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Old 05-30-11, 12:29 PM   #1
mattm0805
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Expensive Chains...are they worth it?

I'm needing a new chain for my bike build that should be finished this week. I was checking prices and noticed that you can spend anywhere from $10-$60. I was shocked to see the different pricing options....I mean a chain is a chain, right?

Should I just get a $10-15 chain and not worry about the others or is it worth it to get a 'nicer' chain??
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Old 05-30-11, 03:49 PM   #2
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Chain is chain.

but do get chain oil specific to your location and make sure you apply, assemble and correctly maintain your chain. If you do maintain your chain correctly, it will last forever, almost.
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Old 05-30-11, 03:55 PM   #3
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The more expensive chains are

1) lighter (if that makes a difference to you)
2) Are made with more rust/corrosion resistant materials.
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Old 05-30-11, 04:39 PM   #4
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Chain is chain.

, assemble and correctly maintain your chain. If you do maintain your chain correctly, it will last forever, almost.
Really?
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Old 05-30-11, 05:55 PM   #5
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Are more expensive chains also often made with harder materials than the super cheap ones? I've read that, but don't know for sure if it's true or not. If so, the super cheap ones would wear out faster.

My $30 SRAM chain on one bike does seem to be a little better than the cheapo $10 chain on another bike, but they're different bikes, so maybe it's not all the chain. Both have regular Shimano cassettes of comparable quality, though, so maybe it's the chain. I should try the SRAM on the other bike one day and see if it's any different.
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Old 05-30-11, 07:32 PM   #6
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$10-$60. I was shocked to see the different pricing options....I mean a chain is a chain, right?
The $10 chain will most likely be a piece of crap.

The $60 chain will most likely be a super-light hollow-pinned titanium piece of crap.

Something in the middle will work well. I am partial to SRAM over Shimano, mostly because SRAM chains don't need special pins when you break and re-connect them.
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Old 05-30-11, 08:47 PM   #7
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Chain is chain.

but do get chain oil specific to your location and make sure you apply, assemble and correctly maintain your chain. If you do maintain your chain correctly, it will last forever, almost.
Not true.
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Old 05-30-11, 08:51 PM   #8
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I want the secret to this chain that lasts almost forever. Not riding the bike doesn't count as a viable solution.
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Old 05-30-11, 10:43 PM   #9
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What kind of life do you guys get out of a MTB chain? I'm guessing it's not as long as a road bike chain due to the dirt and grime involved in MTBing?
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Old 05-30-11, 10:43 PM   #10
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I want the secret to this chain that lasts almost forever. Not riding the bike doesn't count as a viable solution.
I think it has something to do with spinning in close proximity to the perpetual-motion "windmill effect" wheels .
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Old 05-31-11, 05:43 AM   #11
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So what kind of cassette are we talking about? Maybe I`ve lived a sheltered life, but I`ve never seen a $10 chain that`ll work on a 9 or 10 speed cassette and I`ve never seen a chain designed specifically for 6/7/8 speed cassettes that cost $60.

Yeah - you might run a super-narrow chain designed for 10 speeds on a 7 speed drivechain - but that would just be a waste of money.
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Old 05-31-11, 07:41 AM   #12
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You cannot run 10spd chains on a 7spd cassette. The inner links aren't wide enough to fit over the teeth on the cogs.

More expensive chains from SRAM are often nickel-plated in order to be harder and more corrosion resistant. Shimano and everyone else do something similar. Most chains get stronger and more durable as you pay more for them up to a certain point. After that, they become lighter for the same strength.
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Old 05-31-11, 05:15 PM   #13
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You cannot run 10spd chains on a 7spd cassette. The inner links aren't wide enough to fit over the teeth on the cogs.

More expensive chains from SRAM are often nickel-plated in order to be harder and more corrosion resistant. Shimano and everyone else do something similar. Most chains get stronger and more durable as you pay more for them up to a certain point. After that, they become lighter for the same strength.
LOL Really? So where exactly did you dig up that info? I have an almost new Shimano 12-26 7 speed cassette that dates back to 1988 and has absolutely no issues running a current Shimano CN-5600 10 speed chain. Its the spacers between the gears that change dimension and chains have become increasingly narrow to address those requirements. First by developing flush-mount rivets and then by combining that with thinner outer plates. That doesn`t make them stronger - the need for addittional technology just makes them more expensive.

Last edited by Burton; 05-31-11 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 05-31-11, 07:36 PM   #14
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I went from 8-9spd, tried not to change chains... made the bike useless. Bought a 9-spd chain immediately, flawless performance. ($30 SRAM chain, invested in the PowerLink things... the most essential part of my bike, those power links...)
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Old 05-31-11, 07:46 PM   #15
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I want the secret to this chain that lasts almost forever. Not riding the bike doesn't count as a viable solution.
You take it the $35 chain off after every ride, degrease it, let dry and then run it through your $500 ultra-sonic cleaner.. then apply oil again.
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Old 05-31-11, 08:34 PM   #16
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I want the secret to this chain that lasts almost forever. Not riding the bike doesn't count as a viable solution.
Carbon nanotubes.
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Old 06-01-11, 12:51 PM   #17
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My experience is that mid priced chains work best. The really light chains "in my experience" break because they are made to be light. 500 miles in and they get fragile. $25-$30 is a good price range. Most online retailers will have good clearance pricing on mid range chains. $10-$17.
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Old 06-01-11, 03:31 PM   #18
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LOL Really? So where exactly did you dig up that info? I have an almost new Shimano 12-26 7 speed cassette that dates back to 1988 and has absolutely no issues running a current Shimano CN-5600 10 speed chain. Its the spacers between the gears that change dimension and chains have become increasingly narrow to address those requirements. First by developing flush-mount rivets and then by combining that with thinner outer plates. That doesn`t make them stronger - the need for addittional technology just makes them more expensive.
Sheldon Brown still disagrees with you. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_sp-ss.html#spacingk7

Granted the inner links aren't a whole lot narrower, why would you use a 5600 chain on your 7spd set-up, especially if you think it's weaker? Also, did you replace the larger 7spd spacers with narrower 10spd spacers?
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Using a nicer sealed bearing headset vs a $10 set is like throwing a frisbee vs a dodgeball.

