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  1. #1
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Chain Wear on New 10-speed

    My new Lemond BA is about two months old and has maybe 550 miles on it with not much climbing. I weigh about 225 lbs. A clicking in the drivetrain developed that I thought was BB trouble, but mechanic's first diagnosis is: chain wear. Bike has been ridden wet but I keep the chain oiled pretty well with Dumond (sp?) light.

    Wrench said that is not unusual mileage for a ten-speed chain... but I'm not so sure. Looks like it was an Ultegra chain... should I try a SRAM or what? Thoughts/advice is welcome.

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    I would look for another mechanic. While chain life varies depending upon terrain, rider size and weight, riding style, etc., 550 miles is too short.

    Does the clicking occur in all gears or just specific ones?

    My thought with 550 miles on a new bike is cable stretch. You should have an adjustment at both the shifter or derailleur end, or at both. Try giving the knobs some twists to take out excess slack.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Get a chain stretch gauge and use it regularly. Park CC-3 is an example.

    http://www.parktool.com/products/det...at=5&item=CC-3

    You should expect about 3x to 6x times that mileage before wearing out a chain.

    I am partial to SRAM chains mainly because they include a master link like *all* chains should.

  4. #4
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    I'm going to second the cable stretch idea. Any good shop should have the tool to check chain stretch, so obviously this guy didn't do this. Properly maintained, you should get 2000-3000 miles out of a chain, regardless of size or hilliness.

  5. #5
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    The clicking is in any/all gears and seems to occur randomly, not just under heavy load. I felt it just putting my foot on the pedal to start out once. I should say that the mechanic did use a chain stretch guage and actually showed me the stretch in the chain while it was on the bike... so he isn't making that up. He even asked me what kind of lube I use and thought it was good stuff. But, having read other threads, it did not seem to me that I should need a chain after just 550 miles... perhaps it was just a low quality OEM chain to begin with. He is doing a full warranty check tuneup to check out other possible problems including checking the bottom bracket with crank removed.

    Thanks for your input all. I am going to try a SRAM chain I think... and buy a chain guage. I will report back if anything else is diagnosed.

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    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Final verdict: It was the chain... perhaps it shouldn't have been, but it was. The BB was a little too loose for spec so he tightened that too. If this chain goes only 500 miles I will be surly... or declare myself an incredibly powerful rider!

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  7. #7
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    Yes, 550 is a bit on the short side for chain life but i've seen it happen on customers bikes before.
    The use of an accurate chain gauge is critical in newer 10 speed systems to keep a tab on drivetrain life. I you go through this chain as quickly as the first two I would look into possibly getting a Wipperman chain. My experience has been that they last a bit longer than other offerings.

    BTW, do you happen to have a FSA Goassamer triple crank on your bike?

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    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    The same thing happened to me on a Trek FX 7.5 - a clicking in the bottom-bracket. Or so it sounded. This, too, was diagnosed as chain-wear. It only had about 200 miles on it. It was a Shimano chain. I couldn't believe it when I brought it in under warranty, and the chain diagnosis was made. The LBS said they'd been seeing a lot of this lately (June). Put on a SRAM. Clicking gone and never came back.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  9. #9
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    I think I'll get a chain guage. I've got a Shimano chain on my new 10 speed with 1700 miles. Being an older , 215 lb. guy I'm not really beating on the chain and we don't ride in rain, but still worth checking.
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    Senior Member jmess's Avatar
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    I was told my cassette and chain needed to be replaced two weeks after I had changed them myself. When I asked the head mech if he had checked them for wear he said no, based upon how long I had owned the bike (purchased from them) they needed to be changed. I do very little business with these folks anymore.

  11. #11
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    While a Park Chain checker is better than nothing, it does not provide accurate information. With a Shimano chain, it may show the chain to be worn .25% when new, so a worn reading of .75% is really .5%. Even then, the reading is an exaggereated mix of roller wear and elongation. The roller wear can be as large as the elongation, so the tool still reports twice the actual elongation.

