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Does the Chain Direction Matter?

Old 09-29-08, 08:41 PM
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Does the Chain Direction Matter?

Hi, folks. I just finished removing and degreasing my chain. As I was reinstalling, a question occurred to me that I never thought of before.

Does the direction the chain travels in matter? I realized that there are four possible orientations, either end first, and/or either side up.

In case it matters, I have a SRAM PC-59.

Thanks!
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Old 09-29-08, 09:04 PM
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I can't see how it would matter. I would be inclined to install in the same orientation I took it off. OTOH, maybe it would be better to swap it around, to even up the wear.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:50 AM
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Based on the Shimano chain install docs, it does matter. Not really sure why though.
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Old 09-30-08, 05:55 AM
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their are some bmx chains that are directional like the shadow half link chain but that chain is built alot different than "normal" chains. sram chains are not although my ocd'ness makes me put it back the way it came off.
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Old 09-30-08, 08:31 AM
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yes it matters sometimes

--->when you run an ss, and have an ss specific chain, and the master-link pins stick out
.5 mm on one side more than the other, it might rub on the bashguard, whereas the chain flipped over it won't rub

stuff like that matters. otherwise it doesn't matter
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Old 09-30-08, 09:05 AM
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When you initially install the chain, I don't think it matters. However, if you're reinstalling a chain, I think it's a good idea to make sure you orient it the same way it was before so that when you install a new linkage pin, it will be installed in the same direction that the old one came out. Make sense?

Richard
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Old 09-30-08, 11:28 AM
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I never had any trouble with that.I put it in a jar and shake it up to clean it,I have no idea how it goes back on.Maybe if it has a 3pc masterlink,that's the only thing I can think of.
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Old 09-30-08, 03:28 PM
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If the all/both straps are identical on both sides and they are symetrical about the pin, then no. But how do you know without measuring and knowing the tolerace allowable?
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Old 09-30-08, 05:16 PM
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My late-1980s chain began skipping dangerously under load when I replaced it "the wrong way round" after a recent thorough clean. I flipped it front/back (and possibly also top/down - can't remember now), and that stopped the skipping. I've since changed the chain and freewheel in response to that rather unnerving sign of wear.
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Old 10-04-08, 05:18 AM
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I have found on modern Shimano gear (105/Ultegra) that the chain wears in a little with the cassette. Change the left-right orientation and it may not run quite as smooth. I couldn't tell any difference when changing the forward-reverse alignment. I now mark the chain with an indelible marker when I take it off to clean the bike (which is easy to do with a Wipperman link).
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Old 10-04-08, 05:33 AM
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Chain direction matters if the chain is worn. If you remove and soak your chain regularly (which, by the way, is not recommended, regardless of how easy it is to remove the chain), then you won't have a problem regardless of orientation of chain. If you remove a well worn chain and install it in the reverse direction, you'll end up with a mysterious skip in your drivetrain. Reverse your chain to see if that's the cause.

There are two exceptions - if the chain has an "inside", i.e. points to the cogs, and "outside", i.e. never contacts cogs, except the pulley of the rear derailleur. If you have such a chain, you'll need to make sure that the inside is inside. You can still reverse its direction though, unless it is also directional, i.e there is a left and a right (the second exception).

The reason soaking the chain isn't recommended is that doing so causes the roller bushings lose their permeated lube. To re-permeate the bushings is very difficult, esp since they're surrounded by degreaser when you take the chain out of the degreasing tub/container. I imagine if you have rinse the chain and then soak it in some kind of lube for a while (overnight?) it would work, but I don't know of anyone who does that.

Also, if you soak certain metals too long in certain degreasers, you can damage the metal and you can have catastrophic chain failure. This is one of those components (the bars, stem, fork, front QR, pedals, BB axle are some others) that you simply cannot risk breaking - they're too integral to the control of the bike. In a full out effort you can break lots of things on the bike and not crash, but one of those "key" parts and you'll likely be on the ground.

cdr
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Old 10-04-08, 05:40 AM
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spd 747 pedals

Hi Are the spd 747 cleats interchangable with the pd 970,pd770 ??
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Old 10-04-08, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
The reason soaking the chain isn't recommended is that doing so causes the roller bushings lose their permeated lube. To re-permeate the bushings is very difficult, esp since they're surrounded by degreaser when you take the chain out of the degreasing tub/container. I imagine if you have rinse the chain and then soak it in some kind of lube for a while (overnight?) it would work, but I don't know of anyone who does that.
Then you haven't any of the recent threads on this topic. Where there still isn't any general agreement.

I would still like to know how long that initial "super factory lube" is supposed to last. Sheldon Brown thought it was better than anything you could ever apply yourself, and suggested to wait several hundred miles before applying any lube yourself which might dilute it. Others say no.

Last edited by LarryMelman; 10-04-08 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Chain direction matters if the chain is worn. If you remove and soak your chain regularly (which, by the way, is not recommended, regardless of how easy it is to remove the chain), then you won't have a problem regardless of orientation of chain. If you remove a well worn chain and install it in the reverse direction, you'll end up with a mysterious skip in your drivetrain. Reverse your chain to see if that's the cause.

There are two exceptions - if the chain has an "inside", i.e. points to the cogs, and "outside", i.e. never contacts cogs, except the pulley of the rear derailleur. If you have such a chain, you'll need to make sure that the inside is inside. You can still reverse its direction though, unless it is also directional, i.e there is a left and a right (the second exception).
OK, I get the argument with a "one sided chain" as that could cause half pickup in the cassette. Changing the "direction would move the catches to the other side and stop this. Though adjusting the cable tension would be the easiest solution.

