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Old 10-27-09, 05:24 PM   #1
ecrider
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What's the lifespan of a chain

I looked at my chain recently and it showed signs of wear. I was wondering how long a chain lasts before it needs replacing. Is there a replacement maintenance schedule for chains?
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Old 10-27-09, 05:31 PM   #2
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Excessive stretch or wear. It really depends on how it has been cleaned, lubricated, your strength, riding conditions etc. I replace mine annually.
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Old 10-27-09, 05:41 PM   #3
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http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#stretch

Live by this and you can't go wrong. Get accustomed to measuring your chain wear and replace it before it wears down the teeth on your cassette or rings. The important factor is wear, not mileage!!!!

I waited too long with my Volae, my summer commuter, and found 1/8" wear after only 2500 miles. Replaced both the chain and the cassette. I'm currently casually shopping for a good, easy to read chain gauge.
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Old 10-27-09, 06:16 PM   #4
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Poor shifting performance is a tip off, too. I got about 2000 miles on mine (Shimano 105 10-speed) before it needed replacement. Made a huge difference!
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Old 10-27-09, 06:26 PM   #5
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This topic always seems to set off a lot of different practices/opinions.

I got a Park Tool chain checker; it's under $25 online. Kind of a pricey tool, but cheap for peace of mind.

http://www.parktool.com/products/det...at=5&item=CC-2

I can check 4 bikes in about two minutes.

My 10-speed chains last less than 2,000 miles -- my 9 speed chains last 2,500 to 3,000 miles.
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Old 10-27-09, 06:54 PM   #6
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I put about 4000 miles on mine. This was on a 1 X 10 all Shimano drivetrain.
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Old 10-27-09, 07:18 PM   #7
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I have used up a 10-speed chain in as little as 500 miles. This isn't typical however and, as a previous poster said, there are many factors involved. Get a chain checker, use it regularly, replace chain when checker says to. Use quality chain when you replace.
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Old 10-27-09, 09:05 PM   #8
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I get around 3,000 to 3,500 miles on my 8-speed chains. My 10-speed chain has 2,500 miles on it. So far, so good, but I need to get a chain checker.
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Old 10-28-09, 05:54 AM   #9
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I am in the ball park for about 2000 miles per chain. daily commute through every kind of weather. takes its toll on the hardware. shifting is the first clue if I haven't checked the chain length lately.

wipe down the chain after rides, keep sprockets clean, wash the chain and it will help extend life of chain.

it's amazing how fast 2000 miles pops up when you ride alot. 20 weeks at 100 miles per week. zips right by.
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Old 10-28-09, 06:51 AM   #10
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Performance currently has a chain checker on sale for $4.99. http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._400005_400140

I use one and found that all chains wear at different rates. I suspect weather conditions, the number of times I clean & lube the chain, and number of hills I climb while standing all have an impact.
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Old 10-28-09, 11:07 AM   #11
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I have the cheap park tool chain checker also. It works very well. If you change the chains before they were much, you will really cut down on the wear of your rear cluster and chain rings. Running a worn chain too long will wear the rear cluster. When you finally change the chain, the chain will skip on the worn rear cluster. The rear cluster will have to be changed and that costs about 2-3 times what the chain costs.

I believe that cleaning your chain frequently will reduce its rate of wear. I get about 3,000-4,000 miles on a chain.
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Old 10-28-09, 11:16 AM   #12
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I have teh el-cheapo park guage - this is all I really need to keep an eye on it. I use it after I clean the bike and before I lube the chain up. Nothing to read - it either fits or it doesn't.

http://www.parktool.com/products/det...=5&item=CC%2D3
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Old 10-28-09, 11:20 AM   #13
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Whether you go for the cheap or the expensive chain checkers- then get one. There is a method of measuring a chain with a ruler- but My eyesight isn't that good.

I check the chain often and when it indicates .75% worn- I get a new chain and replace shortly. Thought all my bikes were fine but last Sunday went out on the MTB's and checked before the ride. They are well worn.

Milage and it varies. Hilly rides and the chain doesn't last long- about 1,000 miles. Quality of the chain and the speed of the chain affects life aswell. So just check it frequently.
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Old 10-28-09, 11:33 AM   #14
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Chains have a very hard life. The bearing surfaces are tiny and hard to lubricate. Lubricant gets squeezed out when you crank hard. The front wheel kicks up dust, which gets into the chain and causes more wear. Dusty mountain bike rides up long hills mean I don't get much mileage from the 9-speed chain although I lube it after each ride.

