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  1. #1
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    How many chains?

    Here's the plan: My ride needs a new drivetrain. I ride in all conditions rain or shine, hot or cold, light or dark on dirt, urban and sometimes I like to drag some roadies around on one bike. I ride 6+ days a week between 10 and 60 miles a day. Typically 15-40 miles. I kill a drivetrain avery 11 months or so despite keeping it reasonably clean and always lubed. It's time for new parts to include 760 44t ring, Deore steel 32t ring, LX cassette and I'm still working on a chain pick.

    The question is this: Whereas some people replace chains every few hundred miles to keep the cassette running smooth longer, eventually the cassette will wear to a point where it no longer meshes well with a new chain. I intend to keep the old chains around and use the slightly used chains on the slightly used cassette in a rotation until none of the parts work well any more. Any ideas how many chains should be in the rotation and what frequency should be considered for chain rotation?

    Right now I'm thinking 3 or 4 chains rotated monthly.

    I'm not looking for someone to tell me what to do but I would like any insight that might be offered.
    Off season? What off season?

  2. #2
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    Nobody? Really?
    Off season? What off season?

  3. #3
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    I get about 3,000 miles before my drive train starts to slip in the middle ring. By then I need to replace the chain, cassette and rings (PC59 chain, LX rings and cassette). After I did this last time I thought that I should keep an eye on the chain and replace it when the rohloff chain checker said it was time to do so. I reached this after point after only 600 miles but decided that it was better economy to ride the bike until it started to slip and then replace the lot instead of replacing the chain every 600 miles.

    Buying a new crankset (the ones just below the Deore level) and then using its steel rings on my LX cranks is the cheapest way to get new rings (around $35). I also sold the new cranks for about $20 to offset the cost even more.

    My advice is to ride it into the ground and replace the lot.

    Wombat

  4. #4
    Got A Lust for Life...
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    One cassette lasted me three seasons in a very muddy area. I bought a chain checker and replaced the chain as recommended. I think it helps. I replaced my chainring this summer for the first time since 2002. So, that had four seasons on it. I ride at least four times a week 10-25miles per. I forgot to mention that I ride at least eight months(12 this year!) a year so about 15-20% of the riding was done in the winter. Works for me...

  5. #5
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    run steel teeth front and rear with a rohloff chain. wear causes stretch & strech causes wear. You'lle be golden for a long long time.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wombat
    I get about 3,000 miles before my drive train starts to slip in the middle ring. By then I need to replace the chain, cassette and rings (PC59 chain, LX rings and cassette). After I did this last time I thought that I should keep an eye on the chain and replace it when the rohloff chain checker said it was time to do so. I reached this after point after only 600 miles but decided that it was better economy to ride the bike until it started to slip and then replace the lot instead of replacing the chain every 600 miles.

    Buying a new crankset (the ones just below the Deore level) and then using its steel rings on my LX cranks is the cheapest way to get new rings (around $35). I also sold the new cranks for about $20 to offset the cost even more.

    My advice is to ride it into the ground and replace the lot.

    Wombat

    BEFORE you buy the crankset,............Check out Mud Sweat and Gears .com..........
    They've good prices on Shimano C-rings............................................. ......................


    AND on that chain rotation I'd say every 200 miles..........................

    .........................................GOOD LUCK......................PEACE.......

  7. #7
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    I would like to use the rohloff chain but it's not an option right now. The LX cassette, granny and middle ring will be steel.

    I fully intend to ride it into the ground My hope is that it will ride longer, smoother this way.
    Off season? What off season?

  8. #8
    eBiker
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheMoment
    Any ideas how many chains should be in the rotation and what frequency should be considered for chain rotation?

    Right now I'm thinking 3 or 4 chains rotated monthly.
    Am I reading correctly that you want to try 3-4 chains swapped, say, weekly on the same rings/cassette? Averaging out the wear.

    My guess is that the lowest common denominator will force the rest of the parts to fall in line with it. So, one more worn chain will bed deeper into rings which will then stretch the rest of the chains.

    It's a guess, and like all things real world results trump guesses or logic.

    Mr. P

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.P
    Am I reading correctly that you want to try 3-4 chains swapped, say, weekly on the same rings/cassette? Averaging out the wear.

    My guess is that the lowest common denominator will force the rest of the parts to fall in line with it. So, one more worn chain will bed deeper into rings which will then stretch the rest of the chains.

    It's a guess, and like all things real world results trump guesses or logic.

