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7707 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Jun 18, 2008 9:49 PM by MotiveForcer RSS
Active Toby Active.com Staff 1,559 posts since
Jun 5, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 6, 2007 11:30 AM

How long does a chain last?

I've heard 2,000 to 3,000 miles? I had to replace mine after 1,500 miles... The shop said I have incorrect shifting technique meaning I cross gears and therefore stretch the chain to its maximum. I need your help in figuring out a way for me to practice proper gear ratios once I get my bike back from the shop.

 

PS. I wore-out the rear cassette as well





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  • omabikeryder Legend 289 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Sep 12, 2007 4:23 PM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

     

    My first good road bike was a Bianchi.  I took it in for regular service, they never mentioned anything about the chain.  6 or 7 years later, I had to replace the chain and the rear cassette.  My new bike I got at a different shop with probably the best mechanic in town.  He says that he changes his every 1,000 miles.  And he replaces the rear cassette every third chain.  Of course he gets a discount on parts and can do it himself. ?:|  I had maybe 2,000 miles on the chain, they put a little gauge on it, said the chain was worn, (stretched) and launched into the "You need a new cassette" speach.  This from some kid whose younger than some of my suits.  I said just replace the chain.  It worked fine.  Put another 1,500 on and changed it again.  2nd one in a year, this is getting expensive.  Do they really need to be replaced that often? 

     

     

    I do tend to hit it a little hard sometimes, stand up on the pedals to accelerate, climb hills ect.  From some of your articles etc. I'm guessing you are even harder on your chain than I am.  That's why the links tend to get stretched out too far.  As for their explanation of incorrect gearing?  Do you have a triple or a double?  If you have a triple, you want to avoid being in your smallest chainring and smallest gears (rear), and big chainring and largest gears.  That would also make for smoother shifting because you have nowhere else to go when you get to those extremes. 

     

     

  • pedalmasher Rookie 2 posts since
    Sep 13, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Sep 13, 2007 3:20 AM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

    I have just had a chain/cassette last for an amazing 8000 miles.  Shifting was still quite slick, but the chain had reached its limit of stretch according to my Park chain gauge.  I clean and lube my chain after every ride - perhaps that makes a huge difference.

  • pedalmasher Rookie 2 posts since
    Sep 13, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Sep 14, 2007 1:30 PM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

    I really do nothing particularly complicated in the cleaning/lubing process in that I really stay on top of it all the time.  Typically, I simply grab the chain tightly with a rag, and run it through the rag a few times to clean it.  If it is moderately dirty, I spray the chain with White Lightning Clean Streak prior to lubing, and if it somehow got very dirty, I use a chain scruber that attaches to a can of White Lightning Clean streak which allows the chain to run through the scrubber as you spray the Clean Streak on it - they sell them at Performance Bicycle.  I then spray the side of the chain that runs on the cogs (too many people spray the top side of the chain which is not as effective) with a dry lube, and then run the chain through the various gears to allow the rollers to thoroughly get lubed.  I then wipe off the excessive lube from the chain so that it does not attract dirt.  The whole process takes just a couple of minutes, and the drive train seems to last forever which is important to me in that I am in the saddle over 20 hours a week at minimum.

  • MotiveForcer Community Moderator 448 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Jun 16, 2008 10:23 PM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

     

    I'm jumping into this discussion a bit late but it is interesting.  We seem to often share similar experiences.  Some shops will measure your chain and say it okay.  That is subjective.  If a chain gets stretched then it starts to wear the cassette out prematurely. PEDALMASHER got 8K miles on a set but my guess is that when he replaced his chain had he not replaced the cassette then it would have skipped like a school girl on the way home from a party.  While changing a chain every 1,000 miles is pretty frequent, the most liberal of my peers will do so at 1,500 miles and I'll check it at about that to keep an eye on it but probably I'm changing it at 2,500 to 3,000 miles or so.  A Park Chain checker tool is not too expensive. It is amazing how much a chain, metal and all, will stretch.  The point is to save cost and ride efficiently.  If you wait a long time, the cassette wears out and check the prices on a DURA-ACE cassette.  Pricey.  A Dura-ace chain, from Performance or Colorado Cyclist for example isn't too bad. By the way, a Dura-ace chain and a Ultegra chain both weigh the same, about 280 grams.  Ask your Shimano rep for the the performance difference!   So, get the tool, but measure it when it is NEW!!! Watch it as it grows. If it get's to .75 I'd say you are due.  If it doesn't skip that does not mean it does not need to be replaced.  If it does skip you no doubt waited too long and you will have to replace the cassette too. 

     

     

    I like to change cassettes or wheels with differing sized cassettes depending on the race. Two weekends ago for our state road race, moderately hilly, I rode a 12-25.  This last weekend on a crit course that had an incline start / finish section  but not really a hill, I used a 12-21 straight block. In between I trained on the 11-23 that came with the bike. http://Another discussion about using an 11 tooth gear.  If my chain is good then it will usually work on any of my cassettes, even  the ones with 8,000 miles on it as one of my cassettes has, at least.  

     

     

    And now about keeping it clean.  It is amazing how a new chain makes a bike feel brand new. and you should get the same feeling with a clean drive chain.   I'll use a scrubbing device on occasion but usually do what MASHER DOES by grabbing the chain with a rag but I'll often use an inexpensive citrus type household cleaner for the bulk of the cleaning, say after I've been caught in the rain.  Then I'll grab the pulleys and get off any gook that has accumulated there  by back pedaling and the same with the front chain rings.  I will follow up with a citrus cleaner, I like Park products, and use that as the final rub through.  Sometimes I'll take a brush to the chain. I may have misunderstood what Masher meant but I make an effort to clean inside the links because this is where the chain comes in contact with the gears.  I don't usually use chains with a master link so I don't take chains off to clean them but if so equiped you can take them off and drop it in a pan of mineral spirits.  Stay ventilated if you do this route.  I'll take a rag and splice it through the gears. Sometimes I'll take the wheel off and clean it that way. That's probably the easiest.  A clean chain and gears will last longer.  A ride in the rain will exponentially wear out your equipment.  Oh yes, and inspect your tires closely after a rain ride.  They are more suseptible to cuts when wet.

