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How to clean chain on tour? Wet or dry lube?

Old 10-22-22, 03:31 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
So you really only reapply White Lighting every few hundred miles on a longer tour?
Yes. I did a 1500 mile tour around Lake Erie a few years ago and decided to keep track…likely because of some thread like this one. I installed a new chain at the beginning of the tour and added lubricant after a long day in the rain in Ontario. That was at 200 miles. The next time lubed the chain was in Bensalem, PA at 950 miles after I washed my very dirty bike (about 500 miles of gravel roads and tow paths). I didn’t lube the chain again until I got home after another 450 miles. I replaced the chain later after 3000 miles of riding.

This is not unusual. I tracked other chains and can get about 700 miles between applications.
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Old 10-22-22, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
How long does a chain normally last? Is it necessary to carry an extra chain for a 3 month tour?
I would say, based on informal surveys, about 3000 miles. That’s independent of the kind of lube used. Nothing gives superior life for various reasons. Wax based lubricants are significantly cleaner.
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Old 10-22-22, 03:55 PM
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From my experience, chain care is a challenge on tour. Especially in wet climates with dirty surfaces.

Normally, I wax.

On tour, I use Rock N' Roll Gold. It sort of cleans and lubes. I repurpose tampons from the mens room using them to clean and lube the chain in one go. Alternatively, one can rummage thru the McDonalds garbage cans for old napkins. I save them for firestarter at night.
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Old 10-22-22, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
I started the TransAm this year with a couple of chains. They were hot waxed before I began. Every two or three days I applied some Silca Super Secret liquid chain wax at the end of the day and rotated the cranks backward about 100 revolutions. Then I wiped off what little wax was still visible. Every 500 miles, I rotated chains. I continue to rotate chains every 500 miles. I hot wax them when they come off and use the liquid wax between rotations.

I left home in North Carolina on April 11 and found lots of rain, wind, two snow storms, and not many riders until passing the TransAm racers on Lolo Pass. Of course I only passed them because they were going the other way.
Whats your process for rewaxing a chain on the road? Carrying an extra pot just for waxing and a extra wax to wax your chain every week or two seems excessive, but again I’m pretty new to this.
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Old 10-23-22, 04:49 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
How long do chains normally last? I was under the impression I could do the entire TransAm on just one chain
Yes, one chain will do it. The idea of using multiple chains is that you extend the life of the cogs and chainrings. As chains wear and get longer, they wear the teeth on cogs and chainrings to fit their new length. By rotating two chains over 4000 miles, the cogs and chainrings have only been subjected to 2000 miles worth of chain “stretch.”
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Old 10-23-22, 05:09 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell View Post
Whats your process for rewaxing a chain on the road? Carrying an extra pot just for waxing and a extra wax to wax your chain every week or two seems excessive, but again I’m pretty new to this.
No, I do a hybrid style of waxing. At home, I hot wax my chains every 500 miles and use Silca Super Secret Liquid Chain Wax in between. Touring, I just use the liquid wax. The downside of this is that on a very long tour I doubt you could find the chain wax. Since wax and oil don’t work together, oil based wax seems like a better choice for an around the world tour to me.

The Zero Friction website has done extensive tests on various chains and lubes. I find that kind of stuff interesting.
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Old 10-23-22, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
Yes, one chain will do it. The idea of using multiple chains is that you extend the life of the cogs and chainrings. As chains wear and get longer, they wear the teeth on cogs and chainrings to fit their new length. By rotating two chains over 4000 miles, the cogs and chainrings have only been subjected to 2000 miles worth of chain “stretch.”
Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
No, I do a hybrid style of waxing. At home, I hot wax my chains every 500 miles and use Silca Super Secret Liquid Chain Wax in between. Touring, I just use the liquid wax. The downside of this is that on a very long tour I doubt you could find the chain wax. Since wax and oil don’t work together, oil based wax seems like a better choice for an around the world tour to me.

