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Difference in chains

Old 07-27-21, 06:48 PM
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yashinon
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Difference in chains

I see some members asking about the best chain for their bikes. Is there a difference in quality, life span, materials, etc?

I imagine that most people walk into the LBS and say replace the chain. Will appreciate the info to better educate.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:00 PM
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First you need the correct type of chain for your drivetrain. Different sped cassettes use different chains, a 9 speed chain will nto fir a 11 speed cassette.

Then there's different levels, generally a more expensive chain will be lighter.

Then there's color, silver/black/gold and others.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:05 PM
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Like everything else there are different quality levels of chain. It's also a good item not to skimp on - after all it is the hardest working part of your entire bike, except for the rider!
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Old 07-27-21, 07:07 PM
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Buy one that's designed for your drivetrain. I use the Shimano ultegra.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by dmanthree View Post
Buy one that's designed for your drivetrain. I use the Shimano ultegra.
Agreed, can't go wrong with Ultegra on compatible drivetrains.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:17 PM
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But obvious brand names are not always the best guide. Shimano has more name recognition, but KMC are in most cases just as good.

Also, depending on your drive train, you can run SRAM chains on Shimano drive trains and vice versa. AFAIK, this is true for both of their 10 and 11 speed lines. Not so for 12 speed, I believe.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:30 PM
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Since chains are a wear item, are easily replaced, vary widely in price, and are made from steel, which can be recycled cheaply, it is not automatically true that the “highest quality” or longest lasting alternative makes the most economic sense. Obviously everyone wants a quiet drivetrain and flawless shifting, but aside from that, I want the chain that costs me the least over time, whether I have to replace it twice or five times.
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Old 07-27-21, 07:34 PM
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One of the most extensive chain tests was run by Wippermann. Of course, an in-house test, their chains were on top.






Now, I tested some Wippermann chains a while ago. I need to do more testing, but I started blowing out cassettes after switching to Wippermann. I need to watch that more and try to figure out what apparently happened.

KMC also has "e-bike" chains which I'm not sure made the test.
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Old 07-27-21, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One of the most extensive chain tests was run by Wippermann. Of course, an in-house test, their chains were on top.





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGjcD8xEu8o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4cz-JgbOP4

Now, I tested some Wippermann chains a while ago. I need to do more testing, but I started blowing out cassettes after switching to Wippermann. I need to watch that more and try to figure out what apparently happened.

KMC also has "e-bike" chains which I'm not sure made the test.
Sure, tons of little variations that are often poorly explained or not known at all. How much does different chains wear on cogs and chain rings? Does chrome or "gold" plating enhance chain life or reduce friction, and if so how much?- Enough to justify the additional price? What makes a e-bike chain "e-bike". Do they all shift the same or close enough to not matter, - or do I NEED a Shimano chain? etc., etc. ...
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Old 07-27-21, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I need to do more testing, but I started blowing out cassettes after switching to Wippermann. I need to watch that more and try to figure out what apparently happened.
Relative hardness? Assuming that you had used the same replacement cassettes, then it seems fairly obvious the Wipperman chains are made from harder grades of stainless steel, which make the chains last longer, but increased the wear on cassettes (and probably chain rings too). While it is not possible to isolate the wear onto the chain alone, I would prefer to replace multiple chains before I have to replace a cassette.
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Old 07-28-21, 12:09 AM
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I use KMC, SRAM and Shimano HG53 chains, all affordable, not high end. Can't say I notice any difference in performance or durability. I replace 'em about once a year, or every few thousand miles. I don't use a wear gauge or measure them precisely, but after about a year I'll remove the chain and hang it next to a next chain to eyeball the "stretch" from wear. If it's more than a smidge longer than new I'll replace it. I don't think I've ever ridden a chain so long that it caused problems with shifting, etc.

Somewhere around here I have a Dura Ace 10-speed chain, waiting for me to finish putting together a basic TT/tri-bike. We'll see whether it makes any difference.

