Excellent Chain Wear/Life Article- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Excellent Chain Wear/Life Article

    Was over on CyclingTips this afternoon and saw this article.

    One of the better articles I've seen re: chain wear. I'll be buying nothing but 12s X01 Eagle chains to run on my 11s drivetrain from now on. Keeping them clean and well but not over-lubed, with a high quality lubricant.

    https://cyclingtips.com/2019/12/the-...rable-11-speed
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  2. #2
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    Excellent for sure. This testing validates my experience with XO1 chains. Amazing lifespan.

  3. #3
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    That and the linked lube article are very good. Tempted to try some silca lube.


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    I saw a GMBN video that recommended having maybe 3 chains that you rotate throughout the lifetime of the cassette and chainring so they all wear as a unit and you should never encounter the issue of a new chain on a seasoned drivetrain.

  5. #5
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    I have also had extreamly long life out of xo1 chains comparatively.

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  6. #6
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    Great link. Thanks.

    When Eagle became a thing, I assumed worse chain life, but my experience matches the article. My X01 and XX1 chains have been lasting forever.

    Now SRAM, if you're reading, I've got $200 somewhere that I'd gladly fork over for that same chain, coated with something that allowed me to forget about lubing chains.

    Ever.

    Again.

    At all.
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    That chain lube article is also interesting. Molten speed wax seems to offer the best of all worlds - efficiency and long life. Does anybody know how long one treatment of Molten Speed Wax lasts in offroad conditions?

  8. #8
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    Good link!!

    I too have been absolutely blown away by the life span of my X0 Drive trains. The chain cassette on my Enduro bikes has 3000 hard kms on it and is far from needing to be replace. Usually drivetrains on Enduro bikes lead short and hard lives.

    I definitely seem to have to replace my 11-speed chains more frequently but the cassette life is fantastic. I just through a new chain on a cassette with 15,000km on it and the chain took no problems.
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  9. #9
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    This article seems to confirm that it's worth spending extra for a higher end chain. For the last few years I've used SRAM XX1 11 speed chains and I've actually been really pleased with how well they've lasted compared to the cheaper SRAM 11 speed chains. My main reason for going with the XX1 chains was that I felt they were quieter and shifted better but I'll take the added longevity too.

    I thought it was quite interesting to see the comparison chart between the chains from different speeds, 8,9,10,11 and 12 speed and how much improved they were each time. It goes against the received wisdom that as chains have got narrower they also become weaker and more likely to break.

  10. #10
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    Really great article, thanks for sharing!

    Question- does waxing a chain make sense for mtb in varying conditions... dry/dusty one week , wet/damp the next?

    Curtainly using Finish Line Wet, which seems to be in the top 3rd of performance for efficiency.

    Just wondering if there is a better way because the Finish Line Wet definitely attracts a lot of grim, which negatively impacts efficiency and longevity according to the research.


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  11. #11
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    ^Molten speed wax seems to be the ticket for both efficiency and longevity. Seems to come out on top on both.

    But it does look like some serious upfront costs both in terms of materials and time. That's why I want to know from anyone who has used it how long each application lasts for mtb. If it barely lasts longer than regular lube, then it's probably not worth the effort.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by midwestmtb View Post
    ^Molten speed wax seems to be the ticket for both efficiency and longevity. Seems to come out on top on both.

    But it does look like some serious upfront costs both in terms of materials and time. That's why I want to know from anyone who has used it how long each application lasts for mtb. If it barely lasts longer than regular lube, then it's probably not worth the effort.
    Watched a guy on YouTube who is diehard for Molton Wax but he did advise that if it gets wet or grim on it repeatedly itís going to need to be cleaned a lot. To me that would defeat the purpose of the added cost and time.


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  13. #13
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    I have used the molten speed wax and it lasted about 200 miles: one 100 mile race at Lumberjack, then a few rides after that in the UP riding Marji trails.

    It was very time consuming so now i just use Squirt or Finish Line Ceramic depending on conditions.

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  14. #14
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    ^Thanks for that info. Did you detect any differences in efficiency or longevity after switching to Squirt/Finish Line?

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    I still molten speed wax all my eagle chains, and have for 2 years now. If your terrain is going to be muddy/wet all the time, then there are other better options. But when it's dry in the summer time, I'll get 200-250 miles on a waxing, with the caveat being that this is on Sram chains only. KMC will be lucky to get 100 miles. The guy from Friction Facts commented that this also makes it the fastest chain. I really only switch to a standard lube if it's going to be muddy. I really think the upfront cost is not as much as is claimed, I just use the method MSW details on their website, and it's not so bad.

