My Drivetrain Sounds Like A Rollercoaster Lift- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    My Drivetrain Sounds Like A Rollercoaster Lift

    I am using a RaceFace Next SL Crank with original 34T NW chainring and Chris King 20T cog. I replaced my old heavy wide super stretched out chain (pretty quiet) last week with an 11 speed KMC chain. That sounded like garbage so I replaced it again with a singlespeed KMC chain (says "Z" on the links and looks like peanuts strung together). That one sounds like garbage too. It sounds like an old wooden rollercoaster being drug up the hill before being dropped into oblivion. It gets louder the more force I apply. It never made this noise before I replaced the chain. I made sure to put the links on the right teeth of the ring. It looks like the chainring is worn but not as bad as I thought it would look considering how loud it is. The new chain looks like it wants to stay attached to the ring when it hits the bottom of the pedal stroke. I didn't have an opportunity to get a new chainring so I just rode it dirty. It was pretty sweet being the loudest bike at the race this weekend, but I suppose it's probably sapping watts along with my precious bodily fluids. I can't do sneak attacks and dive bomb the corners any more.

    Is it logical that this noise resulted from changing chains after running the old stretched out chain for way too long and then wearing out the chainring? Therefore replacing the chainring, cog, and chain all at the same time should solve the problem, correct? Are there any other possibilities?

  2. #2
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    Silly question, but did you lube the new chain? That waxy grease that comes with the new chains tends to be sticky and loud for me.

    Other than that I would agree with your assessment. You may have worn out the cog/ring with the old chain.

  3. #3
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    sounds like you've got a couple problems, likely caused by keeping an old chain on too long. Also, sometimes SS chains don't play well with NW chainrings, and to me 11 sp chains are totally unnecessary. K.I.S.S. and try an 8 sp chain. if your still getting chain suck, time for a new drivetrain.
    Rigid SS 29er
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  4. #4
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    Chainring. Just went through a similar scenario.

    Replaced everything but the NW ring. The chain was getting stuck to ring as it was lifting off at bottom. Was fine in the workstand and light pedaling, but was noisy, as you describe, under power.

    Ended up going to the OneUp Switch system. For now on I'll change ring, cog and chain at same time once a year and be done with it.

    The Switch system is going well. I like not having to remove the Cinch cranks to change rings. Check it out.

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  5. #5
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    Worn out chainring with new chain = noise.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  6. #6
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    Cool guys. Thanks for the advice. I ordered the whole new drivetrain yesterday under strong suspicion that the chain/chainring mesh was causing the noise. I will let you know if it solves it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lahrs View Post
    For now on I'll change ring, cog and chain at same time once a year and be done with it.
    if you simply buy a chain stretch gauge, and replace the chain before it gets super stretched and ruins your chainring and cog, you can replace just the chain and keep on riding for multiple chains without having to replace the other stuff. There's no need to intentionally ruin brand new parts every time. i get 4-5 chains easy before i need new parts.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  8. #8
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    Although what you say does make economic sense and is a good point, for less than $100 I get a whole new drivetrain. My SS is my daily driver that I'd just rather not spend time maintaining.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lahrs View Post
    Although what you say does make economic sense and is a good point, for less than $100 I get a whole new drivetrain. My SS is my daily driver that I'd just rather not spend time maintaining.
    Fair enough. My 8 speed chain costs $6 and takes 3 minutes to change once every few months. It's not a big deal to me.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  10. #10
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    On a recent rainy gravel ride, after half way I could hear/feel every link as it went around the rear cog. Was waiting for something to give way.

    Got home, cleaned it and lubed it up and not a peep since.

    Summer lube isn't the best for a rainy winter...

  11. #11
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    Buy 3 or 4 cheap 9 speed chains and rotate them out whenever one needs a deep cleaning.

  12. #12
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    Dumb followup question: I have always run SS chains on an SS drivetrain, except for once when I was messing around with the skinny chain. Why would you prefer an 8 or 9 speed chain over an SS chain with my setup?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Dumb followup question: I have always run SS chains on an SS drivetrain, except for once when I was messing around with the skinny chain. Why would you prefer an 8 or 9 speed chain over an SS chain with my setup?
    I prefer 10 or 11 speed chains, because that's what my wife and friends use on their geared bikes. It allows me to carry quick links that will work on both my bikes and theirs.

