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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 03-05-13, 11:04 PM   #1
armybikerider
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chain life

Anybody typically run high mileage on their chains?

I have the stock chain on my Rival equipped 3 year old Lynskey R330 - a PC 1051 I think. Anyway it's got just over 19,000 miles with minimal "stretch" and still shifting fast, smooth and quiet.

I take meticulous, obsessive care of the drivetrain. I have a new chain and cassette but was wondering how much more life I could get?
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Old 03-05-13, 11:20 PM   #2
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You may not ever need a cassette, but swap chains a bit early to be safe. I typically replace chains every 6 months. Cassettes last 5-10 years if I keep on top of the chains. How long they last depends on environment, weather, power, and cross-chaining practices.
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Old 03-05-13, 11:21 PM   #3
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How many times per week do you take it off and bathe it in paraffin wax? it's the chain elixir ya know!
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Old 03-05-13, 11:35 PM   #4
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i've been taking good care of my chains in recent years, mostly because i have the time. a quick wipe down and a little lube before each ride of about 30 miles. all in dry weather. have about 15,000 miles, give or take, on it. i don't expect to be changing anytime soon.
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Old 03-06-13, 07:50 AM   #5
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How many times per week do you take it off and bathe it in paraffin wax? it's the chain elixir ya know!

I've never taken the chain off the bike. But I clean and lube the chain every 100 - 150 miles, and take the cassette off when I do and individually clean every cog. I used paraffin once..... in 1982...never again.

I never ride in the rain, I'm a medium gear, high cadence spinner riding the rolling terrain around Fort Campbell KY....actually "cross chain" frequently - riding the top half of the cassette in the big ring 90% of the time and do twin 50+ milers on the weekend and, once time changes this weekend, will do an additional 20 - 60 miles during the week with rides after work. I'm a small guy and at 51 years old, not a huge masher. And with a look at my sig, you can tell I'd rather ride my bike than post here.

I was wondering if anyone had experience with chains breaking. I think I'll keep riding it and see how many more miles I get. I've never broken a road bike chain in 30+ years of riding on the road, but broke a chain on a mountain bike....once.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:07 AM   #6
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Riding style has more to do with chain life (assuming someone does reasonable maintenance and lube) than anything else. If you're lightweight, spin at very high cadence, don't generate a lot of power, and don't do much climbing, you get lots of chain life. On the other hand, if you're big, strong, mash, sprint a lot, climb (especially out of saddle), your wear will be much, much faster.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:15 AM   #7
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If your chain has 19,000 miles on it, I would think it's time to replace it. What exactly are you using to check "stretch" as you call it.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:27 AM   #8
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If your chain has 19,000 miles on it, I would think it's time to replace it. What exactly are you using to check "stretch" as you call it.
"Stretch," while I know it's a misnomer, is the standard term to describe the wear that manifests itself by increased distance between the pins. I know that a chain doesn't stretch.

I use both the "lift" technique and also a metal ruler. Also, visually there's extremely minimal wear on the chain rings - no 'shark finning" or on the cogs.

I also believe riding style is HUGE. I cringe when I see guys shifting under full power and can imagine the shortened chain life from that simple act.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:36 AM   #9
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Yeah, I torture my chains, but keep them lubed. I still only spend $50/year on chains...
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Old 03-06-13, 08:45 AM   #10
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Depending on the cost of the cassette, relative to the chain, using a chain for too long will cost more per mile than changing it more often. If you put a new chain on after 19,000 miles, you'll most likely get new-chain skip, indicating that the cassette is trashed.

A modern 10 or 11 speed chain will rarely last more than 4-5,000 miles and getting that much takes a lot of care. To get the most life from your chains and cassette, try alternating the use of three chains. Change to a different new chain every 2,000 miles (maybe sooner) to keep the wear on each chain at a similar amount. By doing that, you'll never get new-chain skip and each chain can be used longer since you're not tossing it prematurely to avoid new-chain skip.

I've found that Campy chains can have very little elongation or "stretch", even after 6,000 miles, but that did not mean that the chain was in good shape. Calipers revealed that the roller spacing had increased from it's original .200 inch to .240 inch and the side clearance was about .013 inch or twice that of a new chain. That chain was really shot long before it reached 6,000 miles. When a new chain was installed, I got new-chain skip, even though the elongation was only .15%. Elongation is not the only type of chain wear than can cause a new chain to skip on worn cogs.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 03-06-13 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:46 AM   #11
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. Anyway it's got just over 19,000 miles with minimal "stretch" and still shifting fast, smooth and quiet.
Dollars to Donuts, your cassette is trashed.

Worn chain and worn cassette will work together.

See what happens when you do put a new chain on.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:46 AM   #12
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dave beat me to it.
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Old 03-06-13, 08:50 AM   #13
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My first chain that came on my first road bike lasted about 4,828km. I probably kept it on too long but I didn't have a chain checker and was too lazy to go to the shop. I cross chain a lot as I have a compact crank and only ride flat. So most of my cruising is done at the big ring and larger cogs in the back. 12-27 with compact does that to you I guess. I don't meticulously clean my bike chain every week, but I do wipe it down fairly well, then wipe down the cassette and pulleys once every week (~180 miles per week). Since I'm always on the big ring I never really wipe down the small ring.
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Old 03-06-13, 09:28 AM   #14
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That's really long chain life. Consensus is that typical 10 speed chains will last 3 000-5 000 miles, assuming reasonable maintenance.

