Stretched chains aren't fun!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Stretched chains aren't fun!

    I'm running a sram chain on a stainless steel ring and cog. I've always changed cogs and chain at the same time but this cog has aged well, the teeth aren't very worn. I'm tempted to throw on just a chain and keep everything else but when I've done this on geared bikes in the past, it always bit me in the butt, chain skipping on gears. My bike has an eccentric BB at max tightness but the chain is still pretty slack. i think this should work or am I wrong?

  2. #2
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    I have always found if you change the chain when you should, the other parts last much much longer. The chainrings try to change to the shape of your stretched out links and wear prematurely. Stainless probably helps a bunch although I've never run SSrings!

  3. #3
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    Get you a Gusset Slink half link chain, probably 2x strong nearest 1inxh chain, last one i ran lasted 4 1/2 years daily lunch ride 5 miles steep socal up downs

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankyone View Post
    I have always found if you change the chain when you should, the other parts last much much longer.
    ^ this

    buy a chain wear gauge and change your chain before it wrecks the rest of your drivetrain. single speed or geared.

    if your wearing out cogs/cassettes every time you change your chain, you are keeping it on there WAY too long. you should be able to replace the chain a few times before having to replace the other components.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BENKD29 View Post
    ^ this

    buy a chain wear gauge and change your chain before it wrecks the rest of your drivetrain. single speed or geared.
    Yes. The gauge costs less than a chain. And way less than cogs and chainrings and cassettes.

  6. #6
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    Take care which chain-checker you buy. I have a Park one and it is useless! When the checker reads 0.7% worn in theory you should be able to fit a new chain but it's borderline. The transmission is already on the edge of being too worn.

    So do your homework, and don't buy a Park!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Take care which chain-checker you buy. I have a Park one and it is useless! When the checker reads 0.7% worn in theory you should be able to fit a new chain but it's borderline. The transmission is already on the edge of being too worn.

    So do your homework, and don't buy a Park!

    Which one do you have?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dledinger View Post
    Which one do you have?
    The Park one, which is how I know it's rubbish! ;0)

    I need to buy a new one but I haven't got around to it yet. Or figured out which one to buy.

  9. #9
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    I've always replaced the chain and rear cog at the same time and if the ring was worn that too. This is the first time I've run a stainless cog and it appears to have outlasted my chain. Aluminum cogs have always seemed to wear faster (duh).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    The Park one, which is how I know it's rubbish! ;0
    I got that part....but they made at least two. The newer one shows .5 and .75%, versus the .75 and 1% of the old.

    I have an old one and have never used it. Really, it's hard to beat a steel ruler.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dledinger View Post
    I got that part....but they made at least two.
    I have the one that does .75 and 1% but it doesn't matter. I've bought enough poor quality Park tools to be quite disgruntled with the company. My next chain checker won't be a Park.

  12. #12
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    I'm not a brand fanatic with anything....but so long I can keep buy Park tools at cost my box will be primarily blue I haven't run into anything that I have found to be low quality....but plenty of things that are lower value than Park retail prices would indicate.

  13. #13
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    Brand loyalty is always a sucker's game. It doesn't make any difference if it's tools, cars, Hi-Fi or whatever, all manufacturers produce less than brilliant products sometimes. Most also change over time and their quality relative to the marketplace shifts.

    The only smart thing to do, ever, is to look at all the options available at the time and choose the best one. Brand loyalty is just a lazy way of making yourself feel clever.

    Stretched chains aren't fun!-apple-hipsters2.jpg

  14. #14
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    Buy chains in bulk and swap them often.

    If you let a single speed chain wear too much it will damage your rings and cogs by making the valley between the teeth wider and eventually it will not mesh well. The result is loud pops and times when the chain catches as it fails to mesh. Once the system gets loud you pretty much have to replace the rings and cogs.

    The park CC-3.2 chain checker is nice. I also have the fancy park 2C chain checker and hate it. I prefer the CC 3.2 style because it is quick and simple.

