Horrible chain suck on my fatback- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Horrible chain suck on my fatback

    Man, I wanted to pitch my f-ing fatback in the woods today. I had absolutely the worst chainsuck I have ever experienced on a bike. Every time a little more effort than usual was needed the chain would swing up around and I'd have to backpedal to get it down.

    I have no idea what is causing this as I'm using a hive crank, so that is quality, and I have no idea what else would be the catalyst.
    Any insight ? or remedies ?

    Also, when i got home I noticed that my front derailleur cable was fully encased in ice. Which also explains why my bike was shifting like crap. Is there something I'm missing here ? This cable was fully encased in a few millimeters of ice. What are you other aluminium fatback owners doing to help cope with this wretched flaw ?

    Anyone running a 1x8-9 setup ? what are you using up front to keep the chain on ?

    I should have just went single speed as that is what I have normally done with all my bikes over the last 4-5 years. There is a lot to be said for simplicity.

    . . . I was so pumped to have this new bike as I've been wanting a fatbike for years. I had 2 awesome rides then today, my 3rd ride, was the most frustrating ride I've had in several years of cycling . . .


    *tear*

  2. #2
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    wow, wretched flaw? sounds like something is set up incorrectly. have you checked the teeth on your crankset? do you have the correct number of spacers in you crankset setup?
    litespeed's break

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerdamous View Post
    Man, I wanted to pitch my f-ing fatback in the woods today. I had absolutely the worst chainsuck I have ever experienced on a bike. Every time a little more effort than usual was needed the chain would swing up around and I'd have to backpedal to get it down.

    I have no idea what is causing this as I'm using a hive crank, so that is quality, and I have no idea what else would be the catalyst.
    Any insight ? or remedies ?

    Also, when i got home I noticed that my front derailleur cable was fully encased in ice. Which also explains why my bike was shifting like crap. Is there something I'm missing here ? This cable was fully encased in a few millimeters of ice. What are you other aluminium fatback owners doing to help cope with this wretched flaw ?

    Anyone running a 1x8-9 setup ? what are you using up front to keep the chain on ?

    I should have just went single speed as that is what I have normally done with all my bikes over the last 4-5 years. There is a lot to be said for simplicity.

    . . . I was so pumped to have this new bike as I've been wanting a fatbike for years. I had 2 awesome rides then today, my 3rd ride, was the most frustrating ride I've had in several years of cycling . . .


    *tear*
    Chain suck is caused by worn chainrings, burrs on the teeth, inadequate chain lube and/or a dirty drivetrain, not frame design. Could add ice to that. Each on their own may not cause suck. A combo of them will.

    I would bet on not the right/enough chain lube and icing. A good wet lube can help keep the chain from freezing.
    Last edited by shiggy; 12-03-2011 at 01:52 PM.
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  4. #4
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    How cold was it? At below zero temps an oily chain won't work right unless you use very light weight lube.

    Also, put your bike out to freeze before you head off riding. To start off with a warm chain and then throw some snow/ice on it as its freezing is a recipe for disaster. I've had that as the sun goes down and temps rapidly drop, not much you can do in that case.

    I understand your frustration. I've had to stop and take a few deep breaths myself and figure out WTF was causing chain suck.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy View Post
    Chain suck is caused by worn chainrings, burrs on the teeth, inadequate chain lube and/or a dirty drivetrain, not frame design. Could add ice to that. Each on their own may not cause suck. A combo of them will.

    I would bet on not the right/enough chain lube and icing. A good wet lube can help keep the chain from freezing.

    Exactly what Shiggy said although there are some frames out there that I think have a design that does tend to exacerbate the problem once it occurs. Mostly some past full sus. designs.

    I agree chain suck is one of the most frustrating things to experience on a bike, but itís not the frame's design and itís very unlikely something to do with your frame. I would trouble shoot the many other possibilities first.
    As there are many happy Al fatback owners out there, myself being one of them, without this problem I think your comment "wretched flaw" is a little misguided unless your referring to external bicycle drivetrains in general, in which case I'd agree with you along with the "wretched flaw" that causes tires to be punctured and frames to break.