There must be a better way. Fully enclosed chain? Belt drive? Cable drive? Rohloff hub with an enclosed chain? I'm surprised more isn't written about this.
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Old 10-28-09, 11:49 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I put about 4000 miles on mine. This was on a 1 X 10 all Shimano drivetrain.

There are reports of 10 speed chains lasting only 500 miles. I got 1600 on my last 10x chain. Count your blessings.

A fellow that rides with us has a Shimano 9 speed triple setup, bad back, and spins in the small rings alot. He has 24,000 miles on the original chain!!! and it is not stretched. One of those "they don't make em like they used to stories?"

To the OP. Follow the measurement guidelines and replace as often as it needs to be. Too many factors to say you should replace a chain at X mileage.
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Old 10-28-09, 12:28 PM   #16
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I *try* to change chains just BEFORE the checker says you should. The problem is that a dirty chain can give a very different reading than a clean one. By clean I mean one either removed and soaked or throughly cleaned with a grunge brush or chain cleaning machine. It is a PAIN to thoroughly clean a chain just to find out it is time to replace it. I wipe it off before every ride, but the dirt/grime that affects the measurement seems to be between the links.

I get about 1800-2000 miles on 8sp MTB, maybe a little more on the 9sp Hybrid. Higher quality chains seem to last longer.
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Old 10-28-09, 07:55 PM   #17
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Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. I called my LBS to asked about the chain checker and the owner said he'd sell me one but ask me to bring in the bike for a free check up and adjustment if needed. Hmmm, why not? That will give me a chance to lust after all the sale bikes on his showroom floor.
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Old 10-28-09, 08:01 PM   #18
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Now that we have amicably settled that question, what would be the replacement chain of choice for a ten cog (Shimano) drivetrain?
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Old 10-28-09, 08:09 PM   #19
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I don't get it. Holding a ruler up to the chain only takes a few seconds and gives a clear indication of how much stretch there is. And rulers have enough other uses that I always have one or two conveniently lying around. Beats having to get yet another single-purpose tool that I'd be likely to misplace at some point anyway.
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Old 10-28-09, 08:15 PM   #20
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What does a chain checker do that my 12" ruler cannot?

I dutifully follow Sheldon's 1/2 percent elongation rule, use SRAM PC-58 8-speed chains exclusively, and have never broken a chain, although I have broken two rear axles, two left cranks, two frames, a SunTour platform pedal, a front hub flange, and various spokes and toeclips. I have heard enough Shimano chain horror stories to recommend SRAM or Whipperman, instead.

One way to get more life out of your chain is to use larger cogs and rings, instead of today's fashionable compact sets.
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Old 10-28-09, 08:17 PM   #21
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I don't get it. Holding a ruler up to the chain only takes a few seconds and gives a clear indication of how much stretch there is. And rulers have enough other uses that I always have one or two conveniently lying around. Beats having to get yet another single-purpose tool that I'd be likely to misplace at some point anyway.
For me it's my eyes. It's too hard to see those little marks on the ruler due to AMD. I'm shopping for a tool that I can easily handle AND see.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures.

Last edited by cranky old dude; 10-28-09 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 10-28-09, 08:21 PM   #22
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Quote:
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There must be a better way. Fully enclosed chain? Belt drive? Cable drive? Rohloff hub with an enclosed chain? I'm surprised more isn't written about this.
Belt and cable drive systems are far less efficient than chains, and probably no more reliable. How many of you know someone who has snapped the timing belt in a car engine? In contrast, how many know someone who has snapped a timing chain? (I did admittedly strip a plastic cam gear once, on a 1973 Chevy V-8. When I replaced the cam, lifters, and timing set, I paid $10 extra for a steel cam gear.) Internal epicyclic gear systems are heavy and also have more drag than a roller chain. The bottom line is that the roller chain has been standard equipment for a century because no one has yet been able to improve on it.
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Old 10-28-09, 09:31 PM   #23
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What good is a 12" ruler when you are trying to accurately measure 12 1/16" to 12 1/8"? bk
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Old 10-29-09, 07:30 AM   #24
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Now that we have amicably settled that question, what would be the replacement chain of choice for a ten cog (Shimano) drivetrain?
I'm going to try one of these,
http://www.kmcchain.com/index.php?ln=en&fn=bu_bicycle
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Old 10-29-09, 09:51 AM   #25
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Now that we have amicably settled that question, what would be the replacement chain of choice for a ten cog (Shimano) drivetrain?
My answer: any chain that does not use the Shimano chain pin system. Total pain in the rear and if you don't do it just right, disaster.
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