    You also may want to get a bunch of chains, cogs, and rings. I also swap my chain rings and cogs quite often because it's nice to ride different ratios. Today I was on 33/18. Tomorrow I will likely setup the bike with 35/19. I enjoy having all the cogs and rings. In addition to having options for sizes when setting up for races or trips using different chains, cogs, and rings spreads my wear across more metal. Pretty much every time I clean my primary bike I swap the gear to a different combo.

    I have a pegboard wall with around 20 chains cut for various lengths to work with different gear setups. I generally have two or three cut for the sizes that I use most often. About once a week I swap my chain and/or switch gearing. When one of my chains gets outside the wear limits on my Park chain checker I toss it.

    Also, you can reduce wear by keeping stuff clean and well lubricated. Having more then one chain in each size that you use allows you to clean them in bulk and makes it easy to swap chains vs. riding a dirty one.

  15. #15
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    Febikes, nerdiest response in a while. I LOVE it! That is awesome setup you have on pegboard. I was just called "a real bike geek" today, by one of my riding buddies (thank you), but you take the cake.

    I also change chains often, to save drive train, on SS and Gear bikes. I keep one old chain in truck for emergency, I throw the rest in the trash. Chains on sale are cheap. Usually XT.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    The park CC-3.2 chain checker is nice. I also have the fancy park 2C chain checker and hate it. I prefer the CC 3.2 style because it is quick and simple.
    And useless! That's the one I have. Might make a good tin-opener but hopeless as a chain checker as it's flawed by design. It checks the play between the rollers and the pins, not the length.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    And useless! That's the one I have. Might make a good tin-opener but hopeless as a chain checker as it's flawed by design. It checks the play between the rollers and the pins, not the length.
    I think you HAVE to check the pin/roller play to get an accurate length check. If you can push a roller over against a pin, it's effectively lengthening that segment of chain.


    I know a guy who buys a new driveline (rings, cassettes, derailleur idlers) and 3 chains. He switches chains every week for ~2 years. When the chains are shot, the whole thing is shot, and he does it all over again.

  18. #18
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    i've used the park gauge in question and agree it's useless.

    i have this, does the job.

    ProGold Chain Gauge > Accessories > Tools > Chain Tools | Jenson USA

    there's another one i like that i can't seem to find. it kind of looks like a pair of chopsticks attached at one end and extends till it lays flat on the chain.

    a small ruler will work as well.
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  19. #19
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    I don't understand how the park tool is useless... Yea, it measures wear in the pivots, but that's part of the stretch. It absolutely measures chain length. What am I, or you, missing?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    I don't understand how the park tool is useless... Yea, it measures wear in the pivots, but that's part of the stretch. It absolutely measures chain length. What am I, or you, missing?
    I think the complaint is that any wear between the pins and rollers is exaggerated because it pushes the rollers in two different directions. When riding all this slack would be in the same direction and not have any impact on the pitch of the chain. I'm not sure this is as a big an issue as people tend to make it, but it certainly seems true.

  21. #21
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    Pedaling will stretch the chain completely, as the crank will pull the chain forward while the wheel will resist this movement. This is where the damage to the cog and chainring happens. There is more pressure on the last teeth, because of the extra slack in the chain. You would want to measure the total stretch to determine wear. Measuring just the actual links will tell very little. Even measuring the distance between 12 links while the chain is installed will account for pivot wear when a derailleur or spring tensioner is used.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    I think you HAVE to check the pin/roller play to get an accurate length check. If you can push a roller over against a pin, it's effectively lengthening that segment of chain.
    This!

  23. #23
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    No matter how loose the fit is between rollers and pins, it has zero effect on the pitch of the chain but would be measured on the chain checker. Still, I think this is a minor issue.

  24. #24
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    I think that bushing/pivot wear is a bigger issue than chain "stretch". This wear puts more stress on the first tooth on the chainring and last tooth on the cog to touch the chain. The load isn't evenly distributed among the links and teeth, which accelerates wear on all of the parts. Maybe I'm wrong, but it appears logical to me...