    Also, in general I've found KMC chains to be noisy. They'll be silent for 1 or 2 rides, but will need lube soon regardless of how dirty they are. Other brands seem to stay quiet longer.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Dumb followup question: I have always run SS chains on an SS drivetrain, except for once when I was messing around with the skinny chain. Why would you prefer an 8 or 9 speed chain over an SS chain with my setup?
    Some people prefer to pay more for a chain that has been carefully developed to jump off the sprockets easily...
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Dumb followup question: I have always run SS chains on an SS drivetrain, except for once when I was messing around with the skinny chain. Why would you prefer an 8 or 9 speed chain over an SS chain with my setup?
    I have always run 8 speed, except one time I tried a SS KMC chain and it didn't play well with my NW chainring. It's super cheap, reliable, and I've never had any issues with dropping or breaking chains. And I'm not gentle. If it ain't broke...
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    If it ain't broke...
    Pedal harder?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    Pedal harder?
    get a bigger hammer.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  18. #18
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    So in other words you guys are basically saying get whatever is the cheapest one that suits you, correct?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    So in other words you guys are basically saying get whatever is the cheapest one that suits you, correct?
    No, they're saying don't get one that is designed to come off the cogs easily, ie a chain designed for a derailleur.

    If you can't get singlespeed chain, get a derailleur chain for as few gears as possible, eg 6 or 8.

    It just happens they tend to be cheaper.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    No, they're saying don't get one that is designed to come off the cogs easily, ie a chain designed for a derailleur.

    If you can't get singlespeed chain, get a derailleur chain for as few gears as possible, eg 6 or 8.

    It just happens they tend to be cheaper.
    I prefer 9-10 speed KMC chains.

  21. #21
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    Like I said, I don't have a single complaint about my $6 chain, why spend more? I apply the saving to some other more important component, like awesome wheels.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    I prefer 9-10 speed KMC chains.
    Very good chains but still designed to come of the cogs easily.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Very good chains but still designed to come of the cogs easily.
    I think this is a bit of a red herring. The newer multi speed chains have more durable pin and bushing designs and thus stretch at a much slower rate. I currently use KMC 10SL chains, which while they are expensive, they last over 1k miles for me with nearly zero maintenance. Never dropped a chain, even when I was lazy after a cog change and left the chain so loose it was rattling against the stays. Prior I was using SRAM 9spd chains and those things would stretch at a staggering pace. I wiped out a Niner ring and cog in a single 100 mile race because the chain went from less than 1/16" total stretch to over 3/16" total stretch in that 100 miles. Granted it was a wet and muddy course, but I've done similar on my KMC chains and those chains still don't measure any stretch.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Very good chains but still designed to come of the cogs easily.
    Only when you move the shift lever, never had one come off a cog on a single speed bike.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by solo-x View Post
    I think this is a bit of a red herring. The newer multi speed chains have more durable pin and bushing designs and thus stretch at a much slower rate. I currently use KMC 10SL chains, which while they are expensive, they last over 1k miles for me with nearly zero maintenance. Never dropped a chain, even when I was lazy after a cog change and left the chain so loose it was rattling against the stays. Prior I was using SRAM 9spd chains and those things would stretch at a staggering pace. I wiped out a Niner ring and cog in a single 100 mile race because the chain went from less than 1/16" total stretch to over 3/16" total stretch in that 100 miles. Granted it was a wet and muddy course, but I've done similar on my KMC chains and those chains still don't measure any stretch.
    I don't doubt that those KMC chains are very good. KMC are the only chain I use or recommend these days.

    The point is that the singlespeed KMC chains are of the same quality but much cheaper because they don't need the extra features of a derailleur chain.

    Those extra features include more lateral flexibility and cutaway links to allow the chain to slip sideways easily when derailled. That's not a desirable feature for a chain system with no guides and it's totally unnecessary.

    Multispeed chains are also pretty narrow. Narrow means thinner teeth on the cogs, therefore faster wearing expensive bits.

    Basically keep using them, but you could get the same service and quality and have more money in your pocket by buying a quality chain without the unnecessary features.

    As for SRAM, you couldn't give me a SRAM chain.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Only when you move the shift lever, never had one come off a cog on a single speed bike.
    I wouldn't expect that to happen - you know how to setup a bike and chainline properly. They're not wrong, just money spent on features you don't need.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Some people prefer to pay more for a chain that has been carefully developed to jump off the sprockets easily...
    The design you talk about isn't in the chain, its more in the cassette with ramped teeth. the plus you get from using a 8 speed chain over a single speed chain is that if your chainline is not perfect the 8 speed chain is more narrow and has more compliance in a side to side kind of way. a single speed chain is just thicker more robust so it is more stiff in a side to side kind of way leaving less tolerance for chainline imperfections and frame flex etc. you know... the things that can cause a SS to drop its chain. As far as your comment about the geared type chain being more expensive thats not always true. They don't design chains to jump of cogs/sprockets they design them to stay on.

