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  1. #1
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    Question for Frequent Chain Replacers; How long Does Your Cassette Last?

    The debate about chain replacement frequency seems never ending but tends to fall into two camps;

    1) Change the chain a lot, and protect the cassette
    2) Wear out the chain completely and change both the chain and cassette together.

    So my question is directed at those who change their chain often with the intent of using the same cassette for an extended time. Q: How long does your cassette last if you do this? 5000 miles? 25,000 miles, Forever?

  2. #2
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    The chain and cassette replacement as far as I have dealt with is usually a 2 to 1 relationship. The chain has more movement and grit than the cassette, but for most lighter cassettes(excluding exotics or super heavy chromed steels) the cassette teeth will reprofile out of tolerance on the more previlently used gears in about that much time. The majority of the cassette will however be fine, and in some cases the worn gears can be unriveted and replaced.
    There is merrit to the replacing lots of chains to protect the cassette, but no matter how sacrificial the chain is, the cassette will always have wear. To replace more than 2 or 3 chains for an average to light cassette is in my opinion excessive however.
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

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  3. #3
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    I'm gonna say this once more for those students who weren't listening the first 300 times .... you don't replace chains based on miles, it's all about riding styles. A masher on a thinner 10 speed chain will replace it far more frequently than a casual spinner on a 9 speeder.

    BTW: if you wait until your cassette is trashed as well chances are you'll need new rings as well, at least a big ring.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    Mileage is a harder topic to predict, but I have about 4k miles on most of my cassettes before replacement. That assumes gooooood maintenance though, and wear is by inspection and measurement not mileage.
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  5. #5
    Certified Train Wreck mloywhite's Avatar
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    I usually use about a chain and a half for each cassette. I am relatively heavy, and I ride in rain a good bit, and though I try to keep it clean, my chain takes a beating.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by capwater View Post
    I'm gonna say this once more for those students who weren't listening the first 300 times .... you don't replace chains based on miles, it's all about riding styles.
    Correct and I accept your point. Instead of using miles as a determinant I should have asked how many chains your cassette will go through before the cassette itself has to be replaced.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MudPie's Avatar
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    I concur that mileage is not an indicator, since a road and mountain bike will be significantly different.

    I get about three chains per cassette. I ride 100% offroad (dry hardpack mainly), and am pretty meticulous about chain maintenance. Using the Park chain checker as a guide, backed up by a 12" ruler), I replace when chain is beyond 1/16" (0.0625") but probably no greater than .09".

  8. #8
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Correct and I accept your point. Instead of using miles as a determinant I should have asked how many chains your cassette will go through before the cassette itself has to be replaced.
    I'd say to pick a number I'd go with 3, though I swap wheels and cassettes around based on whether I'm training, racing (road vs. crits) or climbing mountains so it's not as simple in my situation. Usually you'll trash the 15 - 19 range on a cassette since those cogs are used more than the extremes.

  9. #9
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    I think VeloNews had a blurb about this a year ago. It was from a Tour mechanic who said that his team (I can't remember what. Maybe Disco) replaced chains at least once a month and some guys had year old cassettes due to the frequency.

    Me? I ride mostly SS/FG, thus I just ride until I break a chain. Swap the chain and I'm good to go. So far I have 1+ years on a Surly cog and 6 months on a D/A cog.

  10. #10
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    If I was getting free chains from Shimano I'd replace them once a month as well. This might have been the same article that suggested people replace the chain at 1000 miles. Again, more folly. You can debate the best method to measure; chain checker or ruler, but the botton line is go measure that chain.

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    I'm on chain number 4 on this cassette and I will replace the cassette when it starts to skip after I put a new chain on it, which hasn't happened yet. I measure the chain often and replace it well before the wear limit.

    Chains is cheap, cassettes, not so cheap.
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  12. #12
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    4 or 5 to one would be my guess, I've never actually worn out a cassette and the least mileage I've got out of a chain is 5000 miles. I replace chains based on ruler measurement and roller wear. No more than 12 1/16th inches for a 24 pin interval or .75 on the Park chain checker. I did wear out a 16 tooth cog in a custom cassette but the 16 was an inferior grade.

    Al

  13. #13
    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    The debate about chain replacement frequency seems never ending but tends to fall into two camps;

    1) Change the chain a lot, and protect the freewheel
    2) Wear out the chain completely and change both the chain and cassette together.

    So my question is directed at those who change their chain often with the intent of using the same cassette for an extended time. Q: How long does your cassette last if you do this? 5000 miles? 25,000 miles, Forever?

    The road bikes get a new chain every 2000 miles, the mountain bikes get one every 1000. This was easier when Sedisports were $7.95, but still not awful at $25.00 for whatever SRAM chain I get these days (and I'm not riding quite so much).

    Cassette (?) durability? I'm still using mix 'n' match Uniglide cogs, FW and FH on the index bikes, and Suntour New Winner (best FW ever) on the friction bikes. For those of you who have no idea what that $#!+ is, Uniglide is pre 1990, and New Winner is pre 1987. There are probably some cogs in the 15 to 19 range (the ones that actually get used) that have done 30,000+ miles.

    I did go about 5K on my main road bike with a chain recently and it took out my 39 ring (aftermarket) and put noticable wear on the 16, 17, & 19 cogs.

  14. #14
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    My DA cassette has over 19,000 miles on it. It's on its 5th chain. It skipped on one cog the last time I changed chains but it wore in in a few rides. I don't see this cassette making it past this next chain change.

  15. #15
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    For me, I probably replace the chain on average 3 times per cassette. I replace the chain at 1/16" of elongation over 12." My indicator for a new cassette is if the chain skips when a new chain is installed-

  16. #16
    Senior Member RomSpaceKnight's Avatar
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    2 chains per cassette, every other cassette front rings, wash degrease and relube weekly at minimum.

  17. #17
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Change chains when they begin wear past the acknowledged lengthening point (notice I did not say stretch) and change cassettes when a new chain will not shift well with the cassette despite proper der adjustment. I asked the guys at Vecchios in Boulder how you tell whether or not a cassette needs to be changed by looking at it. They said that with all the shaping of cog teeth these days it is near impossible to tell by looking. They go by the "if it is aligned properly and the chain is new and it still won't shift well, it is probably time for new cassette" theory.

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