The Zero Friction website has done extensive tests on various chains and lubes. I find that kind of stuff interesting.
ok so after the first 1000 miles or after the first rotation, your past the “fresh hot waxed chain” and form that point on the rotation is primarily designed to reduce wear?
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Old 10-23-22, 05:31 AM
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A bike chain weighs almost a pound. They have bike shops on the transam. Getting 4500 miles out of a chain takes really good maintenance. I do it regularly by waxing and being careful. On tour? Not me. I'd recommend doing the best you can on the road and simply stopping at a shop and swapping the chain out.
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Old 10-23-22, 06:02 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Bogey Speedwell View Post
ok so after the first 1000 miles or after the first rotation, your past the “fresh hot waxed chain” and form that point on the rotation is primarily designed to reduce wear?
Correct.
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Old 10-23-22, 07:47 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
Yes, one chain will do it. The idea of using multiple chains is that you extend the life of the cogs and chainrings. As chains wear and get longer, they wear the teeth on cogs and chainrings to fit their new length. By rotating two chains over 4000 miles, the cogs and chainrings have only been subjected to 2000 miles worth of chain “stretch.”
While there is slightly less wear at the beginning of a chains life than at the end, there really is no need to rotate through chains like this. 4000 miles out of one chain won’t really cause excess wear of the cogs. A cogset should be able to endure the usage of several chains with that mileage. The chainwheels will endure wear from dozens of chains.

If you are worried about the chain wear, why carry an extra chain? You can buy a replacement along the way and replace the chain as frequently as you like. Chains are cheap.

Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
No, I do a hybrid style of waxing. At home, I hot wax my chains every 500 miles and use Silca Super Secret Liquid Chain Wax in between. Touring, I just use the liquid wax. The downside of this is that on a very long tour I doubt you could find the chain wax. Since wax and oil don’t work together, oil based wax seems like a better choice for an around the world tour to me.
Wax and oil work together just fine. They are compatible chemically and, in fact, belong to the same family of chemicals. I don’t like using oil because it is far too dirty for my tastes but I would have no problem using them together in a pinch. I would not expect any difference in wear doing so. Additionally, there are bike shops along the TransAmerica trail where you can purchase just about any product you like. There’s nothing particularly special about any one lubricant even if they give it a somewhat silly name. You can buy similar products…including wax based lubricants…that will work just as well. HellMart sells White Lightning.

​​​​​​The Zero Friction website has done extensive tests on various chains and lubes. I find that kind of stuff interesting.
While I admire the work that Zero Friction has done, their results back up what I’ve said above about the lubricant not really mattering that much. In terms of efficacy and longevity, their data shows that there is not really clear winner in the lubrication wars. Everything falls into a fairly narrow range of wear values. Although they don’t give the error range in their measurements, I’d suspect that their tests are all within the margin of error of their measurements.

In the end, a chain is just a chain. Trying to squeeze out an extra mile…or 100 or 500…is just not worth any special effort. Don’t use a $100 chain. Use cheap chains and change them as often as you like. But there is not need to carry your own supply.
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Old 10-23-22, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve0000 View Post
Interesting the comment about WD40. I was trying to buy some wet chain lubricant in France and one bikeshop I went to offered me a can of WD40. I don't think some of the salespeople know a lot about bikes at times.
There’s a lot of bicycle snobbery about WD40 that is undeserved. WD40 will work just about as well as any other oil based chain lubricant. It has about the same oil to solvent ratio at most all chain lubricants and the oil is similar to the oils you’ll find in those same oil chain lubricants. It just happens to come in an aerosol which contributes to it getting where you don’t want it. Many other chain lubricants come in aerosols and are just as messy.

Just about anything that oily will work as a chain lubricant. Plant based oils like olive oil, corn oil, **** seed oil, etc. will work in a pinch. I wouldn’t used them because they are more reactive and decay faster than petroleum based lubricants when exposed to sun and air but if that’s all I could get my hands on, they would work for several miles until an alternative can be found. But chain lubrication is seldom that kind of an emergency.
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Old 10-23-22, 08:32 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There’s a lot of bicycle snobbery about WD40 that is undeserved. WD40 will work just about as well as any other oil based chain lubricant. It has about the same oil to solvent ratio at most all chain lubricants and the oil is similar to the oils you’ll find in those same oil chain lubricants.
I am not a WD 40 hater, but I have my doubts about the part I bolded.
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Old 10-23-22, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I am not a WD 40 hater, but I have my doubts about the part I bolded.
The SDS for WD-40 lists “Petroleum Base Oil” as <35%. Solvent is listed as “LVP Aliphatic Hydrocarbon” at 45 to 50% with an additional “Aliphatic Hydrocarbon” at 25%. The second hydrocarbon is probably solvent so the solvent is at about 75% to 25% oil. Triflow lists “NAPHTHA (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED HEAVY” at 2.5 to 10%. ProLink chain lube’s SDS list “Hydrotreated Heavy Naphthenic Distillate” at 10 to 20%. Finishline Wet lube and Park Tool lube list similar materials at higher concentrations…50 to 85%. It’s in the middle but has a significant amount of oil in it.

