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Old 07-31-09, 06:33 PM   #1
reidconti
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My chain only lasted ~2200 miles? yikes.

So I'll admit it, I've been neglecting maintenance (even cleaning) on my bike.

Took it into the shop today because my rear shifter cable snapped inside of the handle. After much consternation, they were fortunately able to fish out the other end, so I don't find myself buying a brand new lever. I can't believe Shimano designed it so that you can't retrieve the bit, because if the cable breaks, that's the obvious place for it to go.

I was surprised to hear that my chain's stretched, though. They don't have an appointment for a few weeks anyway, so when I pick up the bike today I'll take it home and measure it myself, but I doubt they're just trying to upsell me -- since it's not like they were trying to get me to replace it today.

How long should a 200# guy be expecting his chain to last, anyway? I imagine it's just some kind of standard Shimano, whatever would be used on an Ultegra setup. Is there anything more beefy I can replace it with?
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Old 07-31-09, 06:46 PM   #2
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I had that darn cable end break inside my brifter once. I was really happy we were able to dig it out. It was really a pain.

i hear some folks get a mere 2200 on their chains, but I think I'm closer to 4000. I do clean it a lot and I have a (if I do say so myself) a light touch on shifting.

I've heard that chain checkers aren't as good as a real steel rule. Some chains read near done with those when they really aren't (for reasons I don't fully understand.)
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Old 07-31-09, 06:51 PM   #3
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I mentioned to the tech that I had been meaning to clean it, and he said "well, that's not really the issue in this case, it's just stretched a lot" .. so I'll be looking to see if the stretch is obvious (ie, more than 1/8" on 12" I guess?

Being rough with shifting seems like it would wear the rollers and plates, but I wouldn't think it would cause excessive stretch. But then, I'm only a shadetree bicycle mechanic, my skills are limited to brakes and adjusting my derailleurs.

They also recommended replacing the BB, which was super cheap and related to not keeping it clean, so I'll probably do that too if I'm taking it in for the chain anyway... and then maybe use this weekend as a good excuse to finally clean up my bike and try to KEEP it clean.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:57 PM   #4
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hmm, after some quick reading it appears that I've probably been lubricating it too often, and cleaning it way too little. interesting.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:57 PM   #5
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Do you have the 10 speed rear cog? My chain wore out (snapped on a ride) with about 2500 miles. I hear that the 10 speed chain is thinner and therefore less sturdy. I'm 190 lbs and I think the heavy weight adds wear/stress on the chain too.

PS: I am pretty anal about keeping the drivetrain clean and lubed.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:13 PM   #6
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2000 miles for a shimano chain isn't unusual. Best to change it when it gets close, otherwise you need to change the cassette too. That gets pricey.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:01 PM   #7
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Funny. I just replaced a snapped cable (inside shifter) and happened to check the chain after 2000 miles. It was stretched by 1/8". I bought a Forte chain by KMC since it was only $20. We'll see how it works out.

2 weeks for service!

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Old 07-31-09, 08:52 PM   #8
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I switch cables twice a year. BTW on the 10sp shifters, well at least DA, you can inspect the cable inside the shifter by shifting to the large cog and peering through the cable insertion hole. Shine a light in there. That's where the cables break. The cable breaks gradually, one strand at a time. You can see the strands sticking out.

When the cable starts breaking the shifting goes off a bit. It'll sometimes take a second push at the lever to get into a gear. Then the next time it'll work fine.

The same is true of the chain- when it's worn the shifting isn't as crisp. When I find myself adjusting the cable tension because it's noisy in one or two cogs, it's usually because the chains' worn.