    Some questions for you to add to Shiggy's comments.
    Are all the drivetrain parts new? Were they installed at the same time? Mixing and matching old and new parts seems to be the most common cause of chain suck from my own experience.

    Are you running like parts? 9sp chain with 9speed rings etc?

    If everything is new, does your chain have the factory goop on it and were you riding in conditions where you might pick up a bunch of gritty stuff on your chain? This can cause chain suck on a new drivetrain.

    I assume before you posted this you probably checked for the obvious like bent chainring teeth, stiff chain links, loose chainring bolts, loose crank., but did you happened to notice ice on the drivetrain parts anywhere?
    If you ride in conditions where you get freeze and thaw you will have to be diligent about avoiding open water or be prepared to chip off ice when is gets into moving parts.

    Let us know what you figure out.
    Last edited by pbasinger; 12-03-2011 at 04:09 PM.

  6. #6
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    Some of my worst chainsuck moments have occurred while fat biking. Mostly because of the icy or muddy conditions I was riding in. I applied epoxy to the chain stay to prevent too much damage to my frame.
    The LPG

  7. #7
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    Hey;

    I Winter ride in the same place I Summer ride. The same 7-8 creek crossing require that you shift as a matter of maintenance rather than just peddling performance so as to keep everything freed up and functioning properly. If you don't use it, you lose it. It takes a few rides to sink in that constant shifting is necessary so that you might shift at ALL. Some days it freezes up no matter what, and other days it never does. When it does freeze up, you either have to work up a pee or dunk it back in the creek to free everything up. Dunk (or squirt) & shift a lot thereafter!

    Just a thought. Never had ANY chain suck from ice, though. Mostly from lack of chain tension - especially on all new components - or gooey mud. I think you need to step back and observe a bit, lest you find your self guilty of punting on first down.

  8. #8
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    Al Fatback owner here. My buddy has one too, his w/ the Hive crank.
    I've not experienced any chainsuck in the past year-and-a-half with my bike, and it gets miles. I'm running a Blackburn crank with XTR rings. My buddy's Hive started experiencing the suck within a few months, also a lot on miles. It was pretty clear that his mid-ring was worn.
    His worst suck appeared in the same conditions that you described.
    Sounds like you need a new mid-ring and chain.
    The cable freeze will happen in the right (wrong) conditions sometimes. For me it has been the BB7's packing with snow at just the right temperature and then freezing, leading to HARD braking. It happens rarely, once or twice a year, though makes me want to spend $$$ on hydros when it does. Of course, I never have, as BB7's otherwise rule.
    -Chris

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurkeVT View Post
    Al Fatback owner here. My buddy has one too, his w/ the Hive crank.
    I've not experienced any chainsuck in the past year-and-a-half with my bike, and it gets miles. I'm running a Blackburn crank with XTR rings. My buddy's Hive started experiencing the suck within a few months, also a lot on miles. It was pretty clear that his mid-ring was worn.
    His worst suck appeared in the same conditions that you described.
    Sounds like you need a new mid-ring and chain.
    The cable freeze will happen in the right (wrong) conditions sometimes. For me it has been the BB7's packing with snow at just the right temperature and then freezing, leading to HARD braking. It happens rarely, once or twice a year, though makes me want to spend $$$ on hydros when it does. Of course, I never have, as BB7's otherwise rule.

    Yeah, actually I think there could be a connection with the Hives.
    Last year I replaced all 3 rings with the new E 13/ Hive rings. Apparently they were changed a bit compared to the old ring. Anyhow, while I never had chainsuck, I did begin to experience the early symptoms of it only about 300 miles into the new drivetrain and I kept wondering if the new chain rings were just softer or something. Since I saw problems coming I put on a new drivetrain right at the end of the season. Hive makes a great product and I'm not willing to make the leap that there is a problem, but it would certainly be easy, cheap and probably the most logical thing to change on a bike with chainsuck issues in an attempt to fix the problem.

  10. #10
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    I always carry a little bottle of lube with me on rides. When my bike or a bike in the group I happen to ride with develops chain suck mid-ride, regreasing liberally solves the problem in 99.9% of the cases.