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    I use the Molten Speed Wax and find it very easy and quick to apply. Anytime I wash my bike, maybe every 200 miles, I pop off the chain, take an old rag with mineral spirits, and wipe it down quickly. Then I have an old small pot that has the wax in it and I just boil the chain in it, remove the chain with a fork and hang it to cool off, and reinstall after I'm done washing the bike. The entire process takes me 2-3 minutes plus the 10-15 minutes for the wax to boil and the chain to cool back down. No oil on the bike, no dirt sticking to the drivetrain, low resistance, and literally drivetrain parts never seem to wear out. Been doing it this way for years now.

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  17. #17
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    Good article, thanks!!!

    I only use MSW for race days as with the higher volumes in season I'd be waxing too frequently (based on my own level of laziness). Also consistent with the author that the shimano 12spd chains work well with the Eagle cassettes (but not the other way around) - I haven't updated my I9 hubs to microspline yet ($$$).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    Good article, thanks!!!

    I only use MSW for race days as with the higher volumes in season I'd be waxing too frequently (based on my own level of laziness). Also consistent with the author that the shimano 12spd chains work well with the Eagle cassettes (but not the other way around) - I haven't updated my I9 hubs to microspline yet ($$$).
    I see that Absolute Black (my preferred oval front chainring) makes a chainring that mounts GXP (mounts to SRAM cranks) while having Shimano HyperGlide teeth.

    Like you I don't have Microspline, nor does my hub manufacturer offer it, so the XTR rear cassette is out.

    The Shimano chain has some rolling resistance advantage (although I have to admit, does 2 watts really matter at all?) and it might shift better on the Eagle Cassette, while giving up just a bit of longevity in trade.

    Am I getting this right?

    Trying to decide if that is the correct direction to go in once I'm due for a new front chainring and chain in combo with my Eagle AXS Drivetrain?

    Thoughts?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    I see that Absolute Black (my preferred oval front chainring) makes a chainring that mounts GXP (mounts to SRAM cranks) while having Shimano HyperGlide teeth.

    Like you I don't have Microspline, nor does my hub manufacturer offer it, so the XTR rear cassette is out.

    The Shimano chain has some rolling resistance advantage (although I have to admit, does 2 watts really matter at all?) and it might shift better on the Eagle Cassette, while giving up just a bit of longevity in trade.

    Am I getting this right?

    Trying to decide if that is the correct direction to go in once I'm due for a new front chainring and chain in combo with my Eagle AXS Drivetrain?

    Thoughts?
    I would keep chain matching cassette, in general. Lots of tiny micro-interactions between ramps and plates that make for smooth shifting, and that's all brand specific.

    Doesn't AXS have a different chain layout? Larger rollers, I thought? I'd definitely get an AXS chain for my AXS drivetrain, if I had an AXS drivetrain.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrewBird View Post
    I would keep chain matching cassette, in general. Lots of tiny micro-interactions between ramps and plates that make for smooth shifting, and that's all brand specific.

    Doesn't AXS have a different chain layout? Larger rollers, I thought? I'd definitely get an AXS chain for my AXS drivetrain, if I had an AXS drivetrain.
    Only the road version has the oversized rollers.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Was over on CyclingTips this afternoon and saw this article.

    One of the better articles I've seen re: chain wear. I'll be buying nothing but 12s X01 Eagle chains to run on my 11s drivetrain from now on. Keeping them clean and well but not over-lubed, with a high quality lubricant.

    https://cyclingtips.com/2019/12/the-...rable-11-speed
    Admittedly skimmed article and haven't done my due diligence...are you in fact running eagle chain with a Sram 11s drivetrain? I'm not into the hype of 12s (nor weight) so have remained 11s, but like to minimize my bike upkeep so if the eagle chain is as good as the article and some feedback here suggests would love to give it a go.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    The Shimano chain has some rolling resistance advantage (although I have to admit, does 2 watts really matter at all?) and it might shift better on the Eagle Cassette, while giving up just a bit of longevity in trade.

    Am I getting this right?
    2 watts sounds insignificant. However, for a threshold power around 4 watts/kg, 2 watts is very similar to losing a 1lb of weight. If you are on a decent race bike you have to spend a large fortune to save a 1lb of weight.

    So for performance per $ I will happily take those 2 watts.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    2 watts sounds insignificant. However, for a threshold power around 4 watts/kg, 2 watts is very similar to losing a 1lb of weight. If you are on a decent race bike you have to spend a large fortune to save a 1lb of weight.

    So for performance per $ I will happily take those 2 watts.
    Train on Eagle XO1 12s, race on XTR?


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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Train on Eagle XO1 12s, race on XTR?