Wax based chain lubes have about a the same amount of solvent as WD-40. That’s probably because there is a solubility limit to the wax.
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Old 10-24-22, 02:18 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There’s a lot of bicycle snobbery about WD40 that is undeserved. WD40 will work just about as well as any other oil based chain lubricant. It has about the same oil to solvent ratio at most all chain lubricants and the oil is similar to the oils you’ll find in those same oil chain lubricants. It just happens to come in an aerosol which contributes to it getting where you don’t want it. Many other chain lubricants come in aerosols and are just as messy.

Just about anything that oily will work as a chain lubricant. Plant based oils like olive oil, corn oil, **** seed oil, etc. will work in a pinch. I wouldn’t used them because they are more reactive and decay faster than petroleum based lubricants when exposed to sun and air but if that’s all I could get my hands on, they would work for several miles until an alternative can be found. But chain lubrication is seldom that kind of an emergency.
https://clevercreations.org/can-wd-4...-as-lubricant/
makes for a different viewpoint...
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Old 10-24-22, 06:00 AM
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FWIW, I like WD40 for a few things on the bike. On tour, I use it for the rare ocasion when my chain actually gets gunked up enough that the normal apply lube and wipe isn't enough. That has only happened a few times. I don't like to clean chains aggressively, especially with solvents and never with detergents. So the WD40 only comes into play at times like when the drivetraun got gunked up with sand and needed a good rinse. My first choice would be low pressure water for that, but in some cases WD40 is needed either instead of water or to help displace the water and dry the chain quickly so it can be lubed properly.

At home after riding much in muddy conditions I find lubing spd pedals with some lubes to cause them to collect enough gunk to cause then to have a sticky release or even to jam. I found that no lube to minimal lube was best, but some minimal application of something seemed to be called for. The thing that has worked the best for me was to ocasionally rinse the pedal mechanisms with the garden hose, shake out the water and douse them with WD40. I have tried various chain lubes and none worked as well for me on the pedals

FWIW, I have never had the slightest issue with the spd pedals on tour even a mixed surface tour even with zero maintenance. The issue I mentioned was only on really dirty muddy daily trail riding. On tour SPDs have been trouble free The one exception was a neglected spindle bearing that needed maintenance after ~30 years of use. I have had several sets of spuds and needing any care on a tour is a rare thing. In that one case I stopped at a shop in Yucaipa and they didn't have the tool to get this first generation pedal apart so I bought a newer pair of SPDs and rebuilt the old ones when I got home. I am pretty sure they are still going strong on a family members bike having seen constant use since SPD was first introduced. They were one of the first pairs of SPDs sold.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:08 AM
  #41  
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I am a little surprised at this thread, some are carrying spare chains when on most threads there is a lot of detail about getting lighter and lighter. I am not an ultra light bike tourist, but I would never carry a spare chain. I do carry a few extra quick links.

Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
How long does a chain normally last? Is it necessary to carry an extra chain for a 3 month tour?
A chain is an expendable item, they are cheap compared to the cost of a bike. That said, if you were running a very unusual chain that most bike shops might not stock, I would carry one. But otherwise I would be ready to buy one on the tour. If your cassette starts skipping when you install a new chain, buy a cassette too, cassettes are another expendable item.

That said, some of the cassettes on new bikes can be quite expensive. Touring used to use pretty cheap expendable items so you replace parts when they wear out and think nothing of it. But newer drive trains are using much more costly parts. The last time I bought a chain and cassette was two years ago, my eight speed KMC chain and Sram eight speed cassette totaled up to about $40. If you are using 11 or 12 speed components, $$$. I have never changed a chain or cassette on a tour but my longer tours are in the thousand mile range, not 3,000 miles.

