Is my clutch worn out?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is my clutch worn out?

    The other day on a ride I noticed that under power my mech was vibrating like it was wanting to shift. Then by about an hour into the ride, the mech starting shifting up and down, chain popping loudly, whenever under power. By the time I got back to the trailhead it was doing this even when pedaling lightly on flat ground. No amount of barrel adjustment helped. This doesn't feel like the worn out shifter cables I've had in the past-the shifting problems are much more "violent".
    I've got a Sram GX 1 x 11. The shifter cable was replaced about 1,000 miles ago, I checked (with the proper Park tool) that the hanger was straight.
    What's going on? Is this what happens when the derailleur clutch is slipping? Thoughts please!

  2. #2
    WillWorkForTrail
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    When was the last time you replaced the chain?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    When was the last time you replaced the chain?
    Or tuned the shifter? If the cable has slipped or stretched enough, barrel adjustment may not be sufficient and directly adjusting the cable would be necessary. One thousand is a LOT of miles. Another possibility is a bent derailleur.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  4. #4
    EAT MORE GRIME
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    clutch worn or not, or broken, should not affect chain alignment**
    it just increases chain slap and chances of chain coming off the front ring

    **unless it is so worn/sloppy/broken the cage is simply dangling at incorrect angles
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  5. #5
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    Sounds like a chain link that has frozen/bent.

    You can choose to ride with the clutch off, it won't cause that symptom.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    When was the last time you replaced the chain?
    The chain is new. Its only got two rides on it.

  7. #7
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    Did you check the bolt that holds the derailleur onto the hanger? That often backs out and causes exactly what you're describing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    Or tuned the shifter? If the cable has slipped or stretched enough, barrel adjustment may not be sufficient and directly adjusting the cable would be necessary. One thousand is a LOT of miles. Another possibility is a bent derailleur.
    Last night I unattached and reattached the cable to make sure it was tight enough. Then I shifted thru the 11 gears with the bike in a stand. Everything worked fine. Then I pedaled around the driveway for a minute or two. Still OK. Then I went to the back yard where there's very slight elevation, and the ghost shifting started up again.
    ???

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    Did you check the bolt that holds the derailleur onto the hanger? That often backs out and causes exactly what you're describing.
    Yep. I did that when I checked the hanger alignment, and it was tight.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by net wurker View Post
    Sounds like a chain link that has frozen/bent.

    You can choose to ride with the clutch off, it won't cause that symptom.
    I never thought about the frozen chain link as the chain is almost brand new. I'll take it off and inspect!

  11. #11
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    a worn chainring causes weird noises when under load, especially after putting on a new chain

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by idividebyzero View Post
    a worn chainring causes weird noises when under load, especially after putting on a new chain
    This^^ Check for shark teeth on the cog set and the chain ring. If you let your chain get too far worn, it wears away at the gear teeth and when you put on a new chain over worn teeth, you get your exact symptoms.

  13. #13
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    OP left out important information that came out in post #6...he put on a new chain 2 rides ago and the problems started. Stated that cable was replaced 1000 miles ago...so how old is the drivetrain and was this the first new chain in over 1000 miles?

    I would say likely culprit is worn drivetrain (cassette and/or chain ring) which does not play well with a new chain no matter what you try to adjust.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    OP left out important information that came out in post #6...he put on a new chain 2 rides ago and the problems started. Stated that cable was replaced 1000 miles ago...so how old is the drivetrain and was this the first new chain in over 1000 miles?

    I would say likely culprit is worn drivetrain (cassette and/or chain ring) which does not play well with a new chain no matter what you try to adjust.
    Actually, the problem started on the 2nd ride on the new chain, rather than the 1st. The cassette and and chainring have 3,500 miles, the derailleur has 2,500 miles, the chain has 1.5 rides. The chain is the 4th one on the drivetrain and honestly both cassette and chainring still look pretty good. My LBS saw the bike for a winter "overhaul" a couple weeks ago and they had no issues with the drivetrain wear. My experience with them has been that they would recommend a new cassette/chainring if needed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by thartter View Post
    Actually, the problem started on the 2nd ride on the new chain, rather than the 1st. The cassette and and chainring have 3,500 miles, the derailleur has 2,500 miles, the chain has 1.5 rides. The chain is the 4th one on the drivetrain and honestly both cassette and chainring still look pretty good. My LBS saw the bike for a winter "overhaul" a couple weeks ago and they had no issues with the drivetrain wear. My experience with them has been that they would recommend a new cassette/chainring if needed.
    3,500 miles on a GX chainring!?!? I typically got around 800 miles on each, no chance that one isn't shot. Even the cassette, I usually got around 2,000 miles on before it wouldn't take a new chain without skipping - very likely that it's toast too.

