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I am fairly new to road riding and was wondering what the life expectance of a chain? I have 1100 miles in 2 months on a brand new bike. I just did a 62 mile charity ride which it rained for the 3 hours. I have another big ride this coming weekend 120 miles and want to make sure my bike is running smoothly!

Is there a mile marker people go by when determining chain life or just check the chain stretch?

Cheers
 

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lucky13 said:
I am fairly new to road riding and was wondering what the life expectance of a chain? I have 1100 miles in 2 months on a brand new bike. I just did a 62 mile charity ride which it rained for the 3 hours. I have another big ride this coming weekend 120 miles and want to make sure my bike is running smoothly!

Is there a mile marker people go by when determining chain life or just check the chain stretch?

Cheers
It really depends on where you ride, how often you clean and lube the chain, ride in the rain, etc. Some around here claim 3,500mi. on one, others are done after a third of that. And some folks just like to change their chains a bit more frequently.

To check whether your chain has worn to the point of changing it, you can get little tools that gauge it, or take an ordinary ruler (steel ones are great for this), and measure from the center of one pin to a pin 12 inches away; it should measure exactly 12 inches when brand new. After some time, the wear on the pins is enough to cause that measure to be a bit, say 1/16", more than 12 inches, and you consider chain replacement.

Water isn't so particularly hard on chains, except that it washes away your lubricant, and rain usually causes your chain to pick up a lot of road grit, which is particularly hard on chains, so after a rainy ride, clean/lube your chain (search here on "chain cleaning" will give you more than ample advice.)
 

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The mechanic who's helped me at my LBS said that lubing too often can cause problems as well since excess lube tends to pick up road grime. I experienced this with my first chain. I used to wipe it down (not really clean per se) and relube it and it was always black with grime. I don't even put regular mileage on my bike and in less than a year the rollers were drooping. A chain cleaner is a good thing to me.
 

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Dr. Placebo said:
The mechanic who's helped me at my LBS said that lubing too often can cause problems as well since excess lube tends to pick up road grime. I experienced this with my first chain. I used to wipe it down (not really clean per se) and relube it and it was always black with grime. I don't even put regular mileage on my bike and in less than a year the rollers were drooping. A chain cleaner is a good thing to me.
Yep, I can see that, except the problem wouldn't really be lubing too often, but leaving excess lube on, which picks up grit, etc., as your mechanic friend said. That's why a lot of the crowd around here does the "douse it with home lube, and wipe off the excess" thing. I do that myself, not because it's necessarily the best way, but it's good enough, and I'm inherently lazy.

There are about a gazillion threads on this topic.
 

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The life of chains

xxl said:
Some around here claim 3,500mi. on one, others are done after a third of that.
Measuring for elongation is how you decide if you need a new chain, and all it takes is a ruler. For reference, my current Campy U10 chain has 8500 miles on it and is nearing the end of it's life. YMMV :)


Ways to make chains last a long time:

1. Keep the chain clean and well-lubed. It's the gunk on the chain that acts as a grinding compound and destroys the chain. I use ProLink, with the standard procedure, every 300-350 miles. This also means a quick re-lube if you get caught in the rain. IME, wax lubes do not meet this requirement.

2. Spin a high cadence. Those who stomp stress the chain far more.

3. Ride in the big ring when you have a choice. Keeping the chain on the larger cogs greatly reduces stress and there is less chain angle in the 53/18 than in the 39/13.

4. Ride in non-dusty regions. The grinding paste that forms on the chain is a combination of lube and dirt. If your local climate is dusty, this problem will be far worse and your chain will wear that much faster.

5. Buy good quality. IME an SRAM chain lasts about 60% as long as Campy, and others have reported Shimano DA lasting less than half as long. Cassette cogs and chain wheels wear at different rates too, and this influences chain wear.

6. New chain = new cassette cogs if the new chain skips when you pedal hard. Many will argue for frequent chain replacement to save their cogs, but the cogs still wear, even with a new chain. The partially worn cogs will cause faster chain wear.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
Measuring for elongation is how you decide if you need a new chain, and all it takes is a ruler. For reference, my current Campy U10 chain has 8500 miles on it and is nearing the end of it's life. YMMV :)
Yes, described in post #2 (but, dammit, they really oughta just do their searches first!)

Kerry, 8500 miles is pretty impressive mileage on a chain; or is chain mileage another version of the "what's your average speed" threads? :)

Actually, upon further review, I guess my chains are within a similar order of magnitude, since they last about a season and a half or so. Still, it sounds so much better when you tell it.
 

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I use Dumonde Tech lube. I don't know what other lube manufacturers recommend, but Dumonde Tech says not to degrease the chain. Scurb the chain with soap and water to remove grime, dirt, etc. Then apply more lube. They claim that their lube will build up a protective coating that will result in longer chain life. Since I have read and started following their instructions and not degreasing, chain life for me has more than doubled. YMMV.
 

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I want to know in every instance on pro teams with SRAM, they always use a Dura Ace chain... I certainly don't change my cassette when I use a new chain. A cassette is sort of expensive, whereas a chain is not that expensive. Except for the Campagnolo titanium chain...

Sometimes I re-use the 3 titanium cogs on my Dura Ace cassette - I rarely use them, because it's pancake flat here. What helps a lot is to clean my chain overnight - I use Pedro's citrus cleaner, some dishwashing soap, and about a half-cup of gasoline or kerosene. The same cleaner mixture goes on my cassette. I clean my chain & cassette about every month to six weeks (less so in the winter). I rotate two different chains with one cassette - a clean one and a dirty one. I also clean the pulleys on my rear derailleur.
 
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