Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

How long should a chain last?

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

How long should a chain last?

Old 07-06-15, 12:38 PM
  #1  
realityinabox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 82

Bikes: 2014 Trek Crossrip Comp

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How long should a chain last?

I put ~1500 miles on my first chain before learning about chain "stretch"/wear. I ordered a Parktool chain checker and the chain was very worn. I replaced the chain one evening and threw out the old one. When I left for work the next morning, my rear derailleur was binding pretty badly. I was able to find a gear that worked, so I continued riding on that single gear for the next week before I could change out the rear cassette.

I've put roughly 450 miles on the new chain, perhaps 80 of which were on the worn out cassette (I'm not 100% sure on my miles, trying to estimate based on Amazon order dates and Garmin history). Yesterday when I was cleaning my chain, ran the chain checker on a whim and was shocked to find that I was already dropping in on the 0.5 measurement. The 0.7 measure is still good, but I am still shocked that this chain has worn out so quickly.

How long do chains typically last? Could that week of riding it in the single gear on the worn out derailleur have worn it out that much? I suppose if the front cranks and/or the rear derailleur sprockets got worn out from the old chain they could be wearing the chain out at a faster rate.
realityinabox is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 01:41 PM
  #2  
grolby
Senior Member
 
grolby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BOSTON BABY
Posts: 9,702
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 256 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 31 Posts
The chain checkers aren't precise enough to give you week-to-week updates on chain wear. They typically will say that a new chain is worn, even though of course it isn't. Don't worry about it. Check it in a few months.
grolby is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 01:47 PM
  #3  
RubeRad
Keepin it Wheel
 
RubeRad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: San Diego
Posts: 9,450

Bikes: Surly CrossCheck, Krampus

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked 1,265 Times in 945 Posts
I have been biking about two years on a bike that I built up, I've ridden probably 6000 miles and have been rotating two chains, they were bought new KMC x9.93. The cassette was bought used off eBay, I don't know how used, but I think not much. I have never checked for chain wear (don't own a checker, but from what I've read a decent steel ruler does the job just as well), and things are running/shifting smooth/quiet enough that I'm not planning on buying new chain(s) any time soon.

PS I lube with Chain-L.
RubeRad is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 01:49 PM
  #4  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,184

Bikes: Ridley Excalibur, Gazelle Champion Mondial, On-One Pompino, Specialized Rock Hopper

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2664 Post(s)
Liked 2,233 Times in 1,059 Posts
Originally Posted by realityinabox View Post
I put ~1500 miles on my first chain before learning about chain "stretch"/wear. I ordered a Parktool chain checker and the chain was very worn. I replaced the chain one evening and threw out the old one. When I left for work the next morning, my rear derailleur was binding pretty badly. I was able to find a gear that worked, so I continued riding on that single gear for the next week before I could change out the rear cassette.

I've put roughly 450 miles on the new chain, perhaps 80 of which were on the worn out cassette (I'm not 100% sure on my miles, trying to estimate based on Amazon order dates and Garmin history). Yesterday when I was cleaning my chain, ran the chain checker on a whim and was shocked to find that I was already dropping in on the 0.5 measurement. The 0.7 measure is still good, but I am still shocked that this chain has worn out so quickly.

How long do chains typically last? Could that week of riding it in the single gear on the worn out derailleur have worn it out that much? I suppose if the front cranks and/or the rear derailleur sprockets got worn out from the old chain they could be wearing the chain out at a faster rate.
Yes, you can prematurely wear out a new chain with an old cassette.
caloso is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 02:27 PM
  #5  
Billb59
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Cape Coral, FL work in Ft Myers
Posts: 64

Bikes: Jamis Aurora

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I generally get about 2,000 miles on a Dura Ace 10 speed chain, and I usually change out the cassette after 8,000 miles....chain wheels usually last about 12,000 to 15,000 miles. This based upon my driving pattern......I average about 4,000 miles a year.
Billb59 is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 02:37 PM
  #6  
gsa103
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 4,401

Bikes: Bianchi Infinito (Celeste, of course)

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 753 Post(s)
Liked 103 Times in 76 Posts
It depends a lot on riding style and conditions. Heavier riders, wet or dusty riding all shorten chain life. Proper lubrication is also essential. A winter commuter might only get 1k miles on a chain, while a fair weather road bike could easily last 5k miles.
gsa103 is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 02:44 PM
  #7  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by grolby View Post
The chain checkers aren't precise enough to give you week-to-week updates on chain wear. They typically will say that a new chain is worn, even though of course it isn't. Don't worry about it. Check it in a few months.
I've never had one of those chain checkers say a new chain is worn? (Would kind of defeat the point... right?) Have you personally experienced this?
corrado33 is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 03:59 PM
  #8  
InTheRain
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Puget Sound
Posts: 1,980

