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  1. #1
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    Newb chain/cassette replacement question - is my LBS full of &#!%?

    Hi all,

    I have a 2010 Bianchi Vigorelli I bought 2 years ago, probably around 2,000 miles total on it so far (I know, slacker... ). I measured my chain recently and found it was pretty worn, both with the ruler test and using a Filzer chain wear gauge (appeasing both sides of that argument). With the Filzer gauge it falls right through to the 1% mark (here's what the gauge looks like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FRTJ0Q).

    I took the bike into the LBS for a tune-up/"drivetrain overhaul" expecting them to replace the chain. I got the bike back, very clean looking, same worn chain. When I called to ask why they didn't replace it, they told me their philosophy is that the chain and cassette wear together and unless you are experiencing shifting problems or chain skip, it is best to just keep the chain/cassette clean and lubed until you replace them both. The drivetrain overhaul involves them taking apart and cleaning the chain/cassette/RD, etc...

    Now, I can certainly see the logic in what they are saying, but it seems like this sets them up to replace a lot more cassettes (and possibly chainrings) down the line...is their repair philosophy complete BS or do any of you also prescribe to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought?

    Wondering if I should just slap a new chain on and deal with the possibility of skipping until the new chain wears to match the cassette teeth or just leave it and replace both chain and cassette when I have reason to (chain breaks, skipping, bad shifting, etc...)

    FWIW, I took it out for 60 miles this weekend on a ride that used all gears and experienced no issues whatsoever.

    Thanks,

    Jim

  2. #2
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    The point of bike maintenance is to have a well functioning bike, not to replace parts. You have a well functioning bike, do you not?
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    If you do want to spend the money and preemptively replace the chain It will extend the life of the cassette.
    but that would be an open question of when.
    if the replacement wont mesh, then you waited too long..

    Now, if you said," put a new chain on it and if necessary a new cassette",
    then they would have done that, and charged for the parts ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-08-13 at 02:55 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    The point of bike maintenance is to have a well functioning bike, not to replace parts. You have a well functioning bike, do you not?
    So do you replace your chains when they are worn? My bike is functioning fine right now, but my concern is the smarter way to approach long-term maintenance. I can definitely see the LBS having a bit of economic incentive to not provide the most cost-effective maintenance schedule. My question is whether or not you guys think it's a valid argument (ride the chain/cassette until they are toast and replace both). Does that method mean you will be prematurely replacing cassettes and possible chainrings?

    Thanks!

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    If your chain has worn past 1%, then it's very unlikely that you could just put a new chain on that cassette - it would almost certainly skip terribly.

    The 'proper' way to do it is to keep on top of the chain wear, and think about replacing the chain when it's between .5 and .75% worn. In this way, a new chain will mesh fine with the cassette, and it's life will be considerably extended. Some people 'rotate' 2 or 3 chains to do this even further.

    There's really no excuse (other than sloth or ignorance ) to run your drivetrain into the ground if you've had it from new - chains cost so little in the scheme of things, and are so easy to remove, especially with quick links that I can't see why people would not do this.

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    Their tightwad approach makes some sense except if you have aluminum chain rings. If you keep using the worn chain, you will also have to change one or more of the front rings with the chain and cassette. bk

  7. #7
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I typically get three chains for every cassette. On that 3d chain, it's usually necessary to replace the cassette. I can tell because if I use a new chain with that old cassette, it skips like crazy particularly on the smaller cogs. Those cogs wear faster because there are fewer teeth to share the load. They wear especially faster for flat landers like me because they get used more than the larger cogs.

    Chainrings wear much more slowly than cassettes. I've never had to replace one.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  8. #8
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Do what it takes to make you happy.

    I get 4-9000 miles from chains and have never worn out a cassette.

    A friend now has 19,000 miles on a 8 speed chain.

    Some riders get a new tire and tube each time that they have one flat
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    I...have never worn out a cassette.
    How long have you been riding, and what's the longest you've ridden on one cassette?

    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    A friend now has 19,000 miles on a 8 speed chain
    Now that chain has *got* to be beyond 1% on the chain checker!

  10. #10
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Continuity View Post
    How long have you been riding, and what's the longest you've ridden on one cassette?
    Now that chain has *got* to be beyond 1% on the chain checker!
    Me riding 5 years with 52,000 miles.

    Friend 16 years with 210,000 miles.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Continuity View Post
    If your chain has worn past 1%, then it's very unlikely that you could just put a new chain on that cassette - it would almost certainly skip terribly.

