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  1. #1
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    Ultegra 6700 Drive Train Lifespan



    It wasn't easy holding the ruler in one hand and my camera in the other, but the measurement you can see in the photo is pretty much spot on. I tried it without the camera, and it looked the same.

    This chain has about 2000 miles on it. Is it too late to replace it? A mechanic friend told me that if you let the chain wear too long, it becomes pointless to replace it, as the cassette and chainwheels will be too worn to work well with a new chain.

    Is there a rule of thumb regarding how frequently Ultegra 6700 chains need to be replaced? I don't ride in the rain... just primo southern California weather. I lube the chain about every three to four rides.

    Thanks in advance for any helpful replies.

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    I think it's worth replacing just the chain and seeing how things go. Pics of rear sprockets? This may help.

    Also, how often to you clean your chain? The amount of grit on the inner plates...gah....

  3. #3
    Senior Member igknighted's Avatar
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    Yeah, the key isn't the lube you put on it, it's the cleaning you do before the lube. If you lube a dirty chain it can actually make things worse. Also, the type of lube you use can make a difference. Some lubes attract dirt like crazy, others keep the drivetrain pretty clean.

    If you look at the cassette, do the teeth still look pyramid shaped, or a they more curved (concave) on one side like a shark tooth? That's the real key. The more pyramid like e teeth, the less damage has been done to them.
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  4. #4
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    Thanks for the prompt replies.

    I'm using Pedro's Ice Wax and White Lightning Clean Ride. Sometimes one, sometimes the other. I used to clean the chain on another bike on a monthly basis with one of those Park Tools chain cleaners, with Simple Green as the solvent. But then I read this was bad, so I stopped cleaning my chains. I'm open to a preventative maintenance regimen-- in general I try to take good care of things-- but I just don't know what the optimal chain-life-prolonging routine would be like. There is conflicting advice on that here at BF and elsewhere.

    Again, thanks in advance...

    Some pics of the cassette are below.


    Last edited by ZippyThePinhead; 06-14-13 at 07:07 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Your cluster doesn't look too bad. As mentioned, I'd go for a new chain.

    Also, I too would be interested in the proper way to care for a drive train.

  6. #6
    Senior Member TJClay's Avatar
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    My 6700 chain has about 3000 miles on it and I measure it with one of the park tool chain measuring tool and according to that theres almost no wear. I clean my chain about 5-700 mile with one of those chain cleaning tools and paint thinner as a solvent. It comes really clean that way and then I usually blow it dry with compressed air. I also remove my cassette and clean it every so often. Honestly I'm not as anal as that sounds. I also ride in dry southern california conditions.
    Last edited by TJClay; 05-21-11 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Grammar.
    ttp://pedalmybike.com/userTrackies/myTrackie3491.jpg[/img]

  7. #7
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    Every 500-700 miles doesn't seem very frequent. By your own reckoning, in 3000 miles you may have only cleaned it 4-5 times.

    I've read there are many variables WRT chain life. I'm about 200 lbs, and I ride mostly on flat ground. But I'm a little skeptical that 4-5 cleanings with whatever would extend the life of my chain. I could be wrong, though, and if that works I'd be willing to go back to it.

    BTW I measured my chain with one of the Park wear gauges and it was at 100% (worn out). But somewhere here on BF I read that the Park tool overestimates chain wear. I realize you gotta take a little and leave a little when it comes to stuff you read on BF, but anyway...

  8. #8
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Ultegra chains aren`t magically different from any other and the wear patterns are the same as any other chain and cassette.

    Keeping the chain exterior will have a major impact on extending cassette life, and keeping the chain interior clean and lubed will extend both cassette and chain life.

    Wear happens on a cassette based on usage so if you`re in high gear all the time the wear will be accellerated because it`ll happen accross a small number of teeth. When that small cog is finished - so is your cassette.

    So one strategy would be to move to a larger chainring in front which will let you select larger cogs from the rear most of the time and will extend the cassette life accordingly.

    Another recommendation is to buy two chains and alternate their usage every few weeks. That will also greatly extend the useful life of the rear cassette.

    The issue with putting a new chain on a worn cassette is that the wear patterns don`t match and the chain will skip under load. Since the load on the chain isn`t optimal, a worn cassette will also accelerate wear in a new chain. The two chain / rotate usage strategy addresses those issues very effectively.

    Keep the chains cleaned and lubed, set up your gearing so you`re not in top gear all the time and move to alternating chains and you should expect a minimum of 10,000km out of a cassette.

  9. #9
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyThePinhead View Post
    I used to clean the chain on another bike on a monthly basis with one of those Park Tools chain cleaners, with Simple Green as the solvent. But then I read this was bad, so I stopped cleaning my chains.
    Simple Green is what's bad, like any water-based method of chain cleaning.

    Looks like a sweet ride, BTW

  10. #10
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
    Simple Green is what's bad, like any water-based method of chain cleaning.