     

     

    I use B-9 lubricant. Usually the spray but the drops work great too. If it is good enough for a jet engine it is good enough for my chain. Spray it on. Let it sit and then wipe off the excess.   Mountain bikers will have more to say on this topic as it relates to muddy trails or sandy conditions.  Bottom line: a clean chain rides better.

     

     

    It is a mystery to me how you wore out that cassette so fast.  I could understand the chain I suppose if you are out of the saddle pushing hard gears up hills but the cassette?  All of the teeth and not just the middle ring were worn?  Sounds fishy to me. Were they all rain miles?  The shop guy thought you might be crossing over and that is worthy of consideration but this is what I think.  If your mechanic didn't try to help you figure out how it happened, you need a new mechanic.  I'm not saying he had to figure it out. I"m saying he should have tried to help you figure it out!  Did you agree that you were crossing over?  BIG-BIG, Small-Small?  Most newer riders will tend to ride their small/small combo too much as they are advised to stay in the small ring and ride a faster cadence but I'm still suspicious. 

    Its been a while. Have you figured it out yet Toby?   You don't appear to be a huge guy from the photo so that is ruled out! 

     

     

    E.J.

     

     

     

     

     

  • StevenTwohy Rookie 3 posts since
    Nov 29, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jun 16, 2008 11:01 PM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

    Hey Toby~ i should have known when I first met you and you broke a chain link on your bike that you were going to crush a 100 mile run! Congrats on that man! With how hard you train and ride you should definately clean your chain after every ride to get the most of it. You definately dont want to wait until you hear those links whine for mercy before you clean 'em. If you treat them half as well as your race crew treated you on your 100 there should be no problem....but then again its no surprise to me that your crushing through the linkage considering how well you did on the San Diego 100 Mile run! Congrats!!! Bask in Glory!

  • dcgibbons Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 22, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jun 18, 2008 10:39 AM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

    I can throw out some of my own data points for reference.

     

    After 8,000 miles (~4 years) I've had to replace the chain twice. I ride in rainy weather semi-frequently and I do try and keep the chain clean. Let's be generous and say the bike gets a bath and a full chain degrease & lube once a month. Luckily that's a really easy thing to do (and I'm a mechanical klutz). The bike also got a minor tune-up every 1,000 miles and a major tune-up every 4,000 miles.

     

    The rear cassette is still in good condition. Keeping the chain clean and grit free helps keep the cassette from wearing out.

     

    I do ride at a high cadence (105-110 average) so I'm always switching to the gear that lets me keep that cadence. That said, that particular bike had a 52/40/34 chainring and a 12-25 9-speed cassette and the bike I just bought has a 53/39 chainring with a 12-25 10-speed cassette so we'll see how much that messes up my cadence average.

     

    Hope this info helps.

  • MotiveForcer Community Moderator 448 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Jun 18, 2008 11:51 AM (in response to dcgibbons)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

     

    Hi DC,

     

     

    My guess is that your cadence average won't change but you will probably find that finding the right gear to achieve your comfortable cadence will be altered some.

     

     

    The difference between your old set up and the new wil probably cause you to have to double shift in the rear either up or down depending if you are going from the 53 to the 39 or from the 39 to the 53.  In effect, you now have a range difference in the front of 14 teeth.  You used to have a difference of 12 Re: How long does a chain last?. While that does not seem much what I wrote before is that 3 teeth in the front is similar to a one tooth change in the rear.  So, say when you are climbing and you drop to your 39 now, you may have to go two rings in the rear harder to find the "next" gear whereas before you probably only went one.  When I had a nine speed bike it was equipped with a 53-39 and I disliked that double shift aspect of it as I had a 53-42 on my 8 speed bike.  Now I ride a 53-42 on my Dura-ace 10 speed and the shifts are simple and I find the right cadence  quickly. 

     

     

    We have some hills here but it is not mountainous and this works great for me.  If I lived where the hills were much longer and steeper or say, out west, I might opt for a 39 but then I might consider getting a compact drive.  Most manufacturers don't really get it as they equip them with 11 tooth cassettes in the rear but how often do you ride a 53-12?  The comparable gear is close to a 50-11 and I'd rather have more of a straight block set up as with an 11-21.  If I had a 34 or a 36 in the front I could ride a 21 on hills and unless I'm in a mad downhill sprint fininsh I'd never really need a 50-11.

     

     

    Sort of off chain duration but it does relate to what the chain is there for.  Have fun riding but I'd check your chain a little more often than 4,000 as it cost nothing to check!

     

     

    EJ

     

     

  • MotiveForcer Community Moderator 448 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jun 18, 2008 9:49 PM (in response to Active Toby)
    Re: How long does a chain last?

     

    OH, it must be nice being in southern California.  Here in Michigan, unless it is a closed and well contained course, we rarely ride at night with road bike tires.  Way to many potholes and cracks in the roads here.  We have to use our cross bikes or mountain bikes to preserve our physical integrity.  Neat shot. 

     

     

    Now, I'm wondering where your chain broke the "second time?"  Was it the second time on the same ride or on two different rides with two different chains? Sometimes, if installed incorrectly, which is easy to do, a chain might be more suseptible to break down.  It still doesn't explain your premature wear of the cassette.

     

     

    EJL

     

     

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