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Modern Chains and Vintage Chainwheels

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Modern Chains and Vintage Chainwheels

Old 04-12-20, 09:14 PM
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Modern Chains and Vintage Chainwheels

I'm in the middle of restoring one of my Falcons from the early 1970's and am considering installing a NOS Campy G.S. crankset on it that I have had sitting around for a while. I also have some NOS Regina chains and freewheels as well, but I'm thinking about the diminishing availability of replacement chainrings for the Campy crank and the ever increasing cost.

In the interest of reducing wear of the chainrings, would it be better to use modern chains designed for 6,7 and 8 speed freewheels rather than vintage chains that were designed for 5-speed fw's?

Since I have about a dozen NOS freewheels, this Falcon will remain a 10-speed (5 cog freewheel) bike as long as I own it.
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Old 04-12-20, 10:06 PM
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People will say that new chains shift better☹️ My Raleigh has a G.S. Crankset, Atom 5 speed, and wide Sedis chain. I have a wide nos Regina that will go on it next. I think the wide chain will be kinder to the rings and cogs.
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Old 04-12-20, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
People will say that new chains shift better☹️ My Raleigh has a G.S. Crankset, Atom 5 speed, and wide Sedis chain. I have a wide nos Regina that will go on it next. I think the wide chain will be kinder to the rings and cogs.
i know little about this but isnt the inside of a modern 8 speed chain the same width as a vintage chain?
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Old 04-12-20, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
I'm in the middle of restoring one of my Falcons from the early 1970's and am considering installing a NOS Campy G.S. crankset on it that I have had sitting around for a while. I also have some NOS Regina chains and freewheels as well, but I'm thinking about the diminishing availability of replacement chainrings for the Campy crank and the ever increasing cost.

In the interest of reducing wear of the chainrings, would it be better to use modern chains designed for 6,7 and 8 speed freewheels rather than vintage chains that were designed for 5-speed fw's?

Since I have about a dozen NOS freewheels, this Falcon will remain a 10-speed (5 cog freewheel) bike as long as I own it.
8-speed chains should work just fine. The important thing is to replace the chain before it elongates too much (1/16" per foot is the rule of thumb.) Do that, and you should get many thousands of miles from the rings, especially if they are a hard alloy like the old Campy rings.

P.S. Specialites TA still manufactures 144 BCD road rings. Snag a couple now if you're concerned about that: https://www.spacycles.co.uk/m2b0s113...-Chainrings-TA
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Old 04-12-20, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
People will say that new chains shift better☹️
The new chains change between gears more easily, but they're not as good at staying in a gear, has been my experience. This could be due to the absence of auditory feedback when the derailleur is poorly trimmed, or perhaps because the sideplates of the chain are smaller or the chain is more flexible. I sure like the positive ka-CHUNK followed by knowing that if it's quiet, I'm locked in a gear, that I get with an old five-speed freewheel and bushing'd, large-sideplate chain.
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Old 04-12-20, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
i know little about this but isnt the inside of a modern 8 speed chain the same width as a vintage chain?
I never considered the inside width until you mentioned it. I just measure a SRAM 870 and a vintage Regina. The SRAM is 2.3mm and the Regina is 2.5mm
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Old 04-12-20, 11:02 PM
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Chain Widths

Published dimensions from several reliable sources (YMMV):

Multi speed chains, from 5 to 8 speeds have inner width of 3/32? (2.38 mm).
Multi speed chains from 9 to 12 speeds have inner width of 11/128? (2.18 mm).

Outside width of the links:

5 & 6 speed – 7.8 mm (5/16 in) (all brands)
7 speed – 7.3 mm (9/32 in) (Shimano HG), 7.1 mm (9/32 in) (SRAM, Shimano IG)
8 speed – 7.3 mm (9/32 in) (Shimano HG), 7.1 mm (9/32 in) (SRAM, Shimano IG)
9 speed – 6.6 to 6.8 mm (1/4 to 9/32 in) (all brands)
10 speed - 6.2 mm (1/4 in) (Shimano, Campy), 5.88 mm (7/32 in) (Campy, KMC)

When I put a 14-28 5 Speed FW on my 1967 Peugeot PX-10 I put on a NOS first generation late 70's SedisSport chain. They worked great BITD but didn't shift well with this setup. I went back to an original Sedis chain an all was good.



I attributed the difference to the pins in the old chains, they were wider and caught on the sprockets when shifting up to larger sprockets.




In general, most of the newer 6-7-8 speed chains work well on older chainrings and FW sprockets. I've been using mostly SRAM PC48-58-68 chains and the newer SRAM PC850-870-890 chains for years.

I have encountered problems with some freewheel pulleys with only a little wear on them. I've had to file the widths of the tops of the cogs down on several of them to work smoothly with the slightly narrower newer chains.

So, the specs I posted above may not be completely accurate.

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Old 04-12-20, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post
Published dimensions from several reliable sources (YMMV):

Multi speed chains, from 5 to 8 speeds have inner width of 3/32? (2.38 mm).
Multi speed chains from 9 to 12 speeds have inner width of 11/128? (2.18 mm).

Outside width of the links:

5 & 6 speed – 7.8 mm (5/16 in) (all brands)
7 speed – 7.3 mm (9/32 in) (Shimano HG), 7.1 mm (9/32 in) (SRAM, Shimano IG)
8 speed – 7.3 mm (9/32 in) (Shimano HG), 7.1 mm (9/32 in) (SRAM, Shimano IG)
9 speed – 6.6 to 6.8 mm (1/4 to 9/32 in) (all brands)
10 speed - 6.2 mm (1/4 in) (Shimano, Campy), 5.88 mm (7/32 in) (Campy, KMC)

verktyg
The inside width of 5sp to 11sp chains should be the same (3/32) and only the outside width should vary. This is done by changing the thickness of the sideplates.

My default chain for vintage drivetrains is a KMC 9sp and I've never had any problems. I usually do put modern pulleys on the derailleur though. My thinking with the 9sp chain is that since the outside width is a bit thinner I'm less likely to have rubbing on the chainring in extreme chain angles. I know that I'm not supposed to have extreme angles but with less gears it does happen.
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Old 04-13-20, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Choke View Post
The inside width of 5sp to 11sp chains should be the same (3/32) and only the outside width should vary. This is done by changing the thickness of the sideplates.

My default chain for vintage drivetrains is a KMC 9sp and I've never had any problems. I usually do put modern pulleys on the derailleur though. My thinking with the 9sp chain is that since the outside width is a bit thinner I'm less likely to have rubbing on the chainring in extreme chain angles. I know that I'm not supposed to have extreme angles but with less gears it does happen.
My take is that, with less gears, the chainline angles aren't so extreme at all.
Assuming that the chainline is a modest 44mm and the freewheel is good and close to the dropout (allowed further by virtue of modern chain's narrowness), a six or seven-speed freewheel can be cross-chained with abandon, especially given modern chain's extreme flexibility (due to independent inner link plates and smaller-radius plate overlap). That the front derailer clears modern chain throughout the range is appropriate to the "new reality" of modern chain's narrowness and flexibility allowing "full-range" use of all gears.
Vintage frames generally tolerate cross-chaining even better, yet due to their longer chainstays.

Where modern chain perhaps falls inboard of a vintage crankset's small chainring's teeth following a downshift, fine-tuning of the beveling of the teeth can bias the location of the tips of the teeth, done by means of holding a file against the rotating chainring. I do also love the way that modern 8 and 9s chains grab the big ring's teeth when upshifting.

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