    The solution is to use a 12" precision machinist's scale that you can get for $10 or less. Place the end of the scale on the edge of a pin. The pin at the opposite end will be completely covered when new and nearly half exposed when the chain is elongated by .5%.

    Measuring elongation works for Shimano chains and other brands that elongate quickly, but not well with a Campy chain. After 6,000 miles on a Campy chain, I've seen almost no elongation over a 12" length. With the Campy chain, roller wear and side wear still occur. A caliper check of the distance between the rollers revealed an increase from .200 inch to .240 and feeler gages showed nearly twice the original side clearance. That chain was shot, despite having little elongation.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-13-09 at 09:34 AM.

  12. #12
    biked well well biked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    While a Park Chain checker is better than nothing, it does not provide accurate information. With a Shimano chain, it may show the chain to be worn .25% when new, so a worn reading of .75% is really .5%. Even then, the reading is an exaggereated mix of roller wear and elongation. The roller wear can be as large as the elongation, so the tool still reports twice the actual elongation.

    The solution is to use a 12" precision machinist's scale that you can get for $10 or less. Place the end of the scale on the edge of a pin. The pin at the opposite end will be completely covered when new and nearly half exposed when the chain is elongated by .5%.

    Measuring elongation works for Shimano chains and other brands that elongate quickly, but not well with a Campy chain. After 6,000 miles on a Campy chain, I've seen almost no elongation over a 12" length. With the Campy chain, roller wear and side wear still occur. A caliper check of the distance between the roller revealed an increse from .200 inch to .240 and feeler gages showed nearly twice the original side clearance. That chain was shot, despite having little elongation.
    Dave,
    You da man regarding chains, you've clearly studied this extensively. Apologies to the OP for going off topic a bit.

    In regard to Campy 10 speed chain wear, you're saying it's not adequate to measure elongation. I'm new to 10 speed Campy; what should I look for in regard to indication of wear? Specifically, what do I need to be concerned with to preserve the rest of the drivetrain as much as possible? Do Campy 10 speed chains typically last longer than other brands of 10 speed chains? I've recently installed an '09 Centaur group, with Centaur chain, and I'm just wondering. After about 1000 miles, there's no indication of elongation AT ALL, using a metal ruler over a span of 12." Also, when I first installed the chain I used a Connex link (but not the 5.9mm model), everything seemed to work perfectly, but I've since put a SRAM 10 speed connector on it (5.95mm). What would it potentially hurt to run the Connex link (non 5.9mm)? Thanks for any info-

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    After 6,000 miles on a Campy chain, I've seen almost no elongation over a 12" length. With the Campy chain, roller wear and side wear still occur. A caliper check of the distance between the roller revealed an increse from .200 inch to .240 and feeler gages showed nearly twice the original side clearance. That chain was shot, despite having little elongation.
    Are those numbers correct? That's a distance change of 20%!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
    Are those numbers correct? That's a distance change of 20%!
    Yes, the distance between the rollers increased from .200 to .240 inch. When caliper tips are inserted between the rollers, you get the wear on the roller OD, ID and the "shaft" that it rolls on, times two. Roller wear is much greater than the wear on the pin and it's bushing, at least if the chain is properly lubed. An elongation of .5% represents .0025 inch of wear for each pin and bushing pair. With the roller wear I've mentioned, the roller may be .005 inch smaller on the OD and .010 inch larger on the ID.

    Campy's official suggestion is to use calipers over a distance of 5.200 inch and toss the chain when that reading increases to 5.220. That might only take 2000-2500 miles and it wastes a lot of good chain life, but of course it sells lots of chains.

    What you don't want to do is leave a single chain on a cassette until the roller spacing increases to .240. If you do that, you will probably get chain skip on one or more of the most-used cogs, even though the chain has little elongation. The trick is to change to a new chain when the roller spacing increases to .220, but keep the chain for more use, later. I use three chains and reuse them all for a second time, all on the same cassette. After three chains are half worn, I'd rotate more frequently until all are worn into the .235-.240 inch range. You'll never get chain skip with that technique. A reasonable expectation is 5,000 miles per chain and 15,000 from the cassette.

