Broken Sram Chain Poll- Mtbr.com

View Poll Results: Have you had a Sram chain fail under load lately?

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  • yes

    81 34.32%
  • no

    155 65.68%
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  1. #1
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    Broken Sram Chain Poll

    I've seen or heard of quite a few Sram chains break under load lately, 971's and 991's.

    I broke a 971 under load a couple months ago that was only a month or so old. I repaired the chain only to have it break again... two more times. This was the first chain I have ever broken in the decades I have been riding.

    Today when one of the riders in my group broke his 991 (he also broke a different Sram chain a few months ago) I brought up the subject and sure enough there seems to be an unusuallly high percentage of 991 and 971 failures among the group and our riding friends.

    So, have you seen or experienced an unusually high number of Sram chain failures lately?

  2. #2
    Doesnt ride Banshees
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    I've never broken a SRAM chain personally, can't recall it being any different for my co-workers, and I've only seen a couple problems with customers. We only sell SRAM chains, primarily because of their consistant reliability. The broken chain stories are a complete mystery, maybe we figured out the complexity behind the powerlink?

  3. #3
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    I haven't broken a chain in over 5 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyN
    I broke a 971 under load a couple months ago that was only a month or so old. I repaired the chain only to have it break again... two more times.
    Sooo... you "repaired" the chain?

    I don't know how or why your chain broke... but SRAM doesn't recommend replacing or repairing the pins in their chains... hence the Power Link.
    By "repairing" your chain, you probably just made it more susceptible to breaking again.

    Check out page 76 of their MTB Tech Manual: http://www.sram.com/en/service/sram/...nuals_2009.php

    I don't know why your chain broke. SRAM chains are fine man... plenty of people use them without any issues. But Shimano makes good chains too. At least you have options.
    It's not where it's made but how it's made.

  4. #4
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    I voted "no" because I use Shimano chains
    I suspect 9 speed Shimano users are facing similar problems. Just wait until SRAM's 10sp group comes out
    Last edited by cort; 04-27-2009 at 08:36 AM.

  5. #5
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    I'm not dissing Sram chains, or suggesting Shimano is better. I have only used Sram chains for the last 5 years and never had a problem before, and coincidentally neither have other people I know, yet now we are seeing new Sram chains coming apart under load... and not at the powerlink.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyN
    I'm not dissing Sram chains, or suggesting Shimano is better. I have only used Sram chains for the last 5 years and never had a problem before, and coincidentally neither have other people I know, yet now we are seeing new Sram chains coming apart under load... and not at the powerlink.
    Shimano chains are all made by KMC, accept the Dura-Ace/XTR level.

    I have quite a bit of miles on a Sram 991 Hollowpin and it is great! Never had any reliability issues with any Sram components.

  7. #7
    Former Bike Wrench
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    Shimano chains are all made by KMC, accept the Dura-Ace/XTR level.
    Actually XT/Ultegra level chains are not made by KMC either

  8. #8
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    I broke a 971 sunday. That's the first chain i've broken in many many years. I shifted from middle ring to granny and within 2 pedalstrokes it snapped. I don't know rear ring but i believe it was middle to small ring area. Maybe it was just bad chainline on my part. It did not snap at powerlink. the link that got busted was nowhere to be seen. Both pins snapped because no part of link had to be removed, I was able to just put on new powerlink w/o pulling out a chain tool.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creeper
    It did not snap at powerlink. the link that got busted was nowhere to be seen. Both pins snapped because no part of link had to be removed, I was able to just put on new powerlink w/o pulling out a chain tool.
    This is very similar to the failures I have had and seen.


    I'm starting to believe there is a bad batch of SRAM chains out there, or even worse a design flaw making all 971's and 991's suspect (maybe other models too).
    Last edited by AndyN; 04-29-2009 at 10:43 AM.

  10. #10
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    I broke one around Christmas (951 or 971, can't remember) climbing, but not shifting under extreme load. The chain had some miles on it, but wasn't even half way through it's usable life.