Last edited by Grimlock; 06-01-11 at 03:42 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 06-01-11, 07:05 PM   #19
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Sheldon Brown still disagrees with you. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_sp-ss.html#spacingk7

Granted the inner links aren't a whole lot narrower, why would you use a 5600 chain on your 7spd set-up, especially if you think it's weaker? Also, did you replace the larger 7spd spacers with narrower 10spd spacers?
Why should I care what Sheldon Brown thinks if what I have in my hands works? With all due respect to a man that made some major contributions to the bicycling industry - he was still a man and not right all the time nor was he gifted with perfect spelling and diction. He deserves a lot of respect but lets not try to make a god out of the guy.

And no - I didn`t replace anything. In fact the only reason to replace spacers would be determined by the shifter being used because the cable travel is indexed differently according to the number of speeds the shifter is designed for.

And no-one said the chain was weaker. There are design parameters that need to be achieved and thats true for chains and frames alike. A road frame may have different strength requirements from a touring bike or a XC bike but they`re the same regardless of what material is used for the frame. The only advantage strength to weight materials have is the opportunity to fabricate a lighter product with the same strength characteristics.

Sounds like you`re being argumentative for no good reason. When I have a few free moments later this week I`ll post some pictures.
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Old 06-02-11, 05:14 AM   #20
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Why should I care what Sheldon Brown thinks . . .
Blasphemy

*backs away*
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Old 06-02-11, 05:18 AM   #21
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For non-ten speed setup, the regional shops' goto chain is the Shimano HG50. . personally, my goto chain is the SRAM PC 870.

For 10 speed I prefer the PC 1070.
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Old 06-02-11, 05:54 AM   #22
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Why should I care what Sheldon Brown thinks if what I have in my hands works? With all due respect to a man that made some major contributions to the bicycling industry - he was still a man and not right all the time nor was he gifted with perfect spelling and diction. He deserves a lot of respect but lets not try to make a god out of the guy.

And no - I didn`t replace anything. In fact the only reason to replace spacers would be determined by the shifter being used because the cable travel is indexed differently according to the number of speeds the shifter is designed for.

And no-one said the chain was weaker. There are design parameters that need to be achieved and thats true for chains and frames alike. A road frame may have different strength requirements from a touring bike or a XC bike but they`re the same regardless of what material is used for the frame. The only advantage strength to weight materials have is the opportunity to fabricate a lighter product with the same strength characteristics.

Sounds like you`re being argumentative for no good reason. When I have a few free moments later this week I`ll post some pictures.
I have a feeling we'd probably get along pretty well in person (despite that we're kicking each other in the balls on the internet over a relatively trivial matter).

I'll try your set-up on a bike at work today. Do you think a new PG-730 11-28T would be a comparable replacement for the Shimano cassette you're running? Are you using friction shifters, downtube indexed shifters or some version of a rapidfire shifter?
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Using a nicer sealed bearing headset vs a $10 set is like throwing a frisbee vs a dodgeball.
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Old 06-05-11, 04:51 AM   #23
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Blasphemy

*backs away*
Aaaawww come on! If you`re gonna quote me at least do it in context! I didn`t even bother to check that link to see if the poster referenced anything directly applicable! My basic reactio was - I`m riding it and it works fine so don`t try to tell me it doesn`t!
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Old 06-05-11, 05:19 AM   #24
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I have a feeling we'd probably get along pretty well in person (despite that we're kicking each other in the balls on the internet over a relatively trivial matter).

I'll try your set-up on a bike at work today. Do you think a new PG-730 11-28T would be a comparable replacement for the Shimano cassette you're running? Are you using friction shifters, downtube indexed shifters or some version of a rapidfire shifter?
Hi- your SRAM 7-speed should be OK. I`m running 7-speed downtube friction/STI shifters on that Miyata and the original Shimano 600 front and rear derailleurs. Front crankset is a Truvativ GXP with Shimano biopace chainrings. Besides the original wheelset with the cassette described, I`m aslo running a set of Mavic Cosmic Elites with a Shimano HG90 13-26T cassette. The chain I usually run on the bike is a Shimano HG91 narrow but I picked up the CN5600 from someone who was prepping their machine for a marathon and just installing a new chain as a precaution. Trying different stuff together ocassionally lets me give practical suggestions to clients that have older equipment for which parts aren`t available. Its surprising how many 40 and 50 year old bikes are still out there.
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Old 06-06-11, 01:48 PM   #25
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Its surprising how many 40 and 50 year old bikes are still out there.
And how!

I had a woman come in last year with a blown out sidewall on her rod-braked Dutch bike. The tires were 700B. No one makes a tire to fit a 635mm anymore.
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