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Replacing old chains... upgrade options?

Old 01-26-15, 11:14 PM
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Johnny 831
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Replacing old chains... upgrade options?

I've heard of using a more narrow chain for old 10 and 12 speeds... is this a 9 speed narrow chain? What options are out there?
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Old 01-26-15, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny 831
I've heard of using a more narrow chain for old 10 and 12 speeds... is this a 9 speed narrow chain? What options are out there?
I like KMC X8.93 chains for 8 speed and less. It is worth getting the KMC open and close tools.

https://www.amazon.com/KMC-X8-93-Chai...&keywords=8.93

Amazon.com : KMC Opener Missing Link : Bike Chains : Sports & Outdoors

Amazon.com : KMC Closer Missing Link : Bike Chains : Sports & Outdoors
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Old 01-27-15, 04:24 AM
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6-8 speed chains are a little wider than the chains for a 9-speed or 10-speed each is which are different, narrower, and which have a shorter life than a 6-8 speed chain.

If you have a 10-speed, use a 10-speed chain. If you have a 9-speed, use a 9-speed chain. If you have a 6-8 speed you can use any 6-8 speed chain.

If you try using a narrower 9-speed or 10-speed chain on a 6-8 speed crankset, I've been told that you may have a problem with the chain falling between the front chain rings because the chainrings could be spaced wider than the width of the chain.

I've switched to KMC chains recently and bought a Park Tool master link tool to make it easier to open and close the KMC "Missing Link" master links. A single Park Tool master link tool will open and close links. There are two separate KMC tools for opening and closing links.

Last edited by RoadGuy; 01-27-15 at 04:27 AM.
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Old 01-27-15, 08:17 AM
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For bikes with 5-7 cogs on the rear, I tend to use KMC Z50 or Z51 chains. Both are 7.3 mm wide, just a bit wider than 7.1 mm chains intended for 8-speed use. The biggest practical difference between the Z50 and Z51 is that the Z51 comes with a KMC "Missing Link" connecting link. The Z50 is meant to be broken and rejoined the old fashioned way using a chain tool to remove and reinsert a pin.
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Old 01-27-15, 08:52 AM
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Chain still has to fit over your cogs.. so new chains are marked for what the "speeds" count of cogs is ..

suspect the rear gear cluster needs replacing too.

now If you have a internal gear hub and 3/32nd cog, the reengineering to make a chain shift cogs easier matters less .
then older style chains wear longer (its the bushing under the roller, new ones eliminated it, for greater lateral flexibility.)
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Old 01-28-15, 05:37 PM
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The Z51 is 7.1.

Originally Posted by SkyDog75
For bikes with 5-7 cogs on the rear, I tend to use KMC Z50 or Z51 chains. Both are 7.3 mm wide, just a bit wider than 7.1 mm chains intended for 8-speed use. The biggest practical difference between the Z50 and Z51 is that the Z51 comes with a KMC "Missing Link" connecting link. The Z50 is meant to be broken and rejoined the old fashioned way using a chain tool to remove and reinsert a pin.
...and use missing link II.

Link is included with chain.

MissingLink II » KMC Chain

Z50 takes the missing link I. Which is 7.3. Not included.

It's awesome that the z50 can be rejoined. I didn't know that. I use z51 or z72 on everything(5-6-7 speed), mostly because i run sachs maillard or suntour 7 speed freewheels. A little narrower is better. In fact, i bet 9 speed chain would work better for a sachs maillard 7s fw. They are a bit finicky.

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Old 01-28-15, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RoadGuy

I've switched to KMC chains recently and bought a Park Tool master link tool to make it easier to open and close the KMC "Missing Link" master links. A single Park Tool master link tool will open and close links. There are two separate KMC tools for opening and closing links.
It's super easy to do it by hand, or easy when dirty. No need for special, expensive tools. All you need is your fingers, or 3rd hand tool - which is free, easy to make, and weights nothing
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Old 01-28-15, 06:09 PM
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There's little benefit (if any) to using a narrower chain than the drive trains calls for. , as the chart below shows 7 & 8s chains are already slightly narrower than 5 & 6s chains, but the difference is little enough, so there's no real drawback. However going to a 9s chain creates the real risk that the chain may jam or hang on front downshifts, where it can get trapped between the tips of the inner ring's teeth and the face of the outer.