    Mr. P
    Maybe, doesn't it seem logical that the chains will wear at a reasonably equal pace? You're probably right, speculation and logic may be worth thier weight in crap when the rubber hits the road/dirt/cats.
    Off season? What off season?

  10. #10
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    I've Done The Chain Rotation Thing

    It works fine. I don't know that you get too many more miles than regularly checking your chain for stretch and replacing it then though. I usually go through 3-4 chains before I have to change the cassette. In my rotation system I had 3 chains and changed them roughly weekly. It was just something different to try.

    And I also highly recommend Rohloff chains. Well worth the extra money IMHO.
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  11. #11
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    A Rohloff chain is about $45. A steel cassete about $30 for a good one on ebay. Steel Rings (good ones) cheap. Not having to monkey with your drivetrain and your wallet........PRICELESS!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne
    It works fine. I don't know that you get too many more miles than regularly checking your chain for stretch and replacing it then though. I usually go through 3-4 chains before I have to change the cassette. In my rotation system I had 3 chains and changed them roughly weekly. It was just something different to try.

    And I also highly recommend Rohloff chains. Well worth the extra money IMHO.
    When a chain started to show wear did you simply throw it away or keep it for when the cassette no longer worked with the new chains?
    Off season? What off season?

  13. #13
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    I Toss Them

    ...and I will add that I use mostly loose 8spd cog cassettes so I can simply replace one worn cog at a time too.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  14. #14
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    this is pretty much what I'm doing ...

    I've got 9000 km from my previous Deore cassette + PC59 chain. I had to replace all but granny, and the chain was about 1/3 inch longer than new one.

    Decided to try to use two chains to prolong the drivetrain life, and at the moment I've done 3000 km on LX cassette + PC 59, then 3000 km on the same casette and PC69, now back to the first chain and plan to swap chains weekly (ie each ~150 km) from now on. I'm usually wear stuff to the degree when shifts get messy, and I hope to get double the distance travelled.
    regards
    nampla

  15. #15
    Its got what plants crave
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    Kinda seems like a waste of time to me. If it ain't broke don't fix it!

  16. #16
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    Gee Jim, with that kind of logic why bother oiling the chain? Why not let the tire pressure slow leak untill it's uncontrolable and then put some air in? It's true, it ain't broke but if it might last longer, work better and cost less then it seems lke it might be worth fixing.
    Off season? What off season?

  17. #17
    Its got what plants crave
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheMoment
    Gee Jim, with that kind of logic why bother oiling the chain? Why not let the tire pressure slow leak untill it's uncontrolable and then put some air in? It's true, it ain't broke but if it might last longer, work better and cost less then it seems lke it might be worth fixing.




    Not oiling your chain is far stretch from not changing stuff until it NEEDS to be changed. If you buy 3 chains to run your cassette might last longer but you've still bought 3 chains, haven't you? I'm not a fan of replacing stuff until it needs to be changed, and I really doubt that rotating chains is going to extend your drivetrain service intervals very much. If anything I would think running the chain that's already developed the proper wear pattern would be more beneficial anyway.


    But what do I know.. I don't lube my chain or inflate my tires apparently.

  18. #18
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    If I buy three chains and one casstte and it lasts as long as three chains and three cassettes how is it inferior? I LIKE to tinker with my bike, I'm not saying this is the next big thing and everybody with a bike has to do it or be labeled a schmuck (I do have some other criteria in mind)but I'm going to tweek my bike at least once a week anyway. The proper wear patern? Are you kidding? The naysayers have spoken. I didn't say you don't lube your chain or inflate your tires, only that your logic could support it. Anybody else with something helpful to contribute?
    Off season? What off season?

  19. #19
    Its got what plants crave
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    Do you SERIOUSLY think that swapping chains is going to give you 3 times the cassette life you had before? I'm not saying you aren't going to get any extended wear times, but there's not a soul who will be able to PROVE that swapping their chains has extended the life of their cassette. Chains and cassettes are consumable items as far as I'm concerned. Regardless of whether the chain is brand new or used you're still running it over the cassette. New or used there will still be wear. It sounds like you're going to do it anyway, so what do you care whether you have internet approval or not?

  20. #20
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    Well, Actually....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim311
    but there's not a soul who will be able to PROVE that swapping their chains has extended the life of their cassette.
    Since he's just about to start the proceedure the results could be documented and proven either way.

    If I had any reason to throw fresh cassettes and chains on 2 of my bikes I'd do a head to head comparison but currently everything is running a ok.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne
    Since he's just about to start the proceedure the results could be documented and proven either way.