    Once back home and with a clean bike you might want to check for loose chainrings, bent chainring teeth, teeth with an edge worn into them and carefully check for a bent or hard to turn link in the chain.

  11. #11
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    I get chain suck a lot when riding in sand. I believe it is caused by too much sand finally gunking up the chain, which causes it to ride high enough that it gets picked up partially by the pins of the middle ring and never released.

    I also carry lube, chain cleaner and a rag. At the first sign of chain suck I stop and clean and relube the chain, that always fixes it until the chain gets caked up again. I have not tried it yet, but I am thinking of getting a middle ring with no ramps or pins. It wont shift as great, but it would be a good trade off I say.
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  12. #12
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    I might have been a little quick to fly off the handle yesterday . . . I was just so disappointed.

    I inspected the bike. The chainrings are tight, and straight and all their teeth are still probably better than the ones in my mouth (as they should be after 3-4 rides). There are no stiff links. The chain seemed relatively moist, as well all like them, but I liberally applied more lube, wet lube at that.
    The chain is an 'anti-rust' chain, as opposed to a standard chain. I hope that is making matters worse.

    I am going to head out again in a few minutes for a replay of yesterday to see if the issues is rectified. I hope so, cause if not, 2 days of strife like that will turn me into a runner . . . and that would be worse than death.

    With regards to my comments about the 'wretched flaw', I was probably, again, a little harsh. With that being said though, that front derailleur cable is in a prime spot to have the same situation, freezing up and becoming encased in ice, happen regularly. To me, it looks as though the best line of defense is to make a fender, or run a single ring upfront. There is nothing to prevent the flick of water/slop onto it while riding and it lies between the tire and seat tube.

    I like the idea of a single ring up front, though it would be tough picking a tooth count as I've yet to fatbike though a winter. . . . And I dont really want to spend a ton more money as I literally just finished building up this bike and it was over 3k. . .

  13. #13
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    I actually converted mine to a 1x10 this season because of the chainsuck issues I was having last year. So far it's been great. I'm sure that I will miss the granny occasionally but with my experience if you need the granny the bike will just spin out on the snow because the grade is too steep. I hope the Nate will continue to be a bit better tire and not spin out as easily as the Endo in steeper terrain.
    The LPG

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerdamous View Post
    I might have been a little quick to fly off the handle yesterday . . . I was just so disappointed.

    I inspected the bike. The chainrings are tight, and straight and all their teeth are still probably better than the ones in my mouth (as they should be after 3-4 rides). There are no stiff links. The chain seemed relatively moist, as well all like them, but I liberally applied more lube, wet lube at that.
    The chain is an 'anti-rust' chain, as opposed to a standard chain. I hope that is making matters worse.

    I am going to head out again in a few minutes for a replay of yesterday to see if the issues is rectified. I hope so, cause if not, 2 days of strife like that will turn me into a runner . . . and that would be worse than death.

    With regards to my comments about the 'wretched flaw', I was probably, again, a little harsh. With that being said though, that front derailleur cable is in a prime spot to have the same situation, freezing up and becoming encased in ice, happen regularly. To me, it looks as though the best line of defense is to make a fender, or run a single ring upfront. There is nothing to prevent the flick of water/slop onto it while riding and it lies between the tire and seat tube.

    I like the idea of a single ring up front, though it would be tough picking a tooth count as I've yet to fatbike though a winter. . . . And I dont really want to spend a ton more money as I literally just finished building up this bike and it was over 3k. . .
    I have seen, and used, brand new rings with burrs that caused some suck.

    A single chain ring will not eliminate chainsuck. As long as there is a RD, or a sprung chain tensioner, it can happen
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  15. #15
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    I was getting most of my chainsuck while shifting and that is why I converted to a 1x. It also opens up the area near the BB removing the unwanted rings to allow for better mud/ice clearance.
    The LPG

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lancelot View Post
    I was getting most of my chainsuck while shifting and that is why I converted to a 1x. It also opens up the area near the BB removing the unwanted rings to allow for better mud/ice clearance.
    Most but not all.