I carry the tools to remove a cassette when I tour on a derailleur bike. I have no clue what a bike shop would charge for labor for that. Some years ago I wrote up a piece on a substitute for a chain whip, it is at this link:
Chain Whip for Travel

I have never carried a chain checker on a bike tour, but if you wanted to know when it is time to change a chain, a good chain checker is needed. I think only the Pedros and the comparable Park chain checkers are worth using, the other common ones over-estimate the elongation. Zinn has a good write up on chain checkers.
https://www.velonews.com/gear/measur...ar-accurately/

That type of chain checker needs to be used correctly, Park explains that:

In that Youtube video, at 1 minute, where they say pressure is maintained, that is a key to using that checker correctly. I have the Pedros checker but the Park one functions the same way. After I bought the Pedros one, I chucked my other cheap checkers that always gave bad estimates.

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Old 10-24-22, 07:14 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...
FWIW, I have never had the slightest issue with the spd pedals on tour even a mixed surface tour even with zero maintenance. The issue I mentioned was only on really dirty muddy daily trail riding. On tour SPDs have been trouble free The one exception was a neglected spindle bearing that needed maintenance after ~30 years of use. I have had several sets of spuds and needing any care on a tour is a rare thing. In that one case I stopped at a shop in Yucaipa and they didn't have the tool to get this first generation pedal apart so I bought a newer pair of SPDs and rebuilt the old ones when I got home. I am pretty sure they are still going strong on a family members bike having seen constant use since SPD was first introduced. They were one of the first pairs of SPDs sold.
If you mean the Shimano TL-PD40 tool, every home mechanic should own that. I have had two pairs of pedals that developed a click that used that tool. Shoved in some extra grease into the pedal body and the click went away, that was a few years ago and those pedals still are trouble free.
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Old 10-24-22, 07:15 AM
  #43  
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re WD40, for my winter commuting, ie Canadian winter commuting, snow, slush, tons of salt and salt brine crap, I actually use regular old WD40 in a spray can on my chain daily.
I do a super quick wash of my bike every day in the garage, 5 mins or so, just to get the salty stuff off everywhere, and part of that 5 mins is doing the fastest, easiest chain maintenance--so wipe down first with an old towel or whatever, then a spray of WD40 while backpedaling.
Super fast, displaces the salty brine out of the links, and as I wipe it every ride, keeps the gunk buildup to a reasonable minimum--this is harsh winter commuting, so nothing is going to be great, but I use WD40 simply because its fast and easy.
Put chain on 11t after a quick wipe down and spray while backpedaling, probably 5 seconds and its done.

on tour of course not, but hey, it works for winter commuting.

I too have used WD40 to spray out sand and crap out of spd pedals and derailleurs, again, it works and gets crap out of tiny crevices. Wipe all excess off afterwards.

I do have some actual official WD40 chain lube, its a thin type, so pretty clean overall, but not as long lasting as thicker stuff, but thats normal.

in the end, you just have to try different lubes and try to strike a balance between being an obsessed "must have perfectly clean chain all the time" or someone who ignores your chain.

I agree with Cycco that in the end, I've tried many types of chain lubes, but still end up getting about 5000km ish out of chains, and thats been pretty consistent over the decades--measuring to the 1/16 stretch point before changing a chain, and cassettes lasting a good 3, 4 chains , so thats ok with me.

less gunky chain lube tends to mean less cleaning though, but I'm a good drivetrain observer and like keeping them in good shape, no matter the lube or riding conditions.

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Old 10-24-22, 07:23 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you mean the Shimano TL-PD40 tool, every home mechanic should own that. I have had two pairs of pedals that developed a click that used that tool. Shoved in some extra grease into the pedal body and the click went away, that was a few years ago and those pedals still are trouble free.
thanks for that reminder, I've been meaning to buy one for ages, but always forget.
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Old 10-24-22, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you mean the Shimano TL-PD40 tool, every home mechanic should own that. I have had two pairs of pedals that developed a click that used that tool. Shoved in some extra grease into the pedal body and the click went away, that was a few years ago and those pedals still are trouble free.
The way I remember it thay had a tool that was supposed to fit SPD pedals and it didn't fit mine. Perhaps they had the wrong tool or is it possible that my very early SPDs were different? They came with a tool that I used when I got home and it worked fine.
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Old 10-24-22, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by HendersonD View Post
How long does a chain normally last? Is it necessary to carry an extra chain for a 3 month tour?
Everyone wears chains out at different rates. I wore two chains out in three months on my first (and longest so far) tour. I carried a spare chain to start with, but there are enough bike shops across the U.S. that you don't need to do that. Worst case, get on the 'net and have one shipped to a post office, General Delivery (hold for touring cyclist), a week ahead of you.
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Old 10-24-22, 10:39 AM
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Maybe it is different at bike shops nowadays but anytime that I needed help on a long distance tour, they helped me out right then and there. For instance, I stopped at Gannett Peak Sports in Lander. I don't know if they are always so accommodating but they had a leather sofa to relax while they fixed up my bike and they gave me some good crap to eat. Outstanding mechanic.

