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  1. #1
    Just the tip!
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    Chain wear checker, anyone?

    This is long winded, but it is an earnest question for tool aficionados and people who like to save money on their equipment.

    As you all know, as the chain wears, the pin to pin distance increases eroding the 1/2" pitch that the chain is supposed to have. When this happens, the gears wear down to match the chain. This is why we generally have to change the rings and cogs when we change the chain. An expensive proposition especially if you like high end equipment and/or have multiple bikes.

    It is however possible to save the rings/cogs if one increases chain replacement frequency. Due to necessary fit tolerances, new chains do not immediately begin wearing down rings until a certain amount of "stretch" has occurred. The questions come down to:

    "Where is the acceptable wear limit before gear damage occurs?"
    "How do you measure this limit accurately?"
    "Is the riding time it takes to reach that limit reasonable?"

    So I've looked through the forums to see what people are using to check their chains for wear. The most common responses are using a Park, Shimano, Rohloff tool or a 12" ruler.

    The dedicated Park/Shimano/Rohloff/etc tools seem to get a common complaint of relying on pushing the rollers against the pins which means the manufacturing tolerances of the roller to the pin directly affect the measurement. Indeed, some users report brand new chains as measuring half worn out or worse using some of these tools.

    The 12" ruler, while of good intent, is difficult to accurately use and is therefore more of a rough estimate indicator rather than an accurate gauge of usable life left. I.E. your measurement is dependent on how still you can hold the ruler while applying tension to the chain and eyeballing the hash marks.

    I bring all of this up because for the last 17+ years, I've been using a home-brewed tool to accurately determine the wear limit and reduce my ring replacement budget. In fact, the only times I've had to buy rings in the last 15 or so years is when upgrading entire drivetrains (like 8 to 9 speed, XT to XTR, Shimano to SRAM, etc) or when experimenting with where the wear limit is. No BS, I've got rings and cogs that have 5 years of hard riding on them with no hooking or chainsucking, and they still take new chains fine. For me, this tool is the single biggest money saver in my tool box.

    So I've shown this tool to some close riding friends and some are very interested in getting one for themselves. I'm just curious if there's enough interest out there for me to get a production run going. I've already figured out the design for manufacturing and expect the cost to be $25 to $30 if bought from me directly. As a plus, I'll be building them in the US and not off-shoring it... not ever. If you are interested, please respond to this post. If I get 40 or so earnest responses, I'll hit the "go" button.

    A few other notes:

    The tool obviously does not function like the other tools, but is just as fast to apply and very accurate. It has been tested through dozens of chains of 7/8/9 speed Shimano/SRAM varieties. 10 speed has not been out long enough for me have any real data. I do expect the tool to work fine with it though.

    With this tool, you can not only save on gear components, but you can also make objective quality/strength comparisons between chain models/brands and even chain lube. For instance, for me Sachs/SRAM PC58 and 68's (8 speed) had approximately the same wear quality clocking in at 16 months. A CN7701 XTR 9 speed chain has about 9 months of life. A SRAM PC970 (2005 model) lasted a measly one month. So this tells me that 8 speed is cheaper to own since mid range product lasts almost twice as long as the top of the line 9 speed chain. But if I want to run 9 speed (and I have been) then the XTR chain still saves me money in the long run.

    Your figures will vary of course depending on your environment, riding style, riding frequency, lubricant choices, shifting style, body weight, etc. but you can determine trends using this tool. In other words, if you never lube your chain, are 300 pounds, cross chain all the time, and ride uphill 10 miles a day, you might find that replacing the drivetrain every six months is cheaper than replacing the chain every week.

    If you got this far, thanks for your time and attention span.

    H
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  2. #2
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    That sounds very interesting! If you could post a picture of the tool so we can see what it looks like? Thanks!!

  3. #3
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    What does your tool measure that the others dont?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endothermic Cavewalker
    That sounds very interesting! If you could post a picture of the tool so we can see what it looks like? Thanks!!
    Yeah, how about a picture of the tool in use?

  5. #5
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    The short answer: A different target

    Long answer:

    It comes down to how the tool measures and what you believe a chain checker should do for you.

    The Park and Shimano tool (I have no direct experience with the Rohloff but it looks similar to the Shimano) both wedge between two rollers and push them apart inline with the chain. In doing so, these tools indirectly judge pin-to-pin "pitch" distance. This means any clearance between the roller and sideplate bushing figures into the pitch and can therefore vary widely on the same chain and even the same spot if you've got a tiny bit of gunk on a roller.

    My tool, which is based off another similar tool from way back when, directly measures the pitch spacing like you would with a ruler, but it does so with much more stability and with good repeatability.

    The other difference is the philosophical question of what a chain checker tool "should" do. The other tools on the market tell you when the actual usable limits of the chain have been exceeded. Meaning the point at which the dimensions are so far off from ideal that shifting integrity is compromised by things like chainsuck and thrown chains. However, by that point, the chain has already worn the gears in to match and a new set of gears must be bought when the chain is replaced.

    My philosophy is that the chain is the cheap part and should therefore be changed BEFORE the expensive parts get damaged. Due to the difference in execution of the other tools, they can't be accurate enough to spot that limit. Nor do I think it's necessarily in those tool makers' best interest to tell you where that wear limit is. After all, Shimano makes more money if you replace the gears too. Park sells more tools when you have to replace the gears.

