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How long do your chain and drivetrain last?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

How long do your chain and drivetrain last?

Old 07-24-16, 01:14 PM
  #1  
vinuneuro
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How long do your chain and drivetrain last?

Most of my riding with this bike is on limestone and gravel trails that are quite dusty and sometimes a little muddy. I'm sure the drivetrain will have a shorter life than if it was used only on tarmac. Just wondering how much shorter?
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Old 07-24-16, 05:43 PM
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Really depends on your riding profile. My gravel parcours are dusty and sandy and I generally change my chain around 400-600 miles which is a little before 12 1/8 inches measured with a steel ruler. I can usually get 3-4 chains through a cassette before it's toast. I could probably extend the life by cleaning after every ride but I'd rather just spend the money than the time at this point.

Oddly enough during the rainy years my chains lasted a little longer, I think because the sandy dusty particles are reduced and the stuff that hits the chain is larger and can't work into the rollers to cause wear. For road chains I can get 1,500-1,750 miles before they're done using the same measure as above.

Chainrings seem to last about as long, seems like the teeth get thin in side-section but don't shark tooth like on the road. For me, chainrings die when I start getting consistent chainsuck, my rings have about 7k and are still going fine.

Derailleurs should be about the same as well, jockey wheels may need to go a little bit sooner as they wear fast due to being plastic.

I wholeheartedly recommend using a dry lube. My chains lasted a lot longer once I went to dry lube and it seems to shrug off the grit better over a long ride, helps keep the shifting consistent.

*Cavaet all this with I generally ride like a caveman. Lots of cross chaining, slamming into small cogs and sprinting until I feel like I might die and then slamming into big cogs, chasing KOMs and pretend racing myself and even some actual racing from time to time.
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Old 07-24-16, 06:54 PM
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up on two
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I bought my bike new and was told that the chain and tires usually wear out about the same time/ I know that depends on many variables like chain care, etc but I'm talking as a general rule.

If you can pull the chain more than 1/2 a tooth off the drive rings at the 3:00 position, it's time to replace the chain before it wears out your drive rings and cassette prematurely.
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Old 07-24-16, 08:44 PM
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I have similar conditions. I clean the bike and chain every ride when it is dusty, otherwise every other ride. Limestone acts like a grinding paste.


I get 3500 mi - 4500 mi on a chain. I use prolink gold lube.
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Old 07-27-16, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
For road chains I can get 1,500-1,750 miles before they're done using the same measure as above.

1,500-1,750 miles (2400-2800km) looks way too low for me.

I have now 7500 km on a SRAM 1170 road chain and it will take up to 8500 km until I get almost 1% "elongation" and full chain wear measured with a chain wear caliber.

I cleaned it on the bike once at 700-800 km, I used it 5-10% for hard climbs / sprints and the rest for smooth riding around 80-90% threshold. Only twice or three times on rain rides, but cleaned immediately after those.

Last edited by Redbullet; 07-27-16 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 07-27-16, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by up on two View Post
I bought my bike new and was told that the chain and tires usually wear out about the same time/
.
It looks to me like a very "strange" advice. My rear Continental GP 4000 S tire will last for at least 2-3000 km more than the chain. The front tire will probably last for 6000 - 10000 km more than the chain...
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Old 08-07-16, 05:46 AM
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up on two
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Originally Posted by Redbullet View Post
It looks to me like a very "strange" advice. My rear Continental GP 4000 S tire will last for at least 2-3000 km more than the chain. The front tire will probably last for 6000 - 10000 km more than the chain...

On a CX bike? Maybe on a road bike but we are talking in the CX forums
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Old 08-07-16, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by up on two View Post
On a CX bike? Maybe on a road bike but we are talking in the CX forums
Yes, road bike, sorry, I didn't notice this is the CX forum.
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Old 08-07-16, 10:00 PM
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I replace my chain when it gets to 0.5%, but within 2 years I wore out my inner 34T sprocket (Ultegra). Fortunately it was inexpensive to replace, but I was kind of surprised. I ride about 100 miles each week, about 1/4 of it off-road. I've never had to replace a sprocket on any other bike, including a mountain bike I rode on the same trails for 8 years.
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Old 08-13-16, 08:29 PM
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Be more specific about how you maintain your drivetrain. After you ride off road, do you:

a) wipe down your chain.
b)wipe down your chain then relube.
c) clean your chain with soap and water, then relube.
d) clean your chain with soap, water, degreaser then relube.

