassette.

  6. #6
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    I was thinking of doing something similar but sh1t, I've got 7 bikes with speeds from 6-10. I'd have chains and cassettes everywhere and would undoubtedly get them all mixed up.

    I was thinking of saving the slightly worn cassette the doesn't play with brand new chains and doing the chain swap thing until they were about 1/2 worn and then swapping the worn cassette back in. Basically have a cassette for new chains and one for slightly elongated chains.

    I've also got a big cassette graveyard that actually comes in handy if you break a lockring or a single gear in the cluster (both which I have done) which makes me hesitate to toss it.

  7. #7
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    Hrm. I've got ~2500 miles on my chain, I think. I keep measuring it and it doesn't look out of spec. Maybe I'm measuring wrong?

  8. #8
    psycho cyclo addict
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    There are different schools of thought... let them all wear out and replace cassette, chain and rings together or change the least expensive component (the chain) more often. I use the latter approach.

    I check my (single speed and three 9-speed bike) chains a couple times a month using a Park Tool CC-2 chain checker. There are huge debates over which tool is more accurate. This one works for me- I lose sleep over other things instead of worrying about the CC-2's relative accuracy as compared to other tools

    When the tool reading reaches .75, I replace the chain. I have (Shimano XT and XTR) cassettes with 3,000-4,000 miles on them and I recently replaced worn and mildly shark toothed chain rings on my 29er hard tail that I ride most often. When I install a new chain on any of the four bikes, it works like a champ with no skippin or slippin.

  9. #9
    Squeaky Wheel
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    My current cassette just rolled over 7000 miles. My last cassette went almost 14,000 miles before I replaced it. Everyone rides in different conditions so there is no hard and fast rule of thumb on how many miles you can get from a chain and a cassette. I just depends on what kind of conditions you ride in, how often you clean and lube your drivetrain and how often you replace your chain.

  10. #10
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    I just put a new cassette and chain on. I can generally go one summer with a chain and go through two to three chains per winter. I plan on changing my cassette once per year. Generally in the summer and then I run it through the winter when I know it'll get destroyed. I generally try to keep my cassettes on the low end of the scale - the cheaper the better, as I've not found that the more expensive ones last any longer given the type of riding I do. I also tend to run the cheapest chains I can find. I ran an SRAM hollow-pin last fall/winter and got just over 400 miles on it before it was used up. The mud, sand, salt, and assorted road grime around here starting in September and lasting until May just eats up drive train components.

  11. #11
    psycho cyclo addict
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockphi View Post
    ...I generally try to keep my cassettes on the low end of the scale - the cheaper the better, as I've not found that the more expensive ones last any longer given the type of riding I do. I also tend to run the cheapest chains I can find. I ran an SRAM hollow-pin last fall/winter and got just over 400 miles on it before it was used up. The mud, sand, salt, and assorted road grime around here starting in September and lasting until May just eats up drive train components.
    I pick up cassettes and chains when they are 20% (and sometimes 33%) off around the holidays so XT 9-speed ones cost me ~$55 each. I ride large volume 29er tiress everywhere - commute, trails, urban assaults and races. I just hit 2,000 miles for the year during this weekend

    Main reason I use mid level and higher end cassettes is that they do not gouge freehub bodies nearly as much as one piece cassettes and therefore can be removed with significantly less effort when I need to service a hub.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    I pick up cassettes and chains when they are 20% (and sometimes 33%) off around the holidays so XT 9-speed ones cost me ~$55 each. I ride large volume 29er tiress everywhere - commute, trails, urban assaults and races. I just hit 2,000 miles for the year during this weekend

    Main reason I use mid level and higher end cassettes is that they do not gouge freehub bodies nearly as much as one piece cassettes and therefore can be removed with significantly less effort when I need to service a hub.

    I've not run into any issues with gouging the freehub with the cassettes I'm using and have never had an issue getting them off.

    I used to run this one: Shimano Deore HG-50 9-Speed Cassette at REI.com

    I'm now trying an SRAM: SRAM PG-950 9-Speed Cassette at REI.com

    I'm riding a Pugsley full time - daily commute as well as trail riding on the weekends. So some similar riding conditions. I'm also a big guy (6'1" ~260) and tend to destroy stuff quite easily.

    I may just have to start watching for sales and pick up the XT-level if I can get them that cheap.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockphi View Post
    I may just have to start watching for sales and pick up the XT-level if I can get them that cheap.
    Shimano XT M770 9 Speed MTB Cassette | Buy Online | ChainReactionCycles.com

    CRC always has really cheap Shimano cassettes. Sometimes they are boxless OEM which they don't warn you about, but I think my current XT cassette was actually retail.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Pretty common for a chain to take a week maybe 100 km to wear in to the cassette.
    Now he tells me. Where were you when I replaced a cassette and 2 rings after replacing a chain that measured at not-overstretched?! Maybe I gave up too soon.

    It also made me think, "wouldn't it s*ck if you got a bad chain from the factory and replaced all kinds of other parts for no reason."