    As for pictures of the tool itself and in operation, well to be honest I am a little hesitant as the design intent is easy to replicate. The last thing I want is some crap outfit in China to make bad knock offs by the boatload. However, as my intent is to help fellow riders and the actual measurement limit is not easily determined without one actually in your hands, I will post something shortly. Please give me a few days to figure out how best to capture it and show it here.

    I thought of a few other points I missed in my original post:

    Because I haven't had the need to replace rings frequently, I obviously have not tried all the available gear sets available on the market. I can tell you that it works for Shimano gears, Truvativ rings, Shimano and SRAM chains 7,8,and 9 speed. I do not know for certain that it'll work for SRAM cogsets, but I believe it should work since they are essentially reverse engineered Shimano cogs.

    I should be more precise about the damage that the tool prevents. While it will definitely help extend the life of your gears, It does not prevent the gears from eventually wearing from abrasive media like mud and sand particularly if you are using aluminum rings. Steel rings in my experience, in conjunction with this tool, last longer than you'd care to keep the equipment . Diligent use of the tool prevents noticeable physical tooth deformation from a buggered chain.

    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798
    What does your tool measure that the others dont?
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  6. #6
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    It sounds interesting...

  7. #7
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    WOW, very interesting, and fairly well delivered sales pitch for your new product, otherwise known as SPAM

    I've had no issues using a 24" steel ruler to check my chains and have only just decided to replace my 4 year old, over 12k miles XT cassette. I more decided to replace it because out of appreciation someone gave me a nice, new , shinny 32-11 XTR cassette and I wanted to try that over the 34-11. Oh and my "tool" can be used for a variety of things besides chain checking.

    Seriously. My advice to you is if you really think it's that inovative to patent the design and then try to sell it. But no one is going to buy something they can't see, Period!
    Last edited by LyNx; 02-26-2011 at 05:30 AM.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  8. #8
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    its probably a spring clamp to clip the ruler to the chain

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by reptilezs
    its probably a spring clamp to clip the ruler to the chain
    these forums should get a facebook "like" button

  10. #10
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    HHMTB,

    As a mechanic I would certainly be interested in any tool that is an improvement over what currently exists. Chain gauges included. However, it is a dead certainty that it would have to meet certain criteria. A) It must be as simple and fast to use as any other tool or method out there. B) It must be competitive cost wise (yours seems to be). C) It must be at least as reliable and accurate, if not more so, than any current system.

    My suggestion to you would be the following. A) Get your design patented now! B) Get the tool into the hands of some people. That's going to be your best bet. Right now all we have is your word that it's a "better mouse trap". As a shop mechanic I'm not going to buy a tool sight unseen, with no real explanation of how it works, etc. And I'm certainly not going to spank out $30 for a tool that I don't even know works. Neither are most DIYers out there either. I've been using a machinists rule and a park tool checker for better than 15 years. I can tell with 99% accuracy with either tool when a chain should be replaced in order to prevent drive train damage. Your assertion that the park tool checker, when properly used, isn't designed to do this is false IMHO, and you should be very careful in making such statements. The machinists rule is also highly accurate and there are specific guidelines that let you know when to replace the chain for best drive train durability/longevity as well. You just have to know what you are doing.

    I'm not bagging on you. I'm just saying that I, personally, and I'm sure many others out there, aren't going to pay you $25 to $30 a pop to find out if the tool works or not. I would certainly be interested in the tool if it meets the criteria mentioned earlier. So get a patent, get some made up and get em into the hands of some consumers, both professional and home mechanics, for evaluation and get some pictures, instructions, etc. out there. I'd even be willing to be involved in the evaluation process. But I certainly wouldn't be willing to pay to be a guinea pig.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  11. #11
    utilikilted
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    The other tools on the market tell you when the actual usable limits of the chain have been exceeded. Meaning the point at which the dimensions are so far off from ideal that shifting integrity is compromised by things like chainsuck and thrown chains. However, by that point, the chain has already worn the gears in to match and a new set of gears must be bought when the chain is replaced.
    Not so sure about that. The Park tool has two seperate lengths that it guages, I use the lesser one labeled .75 (the other is 1.0). My guage is many years old and I have long since lost the paperwork, so I can't tell you what the measurements mean; however, I have used .75 to tell me when to change a chain, and I get years out of my cogsets. Shifting is not compromised at that point.


    My philosophy is that the chain is the cheap part and should therefore be changed BEFORE the expensive parts get damaged.
    I think you will find universal agreement with that statement

    Nor do I think it's necessarily in those tool makers' best interest to tell you where that wear limit is. After all, Shimano makes more money if you replace the gears too. Park sells more tools when you have to replace the gears.
    I don't believe Park would do this. There is nothing to be gained, a stellar reputation to lose, and no money to be made in it. Most guys who have a chain guage will also have purchased the tools necessary to swap out cogsets.

    That said, good luck ... and do post pics. I'm always looking for a better way.
    Last edited by Shuteye; 02-26-2011 at 04:00 PM.