    I broke a hollow pin SRAM chain a few years ago too, but that was under a huge load and a rough shift. It was the first ride on the chain, which sucked and turned me off hollow pin chains forever.

    I'm 145lbs, but a pretty strong rider. These are the only 2 chains I've broken in 15 years of mtb'ing.... not bad.

  11. #11
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Maybe it's just the evolution of riding and chains?

    Years ago shimano chains sucked.

    Sachs chains were better, but I broke a few of those too. When Sram bought sachs, they continued to make and sell the sachs design. It's only as of late that Sram has designed their own chains.

    A few years back shimano started making chains with "mushroom"-shaped pin-heads, making it very difficult to impossible for links to slide off the pins. It's only be very recently that sram has made anything similer (the "cross-step"), but shimano's been doing it for a while on all of their chains.

    I think there's a bad stigma attached to the shimano ones from the old generation, and the fact that you have to use a "special pin" (or a powerlink) to connect the chain, and a lot of people don't do this correctly or ignore the instructions all together.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  12. #12
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    What is the point of this poll? I run Sram chains on all my bikes. My main trail bike sees about 3 days of hard riding a week. I replace the chain on it every 6 months. That is about the useable life of any chain I've tried. Chains break. Replace them often.
    Team Sanchez; "Always hittin the upper lip"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Chingon
    What is the point of this poll? I run Sram chains on all my bikes. My main trail bike sees about 3 days of hard riding a week. I replace the chain on it every 6 months. That is about the useable life of any chain I've tried. Chains break. Replace them often.


    These are new chains breaking under load for no apparent reason. Not old worn out chains.


    I want to see if others are having similar problems with their new Sram chains.
    Last edited by AndyN; 04-29-2009 at 12:01 PM.

  14. #14
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    I had my 991 break on my twice at the Ouachita Challenge earlier this month and it was 2 weeks old. The first time I wasn't shifting and was spinning on a sustained fireroad climb. The 2nd time I was actually slowing down coming into an aid station (couldn't have timed that better). It was probably residual strain from the first break.

    I replaced it with another 991...

  15. #15
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    I've broken ONE Sram chain in about 8 years of running them, although funnily enough I did twist a link yesterday trying to remove my chain after it got stuck between the spokes and the cassette. Not at all the chain's fault though.

  16. #16
    trail fairy
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    All chains break Ive broken one Sram chain in 5 years, I was also a Sachs fan many years ago Sachs in general..

    Basic maintenance, like EL C said but adding to that look after ya chain and running gear for that matter and it will look after you.

    I run 991 non H chains and have no issue, I don't believe in hollow pin above the trail bike!

    Chain length setting from new is also important! learn to do it yourself!

    LBS tend to leave em a little long this can cause a broken chain same for too tight!

    Obviously not running crossed chain lines e.g big ring to big ring, or little to little not have to explain that here, but just in case.

    More importantly skills in changing gears is often overlooked, everyone blames the component, learn to ride Ive seen so many people who have ridden for years who lack the basics of smooth shifting no matter the situation!

    If running dual ring no need for long cage rear derailleur, a chain guide and dual ring setup is more that you need on an AM bike, allows a shorter chain, smoother chain line and better performance!

    People assume this causes drag or more wear in fact the opposite, the chain remains steady on the cluster not jumping around back there where allot of wear or power shifts come in as the chain is not settled, the chain alone is not always the culprit!

    Only chain I broke was a cheaper model 956 I think, no 991s in stock at time, Ive never broken a 991.

    Some things to think about applies to all chains, transmission is one of the key area's of ya bike look after it few do, like EL C says a good schedule and ya will never have an issue!

    Lastly I run Sram on Sram, if I ever did run Shimano again it would be Shimano on Shimano, others have debated this with me before but I know what works for me and I'm not going down that road again!

    Though I don't like Srams new color ways totally GHEY and for show ponies! but if ya like that then cool, as long as they do black they will still have my business
    Just riding a muddy trail. . ..

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailadvent
    Some things to think about applies to all chains, transmission is one of the key area's of ya bike look after it few do, like EL C says a good schedule and ya will never have an issue!