    FWIW, I use homebrew that cost pennies per ounce for my lube, not some expensive product. My latest is 4-6 parts naptha with 1 part 80/90W synthetic gear lube.

    This year I may even do the the WD-40 test. I know for certain that the type of oil is not that critical to chain life. What is critical is frequent application to flush out the old dirty lube. I'm willing to bet that WD-40, applied at about 100 mile intervals will yield as much chain life as any expensive lube. I've got two bikes with 11 speed Campy drivetrains to prove that with.

  15. #15
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    You can check a chain without special gauges:

    Remove the chain from the bike and clean it.
    Stretch it on a flat table.
    Measure it's full lenght.
    One outer link + one inner link make one full link (= 1 inch, pin to pin)
    The chain should not be longer than 101%

    Another easy way to check a used chain is to hang it from a spike, together with a new chain.
    Count fifty full links, the worn chain should not be longer than half a link (=1%).

  16. #16
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    My favourite chain lube is a home made mixture of motor oil and candle wax (paraffine wax).

    I melt the candle wax in a tin and add an equal amount of (clean, unused) motor oil. I soak the cleaned chain in this hot liquid mixture. When the chain has cooled down, the links and rollers are well greased internally.

    This lube lasts longer than pure oil. It offers a better protection to water infiltration than pure oil. The chain feels "dry"; it does not attract grit nor dirt. Besides, it runs smooth and silently.

    After a couple of miles I wipe the excess of lube that has been pushed out of the rollers.

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    Chain wear...

    For what its worth,many mechanics use the Park CC-3 incorrectly. Ive seen mechanics cram the indicator window sideways with brute force. This results in pins below becoming bent and then the indicator will never read accurately again. Just a gentle nudge is all it takes. Sounds like an obvious thing, but it happens all the time....

  18. #18
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    I use a CC-2 to check my chains. I have one bike that's a 10 speed. For whatever reason, it indicated the chain was totally toast after 500 miles. I did not believe that reading, so I checked the chain using the Sheldon Brown ruler method. According to the ruler, the chain has almost no wear. I'm mentioning this because I'm not sure the CC-2 works well for 10 speed, don't know why. I will be purchasing a CC-3.
    BTW, my CC-2 continues to work well with 8 and 9 speed chains, accurately indicating wear, verified using the ruler method.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Mr. Fly's Avatar
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    Why would one want a CC-2?

    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
    I use a CC-2 to check my chains. I have one bike that's a 10 speed. For whatever reason, it indicated the chain was totally toast after 500 miles. I did not believe that reading, so I checked the chain using the Sheldon Brown ruler method. According to the ruler, the chain has almost no wear. I'm mentioning this because I'm not sure the CC-2 works well for 10 speed, don't know why. I will be purchasing a CC-3.
    BTW, my CC-2 continues to work well with 8 and 9 speed chains, accurately indicating wear, verified using the ruler method.
    The critical parameter in determining chain wear is chain pitch. If the chain is worn, it will have a longer pitch owing to wear in the pin, and will then not mesh correctly with the teeth on the chainrings and cogs. Roller wear is for the most part inconsequential as rollers tend to wear evenly across the entire chain and thus do not change the pitch of the chain in any meaningful way.

    You really don't need any fancy tool to measure chain pitch and by association chain wear. A nice accurate 12.5" ruler is all that is required. A new chain will have exactly 12.00" for twelve segments, pin to pin. A 1% elongation (1/8" for a total length of 12.125") is considered enough wear to warrant chain replacement. There is no difference in the method to measuring chain wear for different speed chains -- they are all of the 1"-pitch variety.

  20. #20
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    A Park chain checker will NEVER report elongation accurately because is measures a short length and adds the wear of the rollers at each end to the reported elongation. If you measure enough length, with sufficient accuracy, this is easy to prove. It's also easy to measure the wear between two rollers and figure out what a large contribution it makes to an elongation measurement. Over a length of about 5 inches, .5% elongation is only .025 inch. It's very common for any two rollers to increase their spacing by .025 inch in only 2000 miles. That would make the gage show twice the acutal elongation.

