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Old 06-12-10, 09:03 PM   #1
MrTuner1970
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Campy Chorus 11 chain noise/issues

First, I'm not a great mechanic, although I take care of a lot of things on my bikes. Any help pointing me in the right direction will be much appreciated.

The complaint is a "clicking" that I can feel and now hear, although it first began as something I could only feel. It only happens when riding the bike, and I cannot duplicate it on a stand. It can happen whether sitting or standing. It does not happen during the entire ride -- only at various times. It seems to be getting more frequent and noticeable. When it happens, it is always at every 2-something pedal revolutions -- never with each pedal revolution -- always 2 or more.

Chainrings are 53t and 39t. Cassette is 12-25. The chain has 1700-1800 miles on it. When noise/feel click occurs, it is most noticeable on cogs 17-25, and more noticeable when on the 39t chainring. The noise/click does change when the chain is put on a different cog. Whereas it might happen precisely every two pedal revolutions on cog 18, it will happen at 2.2 pedal revolutions on cog 19. I do not notice anything in cogs 12-15 on either chainring.

So, I'm thinking with this kind of thing, it must be in the chain somewhere. Otherwise, it would be happening once every pedal revolution or multiple times per pedal revolution. Am I heading in the right direction?

I've checked for stiff links, and if there is one, it isn't readily noticeable. Where the chain was originally joined (by the LBS) was where I assumed I'd find a stiff link. But it is free there. I will look another time tomorrow afternoon when I have a little time to peer at things again.

One thing I'm curious about in reading the Campy chain literature. There is this phrase: "Never remove or modify in any way whatsoever this external link, which is permanently identified by the stamped production batch number, since it has the calibrated holes needed to close the chain." Perhaps I'm not sure what this "batch number" looks like, but I don't see any special number. The only thing I see are all the C11's on the external plates.

What would that "batch number" look like? Is it a series of numbers?

If this special link is missing, might that be causing the problem I'm experiencing? I'm guessing if I'm missing whatever that special link has, maybe it allows something in the chain to shift around and cause the type problems above.

I have checked and adjusted the RD hanger. This fixed minor shifting issues, but did nothing to address the clicking noise.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to include anything that might be helpful.

Any ideas?

Last edited by MrTuner1970; 06-12-10 at 09:25 PM. Reason: additional info
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Old 06-12-10, 10:04 PM   #2
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At the mileage your are talking about you might have a worn chain. When did you begin to "feel" it (mileage wise)? Do you feel it in your pedals or in your seat? have you adjusted the RD cable adjuster? Has the chain ever been taken off?
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Old 06-13-10, 08:45 AM   #3
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The 11 speed chains I have don't have any special number on the outer plates, but if they changed that, the "special link" would be the one with the joining pin in one end. With Chorus chains that don't have hollow pins, this is easy to spot, since the joining pin has a split at the end and looks different than all the others. With a hollow pin Record chain, this the joining pin is a bit harder to spot, but it's still the only pin with the split end.

Campy allows up to three joining pins, but they don't want you to remove an old joining pin and replace it with a new one. I'm not sure why, since pushing the joining pin out from the right side toward the left, should do no more damage than pushing out one of the other pins.

As for you clicking noise, I can't imagine how you can discern that a click occurs every 2nd or every 2.2 revolutions, while pedaling at 80-100 rpm. Regardless, it would not be related to the chain. There are numerous possibilities, including improper installation of the BB. I always suggest applying a spray lube to all of the chainring mounting bolt areas, to eliminate one possible source of a creak.

A well maintained Campy chain should not have much wear after 1800 miles. To check the wear, you can start with by measuring the pin spacing, over 12 inches. Place a precision rule on the edge of a pin and then look at the pin at the opposite end. You should find that pin to be almost completely covered by the rule. It's only elongated to .5% if nearly half of the pin is exposed.

Campy chains don't usually elongate very much, unlike other brands. The rollers still wear, however. I use calipers and place the internal tips between the rollers to measure the space between them. When new, the space between them is about .200 inch. I would change a chain when that spacing increase to about .220 inch, but I don't toss my chains. I use three of them in a rotation and try to use them until the spacing is about .235-.240. If you leave a single chain in use for that long, you may get chain skip when a second new chain is installed.
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Old 06-13-10, 12:00 PM   #4
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The first thing I would do is entertain the notion that this clicking problem is not *only* drivetrain related. That's atypical for a noise problem to be the convoluted situation you describe.

Shop wise we usually do the "big three".

1) Overhaul/Regrease Headset + fork related parts
2) Overhaul/Regrease crankset + related parts (chainring bolts, pedals)
3) 'Overhaul' seatpost area - bolts, clamp areas etc.

This covers 90% of the noise issues that we get from customers.
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Old 06-13-10, 02:54 PM   #5
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Thanks to all responders.

I first noticed this about 400 miles ago. The feel is in the pedals, and definitely not in the seat. This chain has never been taken off, and yes, I've adjusted the RD. Shifting is very smooth.

