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  1. #1
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    SRAM vs. Shimano Cassette and chain durability?

    Hey all,

    SRAM vs. Shimano cassettes and chains...is there one brand that beats the other in terms of durability?

    Also...

    11-34 worth the change from 11-32?

    And....can you run a Shimano chain and cassette with SRAm derailleurs...Im assuming yes.

    Tks,

    Rich
    Last edited by RkFast; 01-15-2006 at 09:28 PM.

  2. #2
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    more than just brand, but also consider what series. both brands offer quite a few different 'levels' of component, and these will affect their durability as well (eg: XTR cassette is lighter but at the expense of durability cf XT i believe). as such, it becomes a cost-benefit issue, and what you're prepared to accept.

    i personally use shimano chains (incl HG-53/73 and CN-7701) and have had no issues. mind you, i don't ride particularly hard, i'm not a 'clyde', nor have the legs of Jan, and don't usually ride in terrible conditions (mud, rain, sand). so i'm unlikely to break a chain, and don't wear them quickly.

    other people seem to swear by SRAM chains ahead of shimano. and i have read various personal reviews with a grain of salt.

    as for cassettes, i have a few SRAM ones on the MTBs (and shimano on roadbikes), including the '06 PG-990 (with anodized red spider) and '05 PG-970 i think. no probs so far. other people prefer the XT or XTR cos they're lighter, and XT for overall value and performance.

    i personally haven't been swayed either way, and consider the 'better' SRAM and shimano chains/cassettes to be good enough for my needs. one bike came with a SRAM cassette (this same bike has a shimano chain), so i chose a SRAM cassette for the other MTB. and i had no probs with the shimano CN-7701 (dura-ace/XTR) chain on the roadbike, so chose it for the MTB.

    yet, cos i don't race and don't ride heaps and heaps nor really hard - so therefore don't put huge stresses on my components - any of this gear is going to be quite adequate. i figure this would apply to others too, but if you are pushing the envelope, then fair enough, take a more measured approach to choosing.

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  3. #3
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    I was thinking all things being equal. Top of the line SRAM stuff, vs. the XT stuff.

    I want to go ALL SRAM, but Im hearing the Shimano chains and cassetes are still the way to go, overall....that despite SRAM's good showing, the XT chains and cassetes are lighter, stronger and wear MUCH better. True?

    So Im thinking sticking to Big S for chain, cassette and SRAM for the shifters and rear derailleur.

  4. #4
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    i too have heard that XT cassettes have that advantage. but is it significant? as i've found, SRAM cassettes aren't exactly wearing out after 6 months from my kind of riding (recreational XC) so they certainly last 'long enough' not to be of concern; they'll probably last me years. weight isn't that much: XT 11-34 294g vs SRAM PG-990 295g (ref: weightweenies).

    chains weight in around 290~300g. i also don't see that an SRAM chain should wear so fast, or break, before a reasonable period unless you're particularly hard on the components.

    having said that, i use shimano chains, but more out of availability (what my lbs has in stock) than anything, and i figure an XTR/dura-ace chain isn't going to be bad.

    certainly from a compability point of view (shifting quality), no probs with mixing and matching cassettes and chains. and i see no probs with your proposed setup. isn't it now a matter of what series SRAM components? mmm, X.0.

    NB: worth waiting for more opinions as i am in no way an authority on this gear.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpeedThrills
    I was thinking all things being equal. Top of the line SRAM stuff, vs. the XT stuff.

    I want to go ALL SRAM, but Im hearing the Shimano chains and cassetes are still the way to go, overall....that despite SRAM's good showing, the XT chains and cassetes are lighter, stronger and wear MUCH better. True?

    So Im thinking sticking to Big S for chain, cassette and SRAM for the shifters and rear derailleur.
    I've run all shimano, all sram and a combination of both. I am now running X.9 shifters & rear der. with a 06 pg990 cassette and a 991 chain.