    Thanks for the lengthy response filled with (common sense) info, but did you even read the thread before responding?


    How does changing a chain every 6 months like El C suggested help me when they're breaking in two at 1 month old?

  18. #18
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    I think I agree with Mr Pyre...........

    http://allthingsfo.blogspot.com/2009...omer-no-5.html

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyN
    These are new chains breaking under load for no apparent reason. Not old worn out chains.


    I want to see if others are having similar problems with their new Sram chains.
    I've only broken Shimano chains. Never a SRAM.

  20. #20
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    Broke a 971 3 times in one ride, I know how to ride a bike and shift, this chain had seven rides on it, the cassette the same. Good thing I had a couple powerlinks in the pack. Anyway I haven't done it yet but I know I need to inspect my front chainrings for burrs, which I suspect is the problem.

  21. #21
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    I've gone as far as breaking a 4-arm Shimano XT cassette spider, under load (pedal kick) but never a SRAM chain; I've broken plenty Shimano chains; I hope this isn't a jinx.





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  22. #22
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    Never in I'm sure well over 30k miles at least in 15 years since they were SACHS before SRAM bought them. I used to break Shimano chains about 1 every year or 2 before switching.

  23. #23
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    Can I get a definition on a "chain failure"? Are we talking about when one of the chain joints explode? I broke a sram chain a couple years, split a side plate right in half, not even shifting. I just wrote it off to "not-of-this-earth power and torque", turned the bike into a SS, and finished my massive ride.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Bottoms
    Can I get a definition on a "chain failure"? Are we talking about when one of the chain joints explode? I broke a sram chain a couple years, split a side plate right in half, not even shifting. I just wrote it off to "not-of-this-earth power and torque", turned the bike into a SS, and finished my massive ride.

    Your input is not valid Dusty, tales of your amazing power and torque abound, no earthly chain could possibly survive such forces...

    but yes, I'm talking about plate/pin separation.

  25. #25
    trail fairy
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyN
    Thanks for the lengthy response filled with (common sense) info, but did you even read the thread before responding?


    How does changing a chain every 6 months like El C suggested help me when they're breaking in two at 1 month old?
    Well if you stopped being a smart arse and read the lengthy response, maybe you'd see I talked about many other things that could cause that issue in your broken chain time frame!

    Otherwise its just another rant on a particular brand..Plenty here are having a different experience so that should tell you allot, JRA is rider induced 9/10 times, sure they're can be product failures as said that can happen to any!

    But look closer to home, do some analysis! cluster condition crank ring condition chain line etc!
    Just riding a muddy trail. . ..

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailadvent
    Well if you stopped being a smart arse and read the lengthy response, maybe you'd see I talked about many other things that could cause that issue in your broken chain time frame!

    Otherwise its just another rant on a particular brand..Plenty here are having a different experience so that should tell you allot, JRA is rider induced 9/10 times, sure they're can be product failures as said that can happen to any!

    But look closer to home, do some analysis! cluster condition crank ring condition chain line etc!



    I have specifically stated that I am not dissing SRAM, read post #5.

    Shimano vs. SRAM... I could give a rats a$$. I wanted honest feedback, not a pissing match.

    I know how to wrench, I know how to ride, components have been inspected. Do you think I'm coming on here asking anyone to diagnose some random drivetrain issue on a bike they can't even physically touch?


    And if I do have some strange drivetrain issue why hasn't my new 971 chain snapped? It has many more miles on it than the last one did.


    Edit: And I wasn't trying to come across as an arse, just stating fact.

  27. #27
    not so super...
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    no broken chains after starting to use the 991 cross-step a few years back. I broke a handful of 991 hollow pin and standard 991 chains.
    Nothing to see here.