Thanks, DaveSSS, for your input. I've read your posts about your chain rotation procedure, and was thinking about doing that with mine. Although also thought of running one chain/cassette into oblivion and changing both at the same time. I'm hoping to do 6,000 miles this year, and thought it might be just as handy to change both cassette and chain 1X/year as it would to rotate chains.

To know how often the click occurs, I'd try to note where my right foot was on the pedal. When the right foot goes around twice, the noise is right there again. Shifting into a lower gear makes it happen after two revolutions ... but it's hard to determine precisely how much more than 2 revolutions it is. It's more, though.

Why I thought it would have to be the chain is that it's not happening on every pedal revolution. Seems like if it was something other than the chain, it would happen every revolution rather than every two. E.g., bottom bracket noise would happen every revolution. Same with chainring bolts and pedals. But I'm just a beginner really and still trying to think through it all. In 10 years, I'll have all my own answers.

I'll look at the things that were suggested. There is a very slight seatpost creaking noise on occasion, but since the clicking noise happens when I'm off the seat, that should eliminate seatpost as the culprit. But I'm gonna clean the seatpost today 'cause it needs it anyway.

I have a new chain that I can put on if it comes to that. However, I'd like to get more than 1800 miles. The Campy chain manual says 2,000 - 5,000 miles is normal. It could be my weight and riding style contributes to extra wear. I'm 5' 10" at 188 lbs (from 210 last summer and now on the way to 170), and stand about half the time when climbing. If I need to replace chains every 1,500 miles, that's OK since I'm buying from the UK at around $50 each. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out why this one is making the weird noise. And why it doesn't happen consistently and regularly all the time.

Thanks again everyone. I'm off to tinker with it a bit.
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Old 06-13-10, 03:37 PM   #6
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6,000 miles would be pretty poor life from a cassette. I'd expect 12-15,000 from an 11 speed cassette. Running a chain into oblivion is a bad idea, particularly with 11 speed. I'd at least change at 3,000 miles and hope for no chain skip. Then you might consider using the second chain longer.

I've used a single 10 speed chain for 6,000 miles, but even lubing it every other ride (about 100 mile intervals) it was totally shot at 6,000 and I had chain skip with the 19T cog. The chain showed little elongation, but the rollers were shot and the side clearance excessive, at about .013 inch. I weigh a lot less than you, but I do ride in the mountains, which creates a lot more chain tension and my roads are gritty.
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Old 06-13-10, 04:06 PM   #7
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Frequency is a good guide for where the problem lies. I doubt it's the chain because unless the number of links is an exact multiple of the chainring, it wouldn't occur at the same place in every revolution, and in any case wouldn't be affected by rear shifting.

Since you seem to feel it in the pedals, and especially if it occurs in the same place in rotation, consider the possibility of something in the crank/BB/pedal area. The alternate revolution symptom is weird, but I'd discount if for now and go through the basics, first, if you have another set or pedals switch them out to eliminate that. Also check your cleats for burrs or other wear patterns that might make noise.

Another possibility is a small chopped tooth or burr on a chainring making a click as the chain moves past it, spot it with eyeball exam.

Next try this test for crank/spindle play. Ride your bike in a parking lot and coast to low speed with your cranks horizontal, flex your knees and jump up to really load the cranks, gently backpedal a half turn and repeat, If you can duplicate the click this way, it's likely crank/spindle play, or the entire BB cartridge is shifting in the frame.

BTW- if you're not absolutely sure you can feel it in the pedals, broaden your search. Lots of these sounds seem to come from the drivetrain, but are in fact things like rear axle movement in the dropout, headsets or handlebars creaking, or any number of subtle things depending on the construction of your bike.

One other possibility to consider is that it may not entirely be the bike but might be you. Worn chains sometimes creak or click as they shift forward on the sprockets under high torque. Most riders vary the torque throught the pedal stroke, some more than others. Some also favor one leg or push harder with one from time to time especially in low RPM hill climbing. This causes a clicking sound to appear somewhat synchronous to the position of the crank, when it is in fact synchronous to changing torque. It's hard to diagnose these but if the sound only occurs at high torque worn-chain creep is a definite possibility.
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Old 06-13-10, 09:27 PM   #8
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One other possibility to consider is that it may not entirely be the bike but might be you. Worn chains sometimes creak or click as they shift forward on the sprockets under high torque. Most riders vary the torque throught the pedal stroke, some more than others. Some also favor one leg or push harder with one from time to time especially in low RPM hill climbing. This causes a clicking sound to appear somewhat synchronous to the position of the crank, when it is in fact synchronous to changing torque. It's hard to diagnose these but if the sound only occurs at high torque worn-chain creep is a definite possibility.
This was actually my first thought 400 miles ago when it began. I took it to my LBS (who built up the bike for me last fall). He rode it but didn't notice anything. I'd guess his pedaling technique is better than mine. So it may be me.

