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What's the average life expectancy of a chain ? I bought a Trek 1500 last summer and have put about 4500 miles on the original cain with no problems so far. I had my bike in for a free tune up last week and the shop said the cahin was OK. I asked them how long chains normallly last and they said 2,000 to 2,500 miles. When I mentioned that I had 4,500 miles, they seemd a little surprised. I do clean and lube it at least once a week, sometimes more often depending on mileage and weather. I'm not even sure what type of chain I have. Is measuring the most accurate way to determine a worn chain?

thanks
 

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Different people get different life out of a chain. Some say, replace every 2000 miles. Some say, every 4000 miles. Some people use one type of chain lube, others use a different sort.
When I was using a 9 speed DA chain, on my main bike, I got, on the average, 10,000 miles on a chain. The most important thing, is that when I replaced, I had no chain skip on my Ultegra cassettes. Some of my 9 speed cassettes have close to 20,000 miles on them (with no skip). Something tells me that if I were to put on a new chain, I would get some skip, but I do have a chain that is only half worn out, that I can throw on, when my 9 speed bike needs one.
 

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As Mr. G said, it varies a lot. Cleaning and lubing as often as you do, your chain life is not surprising, esepcially if you rarely ride in wet weather. And as for your final question, measurement of elongation is almost totally reliable as a way to determine chain wear. In almost every conceivable circumstance, the pins and the bushings are the major point of wear, and that shows up as "stretch." The rollers wear, too, but it matters less, and they rarely wear faster than the pin-bushing interface.
 

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I replace them when they start getting a bit reluctant to shift into certain cogs. For 9sp chains that's about 3000 miles, for 10sp around 2000-2500 miles. Many people would run them longer since they're not skipping, but I like crisp shifting. Worn chains also wear out the cogs and chainrings faster. Chains are pretty cheap and they are easy to replace.
 

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the problem...

The problem here, is you've most likely ridden the chain so long at this point that it has worn one or two of the cogs enough to cause chain skip, when a new chain is installed. If you would have changed chains sooner, you would avoid chain skip and probably spend less per mile of use, since chains are cheaper than cassettes.
 

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I get a new chain every 4,000 mi. I clean/lube often with homebrew - usually every 250 mi or so, unless I get caught in the rain. In that case I do it right away.
 
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