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  1. #1
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    Do I need chain wear?

    I have a 2004 trek 4300, with a SRAM 850 rear cassette (8 cogs).
    I recently got a new chain installed (the third one). The cassette is still the one that came with the bike.
    The cassette has about 1900 miles, and the first 2 chains where changed after 850 miles each.
    Some gears keep on skipping (particularly, the 5th, 6th and 7th) when I pedal hard enough.
    I went to the shop where they put the new chain, and they told me the new chain needs to wear in order to work properly, at least about 100 miles. I didn't need that with my previous chain, so why should I need that now?
    I have done about 100 or 150 miles on the new chain.
    They told me my cassette is fine.
    Is that real, or my cassette has too much wear, and I should get both new chain and cassette?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    1. 850 mile chain life is real, real short! I'd say that 3 times that would be closer to typical. Do you have any ideas as to why your chains are wearing that quickly?

    2. If you're new chain is skipping in the gears that you use the most, that's an indication of a worn cassette. It makes no sense whatever to me to "wear in" your brand new chain to make it match a worn cassette.

    If it was my bike I'd learn to do my own chain maintenance because it doesn't sound to me like your LBS is doing you any favors.

  3. #3
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    Amen to retro, 850 for a brand new chain..... is not very many miles at all. Skipping gears on a chain with only 850 miles sounds like a worn cassette to me.

  4. #4
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    I have two Trek 4300's running the same cassette. I am approaching 4000 miles on each bike. These miles have occured in about 15 months. I can tell you that the 1900 miles is about what i am getting out of a cassette. Around 2000 miles i get wear on a couple of the middle cogs and it skips.

    I replace my chain and cassettes at the same time. i really see no advantage to changing a chain without a cassette as my cassette is normally worn at the same time. When my chain indicates wear, i change it and still find out that a couple of the cogs in the back are skipping. What is the point? I just wait and do them together.

    I am running 3 wheelsets so i have some variables here but i will tell you that what you are experiencing is normal and the LBS advice seems to be "barnyard waste." Cassettes are fairly inexpensive, so unless you enjoy the skipping, you need one.

  5. #5
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leoh
    I have done about 100 or 150 miles on the new chain.
    They told me my cassette is fine.
    Is that real, or my cassette has too much wear, and I should get both new chain and cassette?
    I don't know how they can tell you your chain needs to wear but that your cassette has no wear... chains and cogs wear together in very specific patterns due to the metal-metal interfaces. See http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html for the gory details.

    It's usual for the smaller cogs to wear faster than the larger cogs, not only because they tend to be used more, but also because they are smaller and thus each tooth bears the load of the chain more frequently as it turns. All signs point to your cassette being worn as well. This doesn't explain the basic problem though, because cassette wear is caused by chain wear, and your chain is wearing awfully fast.

    EDIT: Random thought... does your new chain have a stiff link?? This makes it seem like the chain is skipping, and is more likely with the smaller cogs, because the chain is bent at sharper angles. If in doubt, roll the cranks slowly backwards while watching the chain very carefully. If you see the chain "bunch up" as it goes around the pulleys or the cogs, then you've got a stiff link.
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  6. #6
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    I wonder if he isnt paying much attention to his chain line when he rides...i.e. big ring in front while riding big gear in back or visa versa. That would cause excessive wear on both chain and cassette.

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    They measure the chain at the LBS (a Trek dealer in Montevideo, Uruguay) with a park measurement tool. And I got 1350 km (about 850 miles) on my first original chain (Shimano), and about the same on a PC-58 SRAM chain. So I don't think I am using the wrong chain.
    I am on the third chain (another PC-58), which has about 200 km (about 125 miles) on it.
    I usually ride on pavement (on the road), I rarely ride on dirt, mud, etc.
    When I bought the bike, they told me the chain would last an average of 1200 km (about 750 miles). According to them, that's the average life of a chain.
    I don't think they are telling me this just to sell me a chain, because they have a very good reputation here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amahana1
    I wonder if he isnt paying much attention to his chain line when he rides...i.e. big ring in front while riding big gear in back or visa versa. That would cause excessive wear on both chain and cassette.
    No, I don't. I already know that's bad for the chain.