Or how often, and under what conditions, do you do what?
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Old 08-14-16, 05:43 AM
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I haven't found out yet. I got maybe 800-1000 miles of road and gravel on my 10 speed Sram chain and it still measures 12". I haven't been the best about cleaning/lubing until a little over a month ago when I decided to try something different. I mixed up 50/50 bar oil and mineral spirits. I cleaned my chain with simple green and paper towels and misted with water and then more paper towels. Then I applied my mixture liberally and let sit for a day or 2 and wiped it off. It is dry now and not greasy to the touch. When I notice grit or particulate on the chain I re clean and repeat. So far my chain seems to be running clean and squeak free. I will keep tabs and try to see when i start noticing stretch but it appears as if it may be a while before that happens to me.

Last edited by trail_monkey; 08-14-16 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 08-14-16, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by profjmb View Post
Be more specific about how you maintain your drivetrain. After you ride off road, do you:

a) wipe down your chain.
b)wipe down your chain then relube.
c) clean your chain with soap and water, then relube.
d) clean your chain with soap, water, degreaser then relube.

Or how often, and under what conditions, do you do what?
Not sure if this was addressed to me or the OP, but since I was born in Evanston ...

FWIW I wipe down the chain after every ride, and about once every 2 weeks (or more frequently if I can see or feel grit in the chain), I clean the chain with degreaser and chain brush cleaner, clean the teeth on my cassettee and sprocket with an old tooth brush, flush the degreaser with 91% isopropanol to remove water and any residual sand, wipe it down and let it dry completely, and then relube. I also every few months take everything apart (crank, cassette, etc) and very thoroughly clean it. (In the case of my mountain bike, I do the above maybe once every six months, and apply lube in between cleanings far less frequently than I probably should.)
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Old 08-14-16, 09:21 AM
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A big part in how long your drivetrain lasts is your choice of lube. The best lube I have found for mixed terrain riding is Rock N Roll regular formula. One application lasts about 100 miles and it does not attract very much dirt and your drivetrain stays clean.
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Old 08-15-16, 09:43 AM
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Im getting about 1500 miles from 10 speed Shimano 105 chain. I'm using Chain-L lube. It's a thick lube that protects well. I apply about every 250 miles and I am careful to remove excess lube multiple times after re-application. Frequent lubrication protects the pins and rollers from excess wear while follow-up cleaning keeps dirt from sticking to the sideplates, chainrings and cassette.
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Old 08-17-16, 10:17 AM
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I use gear oil or chainsaw bar/chain oil, diluted 50% with mineral spirits. After applying I wipe the chain very thoroughly to clean off any oil on the exterior. More works out on the first ride, and I wipe down again, including a final wipedown with a rag dampened with denatured alcohol (not dripping since I don't want to wash any oil out, just clean the exterior film off).

I repeat this monthly (400-500 miles of riding), more often if I ride in the rain. The chains last 2000-3000 miles until 0.5% elongation (12 full links measure at 12-1/16"), when I replace the chain.

The drivetrain stays MUCH cleaner now that I leave the fenders on all year. I usually don't need to wipe down the chain again after the first ride, until the next time I lube.
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Old 08-19-16, 01:07 AM
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My original chain that came on the bike lasted 3,000 miles before swapping to kmc gold platted 11spd chain. I use rock n roll gold chain lube about once a week to keep the chain lubed/cleaned. I'm still rolling on stock drivetrain gears n cassettes for close to 4,500 miles. I did do upgrade on jockey wheels to slf wheels for lighter and faster wheels.
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