    PS: single speed chains were designed to work with 1/8" sprockets and cogs (BMX, Track, and Cruisers, klunker bikes all have this size of sprockets and cogs) Single speed mountain bikes hardly ever use 1/8" drivetrains most are built with 3/32" drivetrains .

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximo View Post
    The design you talk about isn't in the chain, its more in the cassette with ramped teeth. the plus you get from using a 8 speed chain over a single speed chain is that if your chainline is not perfect the 8 speed chain is more narrow and has more compliance in a side to side kind of way. a single speed chain is just thicker more robust so it is more stiff in a side to side kind of way leaving less tolerance for chainline imperfections and frame flex etc. you know... the things that can cause a SS to drop its chain. As far as your comment about the geared type chain being more expensive thats not always true. They don't design chains to jump of cogs/sprockets they design them to stay on.

    PS: single speed chains were designed to work with 1/8" sprockets and cogs (BMX, Track, and Cruisers, klunker bikes all have this size of sprockets and cogs) Single speed mountain bikes hardly ever use 1/8" drivetrains most are built with 3/32" drivetrains .
    I'm not sure what we're arguing about here. If you want to run a derailleur chain, go ahead, it's no skin of my teeth. All I'm doing is pointing out that going for premium priced derailleur chains is buying you features that are undesirable in a singlespeed chain set up.

    If you're doing it to compensate for an imperfect chainline on a singlespeed surely it's better to correct the chainline. However if you want to run a squint chainline, use a derailleur chain and wear some testicle protection.

    I'm well aware of the difference between ⅛" and 3/32" chains, and there has been 3/32" singlespeed chains for at least 70 years that I know about. Any chain that is not designed for derailment is a singlespeed compatible chain, it's nothing to do with what a particular type of bike uses. However it is hard now to get ⅛" components suitable for mtbs, unfortunately for those of us who ride in muddy conditions.
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  28. #28
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    Just a quick report back to you guys that replacing the whole drivetrain all at the same time solved the hideous rollercoaster sound and it is buttery smooth. Now that I had to drop $125 for a drivetrain and I bought a chain checker I am going to be much more disciplined about replacing my chains.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohmygato View Post
    Just a quick report back to you guys that replacing the whole drivetrain all at the same time solved the hideous rollercoaster sound and it is buttery smooth. Now that I had to drop $125 for a drivetrain and I bought a chain checker I am going to be much more disciplined about replacing my chains.
    Cool. You'll immediately start saving money that you can spend your next $125 expense. Isn't mountain biking great?
    =s
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    Cool. You'll immediately start saving money that you can spend your next $125 expense. Isn't mountain biking great?
    =s
    At least it doesn't have a derailleur.

  31. #31
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    if you could have dealt with the noise it would have bedded in eventually (unless it was REALLY worn in which case you'd have probably have broken the chain). a good mud/rain ride helps tremendously i know this cause i was poor for a long time and matched lots of worn cogs and rings with new chains using this technique (usually the last chain before the whole drivetrain goes in the garbage)...

    and yes whatever chain is cheapest (except sram PC-1) and is the same width as your chainring is the best one. if you can find tandem chains on sale it is like a 2 for 1!

  32. #32
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    I'll second that recommendation to stay away from the PC-1 chains, worst I've ever used. I've always used cheap 8 speed SRAM chains with perfect results.

    The problem with singlespeed chains is most of them are just not good quality and stretch at a faster rate than a quality shifty chain.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    I'm not sure what we're arguing about here. If you want to run a derailleur chain, go ahead, it's no skin of my teeth. All I'm doing is pointing out that going for premium priced derailleur chains is buying you features that are undesirable in a singlespeed chain set up.

    If you're doing it to compensate for an imperfect chainline on a singlespeed surely it's better to correct the chainline. However if you want to run a squint chainline, use a derailleur chain and wear some testicle protection.

    I'm well aware of the difference between ⅛" and 3/32" chains, and there has been 3/32" singlespeed chains for at least 70 years that I know about. Any chain that is not designed for derailment is a singlespeed compatible chain, it's nothing to do with what a particular type of bike uses. However it is hard now to get ⅛" components suitable for mtbs, unfortunately for those of us who ride in muddy conditions.
    There is more invested into a 10 or 11 spd chain than just chamfered outer plates. Bushing and pin design are also greatly improved over the chains of older technology.

    I cannot disagree that buying a $6 single speed chain and replacing it regularly is probably cheaper, but my experience with lesser chains indicated that maintenance intervals were prohibitively short and that combined with my lack of interest in performing maintenance makes a longer lasting chain (even if it does come at a premium) a better choice for me. Throw in the fact that I can keep one spare chain and use it on any bike, geared or SS, is another benefit for me.

