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  1. #1
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    Does this bicycle need a new chain? (PICTURES)

    This bike and all the parts have 2700 total miles.

    The chain is quiet only for about 50 miles after being thoroughly cleaned and lubricated. Then it resumes a loud clicking, even with the chain in a straight line. The noise is louder in the small chainring, and deafening with the chain at any kind of angle (I avoid angling the chain as much as possible).

    With the 0" on the ruler held up perfectly in line with a rivet, there is 5/16" past the last link to the 12" mark. What do you all think?




  2. #2
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    Great photo of how to measure chain stretch. Yes your chain is toast, and you'll be very lucky if your cassette isn't also, since stretched chains are murder on sprockets.

    That much stretch is 2,700 miles is pretty bad unless all that mileage was training for the mt. Washington Hill Climb.

    Please consider the source here (I make chain oil) but it seems that you are not being well served by whatever you're using now. The change in sound during a ride might indicate that the lube is working for a while then quitting on you. That might account for the short chain life.

    There's a good chance that a new chain won't run on the cassette or it's more worn sprockets, so be ready to replace both. If you're very unlucky you might need to replace a chainring or both also.

    If stuff is worn to the replacement point anyway, your other option is to use a different chain oil that lasts as longer than your longest ride and ride the existing drivetrain until it just won't work without skipping. This was the standard practice when freewheels were relatively cheap and it didn't make sense to to replace chains sooner to prevent freewheel wear.
    Last edited by FBinNY; 01-01-11 at 11:13 AM.
    FB
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  3. #3
    DOS
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    Thats a lot of stretch for 2700 miles; but yes it looks like chain is shot. I would think cassette is also toast at this point with a chain that stretched.

    edited to add; oops, FBinNY beat me to the post
    Last edited by DOS; 01-01-11 at 11:12 AM.
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  4. #4
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I usually go for the edge of the rivet instead of the center, seems easier for me. I also measure the top run with just a bit of tension on the cranks to get an accurate measurement. And a 15" steel rule is nice to have.

    If that's an accurate measurement, 5/16" is way past usefulness. I agree that cassette is probably shot.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    ...I also measure the top run with just a bit of tension on the cranks to get an accurate measurement.
    I agree that enough tension to pull the slack out is necessary for an accurate measurement, but in this case it fails without the tension which certainly won't reduce the measured stretch.

    BTW- I used to measure the top chord, but with short chainstays the FD cage gets in the way. I now measure the lower chord, and tension by pulling the RD cage back.
    FB
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  6. #6
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Yeah, I tuck the ruler into the FD. It's a fiddly PITA maneuver but I do it anyways.

    Maybe If I wasn't such a pig and kept my rear derailer a little cleaner I'd measure the bottom run
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by reggieray View Post
    This bike and all the parts have 2700 total miles.



    With the 0" on the ruler held up perfectly in line with a rivet, there is 5/16" past the last link to the 12" mark. What do you all think?
    Correction to my earlier posts. The photo is better than I thought because it shows clearly that you're mis-measuring the chain. There isn't nearly 5/16" of stretch. It appears to be more like 1/16" or so at the 11" mark.

    Rereading the text carefully I think you may misunderstand how to measure. It isn't the distance from a pin to the 12" mark, but how far beyond the mark the pin is. I suggest you measure again, and if the actual stretch is between 1/16" and 1/8" as it appears to my eyes, you're in luck because while you should replace the chain, you're probably OK with the existing cassette.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

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    Thanks.

    I'm taking this bike in on Monday to have all the parts mentioned replaced.

    I use Purple Extreme lubrication. The bottle said to clean and reapply every 400 miles, which I did. After cleaning I put one drop onto each link, wiped, and let it dry overnight. What is a better lube? I ride mostly flat, almost never in the rain or on wet road, in a somewhat dusty area (San Angelo TX).

    With cleaning, is there a way to get a chain and drive train completely clean? I haven't found a way. The cleanest I can get it is applying degreaser, brushing the chain, and rinsing with a bottle of water to spray forcefully on each link to push out dirt and old lube.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by reggieray View Post
    Thanks.

    I'm taking this bike in on Monday to have all the parts mentioned replaced.

    I use Purple Extreme lubrication.
    Not so fast, odds are the cassette is OK, read my correction post above.

    Oh, and your chain lube is most definitely failing you half way through, (the noise change) and costing you chain life.
    FB
    Chain-L site

    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  10. #10
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I replace chains at 3/32" Try measuring again. With only 2700 miles on it, there's a good chance you still have another 1000 miles left in your chain. (edit: Oh, I forgot about the noise issue - If the expense isn't a burden, I'd swap chains just for the hell of it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by reggieray View Post
    With cleaning, is there a way to get a chain and drive train completely clean? I haven't found a way. The cleanest I can get it is applying degreaser, brushing the chain, and rinsing with a bottle of water to spray forcefully on each link to push out dirt and old lube.
    Spray from a water bottle is doing you no good. Degreaser + hose with a nozzle or pressure washer (take care not to spray towards BB or hub bearings). Repeat as needed. Allow to dry thoroughly. Lube.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 01-01-11 at 12:14 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Not so fast, odds are the cassette is OK, read my correction post above.

