Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

How Do You Know When Your Chain / Cassette Need Replacing??

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

How Do You Know When Your Chain / Cassette Need Replacing??

Old 10-29-18, 07:30 AM
  #1  
Witterings
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Witterings, West Sussex
Posts: 958
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
How Do You Know When Your Chain / Cassette Need Replacing??

How do you know when you chain and cassette need replacing, I bought my bike 2nd hand and have done 1600 miles on it since, I was having some issues with the rear shifting into lower gears and have swapped the cable and re-indexed which has smoothed it out considerably but occasionally it doesn't jump up and I think it's always between the same 2 gears.
Witterings is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 07:39 AM
  #2  
mcours2006
Senior Member
 
mcours2006's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 5,675

Bikes: Giant Rapid, Bianchi Advantage, Specialized Roubaix, 1985 Gardin Quatro, Norco Threshold, Raleigh Serengheti MTB

Mentioned: 44 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1720 Post(s)
Liked 39 Times in 22 Posts
I replaced my chain recently after about 10,000 km. The shifting wasn't poor, but it was more of a clicking/creaking noise from the drive train that couldn't isolate. The new chain did the trick.

When my chain gets neglected, i.e. riding in rain/snow and not being cleaned and re-lubed, the shifting is quite rough.
mcours2006 is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 07:53 AM
  #3  
livedarklions
Je suis Snap Motomag
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 3,834

Bikes: Trek FX 3; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; "Motobecane" Fantom CX

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1925 Post(s)
Liked 444 Times in 264 Posts
https://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-CC-.../dp/B07DR6VR5B
livedarklions is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 08:00 AM
  #4  
livedarklions
Je suis Snap Motomag
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 3,834

Bikes: Trek FX 3; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; "Motobecane" Fantom CX

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1925 Post(s)
Liked 444 Times in 264 Posts
Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How do you know when you chain and cassette need replacing, I bought my bike 2nd hand and have done 1600 miles on it since, I was having some issues with the rear shifting into lower gears and have swapped the cable and re-indexed which has smoothed it out considerably but occasionally it doesn't jump up and I think it's always between the same 2 gears.

Sounds like the chain is overdue and probably worn down the cassette You can look at the teeth on the gears you're having problems with and probably see they're worn differently.

Best to replace the chain and the cassette at this point--if you just replace the chain, you'll probably find the skipping becomes even worse.

From here on in, use the chain checker I linked above to detect when it's time to change the chain before it wears down the cassette again. People vary in how many miles they can get out of a chain because of differences in riding conditions and style, so there's no general rule.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 08:21 AM
  #5  
Phil_gretz
Journeyman Bike Commuter
 
Phil_gretz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 5,033

Bikes: '71 Jeunet 630, '79 Peugeot PXN10LE, '83 Fuji America, '88 Fuji Saratoga, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite, '18 Velobuild VB-R-022

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 567 Post(s)
Liked 77 Times in 51 Posts
Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
How do you know when you chain and cassette need replacing,..
Using a steel ruled straight edge of at least 12 inches, measure link to link for 12 complete links (that's 24 1/2-links). This should be nominally 12" from pin center-to-center. A worn chain will appear to elongate as a result of wear around the pins. At 1/16" elongation, your chain is a candidate for replacement. At 1/8" elongation, you have waited too long.

If you regularly replace a chain at between 1/16" and 1/8" your chain rings and cassette cogs will last longer. If you ride well beyond 1/8" stretch, you're a candidate to replace the cassette, too. If you have any questions, it doesn't hurt to replace the chain and see if there is any skipping on particularly worn cogs. This is a routine wear item that you should inspect regularly, and should expect to replace periodically.
Phil_gretz is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 08:24 AM
  #6  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 8,750
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 895 Post(s)
Liked 22 Times in 16 Posts
Best way to measure chain stretch is with a 12" steel rule. Each link is 1" so the distance between 11 links is 11" when new. When the distance gets to 11 3/32 it's time for a new chain. If you let the chain stretch by 1/8" you risk destroying the cassette. If a new chain skips, you've waited too long and will need to replace the cassette as well.
gregf83 is online now  
Old 10-29-18, 08:43 AM
  #7  
Witterings
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Witterings, West Sussex
Posts: 958
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Cheers everyone, looks like the steel rule's coming out tonight :-)