It's tempting to replace chains more often, because nothing feels or sounds like a brand new chain. It literally feels and sounds like nothing -- silent and smooth. But, nah, too pricey. And I can't say that new chain feel consistently translates to improved performance. The few times a new chain seems to be "faster," I attribute that to enthusiasm over the new chain. IOW, placebo effect.
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Old 07-28-21, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Since chains are a wear item, are easily replaced, vary widely in price, and are made from steel, which can be recycled cheaply, it is not automatically true that the “highest quality” or longest lasting alternative makes the most economic sense. Obviously everyone wants a quiet drivetrain and flawless shifting, but aside from that, I want the chain that costs me the least over time, whether I have to replace it twice or five times.
Since we're having fun with charts:
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Old 07-29-21, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir View Post
Relative hardness? Assuming that you had used the same replacement cassettes, then it seems fairly obvious the Wipperman chains are made from harder grades of stainless steel, which make the chains last longer, but increased the wear on cassettes (and probably chain rings too). While it is not possible to isolate the wear onto the chain alone, I would prefer to replace multiple chains before I have to replace a cassette.
I was pretty sure the main thing that causes cassette wear is chain wear, since it elongates the chain and concentrates the load on individual teeth.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Since we're having fun with charts:
Nice chart, but what’s on the y-axis: km to 0.5% wear or cost per 10,000 km?
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Old 07-29-21, 05:25 PM
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Dura-Ace stacks up pretty well there, cheaper than HG40!
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Old 07-29-21, 05:37 PM
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In theory, higher end chains are made from harder steel. All things being equal, harder steel lasts longer. But it just might be the case that conditions vary more widely than the hardness so the length your chain lasts is luck of the draw with respect to rain and road grit. I've never seen evidence that a better chain lasts longer in real life. I use KMC chains because they're cheap and they seem to work as well as all the others.
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Old 07-29-21, 05:39 PM
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Shimano tends to ride quieter than other most common brands available at the LBS. I go for the quiet ones.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
In theory, higher end chains are made from harder steel. All things being equal, harder steel lasts longer. But it just might be the case that conditions vary more widely than the hardness so the length your chain lasts is luck of the draw with respect to rain and road grit. I've never seen evidence that a better chain lasts longer in real life. I use KMC chains because they're cheap and they seem to work as well as all the others.
I currently have a KMC chain on my bike, but I keep seeing these references that KMC is cheaper. Here's their 11-speed lineup. Their bottom couple models are competitively priced, but really not much different from what eg. the 105 series chains price at. As soon as you're in the $50+ range, you can buy Record or DA chains.
https://www.kmcchain.us/X11-Chains_c_60.html
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Old 07-29-21, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I currently have a KMC chain on my bike, but I keep seeing these references that KMC is cheaper. Here's their 11-speed lineup. Their bottom couple models are competitively priced, but really not much different from what eg. the 105 series chains price at. As soon as you're in the $50+ range, you can buy Record or DA chains.
https://www.kmcchain.us/X11-Chains_c_60.html
Right, but I haven't seen a compelling reason to spend $50 on a chain. To quote Bartleby the Scrivener, I would prefer not to.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Right, but I haven't seen a compelling reason to spend $50 on a chain. To quote Bartleby the Scrivener, I would prefer not to.
Ok, but you can get Shimano or Campy chains in the $30s as well. So I don't necessarily understand the KMC love as a value play.
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Old 07-29-21, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Ok, but you can get Shimano or Campy chains in the $30s as well. So I don't necessarily understand the KMC love as a value play.
Right. Sometimes they are not less expensive. In that case, the brand is a tossup. I really don't find differences in quality, though I'll buy a name brand. These new Chinese copies with weird names do not tempt me.
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Old 07-30-21, 12:28 AM
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Ultegra or Dura-Ace, no brainer.
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Old 07-30-21, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Dura-Ace stacks up pretty well there, cheaper than HG40!
Assuming the assumptions made to do the calculation are true. Imo they are not. The fine raw data is polluted with unproven assumptions, leading to conclusions not supported by the data.
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Old 07-30-21, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Assuming the assumptions made to do the calculation are true. Imo they are not. The fine raw data is polluted with unproven assumptions, leading to conclusions not supported by the data.
Yeah nah, because Shimano.
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Old 07-30-21, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Dura-Ace stacks up pretty well there, cheaper than HG40!
Related to this phenomenon, is the evident increase in chain longevity as each iteration in increased gearing has occurred.
https://cyclingtips.com/2019/12/the-...ciency-tested/

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