  12. #12
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    Picture and video

    Thanks for your assessment, Squash. I think if you check out some of the other forum discussions on this topic you'll run across a lot more dissent. Here's a few:

    Which Wear Indicator Tool?
    (Speedub.Nate makes some of the same points I do but more eloquently.)
    Need a new chain, suggestions?
    (frdfandc makes a similar point about the available checker tools... he's a shop mechanic)
    Time to replace the complete drivetrain again......gerrrrr
    (Someone using the .75 mark on the Park tool and still getting skipping)
    broken chain, replace ENTIRE drivetrain??
    (An epic tech-nerd fight about rulers vs dedicated tools )

    I agree with you as to not wanting to pay to be guinea pigs or buying something sight unseen. Without further ado, it's time for a picture and a video. Picture attached, video here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=419SdrKorDw

    Notice that I put the drive side crank at 3 o'clock. It's not shown in the video but that's so I can put my right elbow on the pedal and tension the chain.

    The tool has three holes. One at the hook up end to double check that you've seated the tool right. The second to reference where a new chain should be. And the last hole at the position I've determined gear damage begins.

    The video shows how quickly I usually take one measurement. I usually check in three places on a chain to be safe. The low light condition and the size of the holes makes it difficult to show you the actual comparison in a video, but if you're a reasonable mechanic, you'll get the idea.

    This is my personal tool. Production versions, IF I make any will be a little sleeker.

    I also agree that you could theoretically figure out the exact conditions that could make the Park give you reliable measurements. Likewise, my tool is an evolution of a prior tool whose issues I had to compensate for. This tool is my attempt to remove those variables. Chain cleanliness, roller tolerances, and hand pressure don't matter.

    Let me ask you, when you replace the chain per your dedicated tool or 12" ruler strategy, do you get any "grindy" noises from the drivetrain that you can somewhat feel through the pedals for the first few rides? Granted, that noise goes away, but it is an indication that some detrimental wear has occurred to the gears. This is probably why the "chain rotation" strategy arose to deal with this same problem, but that strategy still eventually results in toasted gears. When I use my interval, no such grindy sensation occurs.

    One last thing, you have waaaaay more confidence in the patent system than I do. I've seen enough to know that it affords little protection to the little guy who can't afford to defend his patent. That's another discussion yet.

    -H
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Chain wear checker, anyone?-p1030104.jpg  

    Last edited by HHMTB; 02-26-2011 at 11:59 PM. Reason: wrong picture
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  13. #13
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    I don't really see how this improves on my trusty 12" ruler. A ruler isn't at all hard to use, it gives me an accurate measurement, and I can easily monitor the ongoing wear on my chain with one. If you replace the chain once you're at 1/16 wear over 12" your drivetrain will stay nice and unworn.

    A ruler is also a lot cheaper than $30.

  14. #14
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    i guess i was not too far off with the spring clamp

  15. #15
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    You have me convinced.

    Hey HHMTB,all you needed was to post the picture and video. Your guage is more accurate than my trusty Park. PM sent.

  16. #16
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    "Notice that I put the drive side crank at 3 o'clock. It's not shown in the video but that's so I can put my right elbow on the pedal and tension the chain."

    Actually I could see that looking at the non-driveside crank, it was a 9 o'clock.

    "The tool has three holes. One at the hook up end to double check that you've seated the tool right. The second to reference where a new chain should be. And the last hole at the position I've determined gear damage begins."

    Looks simple and efficient. I am assuming that you have compensated for the change in apparent length from the seat end of the tool to the gage holes that changing the angle of the tool makes for. It likely wouldn't be much I'm sure, but it could make a difference.

    "The video shows how quickly I usually take one measurement. I usually check in three places on a chain to be safe. The low light condition and the size of the holes makes it difficult to show you the actual comparison in a video, but if you're a reasonable mechanic, you'll get the idea."

    Looks pretty simple, if the pin is centered in the New hole the chain is new. If the chain is centered in the "replace it hole" replace the chain. If it's in between your still good to go. Not bad.

    "This is my personal tool. Production versions, IF I make any will be a little sleeker."

    Pretty is as pretty does in my book.

    "I also agree that you could theoretically figure out the exact conditions that could make the Park give you reliable measurements. Likewise, my tool is an evolution of a prior tool whose issues I had to compensate for. This tool is my attempt to remove those variables. Chain cleanliness, roller tolerances, and hand pressure don't matter."

    No theory involved. If the user is astute and can read directions it works. But there's the rub, there aren't many beginners out there (and even some seasoned mechanics) that are astute (i.e. innate mechanical ability), or like to read directions. Anyway, I like your idea of removing numerical measurement from the equation, it reduces the "interpretation" factor from the measurement that even a steel machinists rule can allow for.

    "Let me ask you, when you replace the chain per your dedicated tool or 12" ruler strategy, do you get any "grindy" noises from the drivetrain that you can somewhat feel through the pedals for the first few rides? Granted, that noise goes away, but it is an indication that some detrimental wear has occurred to the gears. This is probably why the "chain rotation" strategy arose to deal with this same problem, but that strategy still eventually results in toasted gears. When I use my interval, no such grindy sensation occurs."