You can also have bike stuff sent to a hotel up the road if you are planning to do that.


Rock N Roll Gold is mostly a solvent with some lube. I know this is probably an incorrect characterization. Nonetheless, if you skirt it liberally onto the chain while back pedaling, it will clean your chain. I used a bunch of paper towels or napkins to wipe it down. After several iterations, the chain is reasonably clean and lubed. If there is a better way on tour, I'd like to know.
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Old 10-25-22, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Everyone wears chains out at different rates. I wore two chains out in three months on my first (and longest so far) tour. I carried a spare chain to start with, but there are enough bike shops across the U.S. that you don't need to do that. Worst case, get on the 'net and have one shipped to a post office, General Delivery (hold for touring cyclist), a week ahead of you.
I don't understand why the difference, but I know that there seems to be a huge range. We in our group of three all had the same chains at the end of the Trans America and they lasted long past that. Mine went 10k miles and was then replaced. The rings and cassette were still fine. I find that cassettes last me much longer than many folks typically report. I like to say it is the result of my silky smooth spin, byt I know that is BS.

FWIW I replace when 12 complete links measure 12-1/16" to 12-1/8" beyond that and rings and cassettes are getting damaged and likely will need replacement. I don't use those little chain measuring tools. They can give bad readings sometimes calling for a new chain when it isn't really worn. From Sheldon Brown on that:
"There are also special tools made to measure chain wear; these are a bit more convenient, though by no means necessary, and most -- except for the Shimano TL-CN40 and TL-CN41 -- are inaccurate because they allow roller play to confound the measurement of link-pin wear."
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Old 10-25-22, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Maybe it is different at bike shops nowadays but anytime that I needed help on a long distance tour, they helped me out right then and there.
It may depend a bit on a few things.
  • Closer to either coast they may get a bit less helpful. There is still a very good chance they will be very helpful and go out of their way. In the middle of the country they often did work gratis and charged only for parts.
  • They may be more helpful to folks who are on long tours. I usually open with, "I am riding coast to coast..." or whatever. If that is the case. It seems to help.
  • There are times when they are super busy and less inclined to help. In those cases they have typically said "I can't do that for you. There is a work stand and tools. Can you do it yourself?"
In general I think they went way out of their way to accomodate me in most cases. I suspect that the fact that I was always on a longish tour a longish way from home helped, but I can't say for sure since I have not done real short tours or toured close to home.
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Old 10-25-22, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
It may depend a bit on a few things.
  • Closer to either coast they may get a bit less helpful. There is still a very good chance they will be very helpful and go out of their way. In the middle of the country they often did work gratis and charged only for parts.
  • They may be more helpful to folks who are on long tours. I usually open with, "I am riding coast to coast..." or whatever. If that is the case. It seems to help.
  • There are times when they are super busy and less inclined to help. In those cases they have typically said "I can't do that for you. There is a work stand and tools. Can you do it yourself?"
In general I think they went way out of their way to accomodate me in most cases. I suspect that the fact that I was always on a longish tour a longish way from home helped, but I can't say for sure since I have not done real short tours or toured close to home.

All true.

A good shop can tell a long distance tourer or a thru backpacker first by sight and then smell.

My memory is getting bad. I had a busted frame out in the california desert, made my way to a big shop somewhere near Beverly Hills that advertised in Bicycling. They went to extraordinary measures to help. I had a busted FW in France and they replaced it immediately. Broke a chain in Wyoming or Colorado. Rancher spliced it together with fencing bailing wire and I would pedal easy and then back pedal. Walked the hills. Shop that I got to in Steamboat IIRC replaced it immediately, they were impressed.

12 1/8 for 12 links is just over 1%. 10,000 miles on a chain is extraordinary. I have gotten that much but generally I replace at 0.4%. My thinking is the cassette and rings are very, very expensive and the chain is relatively cheap. I have not ridden as much as normal this year, just under 7,000 miles and am on my second chain with the first one off in late June. Reminds me.....need to measure and wax it.
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