    About using a new chain to check for wear - it's a relatively good idea, but you should never allow the chain to elongate by 1% or about 1/2 inch over it's full length. Do that and you're almost guaranteed to have worn out cogs. Another thing that you will find is most brand new chains will actually be slightly shorter than the nominal length, when new. If you compare a new chain to an old one, it will also exaggerate the wear. If you plan to change a chain when it's elongated .5%, the full length should be about 1/4 inch longer than nominal or 50-1/4 inches for 100 links. A new chain may be 1/16 inch shorter than nominal and show your used chain to have 1/4" of elongation when it's really only 3/16".

    When I was doing some serious chain wear measuring, a made up my own gage with a tight fitting pin at one end and a precision machinist's scale mounted 53 inches further down on a long board. That allowed precise, full length measurements over several inches. That's how I found out that new chains are most often a little short.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Fly View Post
    The critical parameter in determining chain wear is chain pitch. If the chain is worn, it will have a longer pitch owing to wear in the pin, and will then not mesh correctly with the teeth on the chainrings and cogs. Roller wear is for the most part inconsequential as rollers tend to wear evenly across the entire chain and thus do not change the pitch of the chain in any meaningful way.

    You really don't need any fancy tool to measure chain pitch and by association chain wear. A nice accurate 12.5" ruler is all that is required. A new chain will have exactly 12.00" for twelve segments, pin to pin. A 1% elongation (1/8" for a total length of 12.125") is considered enough wear to warrant chain replacement. There is no difference in the method to measuring chain wear for different speed chains -- they are all of the 1"-pitch variety.
    A chain should not be allowed to elongate 1% before changing it. .5% is more commonly recommended. Your advice is sound for chains that elongate quickly, but not sound for Campy chains that elongate very little. I won't repeat my previous posting with those details, but suffice it to say that I've used a Campy chain for 6,000 miles, accurately measured far less than .25% elongation, but still worn one or two cogs on a cassette such that they would not mate with a new chain (chain skip occured). The cause of the chain skip was roller wear, which does not increase chain length or pitch, but still wears the cogs. What this shows is that roller wear is NOT inconsequential in all cases. It's just a fact that Shimano and some other brands elongate so quickly that the roller wear is not the most important factor with only 2-3,000 miles of use.

    That's why I measure both elongation with a scale and roller displacement with calipers.
    Last edited by DaveSSS; 02-14-09 at 07:44 AM.

  22. #22
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingleside View Post
    Yes, 550 is a bit on the short side for chain life but i've seen it happen on customers bikes before.
    The use of an accurate chain gauge is critical in newer 10 speed systems to keep a tab on drivetrain life. I you go through this chain as quickly as the first two I would look into possibly getting a Wipperman chain. My experience has been that they last a bit longer than other offerings.

    BTW, do you happen to have a FSA Goassamer triple crank on your bike?
    Crank is an Ultegra compact double. Also, only one chain has been used up so far. The bike has been ridden wet several times but I usually drop oil on the chain pretty regularly after a wet ride. I have a new Ultegra chain on right now and a new SRAM for backup... am thinking of rotating them monthly. Does that sound like a good idea to anyone... or not?

    I am making a note about the Wippermann... thanks.
    Last edited by billydonn; 02-14-09 at 07:36 AM.

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  23. #23
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    If you rotate several chain, it's best to use the same brand, IMO. Different brands will have rollers that are slightly different in diameter, with different clearances.

    My experience with wipperman chainwas a noisy chain that cost a lot. I do like the connex link though.

    If you plan to rotate a Shimano chain, you'll need a properly fitting connector (not the SRAM 10). Even the SRAM powerloc is not considered to be reuseable, but can be removed with the right pliers to squeezed the rollers together.

    The best chain for low buck is the KMC DX10SC, when on sale at Performance or Nashbar for $20-25.

    A Campy Veloce chain bought from the UK for under $30 is good too, but you need a proper fitting master link to rotate it. KMC makes a special version for the Campy UN chain, but a SRAM powerloc also fits. The current wipperman connex is a sloppy fit.

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