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what to look for when it's time to replace your chain?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

what to look for when it's time to replace your chain?

Old 08-23-11, 03:20 PM
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bianchi10
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what to look for when it's time to replace your chain?

What are some tell tell signs that its time for a new chain? My LBS checked the gap and said I should be thinking about a new chain. I know chains last a while, so I was curious is there anything that in performance that will be severely lacking I should notice?

after getting a new chain, will my shifting and transfer from gear to gear be better? I would imagine so.
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Old 08-23-11, 03:28 PM
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banerjek
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Originally Posted by bianchi10 View Post
What are some tell tell signs that its time for a new chain?
Measures too long, too much lateral flex.

Originally Posted by bianchi10 View Post
My LBS checked the gap and said I should be thinking about a new chain. I know chains last a while, so I was curious is there anything that in performance that will be severely lacking I should notice?
If you do notice anything that severe, your drivetrain is probably screwed up

Originally Posted by bianchi10 View Post
after getting a new chain, will my shifting and transfer from gear to gear be better? I would imagine so.
If you didn't wait too long, it could be.

But if you did wait too long, you may find that it's far worse. Drivetrain components tend to wear together so if you ride on a worn out chain, it will mess up the teeth on the cogs, pulleys, and chainrings. If you put a new chain on that, it may skip horribly until the new chain is worn down a bit.
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Old 08-23-11, 03:28 PM
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The short explanation:
The chain wears around the pins, so the distance between pins widens. This is "stretching".

When the gap gets wider, the chain isn't pulling on all the teeth of the cog, just on the last few teeth. This makes them wear down fast.

Then when you finally get a new chain, the cogs are worn and the chain can ride up on the cog teeth, causing jumps as you crank, and wearing out the new chain quickly.

So:
change the chain before it's "too" worn and the cogs will last a lot longer.
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Old 08-23-11, 03:33 PM
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awesome, thanks for the quick info guys!
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Old 08-23-11, 03:35 PM
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http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html Measuring chain wear at the end of the article. I found it to be pretty accurate.

I don't think there are any tell-tell signs except that it might sound a bit louder towards the end. Very little probably as far as performance. When it's too stretched, it just starts wearing out the freewheel or cassette teeth.
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Old 08-23-11, 03:38 PM
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chain checker

You can stop by your local bike shop and ask them to measure the chain. It takes exactly 30 seconds. Then, you can buy a chain right then and there, if you need one!
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Old 08-23-11, 04:08 PM
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Buy a chain wear gauge. They are pretty cheap. I check the chain every other time I lube it.

It takes 10 seconds or so and if you keep the wear gauge next to the chain lube it should be easy to remember.
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Old 08-23-11, 04:16 PM
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The best way to know is by measuring, and the next best is by keeping track of how many miles you got out of your last chain, and then knowing the time is coming. The second method isn't a great idea, though; you'll get more summer miles than winter ones out of a chain.
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Old 08-23-11, 04:23 PM
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Get a Park Tool chain wear gauge - fool proof and about $10.00
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Old 08-23-11, 05:08 PM
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Once when I was "new" to cycling and wasn't so aware of drivetrain wear (who had ever considered such a concept when riding around on our old ten-speeds?), I was riding along and looked over at my shadow. I could see light between my big ring and the chain, like the chain wasn't even touching the ring. "Huh...that's a weird optical illusion," I thought to myself. Of course I learned it wasn't an illusion
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Old 08-23-11, 05:11 PM
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I just replaced the chain on my road bike; it had stretched almost 1/8". That is way too much. I know this because on the 12-27 cassette, the 19, 21, and 24T cogs won't hold the chain. The old chain ate those gears. I ordered a new cassette.

I usually end up replacing the cassette every other chain.

I need to get a chain wear gauge.
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Old 08-23-11, 05:19 PM
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Just use a 12" steel rule as mentioned in the article, measure the stretch periodically, and replace once it stretches more than 1/16".
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Old 08-23-11, 06:16 PM
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If you're changing your rear cassette to a different configuration, it might require a few links to be removed for best results when shifting.
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