06 speed - 7.8mm (all brands)
07 speed - 7.3mm (all brands)
08 speed - 7.1mm (all brands)
09 speed - 6.6 to 6.8mm (all brands)
10 speed - 6.2mm (Shimano, Campagnolo)
10 speed (Narrow) - 5.88mm (Campagnolo, KMC)
10 speed (Narrow, Direction) - 5.88mm (Shimano CN-5700,CN-6700,CN-7900)
11 speed - 5.5mm (Campagnolo, KMC, Shimano CN-9000)
borrowed from wikipedia, original source unknown
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Old 01-28-15, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny 831
I've heard of using a more narrow chain for old 10 and 12 speeds... is this a 9 speed narrow chain? What options are out there?
Not sure what your intent is, as you did not say what you "heard" about using a narrow chain. As noted you can use a narrow chain within limits, but there's no reason you should, as there is absolutely no advantage to doing so, other things being equal.
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Old 01-29-15, 12:51 AM
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Yeah I guess what I've heard is that if you use a narrow chain (for some reason people mentioned 9 speed chains) that it's easier for your old 10 or 12 speed to shift. The current problem I'm having is that I placed a new cog and a wheel set (27 in) and when in the lowest gear (smallest rear cog) the chain skips, but only in this gear. I thought maybe I had the limiting screw to tight or something, but it seems fine. Someone explained it to me in that sometimes chains will stretch over time, and not match with certain cogs, so you need to replace the chain. They suggested a 9 speed narrow chain. My questions is, do I need to chain to match the speeds? (stupid question, but not sure why people suggest chains other than 10 for 10s, and 12 for 12s etc...). Is it more the amount of links in the chain? Would the 8 speed chain be shorter than a 10 speed chain?
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Old 01-29-15, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by lopek77
It's super easy to do it by hand, or easy when dirty. No need for special, expensive tools. All you need is your fingers, or 3rd hand tool - which is free, easy to make, and weights nothing
Yeah I grabbed an old piece of wire and did this, then used the parktool chain breaker, left the pin still slightly in, then removed some links, pushed pin back in...
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Old 01-29-15, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Johnny 831
  • Yeah I guess what I've heard is that if you use a narrow chain (for some reason people mentioned 9 speed chains) that it's easier for your old 10 or 12 speed to shift.
  • ...when in the lowest gear (smallest rear cog) the chain skips, but only in this gear....
  • Someone explained it to me in that sometimes chains will stretch over time, and not match with certain cogs, so you need to replace the chain. not sure why people suggest chains other than 10 for 10s, and 12 for 12s etc...).
  • Is it more the amount of links in the chain? Would the 8 speed chain be shorter than a 10 speed chain?
Wow, you have many misconceptions and some bad info. All you have to do is Google replace chain to get all the info you need (look at written instructions 1st, videos only for additional support) but here's a summary of the points you brought up.
  • Whatever "people" mentioned a 9 speed chain were flat-out wrong. If you have 10 total speeds (2/5, 2/6) then the rear is a 5 or 6 speed. As already noted a few times above, the designation on chains goes according to the rear cogs, not total speeds of the bike. Five rear cogs was long ago obsolete, so many chains don't even mention that - most say 6-7, 6-8, 7-8, etc. DO NOT go higher than an 8 speed, and better to get one that specifies 6 as part of the designation. A narrow chain may well shift more poorly rather than better. In any case you don't need a solution for shifting when the problem is not getting to the small cog (which is HIGH gear, not low) but rather skipping in that gear.
  • The "someone" who explained about "stretch" (really just wear) is correct in some ways, wrong in others. The old chain is worn, and under the higher pressure present when in the highest gear the chain wear shows up as skipping. A new chain may skip on an old rear cluster due to some of the cogs being worn (typically the smaller ones). You need a new chain, but "they" were wrong about a 9 speed chain being the solution.
  • The chains designed for higher cog counts are narrower, not shorter. If you do the work yourself you need to pay attention to proper chain length sizing instructions in any replacement tutorials.
    Again, Google replace chain - sheldonbrown.com and parktool.com are recognized as the best sources. You absolutely do not need a "chain checker" as the symptoms clearly point to chain wear, but if you did I would recommend a ruler instead. You will need a chain tool.

p.s. Although the skipping in the small cog indicates the chain is worn it is also very possible that you are pushing too high a gear for conditions. The high gear on a 10/12 speed would be appropriate for speeds upward of 25mph, and not under acceleration, but rather to maintain that speed - which most riders cannot do for very long other than downhill.

