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What size chain size do I need?

Old 11-25-16, 04:21 PM
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kalash74
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What size chain size do I need?

Here's a rather straightforward (and somewhat of a newbie) question: I'm looking at replacing the chain on my old rear 5-speed on 1986 MB-1 vintage Bridgestone MTB. What width do I need? Do I want a master link? Derailleurs are new to me, I've only owned internal gear hub bikes in the past. I assume I just count the number of links on the old chain and assume I want the same for the new one?
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Old 11-25-16, 04:44 PM
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While any 8, 7, 6, 5 speed chain will work I suggest the widest one you can find. Not so much because of the fit on the freewheel cogs but the chainrings. Their spacing is likely wider the most current cranks use and so a narrow chain can ride up on the smaller ring's teeth when shifting off the larger ring, and not drop into the teeth. Andy
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Old 11-25-16, 04:50 PM
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When you say the "widest," what size are you referring to?

Also, while I am at it, do you recommend I check the rear sprockets for wear as well as the chain? Not sure how much use the bike has had, as I just picked it up off ebay a couple months ago.
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Old 11-25-16, 04:56 PM
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+1,

Look for a more classic chain marketed as 6s. I'd avoid one that says it's also good for 7s or 8s, since 7s is already narrower spacing.

The best fitting chain will have the pins protruding beyond the plates like this one here.
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Old 11-25-16, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by kalash74 View Post
Here's a rather straightforward (and somewhat of a newbie) question: I'm looking at replacing the chain on my old rear 5-speed on 1986 MB-1 vintage Bridgestone MTB. What width do I need? Do I want a master link? Derailleurs are new to me, I've only owned internal gear hub bikes in the past. I assume I just count the number of links on the old chain and assume I want the same for the new one?
Are you sure your Bridgestone has a 5-speed freewheel? My '85 Bridgestone 400 came with a 6-speed Sun Tour freewheel and they were pretty much universal across the Bridgestone line at that time.

The older 5/6-speed width chains are rare these days and a 7/8-speed is the widest chain that will be easy to find. They are plenty durable.
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Old 11-25-16, 05:39 PM
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Catalog says 5-speed. I wonder if the goal was to be kinder to the rear hub axle: Bridgestone Bicycle Catalogue 1986 Bridgestone MB-1
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Old 11-25-16, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by kalash74 View Post
Derailleurs are new to me, I've only owned internal gear hub bikes in the past. ....
Wow.....welcome to the mid 60's.....
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Old 11-25-16, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Catalog says 5-speed. I wonder if the goal was to be kinder to the rear hub axle:
Indeed it does. I'm surprised that a 5-speed was used that late but you may be correct if the frame was spaced 120 mm. If it was 126 (like my 400) then the axle was as vulnerable as if it really were 6-speed.
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Old 11-25-16, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Indeed it does. I'm surprised that a 5-speed was used that late but you may be correct if the frame was spaced 120 mm. If it was 126 (like my 400) then the axle was as vulnerable as if it really were 6-speed.
With respect, running 5s is running 5s as far as the axle is concerned. The freewheel space is the same, and the extra 6mm would be on the left (to reduce dish). Since the right side bearing is the same distance from the dropout either way, a 5s system won't have the issues of those where the freewheel spacing was increased.
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Old 11-25-16, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
With respect, running 5s is running 5s as far as the axle is concerned. The freewheel space is the same, and the extra 6mm would be on the left (to reduce dish). Since the right side bearing is the same distance from the dropout either way, a 5s system won't have the issues of those where the freewheel spacing was increased.
I see what you are saying and, yes, the hub would be closer on the drive side if only the width of a 5-speed freewheel had to be accommodated. Since this was an MTB, maybe ThermionicScott is correct that they were trying to ease the load on the axle.
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Old 11-25-16, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
With respect, running 5s is running 5s as far as the axle is concerned. The freewheel space is the same, and the extra 6mm would be on the left (to reduce dish). Since the right side bearing is the same distance from the dropout either way, a 5s system won't have the issues of those where the freewheel spacing was increased.
So...do I need a 3/32 chain or something else? Unfortunately, I don't have another derailleur chain to compare it to, but the stock chain on the MB-2 is noticeably thinner than the 1/4" chain on my internal gear bikes.
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Old 11-25-16, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by kalash74 View Post
So...do I need a 3/32 chain ...?.
Yes, you need a 3/32" chain. All derailleur chains have been 3/32" since the advent of 4s sometime in the early sixties.

But that's only part of the story. The 3/32" designation refers to the inside width and the sprockets they run on. However, as we went from 6s to 7s and higher, we did it by packing sprockets closer together, and making the outside width smaller. So we now designate derailleur chains by the number of sprockets on cassette (or freewheel) they're made for.

You can use a 7s on your 5s, but as was pointed out early on, the narrower outside width may allow it to hang on the tops of the teeth of one sprocket while leaning on the face of it's larger neighbor. This is why I suggest looking for the widest 3/32" chain possible.
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Old 11-25-16, 11:35 PM
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How recent history is lost... And again.


Re IGHs- They are cool once again. One more example of the bike business being cyclic . It could be the OP was referencing Sachs or SA hubs. My inner self hopes so.


Back in the day (which for me was the 1970s) 5 speed chains were 3/32 internal spec but around 7.8mm outer width. Most current 6,7,8 speed chains are 7.3 at most or 7.1 more frequently. The half mm difference is a factor if front shifting isn't done well on older cranksets.


