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  1. #1
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    More durable alternative to ultegra chainrings ?

    Hello All !

    I'm looking for a more durable alternative to the shimano ultegra triple chainrings (currently using 53/42/30)... I'm a touring cyclist that covers a lot of milleage and found that the shimano aluminium alloy chainrings wear relatively fast. Would any of you know of the availability of compatible chainrings made of steel or titanium ? I'm more interested in wear and corrosion resistance than in weight....

    Thanks much

    Julien

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    Senior Member wyobiker's Avatar
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    What type of mileage/KM are you receiving out of your Ultegra ringsets? How often do you clean/lube the chain? Have you replaced the ringsets prior and if so, did you reuse the old chain? What about the rear cassette... what's it's condition?

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    Specialities-TA chainrings are high quality. long lasting and available in any size. They are used by several pro teams (inc US Postal) and long distance tourists.
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/chainrings.asp

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    I'm getting about 10,000 kms out of an ultegra ringset (the middle one starts slipping, when straining up steep hills, at about 8,000 kms)... I wipe and lube the chain about every month (some 1,500 to 2,000 kms) and change the chain about every 5,000 kms... I always change the chain when changing the ringset or cassette... I'm getting about 20,000 kms out of an ultegra cassette as they seem to wear slower...

    I've read about the TA chainrings on Peter White Cycles' website... but they're still made of aluminium and I'm unsure about how much more use I'll get out of them (?)...

    I found titanium cassettes at Cycle Dynamics and will try one out on my next trip... But can't find titanium or high quality steel chainrings anywhere...

    Any other comments ? ideas ?

  5. #5
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    Is titanium more durable than aluminum? Everything I have read says the contrary. Not to mention the huge cost difference between the two.

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    Both titanium and steel are harder metals than aluminium, so they shouldn't wear as fast... Though in practice, I don't know... which is why I'm eager to try some out....

    On the road, in my experience (my last trip was some 12,000 kms), it's easier to replace (purchase or carry spare) chains than ringsets or cassettes... Chains are common, while premium rings or cogs (like the ultegra) are not usually carried in inventory (and bulkier to carry with you than chains) outside of major cities' bike shops... Even in Europe, I found it costly to replace my middle chainring.... The titanium cassette I just purchased was less than double the price of the shimano cassette, if it lasts twice as long, I'll be happy...

    Still looking for alternatives for the chainrings though....

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    Originally posted by Julien
    ... The titanium cassette I just purchased was less than double the price of the shimano cassette, if it lasts twice as long, I'll be happy...

    Still looking for alternatives for the chainrings though....
    Ti cogs in cassettes wear faster than steel ones.Big reason for Ti in cassettes is weight saving,not incerased wear resistance,methinks.

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    I assumed that ultegra cassette cogs were made of plated aluminium alloy, not steel.... ? I'll have to see how the titanium ones compare....

    Still looking for chainrings alternatives....

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    Originally posted by Julien
    I assumed that ultegra cassette cogs were made of plated aluminium alloy, not steel.... ? I'll have to see how the titanium ones compare....

    Still looking for chainrings alternatives....
    Ultegras and others are steel.With Shimano you can get some large cogs in Ti with Dura Ace, and XTR.

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    Well, that explains why the ultegra cassette lasts about twice longer than the ultegra chainrings...

    Any ideas for steel or titanium replacements for the ultegra chainrings ?

  11. #11
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    I don't believe that titanium chainrings, if available, will last longer than aluminum. While titanium is stronger than aluminum, it's wear characteristics are worse. Plus a set of Ti chainrings will cost a bunch more than AL, and will not last the cost difference as long.

    Contacting Peter White at: http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/

    or Grant Peterson at: http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/

    Both of these Small companies build long-haul, heavy-touring bikes and has a ton of experience.

    Short of changing cranksets, you may have to live with 4,000 or 5,000 miles per chainring
    Last edited by Davet; 01-13-03 at 01:13 PM.

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    Mr. Cellophane RainmanP's Avatar
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    Surely you clean and lube your chain more often than once a month or 1500-2000 km? I usually lube mine at least once every 100-200 miles and clean them after 200-300. Even at that, I wouldn't expect much more than 8000-10,000 km out of a middle chainring. I generally replace chains and most-used cogs about every 3000 miles. I commute 22+ miles round trip every day, often enough in rain/wet to get the drive train gritty on a regular basis.
    If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!

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    Senior Member wyobiker's Avatar
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    THANK YOU! That's my point, what can be realistically expected as opposed to the percieved mileage. Being in the tire business I run up against this daily. Being relatively new to Ultegra compontents I really don't know what to expect myself, but I believe there are limits to how long these lightweight compontents will last. (IMHO)

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    And that's my point as well.... I'm not looking for the lightest weight components. It's nonsense to pay premiums for lightweight materials when you're going to load up a touring bike with 40+ lbs of gear (clothes, camping & cooking, etc...). I'd be willing to use steel chainrings if they were made properly and compatible with the ultegra triple crankset that I already have.... But none seem to be available.... ?

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    Senior Member Greg's Avatar
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    Nashbar has steel 105 rings that differ from your Ultegra in finish only at such low prices $9.95/30t, $19.95/42t, and $24.95/52t.

    Stock up. Use them and toss them.

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    I checked Nashbar and cross-checked on the Shimano website... the 105 rings are made of anodized aluminium, not steel...

    thanks anyway...