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanath View Post
    Hrm. I've got ~2500 miles on my chain, I think. I keep measuring it and it doesn't look out of spec. Maybe I'm measuring wrong?
    I put the crank at about 2 o'clock with the checker sitting on top and hold the rear brake and load the crank to 'stretch' the chain and try to push the checker behind the roller.
    I just replaced an XT chain on the commuter at .75 and about 900 miles. I picked up a bunch of XTR/Dura Ace 9 sp chains locally for $36 ea, not having had a lot of luck with the cheaper Shimano chains it will be interesting to see how the fancy one wears.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Now he tells me. Where were you when I replaced a cassette and 2 rings after replacing a chain that measured at not-overstretched?! Maybe I gave up too soon.

    It also made me think, "wouldn't it s*ck if you got a bad chain from the factory and replaced all kinds of other parts for no reason."
    Must have been sailing???

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockphi View Post
    I just put a new cassette and chain on. I can generally go one summer with a chain and go through two to three chains per winter. I plan on changing my cassette once per year. Generally in the summer and then I run it through the winter when I know it'll get destroyed. I generally try to keep my cassettes on the low end of the scale - the cheaper the better, as I've not found that the more expensive ones last any longer given the type of riding I do. I also tend to run the cheapest chains I can find. I ran an SRAM hollow-pin last fall/winter and got just over 400 miles on it before it was used up. The mud, sand, salt, and assorted road grime around here starting in September and lasting until May just eats up drive train components.
    We also have a long cold salty winter....I can generally get through the winter on a chain....(XTR CN 7707)....the chain is a high quality chain but can usually be sourced for about $35 these days (used to get for $21 5 years ago).

    I also ride a full Ti XTR cassette...(3 actually one on the slicks one on the knobs and one on the studs)....these cassettes outlast any other I have had and end up a lot cheaper in the long run (you can poick these up for well over 50% off list.

    I have found that high end equipment rides better and lasts better than low end parts...and can often be found at prices that make the long term less costly.

  18. #18
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    I'm trying to decide if I should wait it out or change the cassette on my road bike. It only skips under heavy load occasionally. I'd hate to have the worn cassette prematurely wear the new chain.

    The MTB cassette is probably toast. I can make that one skip every time.

  19. #19
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    Has a side note...

    I started changing chains at 0.75 on the chain checker....

    Then I got the XTR Ti cassette...ran chains on it out to .75...

    Then I re-ran all my old chains back out to 1.00....has the cassette wore out. (At the time I was running two wheel sets slicks and knobs)

    Now I run my chains out to 1.0 on the chain checker, and I have not noticed increased wear yet on the cassettes. (This is with 3 wheel sets).

  20. #20
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    Any problems with chainring wear? I find that the smallest one on a triple can sometimes wear but larger ones have enough teeth where some wear doesn't effect performance although it might contribute to faster chain wear.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gumby. View Post
    I put the crank at about 2 o'clock with the checker sitting on top and hold the rear brake and load the crank to 'stretch' the chain and try to push the checker behind the roller.
    I just replaced an XT chain on the commuter at .75 and about 900 miles. I picked up a bunch of XTR/Dura Ace 9 sp chains locally for $36 ea, not having had a lot of luck with the cheaper Shimano chains it will be interesting to see how the fancy one wears.
    Unfortunately I'm not fancy enough to have a checker tool, I just have a ruler for now.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    Any problems with chainring wear?
    A few years ago I started having problems with chainsuck when switching between the granny and middle rings. I fought with it and swore at it for awhile, but eventually I just bought a new grannygear and that magically fixed the problem. And now I don't run triples anymore so I don't have to worry about it.

    And after my first winter (when I didn't know chains were consumables) I totally wore out the 32t ring on a cheap, riveted crankset. If I put any weight on it at all it would slip.
    Last edited by newfangled; 07-23-2013 at 03:30 PM.

  23. #23
    I'm SUCH a square....
    Reputation: bigpedaler's Avatar
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    Brake pads, chain rings, chains, and cassettes are what's known as "wear-out" items. Buying the top of the line for any of these is just throwing money away. (Never buy the LOWEST, either, though....)

    I can get two years of daily riding out of a drivetrain; chainrings, 3-4. $20 chains (9sp) and <$35 cassettes have served me impeccably for over a decade.

    Advice: get your 'bling fix' out of handlebar components.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

  24. #24
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    So, I got the new cassette on the MTB and take it out for a test ride...Cachunk. Still slipping. The culprit seems to be the middle chain ring. I couldn't' make it slip in the big or little one but the middle one slips with any power. Next part on order. The whole bike only has about 1500 miles on it. It did give me a chance to figure out how to pull apart a hollowtech crank.

  25. #25
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    Same thing happened to me...and I had a cheap, riveted crankset so I had to replace the whole kit and kaboodle.

    At the bike co-op people come in thinking they should replace their chain. If they're beyond 1.0 I give them their options: you could replace your chain and cassette, and maybe probably likely your chainring(s)/cranks; or you could ride it for another 10 years and probably never notice.

    One of my coworkers commutes pretty regularly on his bike that's 15 years old, has a ton of miles on it, and still has the original chain. It's 24spd and the shifting is a little flaky no matter how you adjust it, but beyond that it works fine. He bought a new chain a few years ago, but I told him not to bother putting it on.

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