When do you change the chain/general drivertrain use

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Valy
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 11:16 pm

by Valy

Hi all, here is a question:

Background - I used to ride quite a lot up to 2015. Around 1000-1400km a month. Big rides on Sundays, mid week and so on. Where 100 suddenly feels like going to the corner shop etc. I used to (as I do now) run two chains in series, with changes every 300-500km until the chainwear indicator showed .75% wear. I would usually get about 6000kms from two chains and cassette. I tried to run a new chain on an older cassette and it wore out in just 1000km to .75%.

Over the past few years I have stopped riding as much. Maybe a few km a day for commuting and made food deliveries - 5-10 hours a week, but very low intensity. With the occasional "proper ride"

To the point - I am now getting back into doing more "proper rides" as I have free time. Having lost quite a few reference points, I am now low key obsessed over drivetrain wear. This is in part due to when I changed a chain, then about 50km later the cassette (which did not exhibit typical wear signs like skipping under load etc, just to have a clean slate) and I felt a very noticeable change in responsiveness in the drivetrain.

Over my riding days, I remember being puzzled when a Sunday group member said he changed his chain every 1000 miles. Now I am beginning to think he might have been onto something.

The thing is - I now ride less, so every ride is now more precious. When you do big miles, it's easy to get lost in it all and not really pay attention to components in such an intimate way, only when there are signs or occurrence of failure. I seek to find the best sort of feeling from the bike and each ride that I can.

So I wanna know what you all experience when it comes to drivetrain wear.

Do you have any rules? Just make sure it works?

Are you meticulous with chainring and cassette wear?

Please let me know, I am really interested in what you all have to say!

by Weenie


AJS914
Posts: 3114
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:52 pm

by AJS914

Changing it every 1000 miles sounds excessive.

Park says to change 11 and 12 speed chains when the chain checker gets to .5% wear. I'd just do that. The .75% wear indicator may be a bit too far gone and then wearing out the cogs prematurely.

I switched to a cleaner lube (Rock N Roll Gold) a few years ago and I like it. That also means that I don't break the chain to clean it.

skyboy
Posts: 77
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2016 11:59 pm

by skyboy

I can't think of any advantage to replacing your chain before it's stretched 0.5% - 0.75%, that's about every 3,500km for me but will be slightly different for everyone.

Maybe the cassette you changed out just needed to be taken off and cleaned with some strong degreaser.

alcatraz
Posts: 1890
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:19 am

by alcatraz

I used to hot wax a chain regularly and so it seemed to last forever. I never got to 0.75% even after thousands of km. I did notice the rollers all had a loooot of play and that the chain was noisy as hell. I threw the chain out at around 0.3-0.4% stretch because of this.

So maybe take a look at the rollers and if they can wiggle around a lot. If you're within 0.75% and don't display such symptoms (or have excessive noise) just keep on riding.

Comparing mileage is quite pointless. Depends on your power/weight/riding style. One rider sees 1500km and the other 4000km. The 1500km chain can be in worse shape than the 4000km one.

Some chain wear indicators take roller play into the measurement but if you do it the old way by measuring distance between N amount of links then you don't measure roller play.

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Lewn777
Posts: 692
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:35 am

by Lewn777

I just follow the boring regular maintenance intervals.
Cassette 10,000km, Chainrings 10,000km, chain 3000-4000kms. Tires 3000km-4000km, bar tape when disgusting. :oops:

Visual checks confirms that I'm about right.

I use 'pro bike garage' on my phone connected with Strava and follow the intervals. Stops me needing to think about it.

