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  1. #1
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    Chain wear gauge -- worth it?

    I've always just use a ruler to measure my chain wear. Does anyone have a reason to switch to one of these chain wear indicators, like this one?: http://www.parktool.com/products/det...=5&item=CC%2D3 . Is there a benefit to using them versus rulers? (other than maybe being quicker). Thanks!

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    This was brought up in another very, very recent thread
    Oops! I've been reading regularly for the last couple of months, so didn't bother with a search. Must've missed that one. Should've searched to begin with. It was a spur of the moment question. Sorry for the duplicate thread. Thanks for the help.

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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    The campus bike co-op has two Park chain check tools, supposed to be the best ones available. One saidthat my chain is worn out, the other said it is almost new. They have been used for years by college students who don't know what they're doing, so I'll cut them slack on the quality of the tool. But there is no visual indication that they aren't working right.

    I use a steel ruler with 1/64th inch markings at home, and that gets the job done.
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    <3s bikes Re-Cycle's Avatar
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    ^^^^ it was actually discussed just oposite. Rullers, when held parallel to a chain show the distance from the outter pin to outter pin, but do not show the wear on the rollers themselvers where the cogs contact the chain.

    Use an undamaged chain wear tool. Simple.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    ^^^^ it was actually discussed just oposite. Rullers, when held parallel to a chain show the distance from the outter pin to outter pin, but do not show the wear on the rollers themselvers where the cogs contact the chain.
    You're joking right?
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  6. #6
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    I don't see a need for one. This was brought up in another very, very recent thread (a search always helps), and the conclusion was that rulers are just as, and probably more effective in determining chainwear without the need for the expense of a chainwear tool that also may be susceptible to damage in the toolbox so it gives incorrect readings.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    I have that Park chain checker, and thought it was the silver bullet.

    I developed a habit of installing a new chain when stretch reaches the .75% criteria (3/32"). Most say to replace at 1% criteria (1/8" stretch). When I installed the third chain on the same cassette, the cassette had excessively worn. Some possibilities exists that could explain the prematurely worn cassette: the chain gauge is out of whack, the abrasive off-road conditions accelerate wear regardless of chain stretch, or I'm not using the tool properly. I do lubricate my chain after every 4 hours of ride time with Prolink (this is probably excessive, but I like a quiet chain).

    FWIW - the chain and cassette were both SRAM. Now, I'm running a Shimano XT cassette with SRAM PC991 chain.

    Some say to replace at a 0.50% (1/16") criteria, some say to replace the chain and cassette together every time.

    I'm back to using a steel ruler.

  8. #8
    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MudPie
    I have that Park chain checker, and thought it was the silver bullet.

    I developed a habit of installing a new chain when stretch reaches the .75% criteria (3/32"). Most say to replace at 1% criteria (1/8" stretch). When I installed the third chain on the same cassette, the cassette had excessively worn. Some possibilities exists that could explain the prematurely worn cassette: the chain gauge is out of whack, the abrasive off-road conditions accelerate wear regardless of chain stretch, or I'm not using the tool properly. I do lubricate my chain after every 4 hours of ride time with Prolink (this is probably excessive, but I like a quiet chain).

    FWIW - the chain and cassette were both SRAM. Now, I'm running a Shimano XT cassette with SRAM PC991 chain.

    Some say to replace at a 0.50% (1/16") criteria, some say to replace the chain and cassette together every time.

    I'm back to using a steel ruler.

    i don't understand what you are saying. are you saying the park tool is at fault?

    for years i used a rohloff caliber and now i use the park version, which costs about 12 bucks. i get about two chains per cassette. before when i was riding hard a chain would last about 2k miles. these days maybe twice that.

    the park tool is inexpensive and it's a no-brainer.

    ed rader

  9. #9
    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    I don't see a need for one. This was brought up in another very, very recent thread (a search always helps), and the conclusion was that rulers are just as, and probably more effective in determining chainwear without the need for the expense of a chainwear tool that also may be susceptible to damage in the toolbox so it gives incorrect readings.

    the park tool, which copies the rohloff caliber which has been used in europe for years, is about 12 bucks and is a solid piece of metal just like a steel ruler. what tool are you talking about?

    ed rader

  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    there's the "Go-no go" drop in solid one, and the swing bar one with the scale read thru a little window in the handle.

    i can't count well so a ruler is tougher on me than the swing arm gauge.
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  11. #11
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    Here's what I do: after a couple of thousand miles, I buy a new chain. But I don't install it, I just compare it to my old chain by lining them up with a nail or stick. If the old chain is stretched, I install the new one. Otherwise, the new one goes in the parts box for another 500 miles. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

  12. #12
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    $12 isn't much, I know, but dollar for dollar, the chainchecker just doesn't stack up against a good engineer's steel ruler. A steel rule is good for a whole range of other measurements. Plus, the rule can tell you reasonably precisely the *amount* of wear that a no-go chainchecker cannot. If you want Park, get the one that measures four items instead of just one -- spokes, bearing balls, crank cotters, chain length. Plus maybe drop out width and a few other items along the way. But the Park rule I have used has the measurements printed on aluminium and they wear away with use... unlike an etched rule.