    Not usually, that's why I use a machinists rule not a simple Walmart ruler. The machinists rule is incremented in 32nds and is much more accurately gaged than a school ruler. I have found that if you are over the 12 1/16th (even a little bit) up to 1/32nd you will get the mild grinding feel that you mention. It does go away in a ride or two as noted. But it is certainly an indication that detrimental wear has taken place. But I've also found that the extra 1/32nd of wear may require cassette and ring replacement depending on the riders as well. Usually you can get away with it just fine for a bike that sees weekend bike path duty. But an aggressive MTB rider, or a hard pedaling roady will likely experience skipping etc. The bottom line is, it's all in the accuracy of your tools and the experience to interpret the measurements correctly. I like the idea that your tool removes the guess work. From the look of it Joe weekend warrior should be able to get the same results as an experienced mechanic, as long as they can follow simple directions that is! As for the park tool checker I use that as an initial indication type tool for check in of a bike. It's quick and easy to use. If it indicates replacement I usually examine the chain more carefully. But as long as you know how to use the tool and are aware of it's limitations it works just fine as a definitive indicator as well.

    Anway, from the look of it you well may be onto something here. Simple, easy and quick to use, etc. The only thing that I would add to the tool is a toast, indicator, and something stamped next to the holes to indicate what they mean. I'm sure you've thought of this. So you'd have three holes marked "new", replace" and "toast" or "replace cogs", or even "DUMB A$$" might work. I wold also suggest that the material used be a bit thicker, and that the holes be placed more closely together. You'd enhance durability, lessen any compensation needed for angular movement during the checking process, and you'd be able to make it a bit narrower saving material. I'd also suggest a careful choice of materials. You'll need something that will not bend and change your measurements, yet durable enough to with stand long use. Your tool reminds me of the go-no go gages that are used in the military for testing weapon chamber wear. Basically a plug the shape of the chamber that is a tad longer than the actual cartridge that fits. If the bolt doesn't close on the gage it's good to go. If it does close on the gage the chamber is stretched and it's a no-go. Not the same shape of course, but the same principle.

    After seeing the tool in operation, and getting an idea of how it works, you can put me down as definitely interested. A quick check to see if the chain needs to be replaced, if it checks beyond the "replace it" mark, a more detailed examination is indicated to determine just how far gone the drive train might be. I like it! All that remains to be seen is how well it works in practice. How accurate and reliable it is in use will be the key.

    Like I said, I think you may have something there.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  17. #17
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    Maybe because you are a "Bad Mechanic".... hahaha! Sorry, couldn't help myself.

    All kidding aside, and without a shred of malice, this tool probably isn't for you then. I will freely and openly admit, like I did above, that not everyone will benefit from this tool.

    If you can apply a ruler as quick and as accurately as I can apply my tool, then more power to you. Though I should point out that even Squash has now said something that mirrors my results: the 12.0625" measurement is not 100% foolproof. You do get a little bit of gear wear. If you are the type of mechanic who doesn't care about that minute amount of wear (which does slightly affect chain life), this tool is not for you.

    My tool, as built, is predicated on preventing all tooth deformation wear that occurs when the chain pitch grows. By necessity, this means my wear limit is a specific number and significantly less than the 12.0625" measurement. Because of this fact, hitting the distance target accurately becomes more important if one wants to squeeze the most out of each chain. With a machinist scale that has 1/32 (.03125") marks, you can theoretically mis-measure by half that amount. My holes are drilled to ± .001" positional accuracy over a fairly long distance, can you match that with your eyeballs while steadying the ruler and applying tension to the chain? If you believe you can, nothing I can say will convince you that this tool is better.

    My shorter replacement interval also works to the disadvantage of certain riders. Some particularly heavy, abusive, cross chaining, no-lube applying, cheap chain using riders will be dismayed at how quickly one can reach the limit. I certainly was when I killed a PC970 in a month according to my gauge. (And because it happened so quickly I actually exceeded the limit which caused the grindy sensation.) The point is, for riders for whom this is the case, if they don't make changes to their shifting style/maintenance/parts selection, the cost of replacing chains will negate any savings from not buying cassettes and rings.

    If you are the type that switches bikes a couple times a year (I see plenty of that type here in SoCal), pretty much no chain checker tool will be of use to you. You'll swap the equipment before you notice performance loss.

    Bike shops may or may not want riders to have this tool because they make more money selling cassettes and rings. Though if chain checking is quick and accurate, they may make it up in volume of chain sales.

    Manufacturers will likely hate this tool because for the first time, there will be an objective, accurate way to compare wear rates on their chain product. Will the thinner 10 speed chain as long lasting as 9 speed chains? How does an XTR chain stack up to a PC991? Riders will finally be able to tell for themselves with gear wear and roller tolerance taken out of the equation. And in general, the more we know, the more we can call "BS" on some of the marketing drivel we are fed. This to me is an absolute good goal.

    In all honesty, I'm really ambivalent about going through the effort of making this tool and selling it. I've got mine and it protects me in a way no other tools do. And given the above caveats that have stewed in my head for years now, it is not clear to me that this is a "killer app." There's a small subset of rider/mechanics for which this tool makes sense and that subset is probably not big enough to generate much in sales, at least not by my reckoning, and not by the results of this thread so far. If Park or Rohloff only sold chain checkers, neither would be in business, I think . The point of me starting this thread was to see if there are enough people out there interested in improving our overall component knowledge level to even warrant a run of say 300 tools. My riding buddies suggested asking the forum to find out. Without much interest, I'll save myself the trouble. Not whining, just being on the level.

