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  1. #1
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    maintenance: chain replace vs. drivetrain replace

    what's best? frequent chain replacement or running chain until shifting degrades and then replacing chain, rings, cassette? seems like cost-wise the difference is insignificant as long as you don't run really high end components, but full drivetrain replacement far less frequently may be easier than remembering to replace your chain every few hundred miles.

  2. #2
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    I always run until the chain is worn out completely...then replace it all at once.

  3. #3
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    Use two chains and clean and swap every 300miles or your preference. Rings should last more than one chain.
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  4. #4
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    thanks. tending towards running till chain commpletly worn and then replacing all at once. never thought of swapping out two chains - interesting. so, i guess it's similar to replacing everything at once, but you actually get more life out of the sysrem because of the two-chain swapping?

  5. #5
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    The two chain thing is a new idea to me as well, my current chain is still pretty new, got it towards the end of last summer---I might have to try that.

  6. #6
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    I typically get about 3 chains (maybe 4 if i'm lucky) to a cassette if I swap them out every 800 miles or so.

  7. #7
    Cthulhu fhtagn
    Reputation: Mike Gager's Avatar
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    i only got about 200 miles on my complete drivetrain. i just replaced the cassette chain and chain rings. im a heavy rider and i tend to really mash the pedals so thats a bit of the reason im sure but im going to keep a better eye on chain wear this time and replace the chain a lot sooner
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  8. #8
    Rub it............
    Reputation: frdfandc's Avatar
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    Keeping the drivetrain clean and lubed is my primary goal. This allows for the drivetrain to last longer.

    Measure the chain every 50 miles or so on the MTB with a 12 inch ruler. Keeps everything else lasting longer. I'd rather replace a $40 chain, instead of an additional $100 or more with a new chain, cassette and chainrings.

  9. #9
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    If you adopt the 2 chain approach and have decent components, consider going to 3 chains for even more miles on the sprockets. Rotate as often as you feel is warranted, on a road bike I'd say every 700 miles or so. This makes more sense if using chains with reusable connectors, which should be kept with their respective chains.

    But to answer the original question, it really depends on the relative cost of chains vs. cassettes and chainrings, and how evenly you wear them. Both approaches work andevery rider has to see what comes out best for themselves.

    For my road bike, I rotate 4 chains, and run them until they just won't run any more without skipping, some 20,000 or more miles down the road.
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  10. #10
    M_S
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziglaf
    I always run until the chain is worn out completely...then replace it all at once.
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  11. #11
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    thanks for the info. i think i will go with the 2 or more chain approach on my road and mt bike. thanks for the advise and info.

  12. #12
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    I run a chain till it is worn out. I get about 4 to 5 chains to a cassette, maybe 6 or seven on the chain rings.

    I get about 2000 to 2500 km per chain.

  13. #13
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    I prefer running good cassettes and cranks and swapping $15 deore chains. I can feel the difference between a sram 980 and 950 cassette. Since I lube my chains frequently, I can't tell any difference between chains (as long as they don't break).

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder
    I prefer running good cassettes and cranks and swapping $15 deore chains. I can feel the difference between a sram 980 and 950 cassette. Since I lube my chains frequently, I can't tell any difference between chains (as long as they don't break).

    I prefer the nickel plated CN-7701 for $25 bucks.

  15. #15
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    To me it is really about keeping the chain clean (lubed on the inside helps, but clean is what prevents wear). A clean chain will not wear as quickly and will not 'stretch' or grow as quickly which will not wear the cassette cogs and chain rings as quickly. A clean chain will have a longer life (will not show 'stretch' as quickly) and will not need to be replaced as often. And if it is not stretched, it will not damage the rest of your drive train.
    ------- Here is another post I wrote that explains why stretch is a misnomer and keep your chain clean makes a lot of sense:
    I am a big guy (6'5", 260 lbs) that is a very hard rider (like climbing), and here is what I have learned... Chain stretch is a misnomer. The amount we, the rider, stretch the chain is very minor and not really a limiting factor. What really is a big concern is the wear caused between the roller and pins of each chain link. As the pins and roller wear, they get smaller and the space between neighbors increases. This increase is the growth we see in the chain... i.e. the chain appears to be stretched. It is not actually stretched; it is worn and therefore longer.

    Why prevent the wear?
    Chains are amazingly efficient power transfer systems. But when they are worn, they chew up the much softer cassette cogs and chain rings. If allowed to go too long, you wear these parts (chain, rear cassette cogs and sometimes front rings) and have to replace them, which is very costly. You also start getting frustrating failures like chain suck (on the front rings) or poor shifting, slipping or even chain breakage. So cost, performance and safety is why we want to prevent chain wear. If you prevent chain wear you can extend the life of each chain to ton. If you replace your chain when it has reached its life, via a chain wear tool or the ruler method, you can get four or five chains on one rear cassette as opposed to having a cassette go bad quickly when not caring for a chain and letting it wear.

    How to prevent wear?
    Now this was a biggie for me. I used to think lube the chain and you will be fine. But MUCH more importantly, it is about cleaning the chain. You need to get the fine particulates out from between the rollers and pins. This will really extend your chain life and improve performance. Once you realize that a clean interface between roller and pin is what is important, two important corollaries become clear:
    1) never lube a dirty chain - you are just carrying dirt into the all-important roller-pin interface.
    2) Keep lube off the outside of the chain - clean lube off the outside of the chain after lubrication. The lube is NOT for the OUTSIDE of the chain. It only attracts dirt and particles there, which are carried into the pin-roller interface.

    Hope this helps. Once I realized I was not stretching the chain with my weight and riding style, realized that care for the chain would improve performance and reduce cost and realized that keeping the chain clean is all important, I changed several things I was doing. 

  16. #16
    Give it a crank
    Reputation: Mtn-Rider's Avatar
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    When one drivetrain component wears out, it's not always obvious which one needs replacing. How many times have you guessed wrong what was causing chain skipping? It takes a good eye to know if it's a worn chain, worn chainrings, or worn cassette. I hit/miss ration is around 50% on first try.

    I still prefer to replace each component independently after it's completely worn out. I find that chains stretch very fast in the first 300 miles and then can last 3000 miles or more.

    I don't buy the replacing the whole drivetrain theory every time, I don't see where the gain is. Plus if you did so, you'd always be limited by the weakest component anyway. You do get the confidence of knowing your drivetrain won't fail for many miles. Many other items need maintenance that I figure just replace the whole bike theory makes even more sense. I don't buy that theory either.

  17. #17
    Diggity Dog
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    Buy a Rohloff chain wear indicator and when the .075 side is buried in the chain go ahead and replace the chain. New chains keep everything much fresher and it will be easy to determine what cog or chain ring needs replacing as a new chain won't seat properly though it takes a long time and many chains for this to occur.

    I don't remove chains to clean. I clean and lube on the bike until new chain time. Compare installing a new chain to changing oil in your car.

    I probably go through 6 to 8 chains per cassette and 3 to 4 cassettes per chain ring (usually the inner or middle depending on my gearing).

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