Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: awbikes on February 27, 2012, 09:50:27 am

 
Title: Chain selection
Post by: awbikes on February 27, 2012, 09:50:27 am
Its time to replace the chain on my bike. I know this may be a somewhat subjective issue but which chain should I buy? I would like to go SRAM because I like their connector link. Are they fully compatible with the existing Shimano drive line? Next question is price. I noticed  thru Nashbar  SRAM chains for 9 speeds run from approx. 15.00 for a basic chain to 58.00 for a hollow pin design. There are also chains in between those prices. If it's an issue I,m a light tourer generally 30 LBS of gear on flat terraine, paved. I've also noticed there are other brands out there (BBB and Wipperman) whats the difference. I guess I could stick with Shimano but they have different grades also. How does one choose.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: John Nelson on February 27, 2012, 10:12:44 am
Yes, the SRAM chains will work fine with Shimano components. Their three basic models of SRAM 9-speed chains are the 951, the 971 and the 991. I only buy them when they're on sale, and I buy several at a time. Often there is only a small jump in price between the 951 and the 971, but a large jump between the 971 and the 991, so I usually end up with the 971. I have kept track of mileage on each chain over the last 15 chains or so, and I do notice that the more expensive ones last longer, but maybe my sample size isn't large enough to be significant. As long as you check your chains frequently for stretch and replace them often, it probably doesn't make much difference which one you use.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: DaveB on February 27, 2012, 10:24:38 am
Not addressing your chain question directly but how many miles on your current chain and cassette?  If more than a thousand or so, you are likely to need a new cassette also.  A new chain on an old cassette is a sure recipe for chain skipping on the cogs you use most. 
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: waynemyer on February 27, 2012, 04:29:00 pm
Another vote for the 971. I use 7-series SRAM chains on almost all of my bikes and I am very happy with them. My mileage per chain ranges from 700 (nasty winter conditions) to about 3000 in the summer.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: johnsondasw on February 27, 2012, 04:54:25 pm
I have not found the more expensive chains to last much longer.  For me they're not worth it.  I buy $25 chains.  A chain twice as expensive definitely does not last twice as long.  And I can't tell the difference as far as performance goes, but I'm into just being out there riding and not really into the lightest, most perfect elite gear. 
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: awbikes on February 27, 2012, 09:14:09 pm
In answer to DaveB question about mileage; I have 2000 miles on existing chain, I have cleaned it every 500 miles and wipe it down with a rag about every 250 miles. Initially I used an oil based lube then went to wax. The chain gauge shows I'm at .75. I have only been caught in rain twice so overall I think the chain has not seen excessive service.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: CyclesafeSr on February 29, 2012, 10:02:44 am
On a lark I bought a deeply discounted Wippermann 9sX stainless steel chain.  By that I mean it was $60 rather than the $100 it normally retails for.  I used it after a long succession of Sram 971's.

Chain life depends on conditions and subsequent maintenance, so both time and mileage are only vague approximators for useful life.

What I'm finding is that the swank chain is quieter, does not request as frequent lubrication, and is stretching slower than the 971.  Do I save enough on lubrication to make up the diffference in price?  No.  Does it seem to be lasting sufficiently longer than the 971 that I'll save money in buying one 9sX's versus two or hopefully three 971's?  Probably not. 

Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: hem on February 29, 2012, 11:42:51 am
As far as I can tell the more a chain cost the less it weighs and the more bling but not much difference in the wear characteristics. Weather, dust, and maintenance affects chain life mostly. I once bought a bunch of no-name take off chains from JensonUsa for I believe around $8-9 each and they are lasting as well as any other chain I've used. And I use the Connex master link with them as well.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: DaveB on February 29, 2012, 12:35:42 pm
In answer to DaveB question about mileage; I have 2000 miles on existing chain, I have cleaned it every 500 miles and wipe it down with a rag about every 250 miles. Initially I used an oil based lube then went to wax. The chain gauge shows I'm at .75. I have only been caught in rain twice so overall I think the chain has not seen excessive service.
If your wear gauge shows 0.75% and is accurate (many are not)  then that's about 12-3/32" for 24 pins where a new chain is 12.00" your chain is indeed worn and a new one is likely to cause skipping on your smaller cogs.  The accepted limit for chain "stretch" is 12-1/16" for 24 pins before cog wear is a problem and, even at that, you may have occasional problems.  Try the new one and see but be ready to buy a new cassette if you have any problems.

