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  1. #1
    Share The Road bent eagle's Avatar
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    Does the Chain Direction Matter?

    Hi, folks. I just finished removing and degreasing my chain. As I was reinstalling, a question occurred to me that I never thought of before.

    Does the direction the chain travels in matter? I realized that there are four possible orientations, either end first, and/or either side up.

    In case it matters, I have a SRAM PC-59.

    Thanks!
    Steve W

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I can't see how it would matter. I would be inclined to install in the same orientation I took it off. OTOH, maybe it would be better to swap it around, to even up the wear.

  3. #3
    Senior Member capwater's Avatar
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    Based on the Shimano chain install docs, it does matter. Not really sure why though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nubcake's Avatar
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    their are some bmx chains that are directional like the shadow half link chain but that chain is built alot different than "normal" chains. sram chains are not although my ocd'ness makes me put it back the way it came off.

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    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    yes it matters sometimes

    --->when you run an ss, and have an ss specific chain, and the master-link pins stick out
    .5 mm on one side more than the other, it might rub on the bashguard, whereas the chain flipped over it won't rub

    stuff like that matters. otherwise it doesn't matter

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    When you initially install the chain, I don't think it matters. However, if you're reinstalling a chain, I think it's a good idea to make sure you orient it the same way it was before so that when you install a new linkage pin, it will be installed in the same direction that the old one came out. Make sense?

    Richard

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    I never had any trouble with that.I put it in a jar and shake it up to clean it,I have no idea how it goes back on.Maybe if it has a 3pc masterlink,that's the only thing I can think of.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member SJX426's Avatar
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    If the all/both straps are identical on both sides and they are symetrical about the pin, then no. But how do you know without measuring and knowing the tolerace allowable?

  9. #9
    ihd
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    My late-1980s chain began skipping dangerously under load when I replaced it "the wrong way round" after a recent thorough clean. I flipped it front/back (and possibly also top/down - can't remember now), and that stopped the skipping. I've since changed the chain and freewheel in response to that rather unnerving sign of wear.

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    I have found on modern Shimano gear (105/Ultegra) that the chain wears in a little with the cassette. Change the left-right orientation and it may not run quite as smooth. I couldn't tell any difference when changing the forward-reverse alignment. I now mark the chain with an indelible marker when I take it off to clean the bike (which is easy to do with a Wipperman link).

  11. #11
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    Chain direction matters if the chain is worn. If you remove and soak your chain regularly (which, by the way, is not recommended, regardless of how easy it is to remove the chain), then you won't have a problem regardless of orientation of chain. If you remove a well worn chain and install it in the reverse direction, you'll end up with a mysterious skip in your drivetrain. Reverse your chain to see if that's the cause.

    There are two exceptions - if the chain has an "inside", i.e. points to the cogs, and "outside", i.e. never contacts cogs, except the pulley of the rear derailleur. If you have such a chain, you'll need to make sure that the inside is inside. You can still reverse its direction though, unless it is also directional, i.e there is a left and a right (the second exception).

    The reason soaking the chain isn't recommended is that doing so causes the roller bushings lose their permeated lube. To re-permeate the bushings is very difficult, esp since they're surrounded by degreaser when you take the chain out of the degreasing tub/container. I imagine if you have rinse the chain and then soak it in some kind of lube for a while (overnight?) it would work, but I don't know of anyone who does that.

    Also, if you soak certain metals too long in certain degreasers, you can damage the metal and you can have catastrophic chain failure. This is one of those components (the bars, stem, fork, front QR, pedals, BB axle are some others) that you simply cannot risk breaking - they're too integral to the control of the bike. In a full out effort you can break lots of things on the bike and not crash, but one of those "key" parts and you'll likely be on the ground.

    cdr

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    spd 747 pedals

    Hi Are the spd 747 cleats interchangable with the pd 970,pd770 ??

  13. #13
    Senior Member LarryMelman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    The reason soaking the chain isn't recommended is that doing so causes the roller bushings lose their permeated lube. To re-permeate the bushings is very difficult, esp since they're surrounded by degreaser when you take the chain out of the degreasing tub/container. I imagine if you have rinse the chain and then soak it in some kind of lube for a while (overnight?) it would work, but I don't know of anyone who does that.
    Then you haven't any of the recent threads on this topic. Where there still isn't any general agreement.

    I would still like to know how long that initial "super factory lube" is supposed to last. Sheldon Brown thought it was better than anything you could ever apply yourself, and suggested to wait several hundred miles before applying any lube yourself which might dilute it. Others say no.
    Last edited by LarryMelman; 10-04-08 at 08:38 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Chain direction matters if the chain is worn. If you remove and soak your chain regularly (which, by the way, is not recommended, regardless of how easy it is to remove the chain), then you won't have a problem regardless of orientation of chain. If you remove a well worn chain and install it in the reverse direction, you'll end up with a mysterious skip in your drivetrain. Reverse your chain to see if that's the cause.

    There are two exceptions - if the chain has an "inside", i.e. points to the cogs, and "outside", i.e. never contacts cogs, except the pulley of the rear derailleur. If you have such a chain, you'll need to make sure that the inside is inside. You can still reverse its direction though, unless it is also directional, i.e there is a left and a right (the second exception).
    OK, I get the argument with a "one sided chain" as that could cause half pickup in the cassette. Changing the "direction would move the catches to the other side and stop this. Though adjusting the cable tension would be the easiest solution.

    The bushings go around in circles. All the interior surfaces will be loaded the same. I cannot see how there would have more "wear" in one direction vs. the other.



    Also, if you soak certain metals too long in certain degreasers, you can damage the metal and you can have catastrophic chain failure. This is one of those components (the bars, stem, fork, front QR, pedals, BB axle are some others) that you simply cannot risk breaking - they're too integral to the control of the bike. In a full out effort you can break lots of things on the bike and not crash, but one of those "key" parts and you'll likely be on the ground.

    cdr
    This part sounds dodgy. Why would a degreaser damage metal. Have you ever seen what they do to anodize metal?? Your little Simple Green bath is nothing compared to that.

  15. #15
    Senior Member nayr497's Avatar
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    What about direction if you are using a master link with the little locking link mechanism thing and riding fixed gear?

    I am just wondering if back pedaling might change things and if the little lock link on the outside of the master link is designed to hold tight in only one direction.

  16. #16
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    What about direction if you are using a master link with the little locking link mechanism thing and riding fixed gear?

    I am just wondering if back pedaling might change things and if the little lock link on the outside of the master link is designed to hold tight in only one direction.
    It is designed to hold in both directions.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  17. #17
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    carpediemracing has it right across the board (expect maybe the catastrophic results).

    Then you haven't any of the recent threads on [soaking chains]. Where there still isn't any general agreement.
    Lack of consensus does not make the assertion wrong.

    Ever wonder why Shimano recommends against removing the chain for soaking ?

    The bushings go around in circles. All the interior surfaces will be loaded the same. I cannot see how there would have more "wear" in one direction vs. the other.
    The rollers are free to go around; the pins and plates aren't. Further, because the rollers can go around doesn't mean that they do.

    We did some geometry calculations on this in an earlier thread attempting to determine what the effect would be. [Someone do a search.] Yes there is more wear to one side of the link centerline.
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  18. #18
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator View Post
    It is designed to hold in both directions.
    Correct, but the Wipperman Connex link is curved and would need to be reinstalled if the chain is reversed (inside out).
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

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