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Max mileage from a chain?

Old 10-27-20, 06:51 AM
  #1  
rbrides
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Max mileage from a chain?

What I really like about Bike Forums is getting input from the practical, real-world experiences of everyone here.

How many miles to you put on a chain?

I just read an article in Bicycling Mag that said replace the chain ďAt least every 2,500 miles.Ē

I frequently clean my bike, use a Park Tools chain scrubber and re-lube. I do so nearly every time after a gravel ride. Every other time after a road ride.

I have only 1 bike; a "gravel" bike that I ride road and gravel, but with different wheel sets/cassettes.

I use a PT chain checker to determine if i need a new one; not mileage. 2500 miles on my Shimano chain shows no stretching.

What do you folks do?
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Old 10-27-20, 06:55 AM
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Replace when worn.
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Old 10-27-20, 06:56 AM
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Being the lazy sort, I just wait until the chain starts slipping and skipping before I replace anything. I have so many bikes that I'm constantly switching parts on, that it would be very impractical to keep mileage figures. And besides, isn't the point of replacing a chain so it won't jump out of gear? Why not wait until it actually starts to have problems?

I can see if I was on a professional racing team how keeping track of mileage might make sense, but for me, not really.
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Old 10-27-20, 06:58 AM
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Clean dry and measure 12 inches for wear.
Get about 12,000 miles
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Old 10-27-20, 07:14 AM
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I replace every 2k, chains are cheap and can cause damage to far more expensive things.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Replace when worn.
Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Clean dry and measure 12 inches for wear.
When 12 links exceed 12-1/16" it's time to replace the chain. TBH, I've got a Park checker I can drop down a few places around the chain -- I usually wait until the first one drops to squat down on the ground to measure with a ruler or tape.

Some people would rather wear cassette and chain out. Every time I've let one go past the 12-1/8" point, I end up replacing one or more front cogs as well as cassette. It's cheaper and easier to put on a new chain, usually about every 2,000 miles IME.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:48 AM
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My wife gets twice as many miles out of a chain as I do, up to 10,000 miles. She mainly rides in fair weather, in lower gear, lower torque. So, as with all things, the answer is "It depends."
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Old 10-27-20, 07:52 AM
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Bicycling many years ago was worth reading. I have bikes that only see bike lanes that are swept regularly in very dry Southern AZ and a daughter has fat bikes that are regularly ridden on the Cape Lookout Fat Bike Route along the shore. Wildly different milage. The kids and I calibrate a Park CC-4 or better a Shimano TL-CN42 against a metal tape/ruler for quick checks and then measure when getting close as said above.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:59 AM
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I don't have any set time or mileage to check or replace. When I feel so motivated, I check mine with the typical chain checker from Park Tool, but at times I also will measure with a metal scale. If either shows more than .5% or a 1/16th longer than 12 inches, I start mulling over changing it.

I'm not much for preventative maintenance anymore. I think it cost more money in the long run when you get too finicky about things. Sure, if my bike was soaring regularly at altitudes above the ground higher than I'd want to fall, I'd be all up in the preventative maintenance thing.

So if I happen to go too long with my chain and the cogs and chainrings get worn to badly, I can replace them too for not much money. Probably less than number of chains I would have had to replace early to save them from extra wear.

But that is not to say you shouldn't replace early or on some time schedule. It's up to you and your circumstances. Also depends a lot on whether your mindset is someone that like to tinker and fiddle with mechanical things to perfection. I used to have that mindset, but lost that as I got older. It's more enjoyable to ride than it is to prepare everything to ride.

As far as mileage on chains, I would have sworn I was getting 8000 miles out of a chain. But those were all on bikes less than 9 speeds with a 14 tooth cog the smallest. My 11 speed chain is ready for replacement now with just 4500 - 5000 miles on it.

Last edited by Iride01; 10-27-20 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 10-27-20, 08:09 AM
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There are two approaches to chain replacement:

1. Replace it often, sometimes as often as every 1500 miles, if you are a heavy and/or strong rider. That way you don't wear the cassette cogs very much and you make your cassette last much longer.
2. Run the chain and cassette together until the chain "stretch" is 1/8" in 12 inches and replace both the chain and cassette at the same time.

The first approach makes sense if you use expensive high-line cassettes like Dura Ace or Chorus/Record since making the cassette last a long time saves money. The second approach, which is what I do, makes sense if you use lower cost cassettes like 105 or Veloce since spending two or three times the cost of a cassette on new chains is foolish.

I'm older and fairly light and, despite the fact I ride a LOT of hills, I get 7000 - 9000 miles on a chain/cassette pair with a modest cleaning/relubing schedule.
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Old 10-27-20, 08:57 AM
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The rear chain on our tandem is lucky to get 3000 miles, so every year. This is due to a lot of fine trail dust which I suspect is very abrasive, and also twice the force on the rear chain. The timing chain is usually good for 2 years. Every so often during winter, I get the urge to construct some sort of plastic shield to deflect dust, but is complicated. BTW, 24 links = 12 inches, or do people generally consider 1 link to be an outer plus inner?
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Old 10-27-20, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post

Some people would rather wear cassette and chain out. Every time I've let one go past the 12-1/8" point, I end up replacing one or more front cogs as well as cassette. It's cheaper and easier to put on a new chain, usually about every 2,000 miles IME.
I don’t know what you are doing but I can’t recall ever replaced a chainwheel due to chain wear. Even if you went an extra 1/16” of an inch over, you shouldn’t have to replace chainring. I’d agree that you might end up having to replace the cassette but not the chainring.

