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Google search says to change chain every 2-3 thousand miles

Old 02-18-21, 09:05 AM
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burritos
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Google search says to change chain every 2-3 thousand miles

Of course google isnít bikeforum. Is that true? I have a 16 yr old lemond roadie. Iím on 4k miles this year from commuting? Never been changed. Advice please?
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Old 02-18-21, 09:18 AM
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I've always used 1,000 miles as a rule of thumb. What happens over time is the chain stretches and the pins get farther apart. The chain rings and cassette wear to accommodate that new spacing, and if they go too far, they will no longer accept a new chain.I've gone 2k on a chain, but I'd never go 3. Replacing cassettes and chain rings is too expensive to have to do every few years.

I've also learned from experience to avoid generic/cheap chains. I had one break on tour a couple years ago, the old guy at the bike shop assumed to had 10k miles on it. It had 700. The $40 Sram he sold me was quiet, smooth and buttery by comparison. It even shifted better.

I think you should keep riding what you got until it fails, then budget for a full replacement of chain rings, chain and cassette.

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Old 02-18-21, 12:56 PM
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Just guessing, but if you've ridden ~60,000 miles on your bike, when the shifting becomes unacceptable you'll probably need new chainrings, cassette, and chain. My best guess is it'll cost you more than $120 -- exactly how much depends on what level of componentry it'll take to keep you happy. Just keep riding it if you can put up with the shifting.

I try to check my chains starting around 1,500 miles. Somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 miles, 12 full links measure 12 1/16" on a metal tape measure, and it's time to replace a $20 chain. After 3,000 miles, my shifting becomes unacceptable and it takes a chain and a new cassette ($60 minimum total) to make me happy again.
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Old 02-18-21, 01:23 PM
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You should replace your chain when it is elongated. There is no way to know how many miles that takes because it depends heavily on riding conditions and the cleanliness of your chain. If you ride with a worn chain, you wear out your rear cogs. If you ride on an extremely worn chain, you wear out your chainrings. I replace my chain before it is very worn so it lasts me about three cassettes. I have never worn out a chainring.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Just guessing, but if you've ridden ~60,000 miles on your bike, when the shifting becomes unacceptable you'll probably need new chainrings, cassette, and chain. My best guess is it'll cost you more than $120 -- exactly how much depends on what level of componentry it'll take to keep you happy. Just keep riding it if you can put up with the shifting.

I try to check my chains starting around 1,500 miles. Somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 miles, 12 full links measure 12 1/16" on a metal tape measure, and it's time to replace a $20 chain. After 3,000 miles, my shifting becomes unacceptable and it takes a chain and a new cassette ($60 minimum total) to make me happy again.
Thanks. I haven't ridden 60,000 miles. My bike was a dust collector until this year. So while the chain was old, it had maybe 300 miles on in. It was this year where I started putting on the miles. I don't know, that's why I asked. This board has many helpful people. Based on the first reply, I immediately scheduled to have my bike serviced and chain replaced for tomorrow. Clearly I was clueless and now I have added a clue to my repertoire.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:15 PM
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Best way to check the chain condition is with an ordinary steel ruler or tape measure. Each link is 1/2" long (pin to pin) when new. Each pair of links is 1". That distance goes up as the chain is ridden. Now one pair of links is pretty hard to measure accurately so many of us simply measure pin to pin over 12 pairs of links. (I measure front of pin to front of pin because the clean edges are easy to see.) On a new chain, that will be 12" exactly, When that increases to 12-1/16" I take it off and put on a new one. (I can usually do this several times before the cassette cogs are too worn to accept a new chain. First ride will make that plain.)

If I want to save money, I hang on to the old chains and when new chains no longer work, I rotate through the old ones, going to 12-3/32", even 12-1/8". This does kill the chainrings so there will be more to replace when the time comes.
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Old 02-18-21, 03:19 PM
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Easy answer: yes change it

Medium answer: get a chain checker

Long answer: oh man are you even ready for how hard we can nerd out about this
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Old 02-18-21, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Long answer: oh man are you even ready for how hard we can nerd out about this
Which segues neatly into...