This afternoon I tightened the chainring bolts, which were not quite tight enough. Only rode the bike up and down my street before rain came, but it seemed either gone or much less. I'll take it out tomorrow morning if it's not raining. Maybe this has fixed it. But if not, I'll study it longer and eventually get it fixed. Thanks again for all suggestions and info.
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Old 06-13-10, 09:53 PM   #9
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Campy chains don't usually elongate very much, unlike other brands. The rollers still wear, however. I use calipers and place the internal tips between the rollers to measure the space between them. When new, the space between them is about .200 inch. I would change a chain when that spacing increase to about .220 inch, but I don't toss my chains. I use three of them in a rotation and try to use them until the spacing is about .235-.240. If you leave a single chain in use for that long, you may get chain skip when a second new chain is installed.
I did this earlier today with my calipers, and measured according to the Campy chain manual (measuring a six-link span). The distance should be no greater than 132.60 mm from the roller of the first to the roller of the last. Mine was 132.22 mm.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:02 AM   #10
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I did this earlier today with my calipers, and measured according to the Campy chain manual (measuring a six-link span). The distance should be no greater than 132.60 mm from the roller of the first to the roller of the last. Mine was 132.22 mm.
It's funny that Campy quotes a metric dimension when the chain is really English in pitch (.5 inch). With English calipers, they suggest a max. length of 5.220 inch. It's also annoying that they would suggest a rather ignorant method of measuring chain wear that mixes elongation with roller wear. If you measured only 5.206, then the chain would still be almost like new, since a new one nevr measures less than 5.200. I'd expect more wear after 1800 miles, but the chain certainly does not need to be replaced.
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Old 06-14-10, 11:50 AM   #11
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I've seen an error in the English part of a Campy manual for the RD. It was for the limit screws. The text identifies the wrong one that the illustration shows. This was back several months ago, and I wanted to do everything "by the book" figuring Campy should know how to use their own stuff. I kept on turning the limit screw and turning the limit screw until it could be turned no further. After seeing this was obviously not setting the upper limit, I looked into the derailleur and saw why. Wrong limit screw. Maybe it was a translation issue.

I'll try measuring for roller wear just for the heck of it. I have a Starrett micrometer that I think will do an inside measurement that small.

Just to update on the situation. Went for a ride this morning and still felt and heard the clicking. It might be what FBinNY said about changing torque and a worn chain. I tend to overuse my quads, which would produce a choppier stroke, right? Which I presume would lend itself more to uneven torque. When I focused on trying to do a smoother stroke by using glutes and hamstrings more, things maybe quieted down a bit. Will observe over the next several rides. Today was interval day, and in the heat/humidity we have in Mississippi, it's no fun to diagnose while one is nearly dying from exertion.
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Old 07-02-10, 06:10 PM   #12
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Update on the above situation: FIXED! It was the chain that was causing the noise. Put on a new chain this morning, then went for a 30 mile ride. Not even a hint of the noise. It is really nice to have my smooth drivetrain back!!

Now there are more questions that will take a bit of explaining. I'll try to be short.

This was mentioned in my first post, but I'll include it here: "Never remove or modify in any way whatsoever this external link, which is permanently identified by the stamped production batch number, since it has the calibrated holes needed to close the chain."

This batch number could be easily seen on the new chain. And there was no number on the old chain. So I'm guessing the LBS who installed the chain paid no attention to this. I haven't talked with him about it yet. He has used Campy for years, and one would assume he knows what he's doing ... hopefully.

If that link is indeed critical, then perhaps the noise developed over time because the chain was not joined using that link. This is possible, but I'm not sure what difference, if any, exists between regular links and the one with the number. Since one may break the chain again at a "regular" link and rejoin it, I'm not sure I understand why Campy insists on using this special link.

Second thing ... the LBS installed the chain pin the wrong way. It's supposed to be installed from the inside of the chain to the outside. And, he used a homemade or modified peening tool. I don't think a homemade peening tool would matter, as long as it was made to the correct diameter. And the direction of the chain pin -- would that really matter so much? I might call Campy next week to see what they say about these things.

The noise had gotten noticeably worse in the past week. The most noise was whenever there was side bearing on the chain from having the chain on either the largest cogs or the smaller cogs. When it was the straightest (from chainring to cassette), it was the least noticeable. Possibly noise coming from the peened chain pin with a small amount of free play in the bushing? Maybe play/noise is amplified with side bearing? With the unusual variables listed above, though, it may be hard to fully know. And there is the point of diminishing returns since the new chain works.
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Old 07-03-10, 07:37 AM   #13
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You noise problem has nothing to do with the joining pin, but obviously the shop that installed the chain has idiot mechanics who can't read instructions.

The link that is mentioned merely has virgin holes in the outer plates, so it will produce the strongest joining. If you break the chain as some other point and install another pin, that will become the weakest point in the chain.

Your new chain is quiet because it is packed with thick grease. That grease should suffice for a cuple hindred miles, but after that you need to start applying a good chain lube - not a dry lube.
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Old 07-03-10, 08:17 PM   #14
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OK, that makes sense.

I've never used dry lube on my road bike chains. This chain has always gotten Pedro's Chainj.

I have a bottle of Dumonde Tech lube, but I wanted to finish the Pedro's first so I don't become a repository of half-used bottles (have tried several different lubes).

You mix your own, right?
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