Quote
On a lark I bought a deeply discounted Wippermann 9sX stainless steel chain.  By that I mean it was $60 rather than the $100 it normally retails for.  I used it after a long succession of Sram 971's......What I'm finding is that the swank chain is quieter, does not request as frequent lubrication, and is stretching slower than the 971
I've found Wippernamm chains in general, not just the top-tier models, are durable and long lasting.  I've limited experience with SRAM's chains but the several mid-level Wippermanns I've used far outlasted them and are in the same league as Shimano's mid and upper level chains.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: hem on February 29, 2012, 03:41:57 pm
@DaveB I have always used 12 links and not 24. Is there a reason to do 24 versus 12 links. I can measure 12 links with the chain on the bike where it is under tension.
24 links means I have to remove the chain to measure for wear.

I am of the school where I don't clean my chain. I wipe it down after every ride and lube when it "talks" to me.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: RussSeaton on February 29, 2012, 03:54:38 pm
@DaveB I have always used 12 links and not 24. Is there a reason to do 24 versus 12 links. I can measure 12 links with the chain on the bike where it is under tension.
24 links means I have to remove the chain to measure for wear.

I am of the school where I don't clean my chain. I wipe it down after every ride and lube when it "talks" to me.

Believe it or not, I think you two are using the same length to measure chain wear.  12 inches.  24 pins.  12 full links.  Each full link is composed of two half links and two pins.  The two half links have an open yoke on one end and the closed end on the other.  The open yoke has the plates on the outside, the closed end has the inner plates.  But when you add the two halves together, you get the one complete link that is exactly one inch long.  And has two pins.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: hem on February 29, 2012, 04:07:24 pm
My Bad. I don't ever recall thinking in terms of pins versus links. I just remember the nearest pin at or past 12"
Anyway a good read on the subject http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html (http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html)
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: DaveB on March 01, 2012, 12:08:40 pm
Yep, 12" = 24 half-links which is why I expressed the measurement as being over 24 pins which is 12 full links.  I can also measure this length whith the chain still on the bike.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: misterflask on March 02, 2012, 06:24:29 am
Anybody have any experience with KMC chains?  I was about to mount one for a TA trip and hoped it might make the whole trip(always the optimist). 
And John N, how about sharing some of that arduously collected data?  What's your chain life average and the range?
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: DaveB on March 02, 2012, 09:42:33 am
Anybody have any experience with KMC chains?  I was about to mount one for a TA trip and hoped it might make the whole trip(always the optimist). 
I have no personal experience with them but everything I've rad about them is positive.  They work well and their master link seems to be well designed and durable.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: John Nelson on March 02, 2012, 10:47:17 am
And John N, how about sharing some of that arduously collected data?  What's your chain life average and the range?

I measure my chains and change them when they get to 0.75% stretch. For my last 8 chains, I have gotten mileages of 4,223, 3,414, 3,767, 4,218, 3,348, 3,340, 1,859, and 3,142. That 4,218 and 3,348 numbers were SRAM 991, the 4,223 was a Shimano HG73, and the 3,414 was a SRAM 951. The rest were SRAM 771. Others have vastly different experiences and I have no good explanations why. Some change their chains every 1,000 miles and some every 10,000 miles. The differences can probably be attributed to a wide variety of factors, including how often you clean and lube, whether or not you're a masher or spinner, how often you ride in the rain, how many hills you ride, how heavy you and your load are, how dirty your roads are, etc.
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: misterflask on March 10, 2013, 04:36:49 pm
Bordering on straying from topic, but John, what was your lube for that chain life?  You're doing a little better than I am with white lightening (~2500mi). 
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: BikeFreak on March 10, 2013, 06:27:12 pm
The best chains are Rohloff SLT-99 chains, but they cannot be bought anymore. However I still have 5 chains in stock for future adventures.

On my trike I biked 14000 kms on the same Rohloff chain. The trike used 2 standard length chains linked together. After 14000 km the 0,075 Rohloff chain guide still did not show any wear.

On my standard bicycle I biked 6000 km last summer and there was still no 0,075 wear. I sense that the chain would have done at least 10000 km before hitting the 0,075 mark.

The above values are only valid for summer touring.

Bonus info: On my last summer ride I used more or less exactly 1 gram of lube for every 1000 km. That's approx 1/20 ounce for every 1000 miles. I use FinishLine Cross Country lube. The really heavy stuff - I don't rely on those "watery" lubes.

Lucas
Title: Re: Chain selection
Post by: John Nelson on March 11, 2013, 12:06:49 am
Bordering on straying from topic, but John, what was your lube for that chain life?  You're doing a little better than I am with white lightening (~2500mi).
I use ProLink, but I'm sure it's not much different than many other brands (except of course it is very different from wax-based lubes such as white lightning).