Chain lube!

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Old 02-18-21, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Which segues neatly into...

Chain lube!

but for commuting, mind you, which is a totally different use case with very special requirements which I will now enumerate...

...in song form!
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Old 02-19-21, 08:00 AM
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How do you guys even keep track of how many miles you've ridden? My bike is 25 years-old and has been pedaled into the ground every one of those years; yet, I couldn't even BEGIN to estimate how many miles I have gone in all this time, or even how many miles I rode last week.

Is this something I should be keeping tabs on?.
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Old 02-19-21, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
How do you guys even keep track of how many miles you've ridden? My bike is 25 years-old and has been pedaled into the ground every one of those years; yet, I couldn't even BEGIN to estimate how many miles I have gone in all this time, or even how many miles I rode last week.

Is this something I should be keeping tabs on?.
From one point of view, you only need to keep tabs on it if you want to. It doesn't take a whole lot of time to check the odometer on a simple wired bike computer monthly, and note it in a spreadsheet or notebook. And noting odometer readings takes way less time than changing the chain. Thus, when I read a "how long does a chain last" thread I can check how long my chain has been on, and knowing how long most chains last me, I can figure out if I need to make a run out to the garage and check the wear. (I also check chain length monthly -- if I remember!)

The flip side of this question is, "how are you dealing with chain wear now?" Do you take the time to measure each chain every week or every month? Or do you prefer just to ride it until you've got shifting problems? If the latter, you're willing to pay for a cassette AND a chain when the chain gets worn, as opposed to just changing a (not worn so badly) chain. It's your bike(s), your ride, your money, you get to choose how to deal with it.
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Old 02-19-21, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
....The flip side of this question is, "how are you dealing with chain wear now?" Do you take the time to measure each chain every week or every month? Or do you prefer just to ride it until you've got shifting problems? If the latter, you're willing to pay for a cassette AND a chain when the chain gets worn, as opposed to just changing a (not worn so badly) chain. It's your bike(s), your ride, your money, you get to choose how to deal with it.
My question was sort of rhetorical, but I do have to admit that I envy people who can tell you how many miles they rode last week or last year. I barely keep up with that kind of info for my CAR. (The dashboard tells me all I need to know!)

Likewise, having ridden and serviced bicycles for most of my 58 years - and having ridden the SAME bicycle for twenty-five of those years - I know in an instant when something doesn't feel right. And in the case of the chain, I can confirm or disprove my suspicion with my Park Chain Checker.

To me, it seems that riding a chain for a thousand miles on boardwalks and bike paths is different than riding one for a thousand miles in the mountains or on hilly road routes where you're standing on the pedals and stressing the heck out of the chain a lot of the time. For this reason, I've always considered the manufacturers' recommendations as rough guidelines, to be modified according to the type of riding you've done during the life of the chain.
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Old 02-19-21, 02:12 PM
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Just took it to the LBS. The owner said they'll try a new chain, but there's a good chance that it'll make it worse. He said it could require a new cassette and crankset but for the fact that the parts are on super back order. So, if it doesn't work, then he'll pretty up the existing chain and put it back on. Oh well, I didn't know. I don't recall if there was a maintenance brochure when I got the bike 14 years ago. I don't know any other cyclists to have been granted this advice. I suppose I should have intuited that the chain needed to be changed, but I'm not that smart. I just started pedaling and occasionally sprayed on blue lightening. Now I'm going to probably pay the price. Bummer. Oh well.
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Old 02-19-21, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
My question was sort of rhetorical, but I do have to admit that I envy people who can tell you how many miles they rode last week or last year. I barely keep up with that kind of info for my CAR. (The dashboard tells me all I need to know!)

Likewise, having ridden and serviced bicycles for most of my 58 years - and having ridden the SAME bicycle for twenty-five of those years - I know in an instant when something doesn't feel right. And in the case of the chain, I can confirm or disprove my suspicion with my Park Chain Checker.