    The chainchecker that I referred to was the swingbar one (Park CC2).
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  13. #13
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    My favorite wrench did not trust them. He encouraged use of a simple ruler and measuring the links.

  14. #14
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    there's the "Go-no go" drop in solid one, and the swing bar one with the scale read thru a little window in the handle.

    i can't count well so a ruler is tougher on me than the swing arm gauge.
    +1 on the swing arm one. The Park CC-2 is a little more expensive at about $20 but might be better. The pins seem to be hardened steel drill rod that, with reasonable care, should not get knocked out of whack. I would recommend it over a precision steel rule, because of the wear being on the inner rollers (as someone else mentioned). I believe that you can see the wear on the inner rollers, its visible to the naked eye, but to also quantify the % of chain stretch on the Park CC-2 just helps clarify when its time (to replace the chain) that much more. My current method of cleaning my chain, where I put the dirty chain in a pan and scrub the individual links with a toothbrush soaked in clean mineral spirits and then the bottom of the pan wiped clean from time to time with clean paper towels that are thrown away -- has helped me to observe what the "dirt" is partly made up of. There are lots of little silver bits of metal in there. After cleaning my chain this way, its helped me to stay on top of keeping the drivetrain (individual cassette cogs, individual chainrings and chain) cleaned and lubed (I use prolink or white lightning epic currently), and also to get a new chain when stretch is at 0.75% or greater.

  15. #15
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    I use a cheap metal vernier caliper, available at Home Despot for less than $10. It measures to .1mm (which is .004 in.). First, I get a base measurement from a new chain. I use the inside measurement, set at 106mm, insert it against two rollers and measure. Thats the measurement for a new chain. Wear limit is .5 mm more.
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  16. #16
    <3s bikes Re-Cycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    You're joking right?
    Explain
    A wild man once explained to me how bicycles came from sailboats.

  17. #17
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erader
    i don't understand what you are saying. are you saying the park tool is at fault?

    for years i used a rohloff caliber and now i use the park version, which costs about 12 bucks. i get about two chains per cassette. before when i was riding hard a chain would last about 2k miles. these days maybe twice that.

    the park tool is inexpensive and it's a no-brainer.

    ed rader

    I can't precisely fault the Park gauge (I have the one piece, go- no go checker), since there are many variable involved. For example, I ride off-road and perhaps the dusty/sandy condition in Southern CA will wear cassettes (like sandpaper) more than a stretched chain. Another variable is how I sample the measurements. I usually take three or four measurement around the chain. However, there could be a few spots that I don't measure where the stretch is beyond acceptable criteria, and those culprits could be causing premature wear. A chain has hundreds of moving parts, so variation is expected

    When installing new chains at the 0.75% criteria, I was able to get two chains per cassette. I was hoping to get more chains per cassette. But you mention you get two chains per cassette, so perhaps my experience is normal.

  18. #18
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    Explain
    Here's my take on it:

    Wear on the outside of the chain rollers isn't significant. If you watch a chain roller engaging a cog tooth, you'll see that the chain roller doesn't really slide much on the tooth, the force is basically perpendicular to the contact surface. The place where there is a LOT of sliding/rubbing friction is between the chain pin and the side plates or bushings, and that's where most of the chain wear occurs.

    While it's true that the roller-to-roller distance is what actually defines the pitch of the chain, the wear on the rollers progresses much more slowly than the wear on the pins. If you find a badly worn chain (e.g. one that's stretched by 2%), you'll see that the pins are visibly deformed, while the outside surface of the rollers is basically unscathed. Look at this photo from Sheldon Brown's site:


    There's no difference between measuring roller-to-roller distance or pin-to-pin distance: wear on the pins will cause the chain to elongate LONG before wear on the rollers becomes an issue.
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  19. #19
    <3s bikes Re-Cycle's Avatar
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    Why does that big knotch look like its right in the center of the pin?
    A wild man once explained to me how bicycles came from sailboats.