    Oh, and your chain lube is most definitely failing you half way through, (the noise change) and costing you chain life.
    I measured while pulling back on the rear derailleur and it looks like this.

    Are we going by the distance from the end of the ruler to the center of the next hole? If so it's 2.5/16.

    What lube should I try instead of PE?

    Last edited by reggieray; 01-01-11 at 12:20 PM. Reason: corrected chain stretch distance

  12. #12
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    Yes, from the 12" mark to the next pin beyond it is the correct measurement. 1/8" is more reasonable but still a lot. Generally chains should be replaced at about 1/16" or so to protect the cassette, so you're at the outer limit and it's 50/50 whether you'll need a cassette or not.

    I don't recommend chain lubes, because I'm obviously biased. There's a current thread here about my stuff and you might try it, or experiment with others. As far as cleaning goes, I'm not a believer because IMO the way most people do it causes harm than good.

    Chain maintenance, lube and cleaning is like religion and you'll find true believers and disbelievers for every product and technique. Differences in conditions, dry/dusty vs wet climates account for some differences. The rest are preferences involving things like cosmetics, ease of use, etc.

    In your case, based on your claim to have used it as directed, about the only thing I can recommend is that you change from what you're using because it isn't serving you well. As to what you should use, my bias is obvious, but there are plenty of other choices out there.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  13. #13
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I think it's his cleaning technique more than the lube that needs sorting out. Applying degreaser then spraying with a spray bottle of water is no good at all. Won't allow any lube to do its job.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  14. #14
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    I think it's his cleaning technique more than the lube that needs sorting out. Applying degreaser then spraying with a spray bottle of water is no good at all. Won't allow any lube to do its job.
    I didn't read his cleaning method since I was more focused on figuring out how he could have that much stretch and then correcting his measuring method. But yes lubing a freshly washed, and not dried, chain isn't very effective. One more reason that I don't believe in washing chains.

    If he must wash the chain he needs to bake the water out, since the natural drying time is very long. Capillary action causes the chain to retain water the same way it gets trapped under glass table tops. Since he lives in Texas, he can dry his chain by putting the entire bike into his solar oven - the car parked in the sun with the windows cracked open about 1/2" - for a few hours before re-oiling.
    FB
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    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  16. #16
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    Purple Extreme is a good chain lube but you need to use it more often than 400 miles. Cut that mileage in half and do not use any water on the chain.

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    This forum does not allow me to send PMs.

    When I go in to have the chain replaced, should I have the mechanic use Chain-L for the initial lubrication, i.e. should I bring the Chain-L and give the LBS any special instructions?

  18. #18
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, you need a certain number of posts before you can PM. 50 I think. That way the spam accounts can't PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  19. #19
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    You might consider getting a chain tool and replacing the chain yourself. I found the chain tool to be a worthy investment, as I am able to take my time in lubing the new chain with Chain-L. If you get a Sram PowerLink chain as your replacement, you can have the LBS mechanic replace your chain (and possibly your cassette) without having him lube the chain at all. This would mean you wouldn't need the chain tool, as the Sram Power Link allows you to take the chain off without any special tools. Sram chains have a very good factory lube, so the mechanic won't feel obligated to lube the chain during installation. The Sram PowerLink chain will allow you to take the chain off at home to lube with Chain-L and reduce your cleanup tasks.

  20. #20
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    As previously mentioned, do not get any water on the chain.

    To rinse the cleaner off, you can put some mineral-spirits (paint-thinner) onto a rag, wrap it around the bottom run of the chain. Hold lightly all the way around with one hand and spin the crank backwards for 5-10 revolutions. Then drip in some Chain-L and spin it around 10-15 times more to work it all the way into the chain. Then wrap clean rag around the chain and spin it around a couple times to wipe off the excess.

  21. #21
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Depends on the degreaser used. Some degreasers need a thorough flushing with water.

    Of course a thorough drying time is needed also prior to lubing. I Simple Green and pressure wash my road bike's chain maybe twice a year. Rest of the time, wipe and lube.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Depends on the degreaser used. Some degreasers need a thorough flushing with water.

    Of course a thorough drying time is needed also prior to lubing.
    This is the key, whether you use water based cleaners, or mineral spirits, you need to allow adequate drying time, or use the solar oven, or a hair dryer. If any solvent, water or mineral spirits or whatever lingers within the chain it'll prevent new lube from wicking in effectively. It's like trying to blot up a spill with a soggy paper towel.

    Even if lube does penetrate somewhat, solvent or water residue will degrade it, so start with a dry chain.
    FB
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    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  23. #23
    Senior Member pat5319's Avatar
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    Oooh yeah! is toast!- get a good chain mearing tool re park tools etc - way more accurate and easy to use
    Pat5319


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    Quote Originally Posted by pat5319 View Post
    Oooh yeah! is toast!- get a good chain mearing tool re park tools etc - way more accurate and easy to use
    Definitely less accurate, though maybe easier to use. But then again anyone who can't measure something with a 12" ruler shouldn't be doing his own mechanical work.
    FB
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    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

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    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  25. #25
    Can'tre Member 3alarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Definitely less accurate, though maybe easier to use. But then again anyone who can't measure something with a 12" ruler shouldn't be doing his own mechanical work.
    Classic!
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