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    Senior Member Greg's Avatar
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    I stand corrected.

    They're still cheap.

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    okay, sora chainrings are made of steel, but I am not sure that they are 9-speed compatible. Someone help me out on this one.

    Titaium will NOT wear longer then Al. Have you noticed that very few knife blades are made of titanium? That is because they hold an edge very badly. You would get about a day's use out of a blade. That is why high-quality carbon steel is used on knives.

    The cogs on a bike chain are more similar to a knife blade then the tubing used in the frame. You want something HARDER for wear resistance, not STRONGER. Titanium, while very STRONG is not very HARD. In fact, the two properties are almost opposites.

    Strong implies that I can take a great force w/o breaking, hardness refers to its value on the rockwell scale. Things that are STRONGER can be made thinner and therefore lighter. Things that are HARD are often brittle, and therefore must be made thicker and heavier.

    Since weight is not an issue, I would look for STEEL, not titanium, because it would be more durable in this application.

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    Originally posted by Phatman
    Titaium will NOT wear longer then Al. Have you noticed that very few knife blades are made of titanium? That is because they hold an edge very badly. You would get about a day's use out of a blade. That is why high-quality carbon steel is used on knives.

    The cogs on a bike chain are more similar to a knife blade then the tubing used in the frame. You want something HARDER for wear resistance, not STRONGER. Titanium, while very STRONG is not very HARD. In fact, the two properties are almost opposites.

    Strong implies that I can take a great force w/o breaking, hardness refers to its value on the rockwell scale. Things that are STRONGER can be made thinner and therefore lighter. Things that are HARD are often brittle, and therefore must be made thicker and heavier.

    Since weight is not an issue, I would look for STEEL, not titanium, because it would be more durable in this application.
    Well, I did a little more research on the web and titanium is definitely harder than aluminium, while steel can be harder or softer depending on the particular form of steel... here is what I found out :

    Hardness of metals is measured by the Rockwell scales... First, there are the 'A', 'B' and 'C' scales where B is harder than A and C is harder than B... Then each scale is numerically measured where a higher number indicates a greater hardness...

    Aluminium rates at B50 to 60
    Carbon Steel rates at B60 to 70
    304 Stainless rates at B75
    431 Stainless rates at C18 to 25
    100%Titanium rates at C24 to 28
    6/4 Titanium rates at C32 to 36
    450 Steel rates at C36 to 40
    Maraging Steel rates at C45 to 55

    The B scale compares to the C in the following manner :

    B97 is more or less equal to C20 and
    B100 is more or less equal to C23

    So, I would conclude that titanium chainrings should last quite a bit longer than aluminium ones... and if steel, I would have to be carefull of the particular steel employed...

    I couldn't find whether the Sora chainrings were steel (or if they would be compatible with the ultegra cranks and 9 speed cassette) as Shimano's site doesn't give details...

    Still looking for steel or titanium chainrings....

  20. #20
    Senior Member wyobiker's Avatar
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    Ok, not to beat a dead horse but, as you stated you get around 8-10km out of your chain rigs. What is everyone else getting out of theirs (Ultegra)? Let's hear from you. Secondly does anyone else have experience with steel and/or titanium? What kinda of mileage are you receiving from these materials. I can only surmise that if the difference is minimal it may not justify the cost differential (if any). (IMHO) ;-)

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    Thanks Wyobiker, good initiative....

    As a further comment on metal hardness, I finally found the Rockwell rating for 7075-T6 Aluminium, which is the alloy used by (methinks) premium chainring makers such as Stronglight, TA, etc... the alloy rates at about B80...

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    I don't find Ti chainrings in the QBP catalogue.No steel in 130BCD either except Sora, and the avisory is they may not shift well with STI on other cranks. They should work with barends or downtube friction shifters though.

  23. #23
    Licensed Bike Geek Davet's Avatar
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    If available, a Ti chainring would cost more than twice as much as a Al chainring, more likely on the order of 300%~400%. I doubt, based on my experience with Ti cassettes, that a Ti chainring would last 2 to 4 times as long. Hence money wasted.

    One of the larger factors in chainring wear is the abrasives brought up by the chain onto the rings. If, as you say, you are cleaning and lubing your chain once a month, it would follow that maintaining your chain more frequently would result in greater longevity of your chainrings.

    According to one of my catalogs, the Shimano Sora triple chainrings are made of steel, however they are 8-speed. The catalog also states "Sora cranks and chainrings must be used together. Sora chainrings are steel and thinner than other alloy rings. Using them with another crankarm may result in poor shifting". I wonder if a Sora middle ring, because it is thinner than an 8-speed alloy ring, would work OK with your 9-speed set-up? The Sora middle chainring is about $15.00 (US).
    Last edited by Davet; 01-13-03 at 11:01 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Bobsled's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Greg
    I stand corrected.

    They're still cheap.
    Yeah, you knew there was some reason you liked them. You just couldn't remember what.
    Litespeed, lasts a lifetime.

    Specialized Tarmac, lasts a lifetime, or until it breaks.

  25. #25
    Kev
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    I have to agree with the others that TI Chainring would not even last as long as a Aluminum Chainring. I base this on TI cassettes wearing down faster then aluminum ones. And oiling chain once a month, that would do more damage to your chain rings then anything else. Why not just work on making the chainrings last longer, oil your chain more often. Also closely monitor the stretch in the chain, stretch in the chain is the primary reason for cassette and ring wear.

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