Tandem Cycling - Drive chain that you prefer for your tandem?
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I am replacing the drive chain on our Santana road tandem. It has a 27 speed drivetrain with a mix of XT/Ultegra/105 components. I'm currently using a KMC Z9000 chain that has never broken on us and shifts fine.
What are your thoughts on the SRAM PC-99 or PC-69 chains? Is their power link up for tandem use or do people forego it and use a chain tool to connect? I really have little use for the power link as I always clean the chains on the bike and carry a chain tool while riding.
There seems to be very little information from manufacturers about chains designed for tandem use. It appears that SRAM/Sedis/Sachs is all one company now... any other good brands (other than Shimano)? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
01-23-04, 12:16 PM
We've used SRAM chains on our 8 speed set-ups for many years with great results and more recently on the 9 speed with good results. The Shimano chains are more narrow, tend to "chatter" less than the SRAM chains, and also shift better under load due to the HG side plate design thus I'm starting to become a Shimano DA chain user.
The PowerLink II handle the loads just fine but can be difficult to remove once they collect a little grime. Therefore, I tend to recommend the reuseable Forester SuperLinks that Lickton Bikes sells. The reuseable SuperLink II is compatibile with both SRAM & Shimano's 9 speed chains which means you can forgo the one-time-use-only pins.
More info on the SuperLinks is here:
01-26-04, 02:42 PM
I have been 27 speed on a solo for 3 years now, and have only had the tandem with 27 speed for 18 months. I have never used any other chain than a Shimano "XT" and have never had any problems with them. I do regularly change the chains, as a matter of course every 1,000 miles, as it is around this distance that I find that the chain starts to stretch. As I say, I have never had any chain problems, but then neither have you.
I used to run chains in motor sport, and I found that the length of life of a chain depends on Lubrication and Being kept clean, so All chains are cleaned after each trip out, and also sprayed with a water dispellant before being well lubricated as soon as possible. The excess oil is wiped off before the next ride. The only time I have not kept to this rule was on a 100 mile ride, where lubrication was not done on the ride, and at the end of the ride it was squeeking just a bit. I did change that chain immediately, and it is now in the panniers as a spare chain.
I have never broken a chain, and have never used a "Quicklink", always relying in rivetting the chain. The only reason I can see to use one of the quicklinks is to remove the chain. I do not have to remove the chain for cleaning, due to the chain cleaner that I use.
I don't think it matters which chain you use, providing you are happy with it, providing it is a better quality chain in the first place. Same with the Links on the chain. Whichever you are happy with, then keep on using it. Incidentally, My "old worn out " chains are passed over to a "poor" mountain biker, and he uses it until I pass him over the next chain to recycle.
01-27-04, 08:59 AM
Let me qualify chain brand/model... I buy the best chains I can find for under $25 and find both SRAM and Shimano's chains -- including the higher end models -- on sale at or below that amount. When I find them on sale, I stock-up.
As for chain life, it's a wild card. I can't imagine summarily throwing off a road bike chain at 1,000 miles if it hasn't worn to the point where replacement is needed. Perhaps if I too had a poor MTB friend I would adopt the practice. Off-road is a different story for tandems & chains; they don't last long if you do a lot of climbing.
Anyway, for all chains I tend to replace mine just after they reach 1/16" of wear and before 1/8" to minimize excess wear on the cassette cogs and chain rings. The ParkTool chain checker is a nifty tool that makes a quick check rather easy and of course a 12" ruler works fine too.
I'm a clean-freak so I use hot-melt paraffin-based wax lube on our road bikes and tandems and -- assuming we don't get caught out in the rain -- can and often times do ride up to and somewhat beyond 500 miles between re-lubes. Local weather conditions (temp, humidity, salt water mist) will obviously skew the mileage between relubes for paraffin or just about any other lube. The paraffin works OK down to 40 degrees but below that a wet lube is needed for any extended or routine riding.
For the off-road bikes and tandems we use Pedro's Ice Wax so long as the temps stay above 50; it's too viscous to work at the colder temps so below 50, I use wet lubes which are messy as all heck but work much better.
I clean the chains off our tandems and bikes, thus the quick-links are very nice. The chains (usually several at one time) get tossed into a citrus degreaser bath for a few minutes, get a quick four-side brushing with a stiff bristle nail brush, are rinsed-off with clear water, drip dry for 5 minutes while I attend to other things, and then go into a cold Fry Daddy that contains the hardened paraffin-based wax lube. I fire-up the Fry Daddy and let the whole mess heat-up. As the wax comes up to temp. you start hearing a lot of popping as the water between the rollers and pins boils which, as it turns out, helps to pull-in wax via capillary action. The chains "cook" for 10 - 15 minutes and then are pulled out, stacked coiled-up on paper towels sitting on a newspaper, and allowed to cool. That's it. It sounds like a lot of work but it's really not IF you do several at a time and if you consider that the rest of the bike's drive train stays relatively clean and therefore doesn't require extensive cleaning -- just a wipe-down with a terry cloth towel pulls most of the residual wax off the cog teeth.
The moral of this long-drawn out explanation: There is no single way to do anything, thus you find what works best for you....
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