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    That would be my take away. I do wonder though if a clean but well used XO1 chain is more efficient than a brand new one.
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  25. #25
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    What is everybody's thought on chainring size and efficiency. Convention is larger chain rings are more efficient but if you have a lot of steep climbs larger chain rings leads to more cross chaining which is quite inefficient.

    Right now I am leaning towards a bit smaller chain-rings (32s versus 36s) that allow me to stay in the middle of the cassette most of the time.
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  26. #26
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    Also smaller chain rings increase anti-squat on most FS bikes.

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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    2 watts sounds insignificant. However, for a threshold power around 4 watts/kg, 2 watts is very similar to losing a 1lb of weight. If you are on a decent race bike you have to spend a large fortune to save a 1lb of weight.

    So for performance per $ I will happily take those 2 watts.
    Interestingly, this test (https://www.velonews.com/2019/05/bik...etrains_493185) shows 2x drivetrain systems having 3 watts less friction losses than 1x systems. They are using road drivetrains though, still the results seem to translate to mtb as well to some degree.

    The original OP article conveniently leaves out 2x chains out of the efficiency test, so we can only wonder how they would hold up, however, it must be below 9 watts for the entire drivetrain if the VeloNews article is correct.

    The original article does seem to have some red flags in my opinion. Judging from how they talk about ceramic speed coatings as the most advanced in the world makes me believe all is marketing jargon. Considering for example, how CS claims their bearings are the absolute best, when in truth they are average or below. Their tests on the efficiency chart all seem to be within 1.5 watts, all top end chains, so in the real world I would say they all perform equally. That is to say if you use a normal chain you get 8-9 watts of losses, top end chain/lube 5-6 watts of losses, so you gain 2 watts.

    However, if you have a normal chain with superior lube you might gain those 2 watts as well. That test was not performed or showed either, perhaps conveniently?


    The big surprise to me is how the sram xx1 chain last, but then again the cheap pc1130 or shimano 105 beats it in total cost per 10,000km, so we are back to square 1.

    Lesson to me: Buy cheap chains and keep them pristine, that will make them have approximate top end drive train efficiency. For pro's, well I guess they have some options to choose from.


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Excellent Chain Wear/Life Article-screen-shot-2019-05-14-10.08.29-am-1.jpg  


  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    2 watts sounds insignificant. However, for a threshold power around 4 watts/kg, 2 watts is very similar to losing a 1lb of weight. If you are on a decent race bike you have to spend a large fortune to save a 1lb of weight.

    So for performance per $ I will happily take those 2 watts.
    I always use the shimano chains, although I'm "only" on 1x11 (see avatar). Long time ago I used to break shimano chains...I broke less sram (actually Sachs) chains, then shimano came out with their mushroomed-pin setup and trickled it down to all of their lines. It has taken longer for SRAM to do this and they charge a premium for it. I can usually find an XT or XTR chain for a good deal and I usually buy a few of them at once for all of my bikes. I can't say I've ever broken one under stress. I think the only failure I had was due to one getting crazy jammed in a chain device or similar, but after the initial failures back in the 00s with various chain mfrs, I've stuck with shimano chains and they've been great. I've never had any reason to want to even try a SRAM chain, despite my otherwise all-SRAM drivetrains. They shift just fine, as in like clockwork.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TDLover View Post
    Interestingly, this test (https://www.velonews.com/2019/05/bik...etrains_493185) shows 2x drivetrain systems having 3 watts less friction losses than 1x systems. They are using road drivetrains though, still the results seem to translate to mtb as well to some degree.

    The original OP article conveniently leaves out 2x chains out of the efficiency test, so we can only wonder how they would hold up, however, it must be below 9 watts for the entire drivetrain if the VeloNews article is correct.

    The original article does seem to have some red flags in my opinion. Judging from how they talk about ceramic speed coatings as the most advanced in the world makes me believe all is marketing jargon. Considering for example, how CS claims their bearings are the absolute best, when in truth they are average or below. Their tests on the efficiency chart all seem to be within 1.5 watts, all top end chains, so in the real world I would say they all perform equally. That is to say if you use a normal chain you get 8-9 watts of losses, top end chain/lube 5-6 watts of losses, so you gain 2 watts.

    However, if you have a normal chain with superior lube you might gain those 2 watts as well. That test was not performed or showed either, perhaps conveniently?


    The big surprise to me is how the sram xx1 chain last, but then again the cheap pc1130 or shimano 105 beats it in total cost per 10,000km, so we are back to square 1.

    Lesson to me: Buy cheap chains and keep them pristine, that will make them have approximate top end drive train efficiency. For pro's, well I guess they have some options to choose from.