I only get about 2000 miles from a DA or Ultegra 10sp chain. The 7900 chains are supposed to last longer. I'd like to hear how the KMC chain does.
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Old 07-31-09, 09:32 PM   #9
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I neglected to check my chain at one point. When I changed the chain, I found that was skipping a lot. It turns out my chain had build a mold into the cog, and when a new chain was put in, it couldn't settle into the contour of each teeth on the cog. I had to change the entire cog, so that the chain wouldn't slip. So I'd check the condition of your cogs too (not that I'm an expert ... just from past experiences).
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Old 07-31-09, 09:55 PM   #10
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Yeah, I thought 2k miles is the average lifespan for chains.
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Old 07-31-09, 10:11 PM   #11
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I suppose I should check out the chain on my Surly. Five thousand miles or so...
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Old 07-31-09, 11:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by reidconti View Post
hmm, after some quick reading it appears that I've probably been lubricating it too often, and cleaning it way too little. interesting.
Can you post a link to what you read? My first chain lasted over 5000 miles. To my surprise, my second chain lasted only 2000, and I think I lubed that one more but cleaned it less often than the first chain.
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Old 08-01-09, 02:02 AM   #13
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Can you post a link to what you read? My first chain lasted over 5000 miles. To my surprise, my second chain lasted only 2000, and I think I lubed that one more but cleaned it less often than the first chain.
What lube did/do you use?

I've read that degreasing the whole chain to clean it is detrimental the rollers in between.
Now, I just add enough lube to make the chain look clean. Made my own lube with mineral spirits and motor oil. Before I made my own lube, I used ProLink Gold.

Also, lube right after a ride. The minerals spirits will evaporate leaving the actually lube on the chain. Then the chain will be drier the next time you ride. If you lube right before a ride, the wetness will let dirt/dust/debris stick to the chain.
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Old 08-01-09, 07:47 AM   #14
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Being rough with shifting seems like it would wear the rollers and plates, but I wouldn't think it would cause excessive stretch. But then, I'm only a shadetree bicycle mechanic, my skills are limited to brakes and adjusting my derailleurs.
Nothing actually stretches in a chain - the rivets and bushings wear down, giving more play. Check out Sheldon Brown's article: http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html

I weigh about 210, and I usually get around 2000 - 2500 miles per chain - my front tire often lasts longer than my chains. FWIW, I use that KMC chain sold by Performance under the Forte brand, and it's fine. It lasts about as long as a 105 or Ultegra chain, and on my SRAM bike it is actually quieter than either a SRAM or Shimano chain.

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Old 08-01-09, 08:33 AM   #15
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I switch cables twice a year.
Really!!?? Seems like a lot. My cables have been on there for four years now.

Anyone else do this?
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Old 08-01-09, 08:37 AM   #16
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Yeah, my somewhat limited experience suggests the same ~2,000 miles or so. The last chain I wore out was an Ultegra and it didn't get much more than 1600miles before it got to the 1/16 to 1/8 range. I've been using Dumonde Tech lube, maybe that doesn't do so well for chain life?

Of course the other option is that it's all the hills and the massive amount of watts I put out (that I somehow translate into slow forward motion)...OK, maybe not.
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Old 08-01-09, 08:47 AM   #17
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What's annoying is that chains and cassettes seem to have become stupid-expensive over the last year.
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Old 08-01-09, 09:17 AM   #18
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I Stihl run multiple chains w/quick link - remove, wipe down cogs, replace with (squeaky) clean and lubed chain; for me, four chains and the cassette all toast at about the same time, mountain, and three chains and cassette, road.

That's how we run our saws up here in woodcuttin' country, why not bikes? The chains and cogs all wear together, thus skipping the new chain on partially worn cog conundrum, aaand, clean/lube two or three chains at a time (like sharpening two or three chains at once't) gets it over all at once't, efficient, etc.

There's initial expense, sure, but cheapness motivates to change chains every ride, mountain, every other ride, road (on account o' we know that clean - that is, reducing abrasives, the dirt and metal particles - is #1, #2 is fresh lube). On the workbench is a plastic cup with over a 1/4 inch of black sludge in the bottom, it's dirt and metal dust removed from chains since February, settled out from first and second rinse solutions. It's the metal particles that blacken.