    The XT cassette is lighter than the pg990. I haven't seen huge discrepancies in the longevity of the two, but the XT seems to last a bit longer.

    For chains, I think SRAM is the clear winner for not only ease of use (Powerlink rocks) but for durability as well. Not sure what the weight difference is between a 991 and a XTR chain (which I used to run), but I'll take the 991 regardless of weight penalty.

    I personally like the SRAM x.9 shifters/der. much more than my previous XT stuff, just a crisper shift and the der. doesn't flop around as much. I still run XT front der and XTR cranks, so haven't dropped Shimano altogether.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jdub
    For chains, I think SRAM is the clear winner for not only ease of use (Powerlink rocks) but for durability as well.
    yes, the ability to quickly remove the chain is a boon (for maintenance primarily). i have added the Wipperman Connex 'stainless link' to all my shimano chains for this reason. so it's an easy option with any chain really.



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  7. #7
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    OK, definitely going 11-34/long cage...its what most are running these days and whats spec'ed on fulll bikes from the major players.

    A little bit or research yielded that SRAM's 06 offering in this range have the same "spread" as the Shimano offering. Both are steel with a chrome coating. Both should have the same wear characteristics. Probably will come down to what my LBS stocks.

  8. #8
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    I have broken more than 1 XT cassette - the arms on the spider just crack. Pretty soon you get enough cracks in enough arms that the thing is completely useless. Shimano will readily offer warranty replacement but it is a hassle to have a cassette fail mid-ride. I switched to SRAM several months ago and so far so good. My experience thus far has shown SRAM to be the clear winner regarding durability.No contest.

  9. #9
    Ebo
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    Is that a 4 or 5 arm spider that you've had problems with. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebo
    Is that a 4 or 5 arm spider that you've had problems with. Thanks.
    4-arm. I have 2 brand new 5-arm models sitting in my toolbox (replacements from Shimano) but I have not tried them yet so I don't know how they compare.

  11. #11
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    Sram cassettes are pretty cool. just don't run them on an alloy free-wheel body like a Chris King. the design doesn't spread the load out well enough and will eat through the free-wheel inside of a year if you do a lot of riding. Shimano cassetes have a much better design and i have had no problems with them eating my EXPENSIVE freewheel body. if you ride with a steel free-wheel body then any cassette will do.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechmann_mtb
    Sram cassettes are pretty cool. just don't run them on an alloy free-wheel body like a Chris King. the design doesn't spread the load out well enough and will eat through the free-wheel inside of a year if you do a lot of riding. Shimano cassetes have a much better design and i have had no problems with them eating my EXPENSIVE freewheel body. if you ride with a steel free-wheel body then any cassette will do.
    Again, this is NOT a problem on the new SRAM cassettes. I've used a PG970 and PG990 that both now have the same spider design the XT has that spreads out the load.

  13. #13
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    Yep...

    ... and you can use a Powerlink with a Shimano chain. I refuse to use that stupid press pin thing since I had one fail on me. Probably my fault, but the Powerlink is pretty bonehead-proof.

    I've been using Shimano chains, but that is mostly because Shimano chains always seem to be on sale somewhere.

    The one thing that sucks about Shimano chains is that they pack them in some horrible grease. I have yet to find a way to remove this packing grease. SRAM uses a light oil.

  14. #14
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    I think its almost a toss up between the cassettes at this point. The XT 11-32 is a fair bit lighter than the Sram at 264g vs 295. If you change the lockring to the aluminium one like the XTR I believe you can get it down even further to almost 250g which is pretty close to the 240g XTR but with the advantage of all steel cogs. It took me a while to figure out exactly WTF changed from the older 750 XT cassettes to the 760. One of the details I noticed is the chrome plating process seems to be a little better. The new ones have what looks like a smoother lower profile process that I've noticed has resisted chipping of the plating noticeably better than the older model. Not a big deal but its nice to not see rust bits at the edge of the teeth when it chips off.

