Author Topic: A Bicycle Chain  (Read 897 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Westinghouse

A Bicycle Chain
« on: July 31, 2020, 01:42:58 am »
How many miles of loaded, long distance bike touring can you get out of one chain? A chain can run from $10.00 up to $100.00 and more. Higher price should mean superior quality.  In my 40,000 miles of international cycle-touring, all my chains were, as they call it, low end. That means $10.00 Walmart chains. What would you expect from a chain at the bottom of the ladder? This is the answer. I bicycled from southeast coastal Florida to San Diego, California with that chain. Got a bus back to Florida. I cycled around for six months more on the same chain. I set out again from FL to CA. The chain broke in front of Wendy's restaurant in Mobile, Alabama. I repaired it there. It held together as far as Houston, Texas. It was still good when I changed it out in Houston.

Offline BikePacker

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2020, 08:08:56 am »
IF mostly off-pavement - I'm happy if I can get to 1000 miles before the chain (and sprockets) need to be replaced,
not due to probability of breakage, just due to wear/looseness.
IF mostly pavement - 3000 miles and then I routinely change out (including sprockets) in advance of a break;
while I do carry a chain breaker in my tool kit - never have had a chain break.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2020, 08:49:32 am »
Run a chain too long and it stretches, when it stretches it wears down and elongates the front and rear cogs. Then you have a more expensive repair on your hands.

Buy a $10-15 dollar chain stretch checker and learn to use it.  Replacing a chain more often will save you money in the long run.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk


Offline staehpj1

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2020, 09:02:51 am »
Run a chain too long and it stretches, when it stretches it wears down and elongates the front and rear cogs. Then you have a more expensive repair on your hands.

Buy a $10-15 dollar chain stretch checker and learn to use it.  Replacing a chain more often will save you money in the long run.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk
I always preferred to measure 12 full links.  If over 12-1/16" start thinking new chain.   Be sure to replace before it gets to 12-1/8".  By then sprockets are likely damaged.

I tried one of those little chain checkers and found the results to be unreliable on the ones I tried.  I was never sure why, but they seemed to recommend replacing perfectly good chains that I'd otherwise run another thousand or multiple thousand miles with no ring or cog wear issues.  Eventually I ran across an explanation on Sheldon Browns site.  He said "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."  So maybe either use one of the two he said were okay, just use a ruler to measure 12 links, or replace chains that don't need to be replaced.

There is a lot more stuff at https://www.sheldonbrown.com/chain-wear.html#:~:text=A%20ruler%20or%20steel%20tape,pin%2012%20complete%20links%20away.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2020, 03:06:12 pm »
One thing about those $10.00 Walmart chains. They do elongate quite a bit. Sure, you can get good mileage out of them, but not long into the journey you will find some serious stretch. The rollers wear down soon. I read an article about a chain that cost about $90.00. The cyclist said he had gone over 5000 miles with no measurable elongation at all. That might have been just bare-bike cycling which puts much less strain on a chain than fully loaded touring up hills and mountains.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2020, 04:21:01 pm »
I've been using the Park CC-3.2 as an early warning indicator.  It's easier to use than getting my bifocal-assisted eyes down to chain level.  At the 0.75 level, it's easy to check three places around the chain; if the checker falls in to any of those three, it's time to get out the steel rule.

Just poking around, the Park CC-4 looks like the old (out of production?) Shimano CN40/41.  Anyone tried the latest Park?

Offline TCS

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2020, 04:46:22 pm »
Chain wear seems to be jointly a product of cleanliness and lubrication - two unsurprisingly interrelated facets - and chain quality.

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/chaintesting/

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/lubetesting/
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline gottobike

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2020, 01:49:58 am »
I get about 1,000 miles out of a chain if loaded. I get a little more, maybe an additional 100 miles, with meticulous chain maintenance. Most of the time I replace before a stretched chain damages chain rings or cogs.

Chain questions:
Are e-bike chains any stronger than regular chains? The ones I see cost ~20% more than a similar conventional chain,; however, the e-bike chain also has ~20% more links.

What caused your chain to break? The only times I have been able to break a chain is when installed by an incompetent mechanic (me) or when using a drivetrain that was prone to chain suck, also probably caused by my competency as a mechanic. Probably not too surprising, but I have never broken a chain installed by a professional mechanic. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2020, 06:08:44 am »
I get about 1,000 miles out of a chain if loaded. I get a little more, maybe an additional 100 miles, with meticulous chain maintenance. Most of the time I replace before a stretched chain damages chain rings or cogs.
I didn't mention expected chain life, but since you brought it up...  I generally expect to get way more than that.  I can't imagine replacing a chain several times on a coast to coast trip.  I figure that 10,000 miles is kind of a normal chain life, but  depending on the chain or the use one might fail earlier.  That said I doubt I have ever had one last less than 5,000 miles.  I haven't always kept track so I may be wrong though.