The mountain setup lasts about 4-6k miles; by that time, the chrome plating is long gone on most of the cogs, and the fav gears are well hooked. Road, I dunno yet, but the still somewhat new Soloist has over 3 k, and the cassette is broken in, but the chrome plate is not worn through on any tooth... not even close yet.

Perhaps a touch a nal, sure, however, total time wipedown, clean, lube, replace is less than ten mins. I don' know what other folk around here do, but almost all keep the drivetrain gleaming.


FWIW IMHO(#2), cable is a matter of jacketing friction, a function of wear and contaminants, hence application of Dow Chemical #41 (one of the best greases know t' man or woman) to cable portions that ride in jacket - rubbed in, then lightly wiped. My experience, the jackets become a problem before the cable starts to fray, mountain about twice every three years, road every two years or so. I'd put a new cable in an old jacket only if it wasn't so old. Prepping the ends so the cable rides smooth is crit-ical. Hee! ...and smooth curves help a bunch.

...there are ways to minimize contaminant infiltration, but I wax verbose already...
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Old 08-01-09, 09:23 AM   #19
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FWIW IMHO #3 !!

Home brew ~40% low odour mineral spirits + ~60% synthetic blend hypoid gear oil seems to be working very well, certainly MUCH quieter than anything else I've tried. It takes less time to "dry" than ProLink Gold, probably because the quality of vehicle is better. The gear lube is sticky, so thorough wipdown really helps - from there, however, it doesn't weep back to the surface (and out) of the chain; it stays in there!!
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Old 08-01-09, 12:35 PM   #20
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What lube did/do you use?

I've read that degreasing the whole chain to clean it is detrimental the rollers in between.
Now, I just add enough lube to make the chain look clean. Made my own lube with mineral spirits and motor oil. Before I made my own lube, I used ProLink Gold.

Also, lube right after a ride. The minerals spirits will evaporate leaving the actually lube on the chain. Then the chain will be drier the next time you ride. If you lube right before a ride, the wetness will let dirt/dust/debris stick to the chain.
I use that Boeshield T9 stuff, and clean with the Park scrubbing contraption and Park citrus chain cleaner.
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Old 08-01-09, 04:14 PM   #21
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Really!!?? Seems like a lot. My cables have been on there for four years now.
I ride a lot, and I shift a lot. I don't like to wait until the cable starts fraying. And I am using 10sp. 9sp cables lasted much longer. I think the drum that the cable runs over inside a 10sp shifter is smaller- the 10sp cables all break there while 9sp cables broke elsewhere.
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Old 08-01-09, 08:13 PM   #22
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I ride a lot, and I shift a lot. I don't like to wait until the cable starts fraying. And I am using 10sp. 9sp cables lasted much longer. I think the drum that the cable runs over inside a 10sp shifter is smaller- the 10sp cables all break there while 9sp cables broke elsewhere.
I've got 10 speed too. Perhaps it's time to change my cables too.
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Old 08-02-09, 02:28 PM   #23
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Can you post a link to what you read? My first chain lasted over 5000 miles. To my surprise, my second chain lasted only 2000, and I think I lubed that one more but cleaned it less often than the first chain.
If you don't clean it before lubing, the oil just helps the dirt/grime get inside. Once the grime is in there, it grinds down the connecting points, causing "stretch".
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Old 08-02-09, 02:41 PM   #24
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I've got 10 speed too. Perhaps it's time to change my cables too.
Either that or have a go at single speeding somewhere deep into a ride.

BTW, 10 speed chains wear out much faster than 7/8/9 or SS chains.
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Old 08-03-09, 04:17 PM   #25
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I think I had about 4000 miles on the chain (dura ace 7800) I just changed out. It was stretched about 1/16". My other bike has about 2000 miles and no noticeable stretch, also a 7800 chain. I guess its an advantage of being light with less power to grind down the pins.

I don't have an exact mileage since I switch between a few bikes with the same cyclometer and don't really log anything.
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