Bridgestone was well known for leading by staying in the past. They retained many components and designs longer then almost any other front line manufacturer/brand. Thus their near cult status currently. That they kept 5 speed freewheels after most all were using 6 or even 7 cogs is no surprise. Andy.
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Old 11-26-16, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Bridgestone was well known for leading by staying in the past. They retained many components and designs longer then almost any other front line manufacturer/brand. Thus their near cult status currently. That they kept 5 speed freewheels after most all were using 6 or even 7 cogs is no surprise. Andy.
Well, that "leading by staying in the past" approach led to their demise in the US market. Grant Peterson who was marketing manager for Bridgestone USA in the '80's and early 90's had definite ideas as to what the bike customer "should" want and spec'ed their bikes accordingly. Unfortunately, the majority of bike purchasers disagreed.

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Old 11-26-16, 07:48 AM
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6 speed chain will work fine.

You will also need a chain tool - to cut it to size and, if the chain has no hand-connected quick link, to connect two ends of it in the end.

How to measure chain length:
Chain length sizing for bicycles with derailleurs


6 speed chain off Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...29b32cdb69425a

6 speed from bike24:
https://www.bike24.com/1.php?content...gc=0;orderby=2




Chain tool off Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...c52523b75108f8

Chain tool of bike24:
https://www.bike24.com/1.php?content...3413;orderby=2
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Old 11-26-16, 12:14 PM
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On this forum many only know of Bridgestone USA... not Bridgestone Japan..

Grant landed on his feet after the Japanese corporation withdrew from the US market, by pursuing the same people ,

but covering his California costs by dropping the lower cost sector and it's customers..


Brigestone Corp, [Japan] currently owns Major US auto tire manufacturing facilities.
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Old 11-26-16, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
. Grant landed on his feet after the Japanese corporation withdrew from the US market, by pursuing the same people , but covering his California costs by dropping the lower cost sector and it's customers...
Well, he did land after Bridgestone withdrew it's bike division from the US market but not exactly firmly on his feet. Rivendell was on very shaky financial grounds for many years after it's founding and came close to failure several times. I remember the plaintive e-mails from them to "please buy something, anything...".

They appear to be stable these days but certainly not in the "low cost" category and they offer a lot of non-cycling odd-ball items too.
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Old 11-27-16, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
6 speed chain will work fine.

You will also need a chain tool - to cut it to size and, if the chain has no hand-connected quick link, to connect two ends of it in the end.

How to measure chain length:
Chain length sizing for bicycles with derailleurs


6 speed chain off Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...29b32cdb69425a

6 speed from bike24:
https://www.bike24.com/1.php?content...gc=0;orderby=2




Chain tool off Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...c52523b75108f8

Chain tool of bike24:
https://www.bike24.com/1.php?content...3413;orderby=2
I already have the Park chain tool (forgot the model), so I'm good there. I found this KMC 5 speed chain on amazon. Looks like it is 7.8mm wide. Is that enough?

https://www.amazon.com/KMC-Bicycle-5...+5+speed+chain

With regard to the freewheel itself, should I be concerned about replacing it since it is 30 years old? Would the chain be slipping off the cogs if it was worn out?
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Old 11-27-16, 07:51 PM
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With regard to the freewheel itself, should I be concerned about replacing it since it is 30 years old? Would the chain be slipping off the cogs if it was worn out?
After you replace the chain, you'll find out. Chains and cogs tend to wear together, so if that old chain was worn it might still work well with the cogs it wore in to.
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Old 11-27-16, 10:26 PM
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I just used the big-big method to measure chain length, and I came up with 116 links (place chain on big rear sprocket and big chainring in front and determine the shortest possible linkage, then add 2 links). The chain on the bike has 114 links. Any ideas why, other than it was put on there wrong?
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Old 11-27-16, 10:35 PM
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This will work:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Bell-Spor...CHAIN/10400600

You might need two to make one though. Count your links.

J
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Old 11-27-16, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by kalash74 View Post
I just used the big-big method to measure chain length, and I came up with 116 links (place chain on big rear sprocket and big chainring in front and determine the shortest possible linkage, then add 2 links). The chain on the bike has 114 links. Any ideas why, other than it was put on there wrong?

Because after 116 bikes they (the manufacturer) has another chain. Extrapolate over many thousands of bikes and you have real $. Andy
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Old 11-27-16, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by kalash74 View Post
I already have the Park chain tool (forgot the model), so I'm good there. I found this KMC 5 speed chain on amazon. Looks like it is 7.8mm wide. Is that enough?

https://www.amazon.com/KMC-Bicycle-5...+5+speed+chain

With regard to the freewheel itself, should I be concerned about replacing it since it is 30 years old? Would the chain be slipping off the cogs if it was worn out?
Yes, that's perfect.

The freewheel - you'll see. Riding with a worn chain gets the rear sprockets worn quickly and yes, they usually slip with a new chain - so a good chance it would need replacing too.
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Old 12-05-16, 06:34 PM
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Well, I ordered the Z33 chain from amazon
https://www.amazon.com/KMC-Chain-Spe...ords=z33+chain

but when I got the package, it says "18 speed" and "touring - indexed shifting" on the outside. Is this just a sales pitch? On the back, it says compatible with "6-12-18-21 speed." The stated width is 7.3mm.

The non-nickel plated version
https://www.amazon.com/KMC-Bicycle-5...ords=z33+chain

has a stated width of 7.8mm. I was hoping that the width on the nickel plated version would be the same.

In any case, am I good to go or should I return it? It's possible I'll replace the rear freewheel with a 6 speed, maybe a Shimano.

Incidentally, I measured the old chain and it appears to have zero stretch if I'm doing this right . I lined up a 12 in ruler with the pins and everything lines up just right. However, as I indicated before, it appears to be 2 links short if I go with the big-big measurement (big cog in rear to big sprocket in front, add 2 links to the shortest possible linkage).
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Old 12-05-16, 10:22 PM
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18 speed means 6 speed in the rear - exactly what you need.
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