    For those who have expressed unequivocal interest, Shuteye and Squash, if the interest level persists at the current low level, I'd be happy to make one each for you the way I made my current unit. No flash or frills, but totally functional.


    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic
    I don't really see how this improves on my trusty 12" ruler. A ruler isn't at all hard to use, it gives me an accurate measurement, and I can easily monitor the ongoing wear on my chain with one. If you replace the chain once you're at 1/16 wear over 12" your drivetrain will stay nice and unworn.

    A ruler is also a lot cheaper than $30.
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  18. #18
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    Glad to have you on board, Squash and Shuteye. Yes, I was planning on marking the holes in the production versions. And yes, well written instructions are to be part of the deal as I can't help but be thorough.

    I too was wondering if I should include the 12.125" equivalent hole on the tool since everyone is used to it. However, the tool from which my tool evolved had that hole and I never used it once since I determined the wear limit. It also sends a mixed message because it can be interpreted as "your rings are still good until you hit this hole." That's not the spirit of the tool in my opinion, because in my admittedly perfection-chasing-worldview, any wear on the rings that you can feel with a new chain is sub-optimal. It's the beginning of chainsuck issues and reduced chain life. Basically, I would recommend that if you exceed the wear limit hole, just run the whole thing until it's unworkable because you'll have to change it all anyway.

    But, since you are providing thoughtful responses, I'm willing to make this an "open source" tool of sorts and incorporate it if lots of people are for it too. (Maybe that hole should be marked "$hit!" ) That said, there's also a lot of real estate in the middle of the span that could be used for something. I haven't figured out what yet, but it can't be a prying/torquing function. Any ideas? Nothing too dramatic or it may affect price.

    I agree with your assessment that the tool must not be bendable, but good quality steel will suffice even when thin so long as no one uses the tool as a crow bar/wrench. There are other reasons not to go thicker relating to manufacturability and ease of use.

    The geometry works out that there's no compensation needed for the angular change. The tool applies only slight downward load on the roller it hooks to. That is basically perpendicular to the length of the chain so it doesn't figure into the measurement regardless of which hole you are on.
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    One last thing, you have waaaaay more confidence in the patent system than I do. I've seen enough to know that it affords little protection to the little guy who can't afford to defend his patent. That's another discussion yet.
    -H
    Doesn't hurt to talk with an good patent attorney who understands the situation. They support guys on small budgets pretty routinely. If you do actually manage to get a patent (and it seems there's a need for a better-made chain checker), rather than taking everything on your own shoulders, you may find it to your advantage to license or assign your patent to a tool maker for a little money and let them worry about defending it. Your attorney can explore the various options, and if you decide it's not worth pursuing, at least it's a learning experience.
    Last edited by kestrel242; 02-27-2011 at 11:06 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    But, since you are providing thoughtful responses, I'm willing to make this an "open source" tool of sorts and incorporate it if lots of people are for it too. (Maybe that hole should be marked "$hit!" ) That said, there's also a lot of real estate in the middle of the span that could be used for something. I haven't figured out what yet, but it can't be a prying/torquing function. Any ideas? Nothing too dramatic or it may affect price.
    $hit hole not needed and no need to complicate the picture by trying to make the tool serve for something else. My humble opinion only.

    I agree with your assessment that the tool must not be bendable, but good quality steel will suffice even when thin so long as no one uses the tool as a crow bar/wrench. There are other reasons not to go thicker relating to manufacturability and ease of use.
    Thin and light, of high quality steel would be good. No measuring tool need serve as a pry bar or screw driver.

  21. #21
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    "Thin and light, of high quality steel would be good. No measuring tool need serve as a pry bar or screw driver."

    If we are talking you and I, HHMTB, and others that have an appreciation and knowledge of tools, they're use, care etc. I would certainly agree with you. However with a production tool, if it ever gets that far, you know darned well that there is always going to some meat head that'll stuff the tool in the bottom of the tool box with 70lbs of wrenches and such. A tolerance of + or - .001 is pretty tight, it wouldn't take much of a bend to through that off siginicantly. When producing something for the general public, you need to take things like that into consideration. Howerver, if thin it must be to work right, then that's what it has to be. Me, I'd hang it on the peg board or find a hard case to fit it if I were going to carry it in my tool box. But not everyone thinks like that.

    Anyway, that was my reasoning behind that suggestion.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    Maybe because you are a "Bad Mechanic".... hahaha! Sorry, couldn't help myself.
    I was waiting for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    Though I should point out that even Squash has now said something that mirrors my results: the 12.0625" measurement is not 100% foolproof.
    I actually change the chain just before I hit the 1/16" mark to account for tolerances. Chains are cheap.

    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    Manufacturers will likely hate this tool because for the first time, there will be an objective, accurate way to compare wear rates on their chain product.
    My rulers been doing that for years.

    I think you might get a lot more interest for a tool like this in the beginner forum, where I could see a simple, easy to use, "Go / No Go" type tool being in much higher demand. Especially with the amount of user education you're obviously putting behind it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    This is my personal tool. Production versions, IF I make any will be a little sleeker.
    Uh, I used one of these just the other day! It looked exactly like that, but might have had 4 holes and might have had a non-rectangular shape. I'll look at it tomorrow and see who makes it and take a picture.

