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Old 06-27-11, 09:13 PM   #1
worldtraveller
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How many miles/km for a good bike chain

How long should a bike chain last? for both mt bike and road bikes.

How long or time frame should one use before it will break or need to be replaced.
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Old 06-27-11, 09:17 PM   #2
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Both questions are impossible to answer because there are so many variables.

With chains, the variables include the conditions the chain is ridden under, how it's lubed and maintained, and original chain quality and width. The biggest variable is probably how it's used. For example with the same bike and rider, doubling average speed multiplies chain tension by 4 times, add factors like terrain, rider weight and suddenly the wear spectrum can become very wide.

If you read posts on this forum you'll see reported chain life anywhere from 1,000 miles to over 13,000. So I guess that's sort of the answer - chains last somewhere between 1 and 13 thousand miles.

A similar problem exists with frame life. Is it steel carbon, or aluminum? What does the rider weigh & what are roads like? Is the rider strong enough to really stress the frame with hard sprinting or hill climbing?

For a 150# rider in Kansas, who's not very strong, a steel frame will last a lifetime, while a 200# rider racing in central Pennsylvania might not want to ride a carbon frame for more than a season or two.
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Old 06-27-11, 09:18 PM   #3
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What bike ?
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Old 06-27-11, 09:47 PM   #4
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worldtraveler, I am a bit fussy about drivetrain maintenance and I live in and ride mostly in the coastal plains so I'll average a longer interval between items needing replacement than if I lived in an area with more hills. My mountain bike is subject to much the same abuse as everybody else's and despite good maintenance I have replaced the chain about twice as often as for the road bikes.

Keeping up with chain care will greatly add miles to cassettes and chainrings. I replace the chain once it measures just under 12 1/16 inches over 24 links.

Brad

PS I wanted to give some mileage or hours of operation measurement, but really can't. Chains usually last through three roadie rear tires is my best estimate for comparison, I expect the touring bike to not do that well.

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Old 06-28-11, 12:33 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by worldtraveller View Post
How long should a bike chain last? for both mt bike and road bikes.

How long or time frame should one use before it will break or need to be replaced.

My copy of Lennard Zinn's guide to mountain bike maintenance reckons you should replace the chain every 500-1000 miles. I replaced my first chain somewhere around 2500 miles and it could have kept going longer (I wanted it replaced because I had a long riding weekend approaching). If you're lighter than I am you'll probably get more wear out of a chain, and if your cycling is more forgiving than mine you'll get more out of it. (I'm a Clyde so it seems reasonable to assume I put a greater load on most stuff).

Unless you're buying the top-end stuff chains are pretty cheap. I'll plan to replace my chain sooner next time so I don't also need to replace the cassette at the same time.
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Old 06-28-11, 08:08 AM   #6
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I get about 4000 miles on a HG system and 2000 miles on a IG system with a chain wear of 1.25 percent. Don't let your chain get any more worn that that or it will do this on a hard pull. http://share.ovi.com/media/currentre...resident.10237 I can't tell the difference in wear between cheap and expensive chains. Sram chains are reparable Shimano chains are not. One of my friends managed to stretch a chain to 2.5 percent he broke his front shifter and was riding around in a 24 11 tooth combination.
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Old 06-28-11, 08:35 AM   #7
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Example. I have 7000 miles on my Stratus (bent) chain. I work hard to to keep it clean, and only ride on hard surfaces. I lube it with Mobil 1 oil. As of yet my Park chain wear tool does not show .75% wear.
Steel frames, and especially Titanium frames that are never over stressed should last a lifetime.
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Old 06-28-11, 08:53 AM   #8
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I lube it with Mobil 1 oil.
You mean motor oil? That's kind of heavy for a chain, isn't it? Or is there a 'lighter' Mobile 1 brand?

Anyway, LBSes, Zinn, etc. will tell you replace about every 1k miles or so. I usually get more than that out of one. But, consider that a bad chain can lead to worn cassette, etc. So, a new chain once or twice a year is a pretty low-cost way to keep the bike running smoothly.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:02 AM   #9
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You mean motor oil? That's kind of heavy for a chain, isn't it? Or is there a 'lighter' Mobile 1 brand?
Actually, if anything, Mobil 1 is on the light side for chains. It's formulated for rapid circulation in a cold engine, so as to reduce wear at start up. Most commercial and industrial chain lubes are far heavier, and among bike chain lubes Chain-L (hanging my head in shame over the cheap plug) is much thicker, yet does very well (read reviews here).

The myth that bike chain lubes must be thin persists despite the fact that all chain makers pre-lube their chains with much heavier lubes.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:27 AM   #10
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Actually, if anything, Mobil 1 is on the light side for chains. It's formulated for rapid circulation in a cold engine, so as to reduce wear at start up. Most commercial and industrial chain lubes are far heavier, and among bike chain lubes Chain-L (hanging my head in shame over the cheap plug) is much thicker, yet does very well (read reviews here).

The myth that bike chain lubes must be thin persists despite the fact that all chain makers pre-lube their chains with much heavier lubes.

Well, aren't most motor oils multi-viscosity (at least for cars)? I.e. designed to flow at low temperatures AND lube at very high temperatures? So, they're going to be much heavier than say, simple chain oils?
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Old 06-28-11, 09:34 AM   #11
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There are chain wear indicator tools, to check for wear,
or there is the rule of 'thumb'

12" of chain new is center to center of the pins,
if the chain is instead showing 12.125", replace it.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:50 AM   #12
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Well, aren't most motor oils multi-viscosity (at least for cars)? I.e. designed to flow at low temperatures AND lube at very high temperatures? So, they're going to be much heavier than say, simple chain oils?
Yes, and no. just about all motor oils are multi-grade in order to maintain correct viscosity and lubrication while hot, while not becoming overly viscous when cold. The multi-grade numbers work as follows; the first number is the cold viscosity and the second number is the the viscosity equivalent to a straight oil when hot.

So a 10w40 is 10wt when cold, and acts like a 40w oil would when hot. The purpose is to prevent oil circulation delays when starting and warming an engine.

Since we run our chains between 20 and 100 degrees we want an oil formulated for optimal properties at that temperature, and as I said most (non-bike) chain oils are thicker than most motor oils at these temperatures.
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Old 06-28-11, 09:54 AM   #13
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Edited- the answer was meant for another thread.

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Old 06-28-11, 11:43 AM   #14
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Is it ok to use Jigglo on my chain as lube?
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Old 06-28-11, 11:44 AM   #15
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Is it ok to use Jigglo on my chain as lube?
Fine by me.
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Old 06-28-11, 12:11 PM   #16
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You mean motor oil? That's kind of heavy for a chain, isn't it? Or is there a 'lighter' Mobile 1 brand?
I use a "home-brew" of 1 part Mobil One (10 - 40) and 3 to 4 parts of mineral spirits. Most of the mineral spirits evaporates and leaves the oil. I've never failed to get at least 5000 miles before any 1 foot interval of chain has stretched to 1 1/16 inches. If you let it go to 1 1/8 inches you may get to buy a new cassette with the new chain. All of this refers to road bikes.
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