Bikes: 2007 Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 (bionx), 2015 Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 141 Post(s)
Liked 7 Times in 5 Posts
I replace mine at 3000-4000 miles. That's on the commuter that sees a lot of rain and muck during the winter months. I keep it lubed (once every 2-3 weeks in the winter months.)
InTheRain is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 04:13 PM
  #9  
fietsbob
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,599

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,318 Times in 828 Posts
Chain checkers? The Shop one KMC sells is digital , the others like Rohloff's is a go/no-go ; an adequate or worn too much test .
fietsbob is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 04:52 PM
  #10  
nstgc
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
It depends a lot on riding style and conditions. Heavier riders, wet or dusty riding all shorten chain life. Proper lubrication is also essential. A winter commuter might only get 1k miles on a chain, while a fair weather road bike could easily last 5k miles.
Yeah. My winter commuting killed my chain. It was essentially brand-new prior to the snow and salt.
nstgc is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 06:45 PM
  #11  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by realityinabox View Post
Yesterday when I was cleaning my chain, ran the chain checker on a whim and was shocked to find that I was already dropping in on the 0.5 measurement. The 0.7 measure is still good, but I am still shocked that this chain has worn out so quickly.
Check out the specs for your chain/groupset. Some say that .5 is acceptable and .7 is when you should replace, others say .7 is acceptable and 1.0 is when you should replace. (I've seen the some chain checkers with .5 and .7 and others with .7 and 1.0)

You may not be as close as you think. But yes, a worn cassette will wear a new chain quite quickly.
corrado33 is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 07:25 PM
  #12  
DiabloScott
It's MY mountain
 
DiabloScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mt.Diablo
Posts: 9,247

Bikes: Klein, Merckx, Trek

Mentioned: 61 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2910 Post(s)
Liked 857 Times in 501 Posts
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Yes, you can prematurely wear out a new chain with an old cassette.
Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
But yes, a worn cassette will wear a new chain quite quickly.
Nope - I think you're both just misspeaking... a worn chain will wear out a new cassette - no way a worn cassette will wear out a chain any faster.
DiabloScott is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 08:24 PM
  #13  
ItsJustMe
Seior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 13,749

Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 446 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
I gave up changing chains.

I found I got about 1800 miles on a chain before it read 0.75 on the Park gauge, then I'd replace it. Keeping to that regimen, I found after 9000 miles, the cassette was too worn and I had to replace it with the new chain too.

Then one day I decided to see what would happen if I just didn't replace the damned chain.

I got about 9000 miles out of the combo of the chain and the cassette before it started being a little wonky with shifting.

So IMO the choice is, go through about 5 or 6 chains and one cassette in 9000 miles or go through ONE chain and one cassette in 9000 miles

I suppose eventually the chainring is going to wear too. I've only ridden one about 30,000 miles and never wore one out so I don't know. But I ride pretty inexpensive components and I watch for sales; I did wreck a crank once (stripped the pedal threads) but thanks to watching for sales I had an entire crankset spare that I bought on clearance at Nashbar for $8.
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 11:09 PM
  #14  
a1penguin
Senior Member
 
a1penguin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 3,190
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 135 Post(s)
Liked 18 Times in 11 Posts
I have 5100 miles on my chain and it's just barely in the range of needing replacing according to the park tool.
a1penguin is offline  
Old 07-06-15, 11:33 PM
  #15  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1129 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
Nope - I think you're both just misspeaking... a worn chain will wear out a new cassette - no way a worn cassette will wear out a chain any faster.
You're probably right, I just read it here. But now that I think about it, it seems to be right since chains "wear" by stretching.

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I gave up changing chains.

I got about 9000 miles out of the combo of the chain and the cassette before it started being a little wonky with shifting.
I had the opposite experience on my commuter. One month I realized that something felt "off" "gritty" almost in my setup. After thoroughly cleaning and lubing everything, it was STILL there. Lastly, I checked the chain and it was worn according to the park tool. I replaced it and all was well again.

But then again, you have many, many more miles on bikes than I do.
corrado33 is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 03:30 AM
  #16  
Bike Gremlin
Mostly harmless
 
Bike Gremlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Novi Sad
Posts: 4,176

Bikes: Custom made on Scott Speedster frame, Custom made on a 1996. steel MTB frame (all but frame changed at least once in the past 20 years).

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 994 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 31 Posts
1% is when the chain should be changed. 0.75% is when you should start checking more often.

Best bicycle chain lube

Last edited by Bike Gremlin; 08-24-20 at 05:22 AM.
Bike Gremlin is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 08:38 AM
  #17  
realityinabox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 82

Bikes: 2014 Trek Crossrip Comp

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
1% is when the chain should be changed. 0.75% is when you should start checking more often.