I used to get 15 000+ miles out of a chain back in the day of standard 6 speed chains. But the newer narrower ones do wear faster.
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Old 03-06-13, 09:48 AM   #15
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I realize that I'll not win this discussion...but here goes anyway (I'm a sucker for punishment).

At the risk of being labled as "cheap" .....it's really about maximizing the useful life of something before I throw it away. I monitor the wear and performance and if I feel a componenet is still performing as advertised I don't feel the need to replace or upgrade retgardless what the LBS is telling me.

A quick Internet search reveals these current prices:
SRAM PC 1051 chain = $40.00
SRAM PG 1070 cassette = $70.00
total = $110.00

So currently I have 19,046 miles on my R330 in 40 months of riding. If I were to replace the chain at 5,000 miles I'd be on my third chain and $120 into replacement costs. Looks to me that replacing both the chain and cassette now would be less expensive. And if I wait until the 20,000 mile mark then the savings is even greater. ($160 versus $110). And if I were to replace the chain every 3,000 miles like the LBS is telling me, then I'd be on my 6th chain and $240 into replacement chains versus the $110 cost of replacing both. Seems to me to be a no brainer. And again - no visual ramping or shark-finning of the chain rings.

I'm not saying that everyone should be doing this, it's just my experience. My original query was to see if anyone else was running high mileage on chains and to see if anyone was breaking road bike chains.

Last edited by armybikerider; 03-06-13 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 03-06-13, 09:48 AM   #16
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Did you ride all 19,000 miles in one year's time?
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Old 03-06-13, 10:10 AM   #17
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Did you ride all 19,000 miles in one year's time?
What?

"So currently I have 19,046 miles on my R330 in 40 months of riding.....)
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Old 03-06-13, 10:15 AM   #18
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I've never taken the chain off the bike. But I clean and lube the chain every 100 - 150 miles, and take the cassette off when I do and individually clean every cog. I used paraffin once..... in 1982...never again.
You take the cassette off and clean each individual cog every week (based on your riding)? I'm lazy and would rather replace the chain, granted the chain gets cleaned about once a week (wiped down), but I'm not taking the cassette off that often.
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Old 03-06-13, 10:29 AM   #19
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I have the stock chain on my Rival equipped 3 year old Lynskey R330 - a PC 1051 I think. Anyway it's got just over 19,000 miles with minimal "stretch" and still shifting fast, smooth and quiet.
Ah, I misread this. I thought you said your bike was equipped with Rival 3 parts. 6-7000 miles per year still seems like alot to me. I barely rack up 75 miles a week right now, soon to be 100-125.
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Old 03-06-13, 10:47 AM   #20
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...

I've found that Campy chains can have very little elongation or "stretch", even after 6,000 miles, but that did not mean that the chain was in good shape. Calipers revealed that the roller spacing had increased from it's original .200 inch to .240 inch and the side clearance was about .013 inch or twice that of a new chain. That chain was really shot long before it reached 6,000 miles. When a new chain was installed, I got new-chain skip, even though the elongation was only .15%. Elongation is not the only type of chain wear than can cause a new chain to skip on worn cogs.
Going from a roller spacing of .20" to .24" is a 20% difference. I'm confused... What kind of measurement is this? Roller spacing is typically half an inch...
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Old 03-06-13, 10:58 AM   #21
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armybikerider: You can get a SRAM pc-1031 for $22 shipped, and the 1051 is $27 shipped, so your calculations are based on over-spending, IMO. You also don't know if 5000 or 3000 miles is the right answer. You could measure your chain and figure out when your chain is worn, based on that. If you ride until your cassette wears out (to the point that it's skipping), you will damage your rings.

At any rate, you might be close on cost by riding until it wears out. I think the experience is better just keeping the same cassette for a decade and getting new chains, knowing that I will never have a skipped tooth in a sprint.
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Old 03-06-13, 11:06 AM   #22
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I usually get between 6K-8K miles on an 8-speed chain (depending on weather). Stretching the mileage to 9K mile will definitely result in "chain skip" when I replace the old chain with a new chain. I buy cheap $8 KMC Z72 chain.

Once the 2nd chain has reached 6K-8K miles, I put the first chain back on the bike and ride another 3K-4K miles. Repeat with the 2nd chain before replacing the cassette.
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Old 03-06-13, 11:15 AM   #23
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Going from a roller spacing of .20" to .24" is a 20% difference. I'm confused... What kind of measurement is this? Roller spacing is typically half an inch...
I think he is measuring *between* the rollers.
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Old 03-06-13, 11:18 AM   #24
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Anyway it's got just over 19,000 miles with minimal "stretch" and still shifting fast, smooth and quiet.
A worn out chain is just as quiet, and shifts just as smoothly as a new chain.
It only gets noisy when you finally replace the worn out chain, and learn that it wore out your cogs, so the new chain is jumping under power.
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Old 03-06-13, 11:51 AM   #25
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Never put that much thought into a chain. I just replace them once a year.
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