When should chains be retired?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    When should chains be retired?

    I have an 8 speed sram chain on my SS and it is showing serious signs of stretching. In fact I find myself adjusting the tension (horizontal dropouts) every couple of rides... I just about used all of the available adustment on my tensioners and I'm not sure if I need to simply remove a link from my old chain or if I am getting close to breaking the chain. I would guess the chain has seen about a season of good hard use...

    I have no problem buying a new chain but don't want to throw money away if I don't need to...
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  2. #2
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    I replace when it has gained 1/16" over 12". Let it go too long and you need to replace the cog and chainring, too.
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  3. #3
    I live to bike
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    a season is about all a chain really lasts. you can buy a simple chain measuring tool from park or others.

  4. #4
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    What Shiggy said. I have been using the 1/16" per 12" method for years. It works for geared bikes too.
    Contrary to what the other poster mentioned about a chain going a season, it varies greatly with how much you're riding, conditions, and specific chain choice. He is correct in the chain stretch tools now being commonly avaiIable.
    FOr my next chain, I am going to try a KMC 610 3/32" BMX chain I saw mentioned on here sometime back, since the SRAM 8 speed chains I have been using have been going away rather quickly.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    a season is about all a chain really lasts. you can buy a simple chain measuring tool from park or others.
    A chain can last for one ride in wet sandy conditions. When I clean a chain I hang it next to a new chain and if the difference is length is close to one rivet's width I toss it. Chain measuring tools can be wrong (with certain wear patterns) - they put tension on the rollers in opposite directions, but teeth put tension on the rollers in the same direction.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    a season is about all a chain really lasts.
    it depends on the person riding. i know people who put in 100 miles a ride, and people who do half that in a year. those are very different "seasons" with regard to chain wear.

  7. #7
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    Depends on the cog and chainrings used. I run shimano DX cogs at 3 a pop ($5???) so it makes to run the chain more and replace chain and cog at same time. However I run an expensive chainring so don't let the chain get so worn I also need to replace the ring.

  8. #8
    Poorly Disguised Poser
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    I find that when a person starts asking, "when should I replace my chain?" its over due.

    in all seriousness, there are many symptoms for a junk chain.

    If you adjust tension, or
    If you drop a chain, or
    If you hear strange noises, or
    If you need to soak a chain to remove lube buildup....

    You need to check its stretch.

    when in doubt....replace it

    I would rather replace a chain before its time, than suffer the effects of not replacing it soon enough.
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  9. #9
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    Rotate chains.....

    i have three chains, once one shows signs of streching i put the next one on and so on. the cogs and chainrings will eventually wear out even with good condition chains, so rotating them mean you effectively have an almost unlimited number of 'seasons' and if one breaks at least you have two left that are the same size/length and suitable for your warn drivetrain.

    i also ensure i put a used chain on inside out in relation to the way it was previously installed.
    'Bicycles themselves are the perfect blend between artistic craftsmanship and technical application' - Carl Schlemowitz

  10. #10
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    If its got a hard season on it, I'd replace for sure. I'd also get into the habit of getting new ones every season. That should take care of any problems, there is no good reason in my mind why a chain shouldn't last for one season. I throw new ones on all my bikes in the spring, but I expect them to last for the entre year. I mean, when I'm paying 40 bucks for the thing and cleaning it a couple times a month, it should be designed well enough that it can take some use.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by fish man
    If its got a hard season on it, I'd replace for sure. I'd also get into the habit of getting new ones every season. That should take care of any problems, there is no good reason in my mind why a chain shouldn't last for one season. I throw new ones on all my bikes in the spring, but I expect them to last for the entre year. I mean, when I'm paying 40 bucks for the thing and cleaning it a couple times a month, it should be designed well enough that it can take some use.
    The perspective from over twenty years behind the bench is that there are numeroous reasons why a chain may not last a season, most having to do with frequency of lubing/cleaning and what types of grit it gets exposed to. There are also some significant differences between chain types. It wold seem that the beveled side plates that are designed for shifting performance are prone to stretching more quickily than those that are designed as one-speed chains with straight side plates (makes sense, eh?)

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