    I'm a lot more partial to the Shimano chains though. The only difference between the HG73/93/7701 is the corrosion protection. They are all the same chain now. All three have the same strength and weight. The HG73 is uncoated, probably not what you'd want to run in a salty enviroment. The HG93 has coated plates and the 7701/XTR is fully coated, plates and rollers to resist corrosion. More or less the same applies to the Sram chains.

    I used Sachs/Sram chains for several years, mostly the PC69/99 and found them to be pretty good chains but I never liked the shifting compared to Shimano's. They were a bit louder and seemed to lack the overall smoothness the grooved plates on the shimano provided. What I really didn't like about the Sram is that when they were worn, I would know about it. No amount of adjustment could get them to work just right. I've ridden some shimano chains to the point were they were crazy stretched and shifting performance is still very good. Of course thats not a good idea for chainring life but sometimes you have to make due with what you have temporarily for whatever the reason. When shimano started to hammer and mushroom the outside end of the pins of the 7701 to keep the plates from slipping off the pins I made the switch to 7701's on all my bikes. All of the lower end chains are now getting the same pin treatment. So far I have never broken a 7701. The 7701 is also considerably cheaper than most equivalent Sram chains which is another plus.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    ... and you can use a Powerlink with a Shimano chain. I refuse to use that stupid press pin thing since I had one fail on me. Probably my fault, but the Powerlink is pretty bonehead-proof.
    The powerlink is indeed a bonehead proof option. I used them for almost 2 years on shimano chains + several more with Sram ones. I actually stopped using them because I realized that after about 6 months to 1 year they would be so badly deformed they either affected shifting or would simply become impossible to release without breaking. I also saw several friends brake them open or simply have them pop open and dissappear mid ride. Makes it kind of pointless to use them if they won't release later on. Eventually made the switch to the proper shimano pin. Once I got the hang of installing it right I've never had one fail on my bike or anyone else's. Correctly installed its a more secure solution. Now for me the trick is to use the shimano pin and carry a powerlink for quick trail/race repair. Fortunately since I've been using the 7701 chain I've never had to use it. I always seem to be lending them out to riding buddies who can't install a chain right to save their life or the cheap bastards who run chains that are pieced together from the chunks of 3 or 4 seperate chains

  16. #16
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    To the O.P... I have had both SRAM and Shimano chains and cassettes (though the lower versions PG950 cassette, PC69 chain, HG 53/73 chain, LX cassette) and here's my thoughts so far....... My T3 came with the PG950 cassette and HG 53 chain, not knowing really too much at the time I switched the chain out @ 1,000 miles and put on a SRAM PC69 - when I took of the HG53 it was rusted looking, but I cleaned and lubed it and stored it. About 800 miles down the road I sprung for an XT crankset and LX cassette, but forgot to order a new chain and figured I had at least another 200 miles on the PC69 chain - WRONG - it was worn and consiquently ate the middle ring on my new crankset in the couple hundred miles before I changed to a new HG73 chain.

    Fast forward now (I've read and learned some stuff) so I measure my HG53 chain and it has zero stretch with 1,000 miles. I measure the SRAM PC69 chain with 900-1,000 miles and it's stretched about 1/16". I also just checked the PG950 cassette which I could see some of the chrome wearing down and had to do some filing of teeth earlier on and find out that I had a broken tooth on my 3rd cog. I'm now alternating between the HG53 & 73 and keeping an eye on the HG53.