    Edit: found it online:

    Apparently it's a Speedtech CW-1089, which is no longer in production.
    http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-004/000.html#speedtech

     
    Matt

  24. #24
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    Me, I'd hang it on the peg board or find a hard case to fit it if I were going to carry it in my tool box. But not everyone thinks like that.
    I would hang this tool on my pegboard also. Chain checkers don't need to go to the trailhead in my humble opinion. If I receive this tool, my Park can go in my trailhead tool box I guess. What the heII for I couldn't say
    Last edited by Shuteye; 03-01-2011 at 10:54 PM.

  25. #25
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    Yup, the Speedtech is the original tool upon which mine is based. Congratulations, Matt! You are the only person I've met so far that has even seen one in person besides me.

    I think they've been gone for at least ten years because there's only that tiny internet page of evidence that it ever existed. The photographed instruction is copyrighted 1990! (So much for getting patent protection now) From what I can remember, mine never came with that instruction sheet or the back board. It was hanging from a peg and it was a total fluke that I bought it.

    I was hoping I wouldn't have to go up against the original as it would just confuse matters, but here's where I made improvements:
    - They've got four holes. The "Good" hole is still too far out to ensure 100% protection. I never used the "Fair" or "Replace" holes once I figured out how to compensate for the "Good" hole. My "replace" hole is at that compensated distance.
    - When the Speedtech tool was designed, 7 speed systems were the norm. Because of this, the hook is not in the right place laterally to be maximally accurate on a 9 speed chain. I've also made it fit the diameter of the roller better, a valid observation from that web page. FYI, the OD of the roller is quite tightly controlled otherwise immediate grinding feelings will be present on a brand new system.
    - Mine is narrower so that low clearance chainstays to chain distances (think current APB Treks) wouldn't have problems fitting the tool.

    To Bad Mechanic: Yeah, I considered going to beginner forums, but I thought I should try with more seasoned, technically knowledgeable guys first since my experience with beginners face-to-face is a bunch of blank stares. I mean, I've spent a decent chunk of time explaining it here and you still don't think it's worthwhile. And you are pretty familiar with bike physiology and have admitted that you are also compensating for the ruler markings. How much time would it take to educate a total beginner that a tool I homebrewed is better than what the big boys make? I just don't wanna spend that much time. I appreciate the thought though.

    Any other takers? PM me if truly interested. So far I got three takers. Not enough for me to go through the hassle of a production run. I'll consider this closed in two weeks. Thank you all for your input and time.
    Last edited by HHMTB; 03-01-2011 at 12:15 AM.
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB
    I considered going to beginner forums, but I thought I should try with more seasoned, technically knowledgeable guys first since my experience with beginners face-to-face is a bunch of blank stares.
    Honestly, I think you'd have a much easier time there, as "technically knowledgeable" guys tend to be more set in their ways and cynical (I know I am). If you tell them here's a simple and easy to use tool which will protect their drivetrain and save them money, I think you'd have a lot of people interested.

  27. #27
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    Well, I'd buy since I need to get a chain tool eventually. I'm guessing most people here already have a chain tool that they think is good enough, which might be a good reason to go to the beginner forum. Another option would be talking to retailers, LBSes and distributors to see if anyone is interested in selling/carrying/using them.
    Matt

  28. #28
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    PM sent! Exceptional explanation and a solid tool IMO. There are 11 different ways to check for wear and I have found about the best to be using a locked Starrett machinist's calliper. It can and does slip and does require a watchfull eye. I appreciate the simplicity and accuracy of this tool and as such, I am very interested. I'm not sure if that material is similar to A440 stainless but it would be nice not to have it high carbon and rusting down the road or thin aluminum and out-of-spec with one drop on my bench... I agree 100% about precision tools like this being kept out of my Camelbak...

    Thank you,
    A.

  29. #29
    Which way? Uphill.
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    I do like the tool and am interested in one myself, looks like it would do better than my pro-link one.
    Blog

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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic
    I think you might get a lot more interest for a tool like this in the beginner forum, where I could see a simple, easy to use, "Go / No Go" type tool being in much higher demand. Especially with the amount of user education you're obviously putting behind it.
    I must disagree here. Been wrenching on my own bikes since 1985 and I like this tool. Simple to use guages are cool. I think posting this thread in the Beginner Forum would have seen little interest as in "huh , I'm just trying to figure out how to keep my shifting adjusted?"

  31. #31
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    And so the interest grows!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuteye
    I must disagree here. Been wrenching on my own bikes since 1985 and I like this tool. Simple to use guages are cool. I think posting this thread in the Beginner Forum would have seen little interest as in "huh , I'm just trying to figure out how to keep my shifting adjusted?"
    Not this exact thread obvious . Rather post up how important monitoring chain wear is to the life of the drivetrain (and saving money), explain quickly why other tools are hard to use or inaccurate, and then tell them about your easy to us and highly accurate tool.

  33. #33
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    This looks like a tool I would like to own.

  34. #34
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    I recently got back into bicycling after a long hiatus and love working on my bike. I would definitely be interested in this tool.