    If I had any reason to throw fresh cassettes and chains on 2 of my bikes I'd do a head to head comparison but currently everything is running a ok.
    There is a soul alive that's going to try to document and provide evidence that three chains is superior...or not. I am going to be closely tracking several variables along with each chain's individual milage and of course total milage. Am I going to prove anything? probably not. Am I going to do something that apparently hasn't been done, tracked and provided to the public? looks that way.

    Incidentally if you read my original post you'll notice I never asked for internet approval at all. I asked for input and sugestions.

    On a side note it's too bad I there's not a precise, quantifiable way to measure cassette wear and chain roller/pin wear. I would prefer a more direct numeric comparison instead of "shifts like crap, time to replace the kit"
    Off season? What off season?

  22. #22
    Its got what plants crave
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheMoment
    There is a soul alive that's going to try to document and provide evidence that three chains is superior...or not. I am going to be closely tracking several variables along with each chain's individual milage and of course total milage. Am I going to prove anything? probably not. Am I going to do something that apparently hasn't been done, tracked and provided to the public? looks that way.

    Incidentally if you read my original post you'll notice I never asked for internet approval at all. I asked for input and sugestions.

    On a side note it's too bad I there's not a precise, quantifiable way to measure cassette wear and chain roller/pin wear. I would prefer a more direct numeric comparison instead of "shifts like crap, time to replace the kit"

    It has always been my experience that throwing a different chain on (whether new or used) resulted in some ghost shifting or poor shifting in general. Maybe it would be best to start with a new cassette and new chains, and rotate your chains weekly and see how that serves you. I've put new chains on used casettes, and used chains on new cassettes, and neither situation ended up working well, so it might be best to start from a clean slate. As much as you ride it might be worth just buying cheap chains and changing them more frequently. A cheaper chain and a high quality cassette might serve you well.

  23. #23
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    You buy 1 good chain and run it til its outa spec via park chain checker or what not and then you throw it away or give it to your ex buddy and go get a new one. That is why they make chain checkers.You need to realize that there is alot of diff between quality of chains and the best way to ruin your drivetrain is using cheaper chains. There is no way to enhance all aspects of the situation. Its waaaaay cheaper in the long run, you have a great shifting system till its time to change, you dont have to waste your time switchin back and fourth and your rings and cassette will last way longer. Call Park and ask em!!

  24. #24
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    Rotating 2-3 chains is adequate & definitely worthwhile!

    Keeping things clean & lubed is the key. Rotating chains is one way to make this routine easier. Use chains with an easily removeable link (SRAM PowerLink for example) & take the time to clean & re-lube the "extra" chains and you'll always have a clean chain ready. I swap chains almost every ride since it takes no more than 1-2 minutes, not including the time to clean & lube the dirty chain. You still need to check the chains for wear occassionally since one will inevitably wear faster than another. Be sure to choose the least worn chain each time you swap (an argument for using 3 instead of 2 chains). All you need to measure wear is a simple ruler - no silly chain stretch tool!

    Another advantage of using multiple chains is that it gives the chain lube time to set between uses. How important that is depends on the lube you're using. My favorite by far is Boeshield, but it definitely requires a day or so (less in really warm dry weather) to dry after application. The stuff is almost useless if you don't let it dry completely. When allowed to set properly, it lasts thru almost any conditions up to about 50 miles or so - much longer if it's not wet or dusty.

    Over the years I've noticed how people that don't take the time to keep their drivetrains clean always seem to have shifting trouble and just throw their hands up & "replace everything" far too often. I used to be one of those people until I started cleaning & rotating chains. Now I can't remember the last time I've changed a chain or cassette due to wear or shifting problems. Combine this with Gore RideOn Ultralite cables & SRAM GripShift & you can literally ride 2-3 seasons with no shifting problems at all!

  25. #25
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    Funny that I have NEVER had that experience since rotating chains. I rarely have any shifting problems even in terrible conditions. Some rings, especially those using softer alloys, are more susceptible to chain suck when they get dirty, but by keeping everything clean you will drastically reduce these issues. A clean drivetrain will also last considerably longer due to less wear from grit.

    I'm sure I can't convince everyone, but I have proven it to myself without a doubt. It makes sense & it works. No doubt it takes more time that just leaving everything alone & hitting it with a rag & oil now & then, but the results are well worth it for me. I just wish the people I ride with would do the same thing so I don't have to wait for them while they fix their "shifting problems" on the trail.

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