The bushings go around in circles. All the interior surfaces will be loaded the same. I cannot see how there would have more "wear" in one direction vs. the other.



Also, if you soak certain metals too long in certain degreasers, you can damage the metal and you can have catastrophic chain failure. This is one of those components (the bars, stem, fork, front QR, pedals, BB axle are some others) that you simply cannot risk breaking - they're too integral to the control of the bike. In a full out effort you can break lots of things on the bike and not crash, but one of those "key" parts and you'll likely be on the ground.

cdr
This part sounds dodgy. Why would a degreaser damage metal. Have you ever seen what they do to anodize metal?? Your little Simple Green bath is nothing compared to that.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:49 AM
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What about direction if you are using a master link with the little locking link mechanism thing and riding fixed gear?

I am just wondering if back pedaling might change things and if the little lock link on the outside of the master link is designed to hold tight in only one direction.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
What about direction if you are using a master link with the little locking link mechanism thing and riding fixed gear?

I am just wondering if back pedaling might change things and if the little lock link on the outside of the master link is designed to hold tight in only one direction.
It is designed to hold in both directions.
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Old 10-04-08, 11:21 AM
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carpediemracing has it right across the board (expect maybe the catastrophic results).

Then you haven't any of the recent threads on [soaking chains]. Where there still isn't any general agreement.
Lack of consensus does not make the assertion wrong.

Ever wonder why Shimano recommends against removing the chain for soaking ?

The bushings go around in circles. All the interior surfaces will be loaded the same. I cannot see how there would have more "wear" in one direction vs. the other.
The rollers are free to go around; the pins and plates aren't. Further, because the rollers can go around doesn't mean that they do.

We did some geometry calculations on this in an earlier thread attempting to determine what the effect would be. [Someone do a search.] Yes there is more wear to one side of the link centerline.
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Old 10-04-08, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by operator View Post
It is designed to hold in both directions.
Correct, but the Wipperman Connex link is curved and would need to be reinstalled if the chain is reversed (inside out).
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Old 03-14-15, 02:19 PM
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I don't "regularly" remove my chain to clean because constantly removing pins will weaken the holes and pins that you take out. Do that often enough to one specific pin and it'll pop out on its own. I don't use a quicklink because it's made of different metal than the chain and won't wear out at the same rate as the rest of the chain.

If I ever have to remove a chain I put it in a Gatorade bottle with some kerosene (an active ingredient in most bug and tar removers,) and shake/soak it. Take the chain out and lay it flat side down and blast it with compressed air from the side to remove the leftover grit and kerosene from between the rollers and plates. Then leave it to completely dry. If you clean a chain good enough you'll see that one side of the chain is more worn than the other side. There will be little nics, dents, scrapes and smooth highly polished surfaces on one side while the other side still looks new. Only one side of the chain makes contact with the metal chainring and metal cassette. The damage will also be from debris that gets caught in between the metal surfaces during normal use and also from the act of shifting the chain from one ring or cog to another. The other side of the chain will only have made contact with the soft plastic gears in the rear derailer. When reinstalling the chain I make sure to put the side that looks new in contact with the metal gears to try to manage the wear on the metal gears, not necessarily for the sake of the chain. It's my belief that all the uneven and dented surfaces on the worn side of the chain will hasten the wear and encourage uneven wear on the chainrings and cassette which will cost you more to replace than it will to replace the chain. That's the primary reason I reverse the sides of the chain.

I scrub a lot of metals with either kerosene, degreasers or cleaning solvents. I have yet to damage a part enough to cause it to be unsafe or to even cause any damage at all to any bike part. You will probably damage metal parts if you're scrubbing them with strong acids but why would you use those to clean your bike?

Permeated lube? It can and should be removed and replaced as it gets dirty just like any other lubricant. Chains aren't so complicated that you can't replace any lube that is in contact with any inside or outside surface of a chain. In use any lubrication on a chain will get dirty and filled with grit which will hasten wear like sandpaper as the metal pieces rub against each other. Like Sheldon says the stock lube doesn't last very long at all. The stock lube also isn't as mobile as oil is. When the metal plates rub together and scrape the lube out of place the stock lube won't migrate back into place like oil will because the stock lube is closer in consistency to grease that oil. This is also the reason why I avoid using wax based lubricants on my bicycle in general.
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Old 03-14-15, 02:27 PM
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Old 03-14-15, 04:10 PM
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yah, i know. but the horse looked at me funny so i thought i'd give it a good punch. Besides, i gotta get my post count up. I need parts from the FS and ISO threads!
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Old 03-14-15, 04:43 PM
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If you have a symmetrical chain, with inner and outer plates the same (most are) and with the plate shapes the same top and bottom (again most are) then it doesn't matter since everything is the same.

There may be one caveat to that. If you use a system where you push in a splicing pin like Shimano does, there may be a preference in whether the pin is pushed from the outside inward, or the reverse. There may also be a preference for that pin being in front or the back of the outer plate it engages. So you'll want to check the maker's user guides.

OTOH- with connector links and symmetrical chains, there are 4 possible right ways and no wrong ones so the odds are greatly in your favor.
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Old 03-14-15, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by capwater View Post
Based on the Shimano chain install docs, it does matter. Not really sure why though.
So that it works with the ramps and pins of the Shimano chainrings, and works with the Shimano Hyperglide cassettes (which have little ramps on the cogs).
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Old 03-14-15, 05:58 PM
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SIX years guys. SIX!
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Old 03-14-15, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
SIX years guys. SIX!
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