If you've only damaged 1 or 2 cogs on the cassette can you change just those cogs or are you best off just getting a whole new cassette anyway?
Witterings is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 09:12 AM
  #8  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,632

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6838 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 215 Times in 179 Posts
2=1

NB; the pitch is 1/2.. between pin centers , the 1" is over 3 pin centers,
an inner link and an outer link = that 1 'link'.

There are half links . a side plate functions as both inner and outer
by stamping a bend in the side plates..
whole chains are made up of half links , but none for derailleur bikes..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 01:45 PM
  #9  
DaveSSS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Loveland, CO
Posts: 5,234

Bikes: Look KG461, Colnago C-RS

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 91 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 9 Posts
Not all chains wear out by increasing pitch. Campy chains can be used for 6,000 miles and show very little elongation, even over the entire length of the chain. Despite the small amount of elongation, I've measured extreme wear on the rollers and side clerance between the inner and outer links that's twice that of a new chain. I never noticed that the shifting degraded, despite that much wear.

With Campy chains, I changed to measuring the space between the rollers with a plug gage that's thin enough to fit between the rollers and about .230 inch wide. If that gage slips between the rollers, the chain is severely worn. I made my plug gage from a 6mm hex wrench, ground down to about .070 inch thick. I also check side clearance between the inner and outer links. A new chain may measure about .004 inch and a really worn one, twice that.

If you really want to get maximum chain and cassette life, use at least 3 chains with one cassette and alternate their use, whenever a chain is removed for cleaning, or no more than each 1000 miles. If you do that, the cassette will last the life of all of the chains and you will never prematurely trash a cassette due to new-chain skip.

If you're using a chain that tends to wear by elongation, place a 12" precision rule on the edge of a pin and then look at the pin on the other end. If about half of the pin at the opposite end is exposed, the chain has reached .5% elongation. When new, that pin will be totally covered by the rule.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chain-wear.html

Last edited by DaveSSS; 10-29-18 at 01:53 PM.
DaveSSS is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 02:35 PM
  #10  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,163
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 906 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 38 Posts
Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Best way to measure chain stretch is with a 12" steel rule. Each link is 1" so the distance between 11 links is 11" when new. When the distance gets to 11 3/32 it's time for a new chain. If you let the chain stretch by 1/8" you risk destroying the cassette. If a new chain skips, you've waited too long and will need to replace the cassette as well.
This^^^^
Kapusta is online now  
Old 10-29-18, 02:55 PM
  #11  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 6,895

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 92 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1639 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 60 Times in 51 Posts
Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Best way to measure chain stretch is with a 12" steel rule. Each link is 1" so the distance between 11 links is 11" when new. When the distance gets to 11 3/32 it's time for a new chain. If you let the chain stretch by 1/8" you risk destroying the cassette. If a new chain skips, you've waited too long and will need to replace the cassette as well.
I'm not perfectly systematic, but my routine is: replace chains at 1/16", bag the old chain and mark it as 1/16. Do this for several chains. Then I use those chains until I get around 3/31". Toss them. Run out of 1/16s chains and it is time to spend the bucks for new drivetrain. This takes about 25,000 miles; ie a long time if you ride multiple bikes. (My 10 year old custom is still on its first set of chains. I'll probably have to go to a newer than 9-speed drivetrain when the time comes but there's no rush.

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 10-29-18, 07:13 PM
  #12  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,491
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 767 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 23 Times in 15 Posts
I just posted this in a new thread about chin length.

Chains should be replaced when the stretch is greater than 1/16" in a foot, especially if you have aluminum cogs or chainrings. It is good to measure the stretch while the chain is on the bike. The rear derailleur put some tension on it. These are slides that my wife and I made for a bike maintenance course we taught. Chains are cheaper than chainrings or cassettes.