  9. #9
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    When I bought the bike, they told me the chain would last an average of 1200 km (about 750 miles). According to them, that's the average life of a chain.
    I don't think they are telling me this just to sell me a chain, because they have a very good reputation here.



    I think 750 miles is WAAAAY to few miles for a chain...and your sram should last a helluva lot longer than that. For the riding conditions you described, if it were me I would check my chain at 1000 miles for stretch and it would probably still be ok. If I were you, I would ask for any old chain they say is worn and place it stretched out next to a new one and see exactly how different in length they are, chances are not a lot! Things to consider that will cause excessive chain wear.

    1. Chain line when riding
    2. Conditions you ride in
    3. Riding style....hard shifting (under pressure), multiple gears in one shift, etc
    4. Proper chain length when installed on the bike
    5. Quality of the chain and cassette
    6. Worn Cassette
    7. Not lubing the chain

    If you can rule these things out, then the LBS needs to retrain some of their mechs on the signs of chain wear.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Don Cook's Avatar
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    "...and they told me the new chain needs to wear in order to work properly, at least about 100 miles". And there are people out there that take their bikes to an LBS for repairs? If there was ever a case made for avoiding these morons, this is it.

  11. #11
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leoh
    They measure the chain at the LBS (a Trek dealer in Montevideo, Uruguay) with a park measurement tool. And I got 1350 km (about 850 miles) on my first original chain (Shimano), and about the same on a PC-58 SRAM chain. So I don't think I am using the wrong chain.
    I am on the third chain (another PC-58), which has about 200 km (about 125 miles) on it.
    I usually ride on pavement (on the road), I rarely ride on dirt, mud, etc.
    When I bought the bike, they told me the chain would last an average of 1200 km (about 750 miles). According to them, that's the average life of a chain.
    I don't think they are telling me this just to sell me a chain, because they have a very good reputation here.
    Something just doesn't make sense. There's no reasonable mechanism for a chain to wear without the sprockets wearing too, at least a little bit. At least if you believe Sheldon Brown, which I do. Conversely, put a new chain on old sprockets should make that chain wear very fast to match the chain, because the worn teeth can't distribute the load properly.

    Do you do regular maintenance on your chain, clean and relube it regularly?
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    Do you do regular maintenance on your chain, clean and relube it regularly?
    More or less...
    It is never completely dry or with rust, but I should clean it more often.
    I lube it about every 200 or 300 miles.
    And once a while I also put silicone spray on the derrailler and/or the chain.

    The LBS is the best one in my country, and most riders that race take their bikes there.

  13. #13
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Cook
    "...and they told me the new chain needs to wear in order to work properly, at least about 100 miles". And there are people out there that take their bikes to an LBS for repairs? If there was ever a case made for avoiding these morons, this is it.
    LBS's have their place, but this LBS he is talking about is the reason I do all my own work on my bikes. 100 miles to break in and then dead at 750, (serious rolling of the eyes). give me a break.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by leoh
    They measure the chain at the LBS (a Trek dealer in Montevideo, Uruguay) with a park measurement tool. And I got 1350 km (about 850 miles) on my first original chain (Shimano), and about the same on a PC-58 SRAM chain. So I don't think I am using the wrong chain.
    I am on the third chain (another PC-58), which has about 200 km (about 125 miles) on it.
    I usually ride on pavement (on the road), I rarely ride on dirt, mud, etc.
    When I bought the bike, they told me the chain would last an average of 1200 km (about 750 miles). According to them, that's the average life of a chain.
    I don't think they are telling me this just to sell me a chain, because they have a very good reputation here.
    Having the exact same bike (times 2) as you do, i think you should look at my eariler post again. I AM an expert on this subject. I have ridden the miles to prove it. I dunno what they are measuring your chain with? Maybe a dollar bill? I also have a park tool chain checker. I just changed a chain the other day and it had approx. 1800 miles on it. It was a SRAM PC-58. I changed it right when the checker said to.