I get 3000 to 3500 miles per chain and 3 to 4 chains to each cassette.
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Old 10-27-20, 09:17 AM
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I ride pretty much always on hard surface streets or MUPS. Using both a Park wear tool and a steel scale, I get about 8000 miles on a chain.
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Old 10-27-20, 10:14 AM
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I don't measure chains and I don't keep track of mileage. I replace the chain on my most-ridden bikes about every six months; on my more occasional bikes, annually.
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Old 10-27-20, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I donít know what you are doing but I canít recall ever replaced a chainwheel due to chain wear. Even if you went an extra 1/16Ē of an inch over, you shouldnít have to replace chainring. Iíd agree that you might end up having to replace the cassette but not the chainring.

I get 3000 to 3500 miles per chain and 3 to 4 chains to each cassette.
I don't keep records of how many miles per chain but I estimate about 5K miles. I always change the cassette when I change the chain. Like ecyccomute says, the chainwheels don't see any appreciable wear from the chain. When I can ride like Peter Sagan I will change more often.
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Old 10-27-20, 10:41 AM
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Measure wear, don't go by mileage.
I get as little as 500 miles on my winter commuter, and as much as 5,000 miles on my fair-weather road bike. It all depends on the riding conditions.

-Ken
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Old 10-27-20, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
I don't measure chains and I don't keep track of mileage. I replace the chain on my most-ridden bikes about every six months; on my more occasional bikes, annually.
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Old 10-27-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I donít know what you are doing but I canít recall ever replaced a chainwheel due to chain wear. Even if you went an extra 1/16Ē of an inch over, you shouldnít have to replace chainring. Iíd agree that you might end up having to replace the cassette but not the chainring.
The problem is that, IME, chain wear seems to accelerate as it happens. So if a chain has "stretched" 1/16" at 2,000 miles, it'll be at 12-1/8" at 2,500 miles, and 12-1/4" at 3,000 miles. With 1/4" of stretch, both times I let it get that far, it was time for a new chainring. Or three. Since I don't check chain wear as often as I check tire pressure, it's safest to R&R the chain as soon as I see the wear.

Chain life is all over the place, depending on the rider. 2,000 miles for me may be like 3,000 miles for you, or 1,000 miles for someone else.
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Old 10-27-20, 01:42 PM
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I get 8000 miles probably 10000 but have out new one on at around 8K.
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Old 10-27-20, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
The problem is that, IME, chain wear seems to accelerate as it happens. So if a chain has "stretched" 1/16" at 2,000 miles, it'll be at 12-1/8" at 2,500 miles, and 12-1/4" at 3,000 miles. With 1/4" of stretch, both times I let it get that far, it was time for a new chainring. Or three. Since I don't check chain wear as often as I check tire pressure, it's safest to R&R the chain as soon as I see the wear.

Chain life is all over the place, depending on the rider. 2,000 miles for me may be like 3,000 miles for you, or 1,000 miles for someone else.
Although I havenít really checked, I would say that chain wears at a constant rate. The pins arenít harder on the outside then the inside nor are the plates harder nearer to the pins than further away. The wear on the drivetrain might be worse, however. But I really doubt that youíd get double the wear after youíve reached 1/16Ē elongation. It might be an interesting experiment, however.
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Old 10-27-20, 06:36 PM
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With a family of cyclists, I check a lot of chains, with a ruler according to the typical criterion -- 1/16 out of 12". If the gears skip after a new chain, then I replace the cogs. I've only replaced one chain ring ever, that had been on multiple iterations of my commuting bike over the span of more than 20 years. I ride about 3k miles per year and replace one chain per year, maybe 2 chains per year for the family overall. I don't ride enough to warrant checking any chain more than once a year, so the ruler is handy enough for my use.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:05 PM
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All these folks reporting on the mileage they get out of chains: it'd be interesting to know which chains.

Riding conditions matter, too: on a bike that sees a lot of dirt and gravel roads, chains will wear faster.

'Course, anyone's reporting is anecdotal, as chain wear is dependent on sooo many variables. As a general rule, I replace any time there is any doubt.

Last edited by Koyote; 10-27-20 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
All these folks reporting on the mileage they get out of chains: it'd be interesting to know which chains. I get more life out of a 9 speed chain than I get from an 11 speed chain.

Riding conditions matter, too: on a bike that sees a lot of dirt and gravel roads, chains will wear faster.

'Course, anyone's reporting is anecdotal, as chain wear is dependent on sooo many variables. As a general rule, I replace any time there is any doubt.
Good point. My chains are most 9 speed. I have 3 bikes with 10 speed drivetrains but those donít have that many miles on them yet. Conditions range from dry mountain biking to tours in various places around the US. I havenít noticed any excess wear due to dirt conditions but I donít use oil based chain lubricants.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:25 PM
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Asking "how many miles do you get out of a chain?" is very much similar to asking "how heavy is your hammer?"

Ask a hundred cyclists, you're likely to get near as many different answers.

Oh, but always ignore chain-related answers that come from 'bent riders. Unless they're FWD, they have two or three chains pieced together.
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Old 10-27-20, 07:58 PM
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I have about 4k on this chain since last year and am long overdue. Hopefully I didn't screw anything up. New one will be here tomorrow.

I d been cleaning and lubing it and didn't think I had that many miles on it. Still looks new but noticed it wasn't meshing all that well with my chainring this afternoon so checked my purchase history and Strava.

Oops. I guess riding now mike than I thought isn't really that big of a deal.
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