__
________________

Last edited by Doug64; 10-29-18 at 11:44 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 06:34 AM
  #13  
Witterings
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Witterings, West Sussex
Posts: 958
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
I've measured and it's stretched by 1/8" so guess I've left it too long .... I couldn't see any signs of damage to the cassette but then I'm not expert in knowing what I should be looking for, if I change the chain will it be obvious if the cassette's been damaged from "chain skip" .... something I'd never heard of before.
Witterings is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 06:53 AM
  #14  
livedarklions
Je suis Snap Motomag
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 3,834

Bikes: Trek FX 3; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; "Motobecane" Fantom CX

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1925 Post(s)
Liked 444 Times in 264 Posts
Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
I've measured and it's stretched by 1/8" so guess I've left it too long .... I couldn't see any signs of damage to the cassette but then I'm not expert in knowing what I should be looking for, if I change the chain will it be obvious if the cassette's been damaged from "chain skip" .... something I'd never heard of before.

Almost certainly--you will have a very unpleasant ride if you just change the chain.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 09:07 AM
  #15  
SouthFLpix
Senior Member
 
SouthFLpix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 1,230

Bikes: 2007 Giant Cypress DX, Windsor Tourist 2011

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As a side note, I've noticed that if you get the mid-range (or above) chains they last noticeably longer. I assume this is to due to the use of harder metals which discourage elongation.
SouthFLpix is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 03:03 PM
  #16  
Doug64
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 5,491
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 767 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 23 Times in 15 Posts
Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
I've measured and it's stretched by 1/8" so guess I've left it too long .... I couldn't see any signs of damage to the cassette but then I'm not expert in knowing what I should be looking for, if I change the chain will it be obvious if the cassette's been damaged from "chain skip" .... something I'd never heard of before.
Why don't you replace the chain a see how it works. You generally cannot change individual cogs, except for the 2-3 smallest ones, on most cassettes.

Some chain skips are caused by improper cable tension. Check Park Tools' site for the proper way to adjust a rear derailleur. Sometimes as simple as a stretched derailleur cable will cause a chain to "skip".
Doug64 is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 04:37 PM
  #17  
Sy Reene
Advocatus Diaboli
 
Sy Reene's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Wherever I am
Posts: 4,708

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene, Nashbar steel CX

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2207 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 29 Posts
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Using a steel ruled straight edge of at least 12 inches, measure link to link for 12 complete links (that's 24 1/2-links). This should be nominally 12" from pin center-to-center. A worn chain will appear to elongate as a result of wear around the pins. At 1/16" elongation, your chain is a candidate for replacement. At 1/8" elongation, you have waited too long.

If you regularly replace a chain at between 1/16" and 1/8" your chain rings and cassette cogs will last longer. If you ride well beyond 1/8" stretch, you're a candidate to replace the cassette, too. If you have any questions, it doesn't hurt to replace the chain and see if there is any skipping on particularly worn cogs. This is a routine wear item that you should inspect regularly, and should expect to replace periodically.
A little overcomplicated.. just line up your ruler with a pin on the 1" mark. Then look at the 13" mark (12" apart). then use the 1/16" guideline as per above. No need to count links. If your chain has stretched by an entire half-link, you'd definitely know it, so no need to count them.
Sy Reene is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 04:40 PM
  #18  
Witterings
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Witterings, West Sussex
Posts: 958
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 499 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Why don't you replace the chain a see how it works. You generally cannot change individual cogs, except for the 2-3 smallest ones, on most cassettes.

Some chain skips are caused by improper cable tension. Check Park Tools' site for the proper way to adjust a rear derailleur. Sometimes as simple as a stretched derailleur cable will cause a chain to "skip".
I have just recently changed the cable and re-indexed the gears ... it was much worse before I did this not changing to a lower gear most of the way up unless you pressed once and then half pressed again ... now it's just very occasionally it does change on what i think is the one gear.

I think I will just change the chain 1st and see how it is as it's definitely stretched and then take it from there ... it'd make sense though if only 1 or 2 cogs were worn as 85% of out cycling's on the flat and so only use the same 3 gears for the vast majority of our rides.

