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Old 08-15-06, 09:24 PM   #1
oboeguy
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Search disabled, time for dumb question: cassette life?

How long should, say, an Ultegra 12-27 cassette last? IIRC, it's on its second chain and is skipping a bit, after a total of, oh, say 4000-4500 miles. I clean and lube the chain fairly regularly. The chainrings have been on the bike forever.

I have a fresh chain and cassette on the way... just wondering if there's any hope for keeping the old stuff on any longer. Ultegra cassettes aren't cheap!
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Old 08-15-06, 10:35 PM   #2
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In my experience, I wore through an XT level cassette in about 1000 miles. Mind you, I'm a 'pusher' and not a 'spinner.' My boss even said so when he checked out my first worn out cassette, told me I push too hard a gear. YMMV.

I've been told by a few people "They take more material off the cogs and they'll wear faster" than a normal cassette if you push too hard a gear. I have no clue how true this is... I will say the Deore level cassette I used did seem to last longer.
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Old 08-15-06, 10:42 PM   #3
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*blink* 1000 miles? I should consider myself lucky... Anyway, I ask only because I lived with a skippy cassette forever before, but have put together a pretty solid season for me (hence the 4000+ miles) so this is the first time I've had to change cassettes in such a short amount of time.
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Old 08-15-06, 10:44 PM   #4
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Is it really skipping? Or something else (out of adjustment). Skipping will sound and feel like a big "ca-chunk", particularly when harder pressure is applied, such as when climbing or sprinting. Tends to happen more on smaller cogs because they wear faster, but would happen on any worn cogs (usually not all of them).

4000 seems pretty short especially if you've been diligent with keeping your chain clean and you're already on your second chain. But there's no magic formula for figuring out cassette life. It's possible it's worn out but just seems unlikely from what you described.
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Old 08-15-06, 10:56 PM   #5
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I've concluded from all I've learned on these forums that there are two decent routes to take with chain/cassette wear:

1. Replace the chain when it has "stretched" beyond the acceptable range. This protects your expensive cassette and takes a bit of calculating and measuring.

2. Let the chain and cassette wear together indefinitely and replace both (and the chain rings as well, why not?) every decade or so.

I have a custom Seven (aka "The Golden Handcuffs") that I follow path 1 on and I have several ordinary bikes that I plan on using path 2 on. Before I got "into" bikes, I had a Kona Lavadome that had the same stock chain and cassette for 15 years. It never skipped. Not once. It was stolen and my bike fixation sprouted. I bet the cassette looked BAD!

As for miles before damage to cassette, are you a spinner? 3000? maybe 5000?
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Old 08-15-06, 11:19 PM   #6
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On higher level stuff, I'd say wear both till they go. On lower level stuff, I'd say wear it till the chain goes, then replace. the XT incident I described was precipitated by replacing the chain.... It was fine till I decided to do that.

For reference of being a 'pusher,' I weigh about 230 pounds. I'm athletic (I've hit about 30MPH on flat land on my road bike) but not an exceptional athlete or anything. It's just easier to put my weight on the pedals. So, I do put a LOT of wear on my cassettes.
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Old 08-16-06, 07:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckie J.
I've concluded from all I've learned on these forums that there are two decent routes to take with chain/cassette wear:

1. Replace the chain when it has "stretched" beyond the acceptable range. This protects your expensive cassette and takes a bit of calculating and measuring.

2. Let the chain and cassette wear together indefinitely and replace both (and the chain rings as well, why not?) every decade or so.

I have a custom Seven (aka "The Golden Handcuffs") that I follow path 1 on and I have several ordinary bikes that I plan on using path 2 on. Before I got "into" bikes, I had a Kona Lavadome that had the same stock chain and cassette for 15 years. It never skipped. Not once. It was stolen and my bike fixation sprouted. I bet the cassette looked BAD!

As for miles before damage to cassette, are you a spinner? 3000? maybe 5000?
I did method 2 and I can attest that it works, but I did have to change the chainrings (cool shark fin pattern), which for an old Stronglight are very hard to find, and you can never interchange wheels with this method unless you change the cassette also, which is a bit limiting.

Same crank, but now I use method 1 and I haven't worn out a cassette/freewheel in over 3 years of use. Chains is cheap.
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Old 08-16-06, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 'nother
Is it really skipping? Or something else (out of adjustment). Skipping will sound and feel like a big "ca-chunk", particularly when harder pressure is applied, such as when climbing or sprinting. Tends to happen more on smaller cogs because they wear faster, but would happen on any worn cogs (usually not all of them).
You've described my situation pretty well. I don't use the smallest cogs all the much so it's a middle cogs or two that causes the skipping.

Quote:
4000 seems pretty short especially if you've been diligent with keeping your chain clean and you're already on your second chain. But there's no magic formula for figuring out cassette life. It's possible it's worn out but just seems unlikely from what you described.
Hmmm. I have a feeling that the shifting problems will definitely disappear with a new chain and cassette so I may bite the bullet and move on. I had a feeling that 4k miles was on the low side...
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Old 08-16-06, 09:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by oboeguy
Hmmm. I have a feeling that the shifting problems will definitely disappear with a new chain and cassette so I may bite the bullet and move on. I had a feeling that 4k miles was on the low side...
My sense on cassette lifespan is that there is variation across pedalling styles (spin/mash), maintenance style (no cleaning vs anal cleaning vs the risk of cleaning w/ lube that is grit-magnet), and, finally, the weather that you face. Pretty much no generic lube/lifespan rule of thumb I've seen deals w/ the mix of rain and grit that I get 8 months out of the year here, so I have to totally make it up as I go. I think I've got my current situation figured out by my 3rd chain, but only time will tell.

I have heard rules of thumb suggesting 2-6 chains/cassette 'w/ proper maintenance', whether that's 500 miles or 2500 per chain is another question entirely.
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Old 08-16-06, 09:09 AM   #10
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Heh, that's the thing, I take off the cassette for a cleaning every couple of months. C'est la via, c'est la via...
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Old 08-18-06, 08:19 PM   #11
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In case anybody is wondering what happened, I put on a fresh cassette and fresh chain, and it shifts perfectly now.
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Old 08-18-06, 08:53 PM   #12
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Well, now you have a baseline for your particular use, anyway. Thanks for the update.
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Old 08-18-06, 09:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
How long should, say, an Ultegra 12-27 cassette last? IIRC, it's on its second chain and is skipping a bit, after a total of, oh, say 4000-4500 miles. I clean and lube the chain fairly regularly. The chainrings have been on the bike forever.

I have a fresh chain and cassette on the way... just wondering if there's any hope for keeping the old stuff on any longer. Ultegra cassettes aren't cheap!
If you haven't changed the chain in 4000 miles then both it and the cassette could likely be worn out. One way to find out is to replace just the chain (you need to do that anyway.) If the skipping continues or amplifies, then the cassette is likely worn out. I've had cassettes go 4000 miles without undue wear but I'm not very hard on bikes and I use Campy stuff which wears more slowly.
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