    Three chains in 3,500 miles on the same cassette and chainring? That's almost 1,200 miles per chain... I typically get 400-500 before they show as worn using the chain wear indicator tool, no chance in hell it wasn't well past worn before you hit 1,200 each time - which means you were damaging the chainring and cassette more than intended.

    Impossible to fully diagnose over the internet, but given all that I'd bet the farm that your cassette and chainring will need to be replaced to get it back working properly. It's truly amazing that you've gotten this much life out of them. My numbers come from years of using GX 11 speed and they stayed shockingly consistent throughout each:

    Roughly 450 miles before replacing chain (according to Park Tools chain wear indicator tool.)

    After wearing out two chains the chainring wouldn't take the third without skipping or 'crunching.'

    After wearing out four chains (and two chainrings) the cassette wouldn't take the fifth chain without skipping - so at roughly ~2,000 miles a full (chain, chainring, cassette) drivetrain replacement was needed.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thartter View Post
    The chain is new. Its only got two rides on it.
    My vote is also a worn drive train.

    Put the old chain back on, does problem persist?

    If it performs as it should, your choice is to ride it until it is un-rideable due to wear, or replace cassette/chain ring and reinstall the new chain.

  17. #17
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    Look at the gaps in chainring, if they arent a symmetrical U shape and are more worn on one side then youll need a new one.

    The teeth could look perfectly fine, but the U shape in the middle could be worn down.

  18. #18
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    Barrel adjuster at shifter.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    My vote is also a worn drive train.

    Put the old chain back on, does problem persist?

    If it performs as it should, your choice is to ride it until it is un-rideable due to wear, or replace cassette/chain ring and reinstall the new chain.
    Good next step. There didn't appear to be a frozen link on the new chain so I put the old chain back on and got the ghost shifting and popping immediately. I'm taking to my LBS so they can measure the cassette and chainring wear. We'll see what they have to say.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thartter View Post
    The cassette and and chainring have 3,500 miles, the derailleur has 2,500 miles, the chain has 1.5 rides.
    Can't quite put my finger on why, but I don't think the chain's your problem.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by thartter View Post
    Good next step. There didn't appear to be a frozen link on the new chain so I put the old chain back on and got the ghost shifting and popping immediately. I'm taking to my LBS so they can measure the cassette and chainring wear. We'll see what they have to say.
    I think you having the drive train looked at is good for general awareness. I hate to see you throw away your money on a chain that the cassette will prematurely wear. If you are worn out, it will be best to ride it until it's junk then replace. Worn chain and worn cassette ridden until fully worn is going to cost the same as replacing a semi-worn drive train. Just do go so long that you start skipping teeth under load and hurt yourself.

    Next: You state that the old chain is also ghost shifting.
    Most commonly (from the little that I know) suggests the derailleur is bent or the hanger is bent.

    You did mention you checked it, I will assume you checked it with a proper derailleur hanger tool, and you understand how to use it.
    Or, even after checking, maybe you overlooked it (it is possible) it's still not straight enough. There is some margin of error...minimal margin of error on a 12 speed.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kameramandan View Post
    Can't quite put my finger on why, but I don't think the chain's your problem.
    Ha! I love that he skipped my post, doesn't want to hear the truth I suppose. Regardless of what other issues may or may not be going on, that drivetrain is toast for sure.

  23. #23
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    Does it happen on just the 1-3 cogs you (probably)use the most, or across the whole cassette?

  24. #24
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    it's the wear on the cogs as others now say based on the new info

    need new cassette to match the new chain
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  25. #25
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    OK, all you guys who said the cassette and chainring were gone were RIGHT! I put a new cassette on and went for a ride tonight. The ghost shifting was gone! Perfect shifting. However, I still have the popping, so tomorrow I'm off to pickup a new chainring. This is the first drivetrain I've worn out. While I've been keeping an eye on it for wear, I just didn't have the experience to recognize how much wear was too much. So thanks for the input everyone. I know a little more now!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by thartter View Post
    OK, all you guys who said the cassette and chainring were gone were RIGHT! I put a new cassette on and went for a ride tonight. The ghost shifting was gone! Perfect shifting. However, I still have the popping, so tomorrow I'm off to pickup a new chainring. This is the first drivetrain I've worn out. While I've been keeping an eye on it for wear, I just didn't have the experience to recognize how much wear was too much. So thanks for the input everyone. I know a little more now!
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    When it drops into the chain (without pushing) rather than hitting the roller your chain is worn. I usually replace when it drops in with a little push - my mechanic tells me that's early, but better early than late. Keeping fresh chains extends the life of your other parts. That said, I'm shocked you went as long as you did on your drivetrain so somehow this doesn't seem to be an issue for you... But I'd still do it because it's too simple not to.

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