  35. #35
    JDM
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    I take the chain off at use a reagular tape measure over a distance of 36". It is easy to see the stretch when you're looking for something on the order of 3/16" of an inch. I like to hang the chain so all of the slop is taken up by gravity.

  36. #36
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    I pmed u

    Are u Makin them or not
    High Ho Sultan, Lets GO

  37. #37
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    So I just received my tool from HHMTB. It's simple, well made and easy to use - works like a champ. No more need for my Park chain guage as it is clear to me this tool is more accurate. Thanks, Henry! The only mod I'm going to make is to drill one more hole in it so I can hang it from my pegboard.

  38. #38
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    Good to hear.

    FYI, when you go to drill the hole for hanging it, don't unscrew the brass chip or you'll need my calibration tool to re-center it properly. I debated Loctite-ing those screws down but figured there may come a time you'll need to replace the chip. Hasn't ever happened to me, but you never know...

    So as not to confuse anyone still following this thread, I hand made a few tools for some of the guys that PM'd me since there wasn't enough interest to go full production. Production may happen later if more interest develops.
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  39. #39
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    Thanks for the heads up, Henry. I have no intention of unscrewing the brass chip. I was going to email you that the tool had arrived, but you caught my post before I had the chance. Cool tool! Thanks again.

  40. #40
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    I have a Speedtech in my arsenal too. Patented, so be careful about marketing them.

    I used it enough to conclude that (like every chain-stretch tool) it's not a guarantee that a new chain will or won't skip on the cassette the old chain was used with. I had a customer just last week who brought in his new chain for us to install during a tune-up. Chain-stretch meter says it ought to work, but his fourth-largest cog must be his favorite, because that one's the only one that skipped. I work with some guys who really, REALLY want to believe that they can just sell new chains willy-nilly if the chain-stretch tool says it'll work... *sigh*

    FWIW, I consider roller wear relevant, and prefer a tool that accounts for it, so the Speedtech hasn't been my go-to tool for over a decade now.

  41. #41
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    Thanks for the concern, mechbgon. However, it's a good bet that the patent has expired because it was issued 20 years ago, it's been out of production for over a decade, and I can't find the makers on the internet.

    I could be wrong, but I'm not making a bunch of them right now anyway. This thread was just an attempt to gauge interest.

    By the way, I'm a little curious how you are using your Speedtech and getting no better results than other tools. If you look at post #25 (the order isn't what I remember, what's up with that?), I explain the deficiencies in that tool and how I addressed them. If you aren't stopping short of the "good" hole, yeah, I agree skipping can happen.

    What is your preferred tool?
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic
    I think you might get a lot more interest for a tool like this in the beginner forum, where I could see a simple, easy to use, "Go / No Go" type tool being in much higher demand. Especially with the amount of user education you're obviously putting behind it.
    A go/no-go gage would be the best thing to use. Does anyone make them yet?
    It's one of those or a ruler for me. You don't need a go, but whenever the no-go
    will go in the links then you replace it. A one handed blind man could use it if
    it was possible for him to ride a bike in the first place!

  43. #43
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    Anyone using the park cc-2?

    They seem cheap on ebay. I was wondering if they're overkill.

  44. #44
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    Anyone who has worn 9-speed chains, feel free to mail them to my house. At minimum, I will recycle the metal. If the chains have life in them I will use them up and you will have the peace of mind knowing that your chain got fully used.

    PM me for my mailing address.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by HHMTB View Post
    Thanks for the concern, mechbgon. However, it's a good bet that the patent has expired because it was issued 20 years ago, it's been out of production for over a decade, and I can't find the makers on the internet.

    I could be wrong, but I'm not making a bunch of them right now anyway. This thread was just an attempt to gauge interest.

    By the way, I'm a little curious how you are using your Speedtech and getting no better results than other tools. If you look at post #25 (the order isn't what I remember, what's up with that?), I explain the deficiencies in that tool and how I addressed them. If you aren't stopping short of the "good" hole, yeah, I agree skipping can happen.

    What is your preferred tool?

    HHMTB, are still interested in selling some? I am moving to the SoCal area soon if you are nearby. I have used the Speedtech for 9 years now and, while I am always careful to not say it is guaranteed to work if the chain isn't worn beyond "good" (I think 10 speed chains that are beyond "good" usually require new cogsets as well) I do rely on it as the best gauge. I work in a shop where many local MTBers are fabulous lab rats for worn chain issues so I am pretty experienced with what happens when a new 9 speed chain/cog is installed on a chainring that was read at "fair". The "sharktooth" issue is especially interesting (don't know if you know of it but it basically sucks the rear derailleur cage forward as the old chainring pulls the new chain for a second revolution instead of letting it track back towards the rear derailleur. I was going to have the local machinist copy the speedtech for me so I have a tool when I move (I am a bike mechanic and cannot stand any of the new measurement tools). Thanks for working to produce this tool, I have always thought the speedtech was the best even considering the roller wear.