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filip00
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:30 pm
Location: slovenia

by filip00

I always adhered to the wear/stretch indicator and it only screwed up my cassette. Let me elaborate.
I am a fairly strong rider, but I prefer shorter cranks and I like to spin my gears. My typical cadence is often above 90 rpms. I don't usually grind gears and for that reason, the chain suffers less in terms of stretching. If you're not sure if that makes sense - here's an example. Two riders, both put out 100 wats, one with a cadence od 60, one with 120. If a rider with a 60 rpm cadence outputs 100 watts, the net pressure on the cranks is higher than a rider spinning 120 rpm cadence, who also outputs 100 watts - as the power output correlates to the rate of spin and pressure applied. So, spinning the cranks faster, may result in less chain stretch than with the riders who grind.
Back on topic - I was regularly checking my chain length and found I reached the 0.5 chain stretch only when I was already well above 7000km with that chain. I changed it nonetheless, and it was immediately not working well with the cassette. Upon inspection, it was obvious that the cassette got worn and had to be replaced.
The issue is that the chain rollers suffer regardless of the chain stretch. Relying solely on the chain stretch is a mistake and I suggest you do not even waste time on it. I would rather follow a rule where I'd change the chain every 3000km or so, maybe even more frequently if the bike is ridden a lot in lower cadence or in rough terrain. If the ride was always super easy, then the chain may last 5000km, but not more in my opinion.
Last but not least - keeping the chain superclean and lubed helps preserve it.

Mr.Gib
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by Mr.Gib

filip00 wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 11:38 am
I always adhered to the wear/stretch indicator and it only screwed up my cassette. Let me elaborate.
I am a fairly strong rider, but I prefer shorter cranks and I like to spin my gears. My typical cadence is often above 90 rpms. I don't usually grind gears and for that reason, the chain suffers less in terms of stretching. If you're not sure if that makes sense - here's an example. Two riders, both put out 100 wats, one with a cadence od 60, one with 120. If a rider with a 60 rpm cadence outputs 100 watts, the net pressure on the cranks is higher than a rider spinning 120 rpm cadence, who also outputs 100 watts - as the power output correlates to the rate of spin and pressure applied. So, spinning the cranks faster, may result in less chain stretch than with the riders who grind.
Not so fast. The higher cadence may mean less pressure on the chain, but the higher cadence also means the chain is doing more revolutions in the same amount of time, and potentially experiencing more wear as a result. The net effect of additional revolutions may cancel out any advantage of higher cadence and less pressure.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

Zigmeister
Posts: 936
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:09 pm

by Zigmeister

The problem is Park's tool isn't accurate, I have one, the day you use it on a brand new chain it is nearly stretched. Guess you can use the bad number, then go from there and write it down what it was original, then measure to determine if the amount minus the starting number is too much.

I think 1000-2000 miles is where I change mine...also evaluate the cassette/chainring. Chain seems to be the first thing to always go though, the cogs last much longer I find. Chain takes a lot of abuse with dirt/grime etc..plus tension from pedaling.

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Valy
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 11:16 pm

by Valy

All really interesting points, keep it coming!

Also interested to hear if people had experience with DLC (Diamond Like Coating) on chains and how their cassettes and chainrings faired.

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Bigger Gear
Posts: 435
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:58 pm
Location: Wet coast, Canada

by Bigger Gear

I change my chains around 3000 km. I keep the chains after I replace them and after a cassette has seen about 10000 km ( or 3 new chains) on it I transfer it to my winter/rain bike where I squeeze out another 1000ish km on each chain on the old cassette, then everything goes to the metal recycler. I don't bother measuring chains any longer, I just follow my process and feel like I get enough life out of everything.

JoO
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 7:30 am

by JoO

alcatraz wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 5:50 am
I used to hot wax a chain regularly and so it seemed to last forever. I never got to 0.75% even after thousands of km. I did notice the rollers all had a loooot of play and that the chain was noisy as hell. I threw the chain out at around 0.3-0.4% stretch because of this.

So maybe take a look at the rollers and if they can wiggle around a lot. If you're within 0.75% and don't display such symptoms (or have excessive noise) just keep on riding.

Comparing mileage is quite pointless. Depends on your power/weight/riding style. One rider sees 1500km and the other 4000km. The 1500km chain can be in worse shape than the 4000km one.