Best bicycle chain lube
You really use motor oil?
realityinabox is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 01:30 PM
  #18  
Bike Gremlin
Mostly harmless
 
Bike Gremlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Novi Sad
Posts: 4,176

Bikes: Custom made on Scott Speedster frame, Custom made on a 1996. steel MTB frame (all but frame changed at least once in the past 20 years).

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 994 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 31 Posts
Originally Posted by realityinabox View Post
You really use motor oil?
20w60 in the summer. One litre bottle lasts... ages.
Bike Gremlin is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 02:02 PM
  #19  
ItsJustMe
Seior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 13,749

Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 446 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by realityinabox View Post
You really use motor oil?
Motor oil is just fine. Thicker is good though.

I've started using Chain-L in the summer (on the road bike), Pedro Synlube in the winter to help put up with salt and grime.

Chain-L is, as far as I can tell, just thick motor oil, like maybe 60 weight. Gear lube sort of range.

I've given up on everything that's thin. I tried quite a few thin bike chain specific lubes and none of them worked at all for me, including Boeshield T9
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 02:37 PM
  #20  
kickstart
Senior Member
 
kickstart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Kent Wa.
Posts: 5,332

Bikes: 2005 Gazelle Golfo, 1935 Raleigh Sport, 1970 Robin Hood sport, 1974 Schwinn Continental, 1984 Ross MTB/porteur, 2013 Flying Piegon path racer, 2014 Gazelle Toer Populair T8

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 396 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
I replace mine at 3000-4000 miles. That's on the commuter that sees a lot of rain and muck during the winter months. I keep it lubed (once every 2-3 weeks in the winter months.)
The chain on my gazelle has 2500 miles of daily riding on it since January, I haven't cleaned, oiled, or adjusted it yet, and its still looks like new with no sign of wear.........gotta love enclosed chains.
kickstart is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 03:32 PM
  #21  
practical
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Middelbury, Vermont
Posts: 1,105

Bikes: Giant Escape 1

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 136 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 2 Posts
Would chainsaw chain and bar oil work well on a bike? I'm thinking it would. Right now I've got bike chain oil from the LBS and I'll keep using it until it's gone, but I figure chainsaw bar oil would be a good replacement. Anyone have any experience with that?
practical is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 03:37 PM
  #22  
RubeRad
Keepin it Wheel
 
RubeRad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: San Diego
Posts: 9,450

Bikes: Surly CrossCheck, Krampus

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Liked 1,265 Times in 945 Posts
Let me google that for you

Less snarky answer: yes, many people have had good success.
RubeRad is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 03:44 PM
  #23  
Wanderer
aka Phil Jungels
 
Wanderer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: North Aurora, IL
Posts: 8,234

Bikes: 08 Specialized Crosstrail Sport, 05 Sirrus Comp

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 202 Post(s)
Liked 82 Times in 56 Posts
Chain saw bar oil is an excellent lubricant for bicycle chains. Mix some with some Mineral Spirits, to make it flow better, and makes it a little easier to wipe down after lubing..... Oil the rollers, to get it to the pins, and try to wipe most of it off of the outside of the chain. 4 parts oil, 1 Mineral Spirits.
Wanderer is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 08:15 PM
  #24  
mozad655
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 290
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I kept running on the same original chain and casette for 4 years with occasional cleaning and lubing. Some times once every 3-6 months, others time more often. My shifting got poor lately so I finally replaced the chain and casette with a brand new set. It did not fix the problem, feels exactly the same (I suspect it has to do with cable housing or cable so I will replace those next). So as far as I'm concerned, you should not change casette or chain until either one breaks or you have extraordinary difficulties with shifting, chain skipping etc. I'm probably going back to my old set now and keeping this new set as spare.

As for rulers and chain wear indicators, I highly doubt that they really work. Chain wear is so microscopical that its practically impossible to measure. There are so many factors involved here that could make measurements seemingly go on either way. Just ride until you can't ride anymore and buy a new set of chain and casette around every 5-7 years.
mozad655 is offline  
Old 07-07-15, 08:44 PM
  #25  
ItsJustMe
Seior Member
 
ItsJustMe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 13,749

Bikes: Windsor Fens, Giant Seek 0 (2014, Alfine 8 + discs)

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 446 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 7 Posts
Originally Posted by mozad655 View Post
As for rulers and chain wear indicators, I highly doubt that they really work. Chain wear is so microscopical that its practically impossible to measure. There are so many factors involved here that could make measurements seemingly go on either way. Just ride until you can't ride anymore and buy a new set of chain and casette around every 5-7 years.
Chain wear is VERY EASY to measure. The standard way is to hold a ruler up to a chain, and if a "foot" of chain is more than 1/16" longer than a foot, then it's time to change the chain.

Here's the patron saint of greasy hands on the subject:

Chain Maintenance
__________________
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
ItsJustMe is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.