  28. #28
    the train keeps rollin
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    Fabian Cancellara busted his SRAM chain on one of the key climbs in the Tour De Flanders a few weeks ago. It was the 1st race after the team signed with SRAM. He was pissed, was a great site on TV. Him walking up the pave, with his chain wrapped around his neck. Great marketing for SRAM.
    beaver hunt

  29. #29
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    The few times I've busted a chain (shimano), I can always point to a derailleur tune that got out of whack and caused the chain to weaken and fail at a later time via a thrown chain into the spoke/cog space (limit screw issue). In otherwords, it's usually been a maintenance issue, or my fault. Not saying that it is not possible for these things to have manufacturing errors, but my experience is that I let a few rides get beyond a tune-up resulting in me causing the failure.




  30. #30
    not so super...
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSINGA
    no broken chains after starting to use the 991 cross-step a few years back. I broke a handful of 991 hollow pin and standard 991 chains.
    Sh!t



    Found this today.
    Nothing to see here.

  31. #31
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    991s are not meant to be 'repaired', if by that you mean anything other than using more powerlinks. I've made that mistake in the past. If you try to re-rivet them they will snap constantly.
    All problems in mountain biking can be solved by going faster, except the ones that are caused by going too fast.

  32. #32
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    when my old team got new bikes, all the ones that had 971 chains broke within a month, mine had bultiple problems. I went to a crosslink 991 and haven't had issues.
    S-Works all the bikes!
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshS
    when my old team got new bikes, all the ones that had 971 chains broke within a month, mine had bultiple problems. I went to a crosslink 991 and haven't had issues.

    Sounds like a confirmation that 971's (at least) are suspect.

    From your post and others it also appears that the crosslink design, which seems to have a mushroomed pin like shimano uses, is a sturdier choice.

  34. #34

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    i just broke a brand new cross step chain today. Rode for about 1 mile and under load, it snapped. Although u have just got over some chain suck and didnt change my cassette so not sure if that caused the break. Surely a brand new £30 chain should not break after 10 mins!??

  35. #35
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    I had a 971 break twice and many stuck links. Replaced it with a 951 which broke in ~5 miles of the first ride. I run a 991 now and have had 100s of miles without problems. I replaced the crappy cassette with the PG990 at the same time I put the 991 chain on and have had no issues at all with the drivetrain.

  36. #36
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    I have never broken a sram chain in over 13 yrs. Only sale sram at my shop

  37. #37
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    I'm an XC rider from Western Pa and I tried a Sram 991 with a 990 cassette shortly after theire introduction. The shifting was sickening and the chain broke 3 times. I imediately went back to a Shimano XT drivetrain and have never considered Sram again. I suspect that the intro of the new Sram XX group is going to be the same garbage if not worse by looking at how thin the material is. But hey, you can spend your money any way you want. If I pass you crippled azz on the trail and I see Sram I'll just laugh and keep going.

  38. #38
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    Broken 951

    I just had my SRAM 951 chain, purchased in June 2009, break. I was lucky that I didn't fall, this was in the middle of rush-hour traffic. The chain had only about 700 miles of commuting on it. The chain failed at one of the outer plates that was cracked and finally gave way. I then found a second plate that was already cracked. I can't see how normal wear and tear, even winter riding with salt and stuff, could cause such a failure. This looks to me like a problem in production. I will send this to SRAM and request an explanation.
    <table style="width:auto;"><tr><td><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/jTeiJfEvtM5fSOjJedp1vQ?authkey=Gv1sRgCJHP_uDikK-ztwE&feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.ggpht.com/_r0RKxTTkhM0/S5G_xAEcuxI/AAAAAAAAGx0/5MYHIszDi7Q/s144/sram951failure.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td style="font-family:arial,sans-serif; font-size:11px; text-align:right">From <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/baumann314159/Web?authkey=Gv1sRgCJHP_uDikK-ztwE&feat=embedwebsite">web</a></td></tr></table>
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  39. #39
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    I have to disagree with El Chingon, chains should not break. Yes, they wear out, but they should never break. A chain failure can cause a fall and serious injury. I never had a chain break in thousands of miles of loaded touring and commuting.

  40. #40
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    I have never broken a SRAM chain , and I'm no light weight .