To me, it seems that riding a chain for a thousand miles on boardwalks and bike paths is different than riding one for a thousand miles in the mountains or on hilly road routes where you're standing on the pedals and stressing the heck out of the chain a lot of the time. For this reason, I've always considered the manufacturers' recommendations as rough guidelines, to be modified according to the type of riding you've done during the life of the chain.
I keep a spreadsheet of miles, elevation and the bike. (Used to create spreadsheets in the '80s to do engineering calculations on ships. Got the skill; it's kinda fun.)

So I have mileage calendars going back a dozen years with running totals of mileage for every bike. I can get mileage numbers for just about any weird whatever I want. (Last half decade I started tracking fix gear and geared mileages. Saw that if I did it right, I could arrange my riding to hit 100,000 miles of each on the same day! That was fun.

I make notes of bike maintenance on the calendar but rarely use it as maintenance schedule. I just try to stay in tune with each bike and do what it needs. Chains - never on mileage, always by the tape measure. (Not a saint. They grow long in the tooth link occasionally.)
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Old 02-19-21, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Just took it to the LBS. The owner said they'll try a new chain, but there's a good chance that it'll make it worse. He said it could require a new cassette and crankset but for the fact that the parts are on super back order. So, if it doesn't work, then he'll pretty up the existing chain and put it back on. Oh well, I didn't know. I don't recall if there was a maintenance brochure when I got the bike 14 years ago. I don't know any other cyclists to have been granted this advice. I suppose I should have intuited that the chain needed to be changed, but I'm not that smart. I just started pedaling and occasionally sprayed on blue lightening. Now I'm going to probably pay the price. Bummer. Oh well.
Believe me, we have (almost) all been there! Ride on, swap the parts when they become available (might be smart to get/order whatever you can and keep trying on the rest) and laugh about it later.
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Old 02-19-21, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
How do you guys even keep track of how many miles you've ridden? My bike is 25 years-old and has been pedaled into the ground every one of those years; yet, I couldn't even BEGIN to estimate how many miles I have gone in all this time, or even how many miles I rode last week.

Is this something I should be keeping tabs on?.
I donít count the miles as such. But when I alternate between chains, I do stick to a routine. Before Covid crashed my commuting it was every 2nd week. Now, I actually note the number on the bike computer odometer.
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Old 02-19-21, 02:36 PM
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Chain checker. It's worth at least the couple of dollars in piece of mind. I've had chains in nasty gritty conditions be absolute completely worn out junk in 500 miles. I've had others last more than 3000 that only got changed because of upgraditis.

As noted, so much depends on how you ride, the conditions you ride in, & maintenance efforts that it's impossible to give a recommendation. Kudos for going to the bike shop to check & confirm. If you do need a cassette, chain, etc...You need not be confined to the ever-popular Sram-mano; There's lots of other manufacturers that make perfectly acceptable parts. Sunrace & KMC immediatley comes to mind.