    True the Shimano chains are "rusty" looking but they work well and haven't stretched as easily as the SRAM. I will admit that I was going through a "big ring mashing" stage which started a bit before I changed the HG53 and the PC69 was totaly involved in, so that could have contributed but not too much. Also as mentioned the Shimano chains are always on special and a hell of a lot cheaper than any SRAM chains. The LX cassette I got was on special (much cheaper than the lowest SRAM) and is also lighter than the SRAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hecubus
    The powerlink is indeed a bonehead proof option. I used them for almost 2 years on shimano chains + several more with Sram ones. I actually stopped using them because I realized that after about 6 months to 1 year they would be so badly deformed they either affected shifting or would simply become impossible to release without breaking. I also saw several friends brake them open or simply have them pop open and dissappear mid ride. Makes it kind of pointless to use them if they won't release later on. Eventually made the switch to the proper shimano pin. Once I got the hang of installing it right I've never had one fail on my bike or anyone else's. Correctly installed its a more secure solution. Now for me the trick is to use the shimano pin and carry a powerlink for quick trail/race repair. Fortunately since I've been using the 7701 chain I've never had to use it. I always seem to be lending them out to riding buddies who can't install a chain right to save their life or the cheap bastards who run chains that are pieced together from the chunks of 3 or 4 seperate chains
    Well I guess I'll have to see how my Powelinks hold up, but for right now they are the BOMB. I can easily take my chain of to clean it after a ride and get it off just as easily on the trail for a fix (chainsuck, whatever). I've got about 600 miles so far and I can get it off as easily as when I first installed it. I switch any bike I work on to them as well for ease of cleaning and general maintanance.
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  17. #17
    mechmann_mtb
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    Jdub...

    if you don't mind checking for me, how many cogs are on the AL spider on your cassette? if SRAM got rid of the intermediate cluster (i think it was 4 cogs pinned together) then that is really good news. i have an 05 SRAM cassette that is sitting in the box in my garage. i won't use it. i don't even want to sell it for fear that some crazy fool will come shoot me when it eats their alloy free-wheel body.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    To the O.P... I have had both SRAM and Shimano chains and cassettes (though the lower versions PG950 cassette, PC69 chain, HG 53/73 chain, LX cassette) and here's my thoughts so far....... My T3 came with the PG950 cassette and HG 53 chain, not knowing really too much at the time I switched the chain out @ 1,000 miles and put on a SRAM PC69 - when I took of the HG53 it was rusted looking, but I cleaned and lubed it and stored it. About 800 miles down the road I sprung for an XT crankset and LX cassette, but forgot to order a new chain and figured I had at least another 200 miles on the PC69 chain - WRONG - it was worn and consiquently ate the middle ring on my new crankset in the couple hundred miles before I changed to a new HG73 chain.

    Fast forward now (I've read and learned some stuff) so I measure my HG53 chain and it has zero stretch with 1,000 miles. I measure the SRAM PC69 chain with 900-1,000 miles and it's stretched about 1/16". I also just checked the PG950 cassette which I could see some of the chrome wearing down and had to do some filing of teeth earlier on and find out that I had a broken tooth on my 3rd cog. I'm now alternating between the HG53 & 73 and keeping an eye on the HG53.

    True the Shimano chains are "rusty" looking but they work well and haven't stretched as easily as the SRAM. I will admit that I was going through a "big ring mashing" stage which started a bit before I changed the HG53 and the PC69 was totaly involved in, so that could have contributed but not too much. Also as mentioned the Shimano chains are always on special and a hell of a lot cheaper than any SRAM chains. The LX cassette I got was on special (much cheaper than the lowest SRAM) and is also lighter than the SRAM.