    What I disagree with is your implication that a geared chain is unsuitable for SS use because it's designed for shifting and therefore it is going to jump off the cog all the time. This is not supported by any empirical evidence and my own anecdotal evidence shows that even a very loose chain with a fairly close chain line won't drop spontaneously. An SS misses the ramped and pinned rings and cassettes, not to mention the derailleurs. My geared bikes don't shift until that little mech moves. They'll shift when the mech moves even with an SS chain. They shift much better with a geared chain, but the chain is only one part of the system and by itself does not change gears.

  34. #34
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    I switched from Sram 8 speed chains to KMC 8 speed. The Sram chains stretch too fast, and too much. The KMC stretches much less, and more slowly. YMMV
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by solo-x View Post
    There is more invested into a 10 or 11 spd chain than just chamfered outer plates. Bushing and pin design are also greatly improved over the chains of older technology.

    I cannot disagree that buying a $6 single speed chain and replacing it regularly is probably cheaper, but my experience with lesser chains indicated that maintenance intervals were prohibitively short and that combined with my lack of interest in performing maintenance makes a longer lasting chain (even if it does come at a premium) a better choice for me. Throw in the fact that I can keep one spare chain and use it on any bike, geared or SS, is another benefit for me.

    What I disagree with is your implication that a geared chain is unsuitable for SS use because it's designed for shifting and therefore it is going to jump off the cog all the time. This is not supported by any empirical evidence and my own anecdotal evidence shows that even a very loose chain with a fairly close chain line won't drop spontaneously. An SS misses the ramped and pinned rings and cassettes, not to mention the derailleurs. My geared bikes don't shift until that little mech moves. They'll shift when the mech moves even with an SS chain. They shift much better with a geared chain, but the chain is only one part of the system and by itself does not change gears.
    You are putting words in my mouth that I did not use.

    I am not talking about buying crap SS chains. I am talking about getting equivalent quality SS chains. The additional features on a derailleur chain aren't extra quality, they are features that enhance its ability to flex sideways and off the cogs, that raise the price of the chain and they are features you do not need on a singlespeed.

    A derailleur chain is not unsuitable, it is LESS suitable and more expensive. A derailleur chain will work perfectly with a straight chainline.

    However some people like to climb hills, and under heavy stress the chainstay will flex sideways to some extent, putting the chain out of line.

    At that point do you want a chain that is designed to stay on, or one that costs more and is designed for easy derailment (and painful consequences)?


    BTW Of course your geared bikes don't shift until the mech moves. That's what those chain guides on the mechs are designed to stop happening - unplanned lateral movement of the chain, and they're there because that would happen without them.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    However some people like to climb hills, and under heavy stress the chainstay will flex sideways to some extent, putting the chain out of line.

    At that point do you want a chain that is designed to stay on, or one that costs more and is designed for easy derailment (and painful consequences)?
    I respect your opinion and right to choose and recommend what works for you but that is misinformation IME, plenty of powerful riders (who like to climb) use 3/32 chains on ss's without issue. 1/8 chain may have some advantages but I don't believe chain retention is one of them. Pretty sure we'll disagree here but I just haven't seen chain derailment problems due to using a 3/32 vs.1/8, if that is happening the problem lies elsewhere.

    Also, what quality ss chains are available that are significantly cheaper than good 8/9 speed 3/32 chains?
    I brake for stinkbugs

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    I respect your opinion and right to choose and recommend what works for you but that is misinformation IME, plenty of powerful riders (who like to climb) use 3/32 chains on ss's without issue. 1/8 chain may have some advantages but I don't believe chain retention is one of them. Pretty sure we'll disagree here but I just haven't seen chain derailment problems due to using a 3/32 vs.1/8, if that is happening the problem lies elsewhere.

    Also, what quality ss chains are available that are significantly cheaper than good 8/9 speed 3/32 chains?
    Nowhere do I say you have to use ⅛" chain, so your first paragraph is not relevant to what I have been saying.


    I don't know about your country, but it's easy to get good quality 3/32" chain for single speed here, eg:


    KMC Chain


    It looks like I've dropped into a dogma war, so I'm butting out now.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post

    It looks like I've dropped into a dogma war, so I'm butting out now.

    No dogma war, learning is a lifelong endeavor and I enjoy it. When I think of ss chains I think 1/8" and wrongly assumed that's what you were talking about, my mistake.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  39. #39
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    I run a dura ace road bike chain. It's very light and super strong. But it cost a lot. It runs smooth and quiet. Best money I've ever spent on a chain.

    XTR chains are awesome too. But again, pricey...

    If you go cheap you'll get cheap (ie wearout fast, etc...)

    Also, keep your drivetrain very clean and lubed. That chain should last many years of hard riding.

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