    You point out that ultimately this should all be taken with a grain of salt. Drivetrain interaction is so nuanced that it's difficult to say that some test findings will impact you in a similar manner. I have some faith in wear testing, actual efficiency I am much more skeptical of. I could design ten different 'good' tests that find ten different answers. And probably repeat and find new answers.

  30. #30
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    I have tried waxing a chain and have had similar mileage as everyone else. It quit using because of the ease of a drip bottle and the only marginal drop off in efficiency. I had been using rock n roll gold sense. I still would wax for a peak events.

    Last I saw there was about 1 watt difference between chain rings and about 1 watt for cross chaining a little with it jumping to close to 3+ watts at the extremes. There was also a ramp up in wattage drag went you dropped below 20 teeth. They indicated that the pulley wheels were the high point in drag in a gearded system.

    This is mostly from memory from friction facts before they were bought by ceramicspeed. Modern data may vary.

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  31. #31
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    Iíd guess chainring brand would have a big influence as well. Iíve used 1x rings from Absolute Black, Wolf Tooth, Race Face, SRAM and Shimano. Each has its own take on the narrow/wide geometry, with some having significantly wider and deeper teeth than others. Currently running all-Shimano XTR, and itís been the smoothest and quietest combo Iíve used.

    I would further guess that oval chainrings lead to lots of frictional loss because they donít play well with clutch-equipped rear deraileurs. Pedaling an oval ring causes the RD to extend and retract a bit on each revolution, and you can actually feel the resistance of the RD clutch when hand-pedaling a bike in a work stand. Whether ovals are a net benefit when taking fatigue etc. into account is an open and probably individual question!

  32. #32
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    I also had a previous XX1 chain to never show wear, but this article makes it clear why that was. I was using a standard chain wear guide. Eventually I replaced it because it was just sounding pretty bad.

    This is the relevant portion of the article that I'm interested in, in the context that the tester finds Shimano chains to have less resistance: ďI have since ridden the XTR 12 chain on my Eagle AXS drivetrain,Ē he said. ďThe Mspeedwax treatment is still silky smooth after nearly six hours of hard training Ė and whilst I donít have efficiency results yet, I will be shocked if the XTR chain isnít very fast. I also think that shifting is even a bit better than the already great Eagle chain ó it certainly isnít worse.Ē

    Since Absolute Black makes a GPX crank mount, but Shimano teeth front oval rotor, I might make this change when my chain and front rotor are due for replacement.

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    [QUOTE=Suns_PSD;14464031]
    Are you reusing your master link? That's the only thing holding me back and keeping me on Squirt.
    I've been wondering which 12 speed Master links can actually be reused (if any). I don't know any that state you can reuse them, but I'm curious if anyone's had real-world success.

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  34. #34
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    [QUOTE=euro-trash;14468179]
    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    Are you reusing your master link? That's the only thing holding me back and keeping me on Squirt.
    I've been wondering which 12 speed Master links can actually be reused (if any). I don't know any that state you can reuse them, but I'm curious if anyone's had real-world success.

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    KMC links seem to be reusable, haven't tried 12 speed though, just 9,10 and 11. I have ridden a 10sp chain with 4 pair of links and never popped open, it never presented an issue that I just kept using it for quite some time.

  35. #35
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    [QUOTE=euro-trash;14468179]
    Quote Originally Posted by Suns_PSD View Post
    Are you reusing your master link? That's the only thing holding me back and keeping me on Squirt.
    I've been wondering which 12 speed Master links can actually be reused (if any). I don't know any that state you can reuse them, but I'm curious if anyone's had real-world success.

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    The instructions say not to reuse the master links, but I do many times and have never had an issue.

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  36. #36
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    [QUOTE=Suns_PSD;14468505]
    Quote Originally Posted by euro-trash View Post
    The instructions say not to reuse the master links, but I do many times and have never had an issue.

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    Im with this guy. I re-use the same master link for the lifetime of the chain. I even reuse the KMC one on which clearly states they are 1 time use only. Never had an issue. (touches wood)

    I also rotate through 3 chains and for race day put my XX1 on and then remove it and go back to cheaper options for "training". Also remove my XX1 cassette and train with a GX. (DT hubs, so have a two drivers each with a cassette installed and the whole cassette pops off with driver)

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJ40runr View Post
    You point out that ultimately this should all be taken with a grain of salt. Drivetrain interaction is so nuanced that it's difficult to say that some test findings will impact you in a similar manner. I have some faith in wear testing, actual efficiency I am much more skeptical of. I could design ten different 'good' tests that find ten different answers. And probably repeat and find new answers.
    Until you do that, it appears that chainring/cog size matters more than cross chaining.

  38. #38
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    No inclusion of Taya's new coated chain? I've heard a few second hand "astounding" reports.

    Anybody know anything?
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