    Looks like a sweet ride, BTW
    Thanks for the kind words. So thinner or alcohol would be preferable to Simple Green?

  11. #11
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    I'd go for mineral spirits. Also, the more times you change your solvent during a clean, the cleaner you can get it.

    BTW, I love Rip-Off Comix ; )

  12. #12
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    I used some Simple Green before I read your post, sorry to say.

    Water under the bridge now, no pun intended.

    Next time, I'll use something else. How many of you folks use one of those SRAM master links on your chains?

  13. #13
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    The problem with Simple Green is it lets water hang around inside the chain, which obviously doesn't bode well for getting your lube in there. Maybe chuck it in the oven before lubing?

    SRAM master links are a good thing, but they can be a pain to remove sometimes; they require a very exact technique. Also, I had an old one come apart the last time I crashed... spent ten minutes looking for the bits.

  14. #14
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Looks like your chain is worn 1/16 so putting a new chain on should not cause drive issues unless you spent the last 2000 miles riding in just a few gears and have some extra wear to those cogs.

    Mineral spirits are excellent for cleaning chains, if you can remove it and put it in a container like a large pop bottle and agitate it a little most of the accumulated crud will be removed and the mineral spirits can be reused... when things get grungy you can filter out the particulates with a coffee filter.

    Avoid compressed air as this will drive grit into the chain... just wipe the chain after cleaning and let it dry... the mineral spirits will evaporate.

  15. #15
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    I remove my chains every 650 to 750 miles and clean them in an ultra sonic cleaner with Simple Green and water. I rinse them in water and either dry them in the sun or in the oven. I lube them with a mix of 4pts. mineral spirits to 1pt. chainsaw bar oil.
    One chain has 13,644 and the other has 14,788 miles on it.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brandt/chain-care.html
    Last edited by davidad; 05-27-12 at 12:35 PM. Reason: Left off part

  16. #16
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    When you remove your chain for cleaning, are you breaking it with a tool, or are you using a quick break/masterlink of some kind?

    Is it necessary to use a Shimano masterlink, or is it recommendable to use a Wipperman (or other) masterlink?

  17. #17
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    Why not get a new chain? If it skips worse than the old one, take it off and save it.

  18. #18
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    An update... I installed a new chain (CN-6700) about 180 miles ago and all is well. I put a Whipperman master link on the new chain so I can remove it for maintenance. Thanks to all the responders who offered advice.

  19. #19
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    I also just got the Whippermann Connex link and like the way it works on my new Shimano 6701. For helping with keeping your chain clean, try Dupont Chain Saver from Lowe's. $5 for 4 oz. My previous 6600 chain lasted 7,670 miles and I never took the chain off to clean. I did kind of clean it when I lubed with Dupont Multi-Use Teflon lube (aerosol can) again from Lowe's.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
    Simple Green is what's bad, like any water-based method of chain cleaning.

    Looks like a sweet ride, BTW
    Simple Green is fine as long as you rinse it off. Some idiot left his chain soaking in it for quite a while and it began to rust. End of chain.

  21. #21
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    I know, I know... bad form to resurrect a dead thread, but since I was the OP and I have an update, I figured what the hey.

    This thread motivated me to care for my chain: to lube it faithfully (using ATF & White Lightning, and later Park Tool Teflon Chain Lube and Pedro's Ice Wax when the White Lightning ran out), wipe it clean regularly, so on and so forth.

    I did all of this in the hope that my $40 replacement chain might live beyond 2000 miles.

    But I just measured it, and after 2000 miles the wear is exactly as shown in the first picture: 1/16". So all of the TLC was for nothing.

    I'm going to replace it with a CN-6701, but the next time I buy a chain, I'm going Wippermann.
    Last edited by ZippyThePinhead; 05-26-12 at 07:27 PM.

  22. #22
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    I have 4200 miles on my dura ace chain with almost zero wear and 4100 on my other bike's 105 with zero wear. I use to worry I should change the chain but frankly I clean it and lube it, do not ride in the rain, and normally spin. I keep hearing of those going thru chains in 1500-2000 miles and wonder? Maybe I just cannot generate any power riding but I pretty steady and quick in the long haul for a old guy.

  23. #23
    Slacker ZippyThePinhead's Avatar
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    I don't think anyone would accuse me of generating a lot of power.

    As I posted previously, I'm open to a reasonable regimen of chain maintenance, because what I'm doing seems not to be working so great. Along those lines, on the advice of my LBS I will also try a new (to me) lube.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyThePinhead View Post
    When you remove your chain for cleaning, are you breaking it with a tool, or are you using a quick break/masterlink of some kind?

    Is it necessary to use a Shimano masterlink, or is it recommendable to use a Wipperman (or other) masterlink?
    You can use either the Wipperman or the KMC version.

    The SRAM version should not be used with Shimano 6701, 7901 chains.

  25. #25
    Senior Member 1FJEF's Avatar
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    I saw quite a bit of information here.

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