  25. #25
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    ok, maybe useless was the wrong word. but i don't like it. there's better stuff out there.
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by BENKD29 View Post
    ok, maybe useless was the wrong word. but i don't like it. there's better stuff out there.
    Like what? I'm not disagreeing with you, necessarily, but how can a tool with the simple job of measuring chain length not work? What exactly does it not do well? Heck, there's no real need for anything other than a ruler or tape measure if your chain is tensioned. The problem with a singlespeed setup is that the chain isn't being stretched for a proper measurement. The Park tool will force this stretch, which is ideal for singlespeed setups.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbiker24 View Post
    How can a tool with the simple job of measuring chain length not work? What exactly does it not do well?
    On a chain, the rollers 'float' around the pins. As the chain wears the rollers can move more relative to the pins.

    Whilst under load on the bike the rollers are pulled tight against the pins. Note, all of the rollers under load are pulled in the same direction.

    When the Park checker measures the chain it pushes the two rollers it is touching in opposite directions. This doesn't give an accurate measure of wear because the pins only wear on one side, so the checker effectively sees less wear than actually exists. It is pushing against the worn side of one pin and the unworn side of the other.

    I've been caught out a few times with the Park. According to the checker I should have been able to fit a new chain but when I tried to, it kicked. It's not a trustworthy tool.

    Better checkers push both rollers in the same direction.

  28. #28
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    Great article on this subject. Most all chain checkers are not useful.

    http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-004/000.html
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Note, all of the rollers under load are pulled in the same direction.
    I'm confused by this statement. Under load, the chainring pulls in the forward direction, while the cog "pulls" in the opposite direction.

  30. #30
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    It doesn't matter what's going on between because there's no sprocket to mesh with when the chain is in free air.

    The net stretch from roller wear (around the chain ring) is zero. The rollers between the chainring and cog aren't engaging anything. What matters is the pin to pin measurement, or pitch.

    Same on the back, except reverse, as you noted.

    The rollers get sloppier over time, but it doesn't change the pitch of the chain because when wrapped around a ring or cog they're all pulled in the same direction.

  31. #31
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    I think I understand it... That makes sense. Thanks!

  32. #32
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    Doesn't that gauge operate on the same premise as the Park (separating the links in opposite directions)?

  33. #33
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    Yep.

  34. #34
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    I used a Park chain checker for 20 odd years and found it to be a extremely useful diagnostic aide.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by dledinger View Post
    The net stretch from roller wear (around the chain ring) is zero. The rollers between the chainring and cog aren't engaging anything. What matters is the pin to pin measurement, or pitch.
    Well, whether the rollers, pins or both wear is academic as you can only measure the combination of the two anyway. The point is that what matters is the pitch of the chain, which can only accurately be measured across the same point on two links. So using a ruler to measure from the centre of one pin to the centre of another will work. Or a tool that measures from the rear of one pin to the rear of another will work.

    The Park tool isn't very good because it measures from the rear of one pin to the front of another.

  36. #36
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    Update: I replaced the chain with an 1/8th inch chain and even though I couldn't see wear on the cog, it does growl when I climb or push it a bit. Not all that unexpected I guess, I will have to invest in a new cog.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Mushy View Post
    Not all that unexpected I guess, I will have to invest in a new cog.
    Not necessarily. As the gears are already worn you have nothing to loose from leaving them on. What might happen is that the gears will wear to the new chain and work perfectly again! I've done this a couple of times. If the gears can wear to an old chain they can wear to a new one, right?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Not necessarily. As the gears are already worn you have nothing to loose from leaving them on. What might happen is that the gears will wear to the new chain and work perfectly again! I've done this a couple of times. If the gears can wear to an old chain they can wear to a new one, right?
    Along with re-milling the worn cog, which will never be right again, you'd also be thrashing your new chain in order to make them cooperate. Not worth it.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    You'd be thrashing your new chain in order to make them cooperate.
    I don't think that happens. I can't be certain but I reckon the chain is tougher and it's the gears that wear to the chain.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Mushy View Post
    Update: I replaced the chain with an 1/8th inch chain and even though I couldn't see wear on the cog, it does growl when I climb or push it a bit. Not all that unexpected I guess, I will have to invest in a new cog.
    as mr pig says i'd give it a couple rides. mine always tend to be noisy (maybe i don't change them often enough) but if it hasn't gone too long it will quiet down in a couple rides. my fixed gear in particular makes awful noises until the new chain beds in.

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