  20. #20
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    Speaking of Sheldon (a la the picture in moxfiyre's post), he has a good explanation of such things, as well as another method for determining chain/sprocket wear on the bike.
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  21. #21
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Re-Cycle
    Why does that big knotch look like its right in the center of the pin?
    Good eye! I have no non-bull**** response to that ... dangit

    If you go to Sheldon's page, www.sheldonbrown.com/chains, his explanation asserts that most of the wear occurs where the pins rub against the side plates or bushings. Yet the picture strongly suggests that most of the wear has occurred where the pins rub against the inside of the rollers, as you have observed.

    Maybe Sheldon is wrong on this one? I am now thoroughly confused...
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  22. #22
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    Mox, I used to think exactly what you did, that the wear was mostly on the plates and pins, and not the rollers. BUT my own experience, at least with SRAM chains, has been contrary to that. And it's not the *outside* of the rollers that wears, I think it's the *inside* of the rollers, rubbing against the pseudo-bushings that are created by the plates. That makes sense too, because it's probably the first place where grit combines with lube to form grinding compound. If the rollers are made of softer metal than the plates, as seems to be the case with the SRAM chains, they are what will wear, on their inside surfaces. If the plates are softer, *they* will wear. If the pins are softer than the plates, the plates will wear them away like in the picture. But my chains still had pristine, perfect pins and measured at exactly 12 inches, when the rollers had worn enough to have significantly more space between them.

    Of all the methods discussed above, I think that San Rensho's is best. It takes the exact measurement of the gap between adjacent rollers, which is the bottom line, regardless of what exactly creates that gap. I like gcl8a's comparison of new chain/old chain, too.
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  23. #23
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawkd
    Mox, I used to think exactly what you did, that the wear was mostly on the plates and pins, and not the rollers. BUT my own experience, at least with SRAM chains, has been contrary to that. And it's not the *outside* of the rollers that wears, I think it's the *inside* of the rollers, rubbing against the pseudo-bushings that are created by the plates. That makes sense too, because it's probably the first place where grit combines with lube to form grinding compound. If the rollers are made of softer metal than the plates, as seems to be the case with the SRAM chains, they are what will wear, on their inside surfaces. If the plates are softer, *they* will wear. If the pins are softer than the plates, the plates will wear them away like in the picture. But my chains still had pristine, perfect pins and measured at exactly 12 inches, when the rollers had worn enough to have significantly more space between them.

    Of all the methods discussed above, I think that San Rensho's is best. It takes the exact measurement of the gap between adjacent rollers, which is the bottom line, regardless of what exactly creates that gap. I like gcl8a's comparison of new chain/old chain, too.
    Well, this has been very educational I must say. It sounds like wear on the insides of the rollers is a very significant part of chain stretch. I had no idea, but now I stand corrected Maybe I should point this thread out to Sheldon Brown? It seems like his own photo disagrees with the text on his page...

    I have steel vernier calipers, so I think I'll start using San Rensho's method to measure chain wear. Seems accurate and pretty darn foolproof.
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  24. #24
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    You have to look at an inner sideplate that doesn't have a rivet through it, as in the second picture. It is that shoulder that wears, I think, along with the roller to produce the elongation. Sheldon points out that the smooth radius of this shoulder on the inner sideplate is what makes bushinless chains last longer. I think, and I may be wrong, but the rivets are fixed in the outer sideplates (hence the reason you need a chain tool to get them past the friction fit), but the "bushing" of the inner sideplate as well as the roller must be free to move. It is the movement of the rivet on the inner links that causes the wear and elongation. One of the problems in all this description is that people assume a chain link is made up of only one rivet and the bits ahead of it, when in fact it comprises two outer plates, two inner plates, and a roller and a rivet in the middle to hold the lot together. Six parts altogether.

    The wear per link is miniscule in normal circumstances, but is magnified somewhat when when spread over 12 full links or 12", so enabling a rule to be used for an accurate assessment of the average wear across the chain.
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  25. #25
    ride, paint, ride simplify's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    Well, this has been very educational I must say. It sounds like wear on the insides of the rollers is a very significant part of chain stretch. I had no idea, but now I stand corrected Maybe I should point this thread out to Sheldon Brown? It seems like his own photo disagrees with the text on his page...
    But you see, that's just the point. That wear on the insides of the rollers doesn't have *anything* to do with lengthening the chain! That's why my chain still measured a perfect 12 inches, even though the rollers had worn inside enough to allow a larger gap between them! My point is that measuring the lengthening or "stretch" of a chain is really not a universal method of determining wear.
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