Originally Posted by Johnny 831
Yeah I grabbed an old piece of wire and did this, then used the parktool chain breaker, left the pin still slightly in, then removed some links, pushed pin back in...
You did this when?? For a previous chain or have you installed a new one? Newer narrow chains should not be joined by reusing the old pin. Not only are they more subject to failure but with the wide availability and convenience of connecting links there's no point. Google is your friend again here - reuse chain pin.

I would say that it's a bit odd seeing from past posts that you have been reselling bikes that you have "gone over completely." I don't see how you can own that many bikes and be selling to others when your knowledge is so lacking about something as critical as a chain.

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Old 01-29-15, 07:29 AM
  #13  
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I am using a 9 spd chain on my 8 spd compact setup with no trouble at all. Shimano cassette and FSA cranks, chainrings. Deore rd, Sora fd, Tiagra sti. Bike was assembled from parts on hand, chain was new, cassette near new, chainrings used. Hasn't missed a shift in 50 miles city riding.
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Old 01-29-15, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by a77impala
I am using a 9 spd chain on my 8 spd compact setup with no trouble at all. Shimano cassette and FSA cranks, chainrings. Deore rd, Sora fd, Tiagra sti. Bike was assembled from parts on hand, chain was new, cassette near new, chainrings used. Hasn't missed a shift in 50 miles city riding.
Yes, a 9s on 8s, or a 10s on 9s are OK since the difference is small. But the OP has a 6s system, and a 9s chain would be fully 1mm or so narrower than original, and that's too much (see chart in post No.8)
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Old 01-29-15, 07:52 AM
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[QUOTE=FBinNY;17510513]Yes, a 9s on 8s, or a 10s on 9s are OK since the difference is small. But the OP has a 6s system, and a 9s chain would be fully 1mm or so narrower than original, and that's too much (see chart in post No.8)[/QUOTE

I should have referred to post #3 , where it is recommended to use a chain designed for your cassette. I only used my experience as an example. When I put the chain on I was unsure how it would perform and am happy with the results.
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Old 01-29-15, 04:35 PM
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Hey thanks everyone, this has been super helpful and educational. This is the first time I've come across this issue, and feel good about finding a solution. I really like the fact that instead of going to random Google articles, I can post a question up and hear from people who have been through it and have great info on the subject. Working on bikes is always interesting because you come across new problems all the time, figure it out, and learn something in the process. Thanks again!

PS this is the bike (87 Panasonic DX5000, full shimano 600 groupset) that I'm having an issue with. Recently replaced the bottom bracket with help from nfmisso, who posted above, and now I'm going to get a new chain on it.

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Old 01-29-15, 05:13 PM
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I'm using my original Campy (5x2) cranks with a 9s cassette and chain on the Colnago.. I may have felt "skating" a couple of times, but never dropped the chain between the rings, at least not enough for it to get jammed.

I put an 8s cluster on my cargo bike. I started with a generic chain, and after breaking the chain twice in the first 2 days of riding, I took it off and put on a 9s chain which has worked fine ever since.

I'm going to do some 11s eventually, but I've had quite good luck with the HG73 chains that hit the market at about $10 each (E-Bay direct import).

I suppose I could try a 5s cluster, but that seems like about 3 steps backwards.
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Old 01-29-15, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny 831
...instead of going to random Google articles, I can post a question up and hear from people who have been through it and have great info on the subject.
I'm glad the discussion helped you but "random Google articles" will actually help you more in the long run. Learning bike repair by asking individual questions is a bit like learning to construct sentences by looking up individual words in a dictionary. You need to get the overall picture of how things interact with each other, and your approach has apparently not succeeded in that aspect, or you would not still have some of the misunderstanding about chains and drive trains, in spite of owning and working on many bikes.

Further, the articles aren't random if you pick the sources I mentioned above, and then follow links to other related pages. That way each time you look up one thing you learn about several others. That's also why I recommend text tutorials as a primary source over videos, which leave out too much.

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Old 01-29-15, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75
For bikes with 5-7 cogs on the rear, I tend to use KMC Z50 or Z51 chains. Both are 7.3 mm wide, just a bit wider than 7.1 mm chains intended for 8-speed use. The biggest practical difference between the Z50 and Z51 is that the Z51 comes with a KMC "Missing Link" connecting link. The Z50 is meant to be broken and rejoined the old fashioned way using a chain tool to remove and reinsert a pin.
Very cool! I think I'm going to try the Z50 as I have the Parktool "chain breaker." And, it's $10 hahaha worth a shot... Thanks.
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Old 01-30-15, 07:18 AM
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Skydog75 - The Z50 is meant to be broken and rejoined the old fashioned way using a chain tool to remove and reinsert a pin.