Some chain wear indicators take roller play into the measurement but if you do it the old way by measuring distance between N amount of links then you don't measure roller play.
same here. Hot wax and rotate 3 campagnolo chains. Lasts forever.

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filip00
Posts: 38
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:30 pm
Location: slovenia

by filip00

Mr.Gib wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 3:50 pm
Not so fast. The higher cadence may mean less pressure on the chain, but the higher cadence also means the chain is doing more revolutions in the same amount of time, and potentially experiencing more wear as a result. The net effect of additional revolutions may cancel out any advantage of higher cadence and less pressure.
Very good point! I didn't think about it, but makes perfect sense - and kinda proves my suspicion that the chain rollers may be completely worn out and will ruin your cassette, without the chain stretching nearly at all.

Also, I didn't mean to suggest that there is an advantage to faster spinning - in fact, I think you should ride whichever way suits you! I just wanted to indicate that my non-stretched chain ruined my cassette, because of the false notion that's being spread by nearly everyone - that the chain should be changed after it'd stretched for X, instead of focusing on other wear that occurs.

bm0p700f
in the industry
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by bm0p700f

With my campag chains I use the vernier as campagnolo indicate and get anywhere between 2000 and 3500km from a chain depending on condition.
With KMC chains 11-93 I get 1000km to 2000km. A shimano ultegra chain does about 2000km. I change KMC/shimano chains at around 0.5% to 0.75% wear. Sometimes I forget. Rings last ages and cassette may do 3 chains.

Campagnolo chains show little play when new. KMC and shimano chains show more play when new. My preference is for campagnolo chains but they are twice the price or more of KMC chains so dont save me moeny.

I do 1600km to 2000+km per month so its easy to miss a worn chain and wreck a cassette. Another RnR lube user here. Just lube the chain on my "audax" bike. It should be o.k for the 700km coming up this weekend.

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Valy
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 11:16 pm

by Valy

alcatraz - I searched for some papers talking about chain wear on bicycles but have not found anything so far. Just gonna have to guess here.

When a chain "stretches" it's down to the interaction of the roller and the pin on which it rolls, as I understand. The pin gets worn and you end up being able to see an indent in it.

Also, and this I have not measured - maybe the internal diameter of the roller also increases as the chain wears. So what you have experienced could be a different wear rate between the two parts compared to what non-wax lubricant users experience. Also measuring comes into play.

Found this article on BR that's pretty intersting.

"What about that chain ‘slop’ mentioned earlier?

Some riders who don’t put a lot of torque into their drive train will wear out the chain rollers before wear becomes apparent on a traditional chain checker. “Think of petite riders, or riders that may be of average size but spin a higher cadence,” says Quade. “These riders will wear the roller down (side to side, not OD/ID) and the chain gets sloppy side to side but isn’t ‘stretched’.”

Murdick backs this. “As chains wear, they develop more lateral flexibility, which comes from friction between the inner and outer plates,” he says. “That can affect shifting even before the effects of elongation are felt. In fact, the differences in initial lateral flexibility on a new chain vary greatly between chain manufacturers and that does have an effect on shift quality and durability.”

As for a solution, Quade says it’s not so simple. “These chains can be harder to spot for a home mechanic who isn’t putting a new chain on somebody else’s bike on a daily basis,” he adds. “This wear can cause some pretty sloppy shifting, which is perhaps the easiest way to spot it. The chain will lag behind shifts, similar to the feeling of dirty cables or a B-tension adjustment that’s to far out.”"

GothicCastle
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:52 am

by GothicCastle

Chains and cassettes, like tires and bar tape, are wear items. One can stretch the maintenance window quite long, but performance suffers.

I’ve never found those chain wear indicators terribly accurate. Rather than mileage, I just change the chains on all the road bikes at the same time, twice a year. Once as the spring outdoor season starts, and once in autumn. New cassettes in the spring. This keeps shifting crisp and avoids thinking too much about it.

Same with tires. I buy in bulk when things are on sale.

by Weenie


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