    The worst chainsuck I have experienced was on an elevated chainstay bike in muddy conditions and no shifting involved. The chain just stayed on the ring until it jammed against the chain at the top.

    The only way to totally stop chain suck is to make it impossible for the chain length to change.
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  17. #17
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    I've been thinking about trying a XTR Shadow+ on mine to add additional tension to the chain. I use one on my AM bike and it's nothing short of amazing. I just wish it wasn't so pricey. Hopefully a XT version will come out soon.
    The LPG

  18. #18
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    I got an IGH for mine.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elderberry View Post
    I got an IGH for mine.
    I'd love to see some photos of your IGH Fatback...
    Safe riding,

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingerdamous View Post
    I might have been a little quick to fly off the handle yesterday . . . I was just so disappointed.

    I inspected the bike. The chainrings are tight, and straight and all their teeth are still probably better than the ones in my mouth (as they should be after 3-4 rides). There are no stiff links. The chain seemed relatively moist, as well all like them, but I liberally applied more lube, wet lube at that.
    The chain is an 'anti-rust' chain, as opposed to a standard chain. I hope that is making matters worse.

    I am going to head out again in a few minutes for a replay of yesterday to see if the issues is rectified. I hope so, cause if not, 2 days of strife like that will turn me into a runner . . . and that would be worse than death.

    With regards to my comments about the 'wretched flaw', I was probably, again, a little harsh. With that being said though, that front derailleur cable is in a prime spot to have the same situation, freezing up and becoming encased in ice, happen regularly. To me, it looks as though the best line of defense is to make a fender, or run a single ring upfront. There is nothing to prevent the flick of water/slop onto it while riding and it lies between the tire and seat tube.

    I like the idea of a single ring up front, though it would be tough picking a tooth count as I've yet to fatbike though a winter. . . . And I dont really want to spend a ton more money as I literally just finished building up this bike and it was over 3k. . .
    Quite understandable, my friend;

    I've been there, and my bike at the time went flying more than once - propelled by me, but without me on it - out of shear frustration. That was a Fisher Sugar - renowned for suck - and I ended up making a guard that would not allow the chain to jam past the stays into a void behind the BB, where it was nearly impossible to get out without removing the rings. I was quite annoyed to start having suck problems with my new Niner RIP9 this Spring. I did two things that fixed it. I took one link out of the chain, and I rode it. Increased chain tension and mileage and it has not happened again. I've done nothing else. Raceface cranks & rings, by the way.

    Hang in there and keep a clear head. You'll get it.

  21. #21
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    I appreciate all the feedback/replies.

    I am aware that running a single ring up front will not guarantee no suckage, but a device like the LG1 would. . . I'm hoping will never come to that.

    I am going to try single speed once spring hits, but I want to go the winter with gears if at all possible.

    On today's outing I nearly drifted left onto the Trans Canada Highway as within the first 100m of the ride the chain jammed on a slight grade. I was, yet again, heartbroken. I opted to keep going hoping the problem would rectify itself. A few more hiccups in the first 10-15 minutes of riding, but then no issues. The suck was happening in the middle ring so I said F this noise and kept in the middle ring for 95 percent of the ride. This was to see if I could aggravate the situation to happen and also to see if I think a 18 with a 32 upfront would be okay for my purposes (I think it would be fine after today).
    [conditions were the same today as yesterday. -2 Celsius and wetness everywhere]

    Long story short, no suck for the last 1h45 minutes of my ride today so here's to hoping that this clusterf#ck is done with and I can enjoy happy pedaling . . . I'll keep you abreast of progress/set backs. . .

  22. #22
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    I'm running a 32/22 up front (LX rings on a cheap Origin 8 crank) and a Shimano 9 speed chain. I've never had chain suck. For what it's worth, I've been using Squirt Lube and a Shimano XT long cage rear derailluer. I think the long cage helps keep the chain tension spot on. I also wipe the chain down and clean gunk off my rings after almost every ride.

    But now I'm wondering if my luck will run out. I just picked up some E13 cranks and a Sram 9 speed hollow pin chain.

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