I don't know where Skydog's original post went but I'd love to see someone show me on KMC's site where it says the above is true. Their chain installation guide at https://kmcchain.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/KMC_chain_installation_guide.pdf says "Always use a new ML (Missing Link) on your new chain for safety." I'm an old-school mechanic, having started in the early 70's when a chain tool was the only way to install a chain, so I'm no snob. It's just reality that modern chain design does not lend itself to reusing pins safely. IF one can confirm that a given chain does not use peened pins/rivets then it's possible to reuse them, but I still would not recommend it. Park tool's discussion of the subject is on this page:https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/chain-installation-derailleur-bikes

It is false economy to not install a reusable link, which is not only safer but much more convenient. The extra cost over the several years life of the link is trivial. If one is reselling bikes it is not only ethical to use a link (and protects one against angry buyers) but also is a selling feature, as the person buying the bike does not need a chain tool for maintenance.

As for having a chain tool being a factor in chain choice, it's needed no matter what in order to size the chain.

p.s. I was able to find a couple reviews where it mentions that the z50 comes with a partially installed pin at one end. That would seem to indicate one could use that pin to join the chain after sizing it properly, but I would only use that method once at most. In any case, as the z51 is available on Amazon for $9.90 with a Missing Link, what is the advantage of the z50?

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Old 02-09-15, 12:24 AM
  #21  
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At around 100 chain links length...
I thought it's an interesting way to show how much chain is stretched at "only" 1%, and why it's so damaging to the drivetrain.
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Old 02-10-15, 03:52 AM
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This is from The Wipperman Chain Testing.
63 links at ˝" = 31.5" or 800.1 mm.

[table="width: 500, class: outer_border]
[tr][td]Chain[/td][td]Start Length (mm)[/td][td] %[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Yaban SL 101 Ti[/td][td]799.8[/td][td]-0.04%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Campagnolo Veloce[/td][td]800.1[/td][td]0%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Connex 10s1[/td][td]800.3[/td][td]0.02%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Campagnolo Record[/td][td]800.4[/td][td]0.04%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Connex 10sX[/td][td]800.5[/td][td]0.05%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Connex 10s8[/td][td]800.5[/td][td]0.05%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Connex 10s0[/td][td]800.5[/td][td]0.05%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]KMC 10SL Gold[/td][td]800.6[/td][td]0.06%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Shimano HG-X 74[/td][td]800.7[/td][td]0.08%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Shimano CN 7900[/td][td]800.8[/td][td]0.09%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]SRAM PC 1090[/td][td]800.9[/td][td]0.1%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Shimano CN 7801[/td][td]801[/td][td]0.11%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]SRAM PC 1050[/td][td]801[/td][td]0.11%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]SRAM PC 1090 R[/td][td]801.1[/td][td]0.13%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Point SL 101 Ti[/td][td]801.1[/td][td]0.13%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]Shimano CN 6601[/td][td]801.2[/td][td]0.14%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]SRAM PC 1070[/td][td]801.2[/td][td]0.14%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]KMC 10 Gold[/td][td]802[/td][td]0.24%[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]KMC 10L Silver[/td][td]802.7[/td][td]0.33%[/td][/tr][/table]

It is not completely unbiased, but according to the Wipperman testing, most NEW chains they tested significantly exceeded the 800.1mm standard, with the KMC chains already as much as 0.33% stretched, or already at ⅓ the maximum recommended wear by length WHEN NEW.

I wonder how the short chains fare when mounted on a bike?
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Old 02-10-15, 04:10 AM
  #23  
CliffordK
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For the last year, I've been using Shimano HG-73, 9spd chains.

1st chain: Mounted on my Colnago Super. 2000 to 2500 miles or so. I didn't have any of the 9spd replaceable pins, so I did a standard push the pin out 90%, shorten, and reinstall. I didn't mark the splice pin, but so far, no problems.

2nd chain (long): Mounted on my Cargo Bike. Required 2 replaceable pins. Tollerances are tight. I had to stretch the chain plates outward at the splices to keep chain from kinking. About 250 miles without issues.

3rd chain: Mounted on my Velo Cheapo. Couldn't find my extra replaceable pins, so I pushed out and installed normally (also since I had good luck with that earlier with the Colnago). I marked the link I spliced so I can keep track of it. I ended up getting a kink exactly opposite to the splice. So far, so good with the splice.

Anyway, I have a bit more testing, but so far, I'm not convinced the replaceable pin is actually necessary for the 9spd chains.
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