Can anyone recommend a chain i could use and should I stick with Shiman / Sram or are there cheaper options that are as good, it's for a 10 speed Sram X7 MTB.
Witterings is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 04:42 PM
  #19  
caloso
Packfodding 3
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 38,026

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

Mentioned: 57 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1816 Post(s)
Liked 136 Times in 82 Posts
When I start having noises that lube won't quiet down, that's one indication. When I have shifting issues, that's another. At that point, I change chains. Every 3 chains or so, I change cassettes. I don't own a steel ruler.
caloso is offline  
Old 10-30-18, 06:13 PM
  #20  
Sy Reene
Advocatus Diaboli
 
Sy Reene's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Wherever I am
Posts: 4,708

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene, Nashbar steel CX

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2207 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 29 Posts
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I don't own a steel ruler.
That's ok, the alloy ones are almost as good, especially if they've been hydroformed.
Sy Reene is offline  
Old 10-31-18, 12:53 PM
  #21  
PaulRivers
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 6,287
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 432 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I just bought one of these recently after a friends chain broke while they were riding (they were right in front of me, no injury but it did ruin the ride) and I wanted to be able to check my chain without relying on a bike shop where you're going to get "this all needs to be replaced" a bit more than you need to.

Here's a picture of how it works:


The chain in the pic needs to be replaced because the tool fits between the links.
If it didn't fit the chain would still be good and not need to be replaced.
PaulRivers is offline  
Old 10-31-18, 04:19 PM
  #22  
Sy Reene
Advocatus Diaboli
 
Sy Reene's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Wherever I am
Posts: 4,708

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene, Nashbar steel CX

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2207 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 29 Posts
Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
I just bought one of these recently after a friends chain broke while they were riding (they were right in front of me, no injury but it did ruin the ride) and I wanted to be able to check my chain without relying on a bike shop where you're going to get "this all needs to be replaced" a bit more than you need to.

The chain in the pic needs to be replaced because the tool fits between the links.
If it didn't fit the chain would still be good and not need to be replaced.
All you'd probably ever want to know about chain wear and checkers.
https://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/ge...plained-46015/

Based on this article, I just 'splurged' for a Pedro's Chain Checker II
https://pedros.com/products/tools/ca...ecker-plus-ii/
Sy Reene is offline  
Old 11-01-18, 07:06 AM
  #23  
livedarklions
Je suis Snap Motomag
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: New England
Posts: 3,834

Bikes: Trek FX 3; 1994 Specialized Allez Pro; "Motobecane" Fantom CX

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1925 Post(s)
Liked 444 Times in 264 Posts
Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
All you'd probably ever want to know about chain wear and checkers.
https://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/ge...plained-46015/

Based on this article, I just 'splurged' for a Pedro's Chain Checker II
https://pedros.com/products/tools/ca...ecker-plus-ii/

Interesting, but that article also endorses the Park Tool 3.2, which is the checker I linked to.
livedarklions is offline  
Old 11-01-18, 08:41 AM
  #24  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,163
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 906 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 49 Times in 38 Posts
Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
All you'd probably ever want to know about chain wear and checkers.
https://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/ge...plained-46015/
Based on that article, I'll stick with a ruler. If the only issue is holding the chain straight then just leaving it on the bike solves that.
Kapusta is online now  
Old 11-01-18, 04:22 PM
  #25  
Sy Reene
Advocatus Diaboli
 
Sy Reene's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Wherever I am
Posts: 4,708

Bikes: Merlin Cyrene, Nashbar steel CX

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2207 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 31 Times in 29 Posts
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Interesting, but that article also endorses the Park Tool 3.2, which is the checker I linked to.
I guess.. if you're considering an endorsement as their statement that "any chain checker is better than no chain checker."
Otherwise, the Park (which I own as well) is mentioned as using a less-preferable measuring technique since it pushes rollers of the chain in opposite direction, and is likely to return false-positives earlier than necessary. So no harm done except you may be buying and replacing chains more frequently than necessary.

Another interesting article on the subject, that the first link mentioned:
http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-004/000.html
Sy Reene is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.