    The 'proper' way to do it is to keep on top of the chain wear, and think about replacing the chain when it's between .5 and .75% worn. In this way, a new chain will mesh fine with the cassette, and it's life will be considerably extended. Some people 'rotate' 2 or 3 chains to do this even further.
    ^ this is the best advice. Most likely the LBS either didn't go into detail or the OP didn't understand what was said by the LBS. If the chain wore past 1%, a new chain wouldn't work well with the worn cassette. So the LBS did the OP a favor and suggested riding the existing combo until problems developed. Makes perfect sense and the sign of a good LBS.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  12. #12
    Senior Member JReade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Some riders get a new tire and tube each time that they have one flat
    The co-op I work at gets bunches of tubes and tires from the LBS because people got a flat, and they don't want to reuse the tire or tube. Often the tubes are fine, and people replace BOTH tires and BOTH tubes because they have some notion of wear on the tires/tubes causing the flats. They are happy to spend that money, the shop is happy to sell it to them, and we're happy to take the spares.
    Jesse

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Do what it takes to make you happy.

    I get 4-9000 miles from chains and have never worn out a cassette.

    A friend now has 19,000 miles on a 8 speed chain.
    This is almost completely contradictory to just about every forum members experiences. Your friend got extra wear out of an 8-speed chain because they are thicker. With that kind of mileage for both of you, I can only assume you ride slow, use a high cadence, don't have many hills, and don't sprint or accelerate hard on steep climbs because all those save chain wear.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    in a 100 link chain, 1% is a whole link.. 1/2"

  15. #15
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    The only way to know if the cassette is worn is to put a new chain on the bike and try it. Using a single chain with a cassette is only cost effective when the cassettte is really cheap. I ride Campy 11 and the cheapest cassette is a little over $100. Three chains cost about the same as a cassette. I use three chains and alternate them, so they can be used longer and I never encounter new-chain skip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    ^ this is the best advice. Most likely the LBS either didn't go into detail or the OP didn't understand what was said by the LBS. If the chain wore past 1%, a new chain wouldn't work well with the worn cassette. So the LBS did the OP a favor and suggested riding the existing combo until problems developed. Makes perfect sense and the sign of a good LBS.
    Except for the fact the LBS spent 10 minutes telling me how they NEVER recommend changing a chain without also replacing the cassette at the same time...that's the part that has me scratching my head. If they told me, "hey, you f'd up and let your chain go well past where you should've swapped it, so now you might as well leave it on until you need to change out both the cassette and chain" that would make more sense. I will say it is perfectly possible that I just completely misinterpreted what they were telling me, but it sounded pretty clear cut to me.

    So my question isn't so much "should I change my chain now" but whether anyone else here subscribes to the theory that you shouldn't change chains EVER unless you experience issues with shifting/skipping and then you should swap chain and cassette together.

    PS - my bike has Shimano 105 components (except for RD which is Ultegra) so maybe that will shed some light on variables like cost of components/rate of wear...

  17. #17
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    I must be pretty gentle on bike components - when I hear about how often some people have to change out gear, and the states it gets in, it amazes me.

    Until recently, I was running the original cables, inners and outers, and had only replaced the cassette once, the chain a few times, and the middle/large chainrings once on my 1992 Marin Eldridge Grade which I have ridden from new and done a lot of miles on it. I used to be a courier for nearly 2 years on that bike not long after I got it as well, doing upwards of 70-100 miles a day.

  18. #18
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lootcorp View Post
    Hi all,

    I have a 2010 Bianchi Vigorelli I bought 2 years ago, probably around 2,000 miles total on it so far (I know, slacker... ). I measured my chain recently and found it was pretty worn, both with the ruler test and using a Filzer chain wear gauge (appeasing both sides of that argument). With the Filzer gauge it falls right through to the 1% mark (here's what the gauge looks like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FRTJ0Q).

    I took the bike into the LBS for a tune-up/"drivetrain overhaul" expecting them to replace the chain. I got the bike back, very clean looking, same worn chain. When I called to ask why they didn't replace it, they told me their philosophy is that the chain and cassette wear together and unless you are experiencing shifting problems or chain skip, it is best to just keep the chain/cassette clean and lubed until you replace them both. The drivetrain overhaul involves them taking apart and cleaning the chain/cassette/RD, etc...

    Now, I can certainly see the logic in what they are saying, but it seems like this sets them up to replace a lot more cassettes (and possibly chainrings) down the line...is their repair philosophy complete BS or do any of you also prescribe to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought?

    Wondering if I should just slap a new chain on and deal with the possibility of skipping until the new chain wears to match the cassette teeth or just leave it and replace both chain and cassette when I have reason to (chain breaks, skipping, bad shifting, etc...)

    FWIW, I took it out for 60 miles this weekend on a ride that used all gears and experienced no issues whatsoever.