The chain on my heavy touring bike that I used on the Trans America is probably the only one where I can really track the actual mileage and it lasted 10k miles mostly loaded touring with some commuting.

You mention "meticulous chain maintenance".  I am not sure what you consider meticulous chain maintenance, but my chains pretty much get lubed and wiped off frequently and never cleaned or maintained beyond that.  I subscribe to the theory that cleaning with detergents or solvents does more harm than good by allowing grit to penetrate further into the chain, so I don't do any additional cleaning and try to avoid much washing.

Offline gottobike

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2020, 03:34:59 pm »
These deplorable numbers for chain mileage are for 10 & 11 SPD drive train with total combined load of 220-280lbs.
 I was using Triflow but switched to Progold Prolink on recommendation of bike shop. After no improvement and someone again suggesting it may be the lube, have recently switched to Boeshield T-9, which seems to work better.
My normal chain maintenance is lube and wipe whenever it needs it. My miticulous chain maintenance mode is lube and wipe after everyride and the wipe again before each ride. After rain/mud/sand, I would also clean with a solvent like WD-40 before relubing but now I mostly just lube and wipe.

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2020, 04:35:41 pm »
These deplorable numbers for chain mileage are for 10 & 11 SPD drive train with total combined load of 220-280lbs.
I agree if you are referring to gottobike and BikePacker's numbers. 

 
I get about 1,000 miles out of a chain if loaded. I get a little more, maybe an additional 100 miles, with meticulous chain maintenance.
I still consider a chain pretty much new at 1000 miles.

IF mostly off-pavement - I'm happy if I can get to 1000 miles before the chain (and sprockets) need to be replaced,
not due to probability of breakage, just due to wear/looseness.
IF mostly pavement - 3000 miles and then I routinely change out (including sprockets) in advance of a break;
while I do carry a chain breaker in my tool kit - never have had a chain break.
I am surprised by the short mileage, but even more by the need to replace sprockets at this short mileage.  I have generally not only gotten much more mileage out of a chain, but as long as i replace the chain before 12 links measure 12-1/8" (preferably at 12-1/16"), I find rings and cogs last for quite a few chains.  In fact I pretty much never replace them for wear.  They usually get swapped out because of gearing preference choices at some point though.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2020, 09:39:46 pm »
Pete gets some freakishly high mileage out of his chains -- at least compared to my experience.  I start getting nervous around 1,500 miles on a chain, and if I let it go past 2,500 miles I often need to replace the cassette.  2,000 is about average for me.

Many experienced cyclists have chain miles that vary tremendously.  I'd love to see a systematic study of why.

Offline John Nelson

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2020, 12:47:40 am »
Yes, I've never known anybody to get as many miles out of a chain as Pete does. I don't understand his secret, and I don't think he does either. I've heard him explain his theories, but I doubt that they completely explain his results. There's something else going on.

Offline staehpj1

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2020, 07:13:03 am »
Yes, I've never known anybody to get as many miles out of a chain as Pete does. I don't understand his secret, and I don't think he does either. I've heard him explain his theories, but I doubt that they completely explain his results. There's something else going on.
I always joke that it is my silky smooth spin, but I don't really have much of an explanation.  I do think that it helps that I avoid aggressive cleaning methods, keeping detergents and solvents away from the chain as much as possible including when washing the bike.

Offline froze

Re: A Bicycle Chain
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2020, 09:02:34 pm »
Unloaded I've gone over 8,000 miles on a stock Shimano chain that cost $30...on the road, never had a chain break either, and I usually don't have to change my gear cluster but once every third chain replacement.

I don't understand my secret either, I do lube the chain quite a bit and wipe it down after every ride, I use to clean the chain frequently but new lubes don't require that like they use to; I never found solvents to shorten my chain life.  Am I smooth?  I don't know, but I use to get 10,000 to 12,000 miles on chains while riding mountain roads which means climbing a lot, and that can't be smooth if your out of the saddle mashing the pedals.

Loaded wise I'm newer to the camping touring world so I don't have long miles experience on a chain yet, but my new touring bike has about 1,000 miles on it and the chain is showing no signs of measurable wear.  On that chain I'm using Dumonde Lite lube to see how well it will do, but I just started using that lube about 250 miles on the chain with that lube.  It's a basic KMC X10 chain that came with the bike.