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Old 02-19-21, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I keep a spreadsheet of miles, elevation and the bike. (Used to create spreadsheets in the '80s to do engineering calculations on ships. Got the skill; it's kinda fun.)...
I guess that's the beauty of all cyclists being different. Although my bike is one of my most prized possessions, I rarely give a thought to lubricating the chain, checking air pressure, or re-greasing bearings unless I feel something "off." Then I get right on it. After 25 years of doing my own service, my 1996 GT Outpost rides like it's three weeks out of the bike shop -- in fact, BETTER than it did then! If you ask me how many miles it has on it or how many miles I got out of specific components, I would look at you completely dumbfounded.
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Old 02-20-21, 10:26 PM
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As responders above have said:
1. Everyone rides differently.
2. Get a chain checker (Park Tool is +/- $11.50) and change the chain when needed.
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Old 02-20-21, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Just took it to the LBS. The owner said they'll try a new chain, but there's a good chance that it'll make it worse. He said it could require a new cassette and crankset but for the fact that the parts are on super back order. So, if it doesn't work, then he'll pretty up the existing chain and put it back on. Oh well, I didn't know. I don't recall if there was a maintenance brochure when I got the bike 14 years ago. I don't know any other cyclists to have been granted this advice. I suppose I should have intuited that the chain needed to be changed, but I'm not that smart. I just started pedaling and occasionally sprayed on blue lightening. Now I'm going to probably pay the price. Bummer. Oh well.
If the bike has been a dust collector as you claim then the chainrings being worn after 4k miles is nonsense. Buy a chain checker, the park has two sides, one side is .5 stretch, the other is .75 stretch. If only the .5 fits then toss on a new chain and see what happens, unless you only pedaled in 1-2 gears it'll probably work fine across all of them and be fine until you have worn out the new chain. If it fits at .75 it isn't worth experimenting, just replace the cassette as well. A chain ring will outlast 4 or 5 chains unless you used them way past when they should have been replaced, and one chain at 4k miles isn't even close, usually a minimum of 10k miles and often more if chains are kept lubed, cleaned and replaced at reasonable intervals. Unless the rings are work to a sharp point, it isn't time. Rounded teeth are fine.
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Old 02-21-21, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
If the bike has been a dust collector as you claim then the chainrings being worn after 4k miles is nonsense. Buy a chain checker, the park has two sides, one side is .5 stretch, the other is .75 stretch. If only the .5 fits then toss on a new chain and see what happens, unless you only pedaled in 1-2 gears it'll probably work fine across all of them and be fine until you have worn out the new chain. If it fits at .75 it isn't worth experimenting, just replace the cassette as well. A chain ring will outlast 4 or 5 chains unless you used them way past when they should have been replaced, and one chain at 4k miles isn't even close, usually a minimum of 10k miles and often more if chains are kept lubed, cleaned and replaced at reasonable intervals. Unless the rings are work to a sharp point, it isn't time. Rounded teeth are fine.
Gosh I hope you're right. I think I'm just projecting a worst case scenario. The LBS guy didn't say that the crankshaft or the cassette definitely needed to be replace but did state it was a possibility. After I had left I thought to myself I should have asked him to quantify the likelihood. 50/50?1/100?1/1000? Guess I'll have to wait and see. Till then, I'm going to have to take my MTB for my commute.
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Old 02-21-21, 06:32 PM
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As the old saying goes... Your mileage may vary.
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Old 02-21-21, 08:23 PM
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I suppose I am just fortunate that I can still replace the bottom bracket AND chain on my bike for about thirty dollars. If this is common with the newer bikes out there, perhaps the OP should be aware that replacing a bicycle's drive train is NOT such a major expense.
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Old 02-22-21, 08:55 AM
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I used to commute about 3200 miles a year. My long-time commuter and now winter bike has a triple up front that loves to munch chains. So I would usually end up changing the chain every year or two. Six years ago I bought a new bike and didn't think about changing the chain until the chain began skipping after 4 years. The new chain skipped on the rear gears which had to be replaced. I took advantage of that to get a wider spread of gears with a lower low gear to help my aging knees on hills. The gears were about 30 bucks and with the install about $20. That's only about a tank and a half of gas.

While I wasn't having chain issues on my old road bike I did change the rear gears a few years ago to get lower gearing for my knees. I had to replace the chain as it had stretched and didn't work with the new chain.

But right now, since I no longer have a daily commute I am more worried about my posterior expanding.
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Old 02-22-21, 12:37 PM
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The chain on my recumbent bike lasted me nearly 5 years, about 7k miles. I don't know if I'm easy on chains (I tend to spin high RPMs and not mash) or I should have checked it more frequently. I did have the rear cog replaced at the same time. Haven't put as many miles on it in the last few years between my many moves, and now splitting my ride time between the bike and the velo.

Back when I was a poor starving college student, my bike was my only transportation and I averaged just shy of 1k miles/month. I think I still rode with the same chain for 5-6 years (12 speed Fuji, early 90s model).
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