  41. #41
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    I tried out a 991 about two years ago. Managed to break it the second weekend I owned it. I decided to stick with Shimano chains and have not had any problems with them. Although I do like Sram's powerlinks......

  42. #42
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    I break chains constantly, am a clyde who likes to ratchet through rock gardens.

    From my experiences, shimano make chains for little people.

    The cross step 991 from SRAM is quite strong.

    KMC x9 is much stronger than both, and cheaper too.

    I have never broke an X9 (I even use the sl). Last time I had a 971 (when my shop was out of x9) I broke it 3 times in a matter of weeks.

    I don't powershift and make sure my chainline is straight when powering.

    There is a long post on here somewhere about chain bonding methods and plate thickness that explained it all perfectly.

    If you can't be bothered to search, just trust me, KMC X9 is the way to go if you are a chain breaker.

  43. #43
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    I was climbing a pretty healthy climb, totally screwed up the shift and separated the chain. I removed the damaged link and reconnected the chain and rode that chain for longer than I should have.
    I like turtles

  44. #44
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    CaveGiant... I keep breaking chains (6'7", 250 lb) and am looking for something bombproof. Don't really care about cost or weight at this point. It seems like people either love or hate the KMC X9... why do you think that is? And how does it compare to the PC991 CrossLink? Thanks.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmatero
    CaveGiant... I keep breaking chains (6'7", 250 lb) and am looking for something bombproof. Don't really care about cost or weight at this point. It seems like people either love or hate the KMC X9... why do you think that is? And how does it compare to the PC991 CrossLink? Thanks.
    The PC991 cross used to be my fave chain before I found out about KMC.

    Both are exceptionally strong.
    I would wear the SRAM in approx 4 months.
    My current KMC is about a year old and hasn't even hit the low stretch mark.

    I am thinking of reusing it and sticking on a brand new cassette.

    The grey is the cheap OEM, avoid.
    Silver is the minimum and gold the best.
    Not only is gold more abusable, it is effectively rustproof and last longer.

    If you are a very powerful rider it might be worth looking at a shimano XT cassette for your next one, as some of the pictures in the thread above demonstrate, SRAM are weak.

    I also find Alloy rings wear exceptionally fast for me. I currently use deore steel, though SLX are now also steel so I may look at that when these wear...might be a few years.
    I don't notice the extra weight, just the more solid shifts and less chain suck.

  46. #46
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    I broke 1 a few days ago and I broke another 2 today! I have 3 powerlinks (master links) on my SRAM chain. I was riding Salmon Falls and if anyone here is familiar with that trail, there are some pretty tough climbs out there. Some of the hills while coming up thru the creek, you have no choice but to gun it otherwise, you won't escape except by foot. I admit that I do ride quite often and it's possible that my chain is VERY worn and should be replaced but I'm not sure if it's a good idea since I don't know if my rear cassette needs replacing as well.

  47. #47
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    The dribble in this thread!

    Look people broke chains no matter the brand are a cause primarily of one thing YOU!

    Poor setup to begin with!

    Poor maintenance!

    Poor compatibility!

    Poor upgrading or replacement!

    I'm a clyde Ive only ever broken 1 Sram chain and it was my fault period!

    Ive been making my own cassette ratios for my DH bike out of older Sram 11/32 34 cassettes to gear my bike the way I want, these were semi worn for my trail bike and with this Ive matched my older SRAM chains I kept with these and most old parts why I have no ida I just do.

    I cut them down as the DH bike uses a smaller spread 11/24 or 26 so I can run a shorter chain and use a SC rear D, these chains are not new, and on my DH rig at my weight my shifting is like new, and is proving tough!

    Light weight what rubbish, you people get someone to wipe your arse as well just poor attitudes causing broken chains here, crossed extreme gear ratios and poor bike culture period, the same would happen to Shimano with you guys or probably any chain.

    Try a KMC, but at the end of the day its you, wake up take some responsibility learn to set your bikes up, learn to ride change gears for example correctly and replace combine components correctly.