    If I could offer one suggestion for the variety of drivetrains, stamp out multiple wear holes for 8,9,10, and 11 speed chains (or at least 8,9,10...if you begin producing them). Where the speedtech says new, good, fair, and replace, one could translate to 8,9,10 and so forth and it would be a fabulous, universal tool. Obviously an 8 speed chain can stretch much further than a 10 thus holes for the respective gear systems would help those who use different bikes know where to look. Of course this wouldn't account for MTB riding vs. road riding and the various torque loads but the individual rider can figure that stuff out.

  46. #46
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    If you have trouble counting to 12, and using a flat piece of metal, I suppose I could see how you'd find a special tool necessary.

    This is a procedure that is bafflingly easy. Were talking easier than tying shoes. Place a ruler up to your chain. Under 1/16th over 12 inches? You're good. Im surprised at the constant attention chain checkers get!

    I know it might sound like me and bad mechanic are crapping on the parade, but in the bigger sense... we're not. Save money by not buying unnecessary things. Theres a stupidly simple way to accomplish chain checking, its worked for decades and its every bit as relevant today as its ever been. Just use the ruler.

  47. #47
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    It's essentially a "go/no go" gauge. Good for a quick check. Normally a device which can give a read out in increments of linear measurement is considered superior to a simple go/no go check. In fact when working as an inspector in a machine shop many years ago any failure of a go/no go check resulted in measurement with machinist's scale, a caliper or a micrometer. Careful measurement is always a bit slower but generally provides more accurate information.

    The tool does not look like a bad idea in principal. But it is a discontinued (failed?) product, not exactly a new idea.......

  48. #48
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    It's cool. I said way up in the thread that there's just some people for whom this tool won't be a good fit.

    To reiterate, for those without the time to read from the beginning, yes, the machinist scale is a good tool, however, its reliability is based on how well you can repeatably place it on the chain. As there is no locating feature to the pin, what is your tolerance on position accuracy while you are steadying the bike and applying tension to the chain? Plus minus .010"? That's a significant percentage of my measurement target that is lost to imprecise technique. Again, my tool is to catch chain wear before any gear damage occurs, not as a "will it still work?" checker. For the latter, I agree, the scale applied as outlined above is adequate.

    You could then argue that I should take the chain off to improve measurement with the scale. You'd be right about the improvement in accuracy, but speed of measurement suffers tremendously. Heck, if you watch the video of using my tool, it's faster than using the machinist scale even if you don't take the chain off.

    And all this is without considering that the scribes on the machinist scale are usually in 1/32" increments. That's 0.03125". So because you have to stabilize the bike, tension the chain, hold the scale in place, while eyeballing the hash marks, what's the likelihood that you'll be able to read it with the 0.001-.002" accuracy that my tool produces? Like I said before, if you truly believe you can do this (and you would be wrong ), nothing I can say will change your mind. BTW, 1/16" is way too generous if you're looking to prevent elongation damage. I'm not the only one to state this in this thread.

    Since I don't want to spend the 10+ minutes to take my chain off, hook it onto a wall, run a three foot machinist scale against it, repeat the measure three plus times, reconnect the chain, and scrub all the oil off my hands, I built this tool . It gives me better accuracy than the ten minute process in under a minute. On top of that, I didn't weaken my chain by taking out a rivet pin and replacing it.

    Yes, it's an evolution of an older tool. I never denied that. You may consider it "failed," but the reality is there are a whole lot of reasons a product goes away. Functional non-performance is but one possibility, one that sadly doesn't always result in a product going away. Those of you that have been around a while can cite more than a few examples, I'm sure . I think the old tool didn't achieve wide acceptance because of lack of support and lack of effort in education. And possibly the company just stopped caring for whatever reason or was under-capitalized. None of these factors change the fact that my tool works faster, more accurately, and more repeatably than anything else I've tried.

    To MSNR, I'm not sure I understand the request for 8, 9, and 10 speed holes. The pitch is the same on all. Because 7, 8 and 9 behaved the same way with respect to the tool, I have no reason to suspect 10 will have a different target. Please, enlighten me if you've got other info.

    For all the others who have contacted me or expressed interest since I built the original six units, hang tight, I'll work something out...
    Last edited by HHMTB; 06-13-2011 at 01:57 PM. Reason: more detail
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

  49. #49
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    It takes about 5 seconds to properly, and extremely accurately measure a chain with a ruler. Its quite deceiving to tell people its a 10 minute procedure that weakens your chain. The derailleurs provide all the tension you need to measure, its better to not take them off. My bike hangs on the wall and I can quickly take a measurement from there.

    Try the ruler guys.. you'll be amazed how simple of a procedure it is.

  50. #50
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    Then your technique definitely does not provide the requisite accuracy for what I'm trying to measure. I added numbers above to my last post which I forgot to do last night. Please read them. It basically boils down to: how do you measure better than +/- .003" accuracy if your tool only has increments down to .031" and your placement accuracy is +/- .010"? If you still don't get why I'm doing it this way, we can agree to disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    It takes about 5 seconds to properly, and extremely accurately measure a chain with a ruler. Its quite deceiving to tell people its a 10 minute procedure that weakens your chain. The derailleurs provide all the tension you need to measure, its better to not take them off. My bike hangs on the wall and I can quickly take a measurement from there.

    Try the ruler guys.. you'll be amazed how simple of a procedure it is.
    Last edited by HHMTB; 06-13-2011 at 03:32 PM.
    "Adventure begins where good judgment ends."

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