    I know that conditions may vary and if you are flush with money than i say that you should continue to listen to the advice they are giving you. You will both be happy. After all there is nothing "wrong" with prematurely changing parts. It is certainly better than not changing them often enough. You will just waste a lot of money in the process.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by amahana1
    LBS's have their place, but this LBS he is talking about is the reason I do all my own work on my bikes. 100 miles to break in and then dead at 750, (serious rolling of the eyes). give me a break.
    Well.......he believes them. That is the part that is sad. Think of all of the other people that they do this to. Well, at least they are reputable.

  16. #16
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    Well.......he believes them. That is the part that is sad. Think of all of the other people that they do this to. Well, at least they are reputable.
    Well hell that counts for something. I guess if the "reputable" LBS I go to tells me my CK headsets and hubs are getting worn out after 750 miles i might go back there and drop the cash to get them replaced every now and then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leoh
    More or less...
    It is never completely dry or with rust, but I should clean it more often.
    I lube it about every 200 or 300 miles.
    Could this the cause of the OP's short chain life span problem? Isn't there a school of thought that lubing a dirty chain just makes a gritty paste inside the chain that chews up the chain innards faster?

  18. #18
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    No. even a dirty, but lubricated chain would last more than 800-900 miles.
    Wearing the chain into the cassette - well then you are back where you started, with a worn chain. I'm shocked by this shop advice.


    Your shop is really putting the BS into LBS. Best bet is to replace the cassette and chain this time. You will have no skipping problems. Then monitor the chain for wear periodically. Once it reaches 12+1/16 inches (measured over 12 double links, or 24 pins) it is commonly advocated to replace it. Otherwise ride until it dies and replace the chain and cassette again, since they will both be incompatible with new components.

    There is more good info on the forums about measuring chain wear if you search.

    Hope that helps,

    Ed
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

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    There is more good info on the forums about measuring chain wear if you search.

    Hope that helps,

    Ed
    Or just buy a chain checker and be done with it. They cost under $10 and are well worth it.

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    At the end, I went with your advice and replaced the cassette. They didn't have a SRAM PG-850 (the one I had) so they put a PG-830. Does it make any difference?
    Anyway, that solved the problem. Thank you!

  21. #21
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leoh
    At the end, I went with your advice and replaced the cassette. They didn't have a SRAM PG-850 (the one I had) so they put a PG-830. Does it make any difference?
    Anyway, that solved the problem. Thank you!
    The difference will be in the gearing. There may be different numbers of teeth on the new cassette cogs. By the way, save the old cassette, at least the cogs that weren't worn out. It is very very easy to mix and match them and make your own fine-tuned cassette.
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  22. #22
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    You will know if that solved the problem or not when you come up on 750 miles and notice little chain wear. But with a new chain and cassette, as long as you keep it clean and lubed and pay attention to how you ride, it will def solve the prob. Oh, and get a chain checker and use it before you take your bike in to the LBS and if the chain was good when you checked it at home and the LBS says you need a new chain, then you will know for sure to get a new LBS.

  23. #23
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    My chain checker is called "ruler"

    Hold up a ruler to the TAUT chain with the center of one link at zero, and look twelve links down. It should be at 12" (304.8 mm) if brand new. If it is more than 1/16" (1.5875 mm) past that point, replace the chain. If it is more than 1/8" (3.175 mm) past, then a new chain might skip on the old sprockets...
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  24. #24
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    850 miles on a chain doesn't seem that bad to me, especially if you're a big guy like me. As cheap as chains are I just replace them every 1000 miles or so, I stretched out a shimano 9sp hg-93 in 700 miles the stock chain had less than 400 (some kind of sram chain). I know the bike I had when I was a kid had 10-20k miles on it, never replaced a chain or cassette, never knew i was supposed to and it always worked great.

    I think it's cool how you guys are so quick to bash the LBS guys. Do you really think the guys went in the back room and said "hey, let's screw this guy and sell him a chain he doesn't need"? Come-on that's crazy.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    By the way, save the old cassette, at least the cogs that weren't worn out. It is very very easy to mix and match them and make your own fine-tuned cassette.
    I have the old cassette, but I wore the cogs I used the most, and I think those aren't available by separate.
    Now I have a new SRAM PG-830 and a used PG-850. Are there available spare cogs for those cassettes?

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