    Or if your terrain is so tough for trail riding add a chain guide, for u weanies and friction worriers its the best thing u could do, ya performance will increase in ya drive train and your wear will go down, maintaining a better drive train, Also if ya haven't yet go 2x9 re gear ya front rings and ya won't lose a thing have a better chain line too.

    Seems like a good brand bashing to me. though.
    Just riding a muddy trail. . ..

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  48. #48
    mtbr member
    Reputation: HAL 9000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailadvent
    The dribble in this thread!

    Look people broke chains no matter the brand are a cause primarily of one thing YOU!

    Poor setup to begin with!

    Poor maintenance!

    Poor compatibility!

    Poor upgrading or replacement!

    DITTO!

  49. #49
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    RE baumi314159's picture and post - my 951 broke under no load at all last week. When I examined the chain there were 9 links with cracks and splits like the one in your picture. This was the original chain with very few miles on it, so if the setup and compatibility is wrong, then it's Rocky Mountain who've got it wrong (I would guess that they know a bit about bicycles...) This isn't a maintenance / setup problem, period.

    I've sent the pictures to SRAM and said that they should take it back for analysis.

  50. #50
    Cuánto pesa?
    Reputation: Jake Pay's Avatar
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    The last "good" chain(s) out of SRAM were the PC-99, PC-99/89-HP....

    The problem (IMHO) is the chamfered outer plates that never improved
    anything accept the need to purchase more chains due to failures
    Not to mention the noise and chain rub.....

    I moved on back in 2006 and started paying the premium price for
    KMC X10-SL chains that shift faster and quitter, like the old PC-99's...
    Sure the life span may be shorter for the X10-SL, but the performance
    makes up for the extra coin

    And "yes" 10 speed chains work on 9 speed systems...
    Rock on
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Broken Sram Chain Poll-z-006.jpg  

    Last edited by Jake Pay; 04-30-2010 at 01:52 PM.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by baumi314159
    I just had my SRAM 951 chain, purchased in June 2009, break. I was lucky that I didn't fall, this was in the middle of rush-hour traffic. The chain had only about 700 miles of commuting on it. The chain failed at one of the outer plates that was cracked and finally gave way. I then found a second plate that was already cracked. I can't see how normal wear and tear, even winter riding with salt and stuff, could cause such a failure. This looks to me like a problem in production. I will send this to SRAM and request an explanation.
    <table style="width:auto;"><tr><td><a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/jTeiJfEvtM5fSOjJedp1vQ?authkey=Gv1sRgCJHP_uDikK-ztwE&feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh6.ggpht.com/_r0RKxTTkhM0/S5G_xAEcuxI/AAAAAAAAGx0/5MYHIszDi7Q/s144/sram951failure.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td style="font-family:arial,sans-serif; font-size:11px; text-align:right">From <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/baumann314159/Web?authkey=Gv1sRgCJHP_uDikK-ztwE&feat=embedwebsite">web</a></td></tr></table>

    i just broke my sram 990 kinda like the one in the picture. mine came apart completely at the outer plate, not just a crack just a quick burst to power up a short steep climb and snap. 100 mile on it tops, lubed and set up correctly. had it in the package for over a year when i bought a bunch. just installed recently. any word on manufacturer flaw. i'm also of the opinion a chain should wear but not break, especially at the outer plate like that. just missed crushing my balls on the tt when it happened.

  52. #52
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    My chain snapped in 2 pieces today, bot about equal length. One was at the Quick Link. This was the original chain from when the bike was new, and maybe has 400 miles on it.

    I measured it today and there is about 1/16" stretch over 12 links.

    The break opposite the quick link is shown below, with one link broken, and the other end showed the pin was halfway out. I don't know if this was caused by the break, or caused the break.

    I raced on it yesterday and was fine. I relubed and went to race today when this happened.

    I am using Squirt Lube, and when I took apart a link, there was wax inside the roller. However the chain feels like there is more "twist" in the chain than the new one has.

    So, in your expert opinions, was this a chain issue (SRAM cracking as above), a lube thing, chain wear, too much tension, or just bad luck?

    I want to mostly ensure I can prevent this from happening on the new chain.


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