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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 06-11-05, 07:12 PM   #1
PaMTBRider
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Timing chain

The timing chain on our Co-motion needs replaced and I was wondering what to get. Is there anything special about a timing chain other than length? Should it be replace with an 8 or 9 speed chain? If it matters we have Ultegra cranks. Thanks.
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Old 06-11-05, 07:56 PM   #2
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I use the cheapest SRAM chain that I can find. I think the current one on our bike is an 8-speed. I always carry a few spare links and extra SRAM power link for both the timing and drive chains.
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Old 06-12-05, 02:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by PaMTBRider
The timing chain on our Co-motion needs replaced and I was wondering what to get. Is there anything special about a timing chain other than length? Should it be replace with an 8 or 9 speed chain? If it matters we have Ultegra cranks. Thanks.
There is a difference between 9 and 8 speed chains, so why not make it easier on yourself and fit the same chain as you run on the back? Then the spare chain will fit either, hence cutting down on weight carried in the spares pouch.
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Old 06-12-05, 10:46 AM   #4
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Length is the only real issue; $$/weight can also be a consideration. And running same chain as drivechain is also a good idea.
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Old 06-12-05, 10:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaMTBRider
The timing chain on our Co-motion needs replaced and I was wondering what to get. Is there anything special about a timing chain other than length? Should it be replace with an 8 or 9 speed chain? If it matters we have Ultegra cranks. Thanks.
8 or 9 speed will work; whatever you can find on sale noting that you'll need 1.5 standard chains to create the new timing chain. In other words, consider buying 3 of what ever chain you intend to use, make your new one with two and then make up another "spare" timing chain with the left-over 1/2 chain and the 3rd chain for use as needed.

A couple tech notes:

So long as a timing chain can be adjusted to the proper tension and isn't making noise, you can run the darn things until they have turned the timing rings into a saw blade (12,000 miles?) and then replace the timing rings and chains at the same time. It's not my preference, but it underscores that the timing chain is not a precision part of the driveline like the drive train since it isn't required to move between different sprockets or drive rings.

With that latter in mind, how worn out was the original timing chain? Note that if the timing chain was allowed to wear too long it may have deformed the pitch of the timing ring teeth. If so, when you a new chain on it will not mesh cleanly, usually evidenced by a lot of driveline noise or a sloppy feel from the pedals. If so, fear not, you can usually "flip" or "rotate" the timing rings and essentially end up with "new" timing rings. I usually just rotate, i.e., move the front chain ring to the rear and the rear chain ring to the front.

When installing or re-installing timing chain rings, make sure that you get the rings properly aligned that that the teeth are all in phase: keeping the manufacturers ring marks (brand names, tooth numbers, etc..) aligned usually accomplishes this. You'll also want to try and get the chain rings centered on the spiders to remove any biopacing / cam action from your timing chain tension. Bolt-on timing rings don't always perfectly align with the spiders and if they're both off at the wrong place you can end up with the timing chain being too tight and alternatively too loose as the cranks go through a full rotation. This can make setting the timing chain tension a bit of a trick in that you need to catch it when it's at the tightest setting instead of the least tight to make sure it doesn't bind.

Ideally, you should have about 1/2 of slack along the top of the timing chain run between the cranks and, keep in mind, when you tighten the eccentric the front axle will move forward 1mm - 2mm. Therefore, you'll want to get your chain's tension adjusted where you want it, and then you'll want to back-off of tension (rotate the eccentric) a little so that when you tighted up the eccentric the chain tension will be where you wanted it.

Finally, in regard to road tandems and timing rings, while it can greatly simplify things to have the same width of chain as the driveline it's not essential. Timing chains tend to be trouble free so long as they remain properly lubricated: after all, they only transmit power from the captain to the stoker whereas the drive chain carries the power from both the captain and the stoker. Breaking one usually implies that the chain rivets used to mate the chain weren't properly installed and the latter can be eliminated by using re-useable chain links, e.g., Forester SuperLinks, SRAM PowerLinks, or similar products from KMC and Wipperman. The Shimano one-time use rivets and a bad run of SRAM chains in the late 90's seemed to bring about a surge in broken timing chains which tarnished the trouble-free reputation of timing chains in general. However, and again, I'm talking about ROAD tandems, breaking or damaging a timing chain is a rare event that can usually be traced to root cause problems like a bent timing chainring, running a timing chain too loose, having different length front and rear bottom bracket axles, or an otherwise out of alignment chain line.
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Old 06-12-05, 11:05 AM   #6
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Chains should be kept clean/lubricated to make for easier transmission of power and
l-o-n-g chain life.
Timing chain does not get much wear as it is not used in the shifting process, just in transmission of power from pilot and stoker to the rear wheel.
Cleanliness inhibits premature wear. Have actually used same timing chain on our Assenmacher tandem (back in 70s) for 25,000 miles . . . but then I'm a bit of a clean freak.
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Old 06-12-05, 01:17 PM   #7
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Based on this, what would cause a timing chain to become loose enough that even with the eccentric tightened to the max, it still has too much slack? The timing rings don't look worn.

Would it be caused by a captain pushing hard in higher gears while the stoker went easy? Or is lubrication still related somehow?
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Old 06-12-05, 01:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tornadobass
Based on this, what would cause a timing chain to become loose enough that even with the eccentric tightened to the max, it still has too much slack?
It at one time the chain could be properly tensioned with the eccentric in a neutral position and over time the eccentric has had to be rotated to remove slack the timing chain has most likely been worn out well past the normal replacement point. You can use a 12" ruler or have your LBS check it with a "chain checker" tool from Park Tools. You can read more about chain maintenance here:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html As for why the timing chains don't look worn, it could be that looks are deceiving or that your chain rings were made of a steel alloy that was substantially harder than the chain or, put another way, the bike had a really cheap chain.

One other situation would be that, on some tandems (homebuilts or ones where a frame designer didn't know it mattered), the distance between the two bottom brackets can end up being a bit off of optimum which can create a situation where the eccentric can't be used to properly tension the chain because the chain would be either too short or too long to support the full rotation of the eccentric. In those cases, a half-link can be used to make up the difference: http://harriscyclery.net/site/showit...rchSubmit.y=11
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Old 06-12-05, 07:03 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the good information. I plan on replacing the timing chain because the eccentric does not offer enough adjustment to take out the slack. The chainrings still look good and if I had to guess I would say we have somewhere around 6000 miles on the timing chain.
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