    Well I guess I'll have to see how my Powelinks hold up, but for right now they are the BOMB. I can easily take my chain of to clean it after a ride and get it off just as easily on the trail for a fix (chainsuck, whatever). I've got about 600 miles so far and I can get it off as easily as when I first installed it. I switch any bike I work on to them as well for ease of cleaning and general maintanance.
    Thats exactly what I meant about the LX and level chains not having any corrosion resistant plating. Next time you buy a shimano chain pay the extra for at least the HG93 or ideally the 7701. The difference between the different level chains is usually only a few dollars so its not worth buying the lower end stuff.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecubus
    Thats exactly what I meant about the LX and level chains not having any corrosion resistant plating. Next time you buy a shimano chain pay the extra for at least the HG93 or ideally the 7701. The difference between the different level chains is usually only a few dollars so its not worth buying the lower end stuff.
    Yeh I know, but when I was ready to place my order they didn't have any in stock they were "On order" and I didn't want any of the other items to become unavailable waiting for the chains.Plan on getting the CN7701 next time once they're in stock, but right now still have a HG73 sitting as a spare. I think that maybe not trying to remove Shimanos' super sticky coating w/ Simple Green would help extend the "shinny life" of the chain a bit more, will try only dish soap when I install the new chain as a cleaner. Yeh price difference if any was about $1 US.
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  20. #20
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    I wore through an XT cassette in about three months but my LX has lasted about a year and it's just now starting to get rough. Has anyone else noticed this?
    Off season? What off season?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheMoment
    I wore through an XT cassette in about three months but my LX has lasted about a year and it's just now starting to get rough. Has anyone else noticed this?
    Don't know as I've never had a XT cassette, since I got the LX for $24 and stupidly didn't order 2 - was the older version. But these days LX is pretty much the same or even more durable for the very little weight gain over XT.
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  22. #22
    mechmann_mtb
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    Lynx...

    the LX cassette for 05 was pretty heavy compared to XT. i don't have any problems with XT cassettes and they seem to last me a long time. i keep my chain as clean and lubed as i can though (degrease and clean then relube every week)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechmann_mtb
    Lynx...

    the LX cassette for 05 was pretty heavy compared to XT. i don't have any problems with XT cassettes and they seem to last me a long time. i keep my chain as clean and lubed as i can though (degrease and clean then relube every week)
    Don't knwo what you call heavy, all I know is my LX weighs in @ 368g compared to the lead weight SRAM PG950 I had on @ 448g.

    FYI holy crap I just checked prices on chains and Shimanos have taken a major price hike - for the 7701 at least - is now $29 at Jenson, used to be like $20. I think if that's the deal now and I'm thinking of going high end I'd go for the SRAM PC991 for a couple bucks more or stick w/ the HG73 for about 1/2 the price and just not have the "bling" of a shiny looking chain once it works that's all that matters to me. Don't see the importance of spending a $hit load on a part that's change in about 2-3 months time just for looks. Good news is they stil ahve the XT/HG93 chain for just under $20.
    Last edited by LyNx; 01-30-2006 at 08:42 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx
    Don't knwo what you call heavy, all I know is my LX weighs in @ 368g compared to the lead weight SRAM PG950 I had on @ 448g.

    FYI holy crap I just checked prices on chains and Shimanos have taken a major price hike - for the 7701 at least - is now $29 at Jenson, used to be like $20. I think if that's the deal now and I'm thinking of going high end I'd go for the SRAM PC991 for a couple bucks more or stick w/ the HG73 for about 1/2 the price and just not have the "bling" of a shiny looking chain once it works that's all that matters to me. Don't see the importance of spending a $hit load on a part that's change in about 2-3 months time just for looks. Good news is they stil ahve the XT/HG93 chain for just under $20.
    Well, the PG991 Hollowpin is the top of the line SRAM chain, and that costs $55. If it weighs the same as the old PC99 Hollow, it's not even any lighter than the CN7701. That hollow pin SRAM chain was always the one that cost a lot of money, and that hasn't changed, seems even more expensive now. The shimano one was always around 20-30 bucks, depending on where and when you got it.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mechmann_mtb
    Jdub...

    if you don't mind checking for me, how many cogs are on the AL spider on your cassette? if SRAM got rid of the intermediate cluster (i think it was 4 cogs pinned together) then that is really good news. i have an 05 SRAM cassette that is sitting in the box in my garage. i won't use it. i don't even want to sell it for fear that some crazy fool will come shoot me when it eats their alloy free-wheel body.
    I have a 06 990 and a 05 970 and both of them have the largest cogs on a spider, leaving just the 3 smallest cogs off.

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