    Thanks,

    Jim
    The way I figure the life of my chains is I'll replace it when it goes over 0.75% extended, using a Park Tools chain checker. When it measures under 0.75% with no tension but putting a little pressure on the pedal causes the 0.75% indicator to fall through the chain, I replace the chain. If the new chain skips on the old cassette then replace the cassette as well.

    Another way to do it is to just run the chain until it starts skipping and then replace chain and cassette, accepting that you may need to replace some or all of the chainrings at the same time. Since I can change a chain myself and they cost 12.99 I'd rather replace the chains more often and not have to replace the cassette and chainrings as well.

    It may be that it would be cheaper to just run the lot until everything is trashed and then replace chain, chainrings and cassette all at once, I'd just rather know that everything is working as it should rather than finding it starts to get unreliable in some gears but not others and then having to buy potentially 140 worth of parts at once.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by lootcorp View Post
    ... they NEVER recommend changing a chain without also replacing the cassette at the same time...
    That's *completely* back-arsewards - you should always install a new chain at the same time as when you put on a new cassette.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    .Since I can change a chain myself and they cost 12.99...
    Is that 10-speed, and if so, where are you getting your chains from?

    10-speed stuff is *so* bloody expensive compared to 8/9 speed (and I really don't see why that should be the case, they're only slightly slimmer in size, and it's not like the tech or metallurgy is any different).
    Last edited by Continuity; 04-08-13 at 03:10 PM.

  20. #20
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Continuity View Post
    That's *completely* back-arsewards - you should always install a new chain at the same time as when you put on a new cassette.
    I wouldn't change a cassette without changing the chain, but would change a chain without changing a cassette.

    Edit:

    Is that 10-speed, and if so, where are you getting your chains from?

    10-speed stuff is *so* bloody expensive compared to 8/9 speed (and I really don't see why that should be the case, they're only slightly slimmer in size, and it's not like the tech or metallurgy is any different).
    9-speed KMC X9, the cheapie ones, from www.chainreactioncycles.com - I buy three at a time when they are on special. You can find more expensive ones quite easily if you're so inclined, but I'm happy with the cheapies. I rather like staying sub-15 for a chain and sub-20 for a cassette.
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  21. #21
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=13377

    KMC 10-speed chains, 19.99 if you buy three or more.

    Curiously this one:

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=25423

    is a KMC 9-speed chain that is the same width - 11/128". You also get 116 links instead of 112 which might make a difference. So it looks like the KMC X9 should work in the same places an X10 would work. They're 11.99 if you buy three or more.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  22. #22
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I think the LBS did the right thing.

    I'm sure that they would be happy to sell you a new cassette, and chain. Anything less, would just increase wear on everything. They knew it would last the way it is, for a couple more years, at the mileage you are putting on.

    It wouldn't even surprise me, if they did it for parts cost only, since you already had an overhaul. Asking nicely, would help.

    Your dime, your choice.

    edit: I've got 4 chains, and swap them about once a month, thoroughly cleaning and oiling the one coming off. In addition, my chains get oiled with a drop on each roller, about once a week. Then a good wipe down. Doing this makes chains and sprockets last a long time. After looking up prices on 10 spd chains, I'm very happy to stay with my 9.
    Last edited by Wanderer; 04-08-13 at 04:53 PM.

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    KMC 10-speed chains, 19.99 if you buy three or more.

    ..a KMC 9-speed chain that is the same width - 11/128"...
    That's good info - thanks.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    Their tightwad approach makes some sense except if you have aluminum chain rings. If you keep using the worn chain, you will also have to change one or more of the front rings with the chain and cassette. bk
    Nearly everyone here has aluminum chainrings and their service life is tremendous even if you are a bit lax about changing chains. I typically get a bit over 8,000 miles on a chain and cassette and, at that point the chain is elongated 1% or a bit less. Then I change both the chain and cassette together but the chainrings last way over 30,000 miles.

    BTW, it doesn't take much chain elongation (sometimes under 1/2%) to make a new chain skip in the smallest few cogs so, unless you change your chain a very low mileage or always use the larger cogs, changing them together makes sense.

  25. #25
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    When you're using anything up to 8/9-speed, though, chains are so cheap compared to cassettes, that it makes total sense to replace them often.

    I mean, you can get 8-speed compatible chains for as cheap as 5-6 even over here in the UK where we get raped on equipment prices compared to the US.

    10/11 speed chains, though - different story - they pretty much cost almost the same as an 8/9-speed cassette.

    Edit: OT, but does anyone know offhand if any of the Campag chains will work OK on a 10-speed Shimano DT?

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