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MTB Chain life


mountain_lion
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I know it depends... on type of riding, riding style, rider weight etc, but what would fellow Hubbers consider to be normal expected life (time and/or km) of a well maintained (cleaned & lubed regularly) MTB chain?

 

 

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Well, I can only talk about my experience. I have the same MTB since 1999/2000 and the chain has given no problem. I assume that the chain is pretty much indestructible.

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Well I used to get about 400km out of a chain and then I had to change the casette as well. Then at the begining of this year i purchased 4 x chains and rotaote them every 200km.

 

I am now sitting on about 600km per chain. they are all still well within specification and are still going strong.

 

However I must admit that there has not been too much serious mud riding.

 

Excluding Saturday's Stellenbosch race. This was very messy.
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I think the Stellenbosch ride was Meurant's gift to bike shops - there are going to be a whole lot of new drive trains at the next ride....

 

Saying that - I still have my Epic drive train on, and only chain sucked twice during the Stellenbosch ride.

 

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I have just bought a Park Tool chain measure. You can use it to very quickly check if your chain is worn, and should be able to replace chain before it damages the cluster. Unfortunately mine was already at 1% 'stretch' (yes I know it's not really stretched all you smart mouths!), so I'm changing mine. But it was 8 months old and I'm guessing I did close to 2000km on it?

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I have just bought a Park Tool chain measure. You can use it to very quickly check if your chain is worn' date=' and should be able to replace chain before it damages the cluster. Unfortunately mine was already at 1% 'stretch' (yes I know it's not really stretched all you smart mouths!), so I'm changing mine. But it was 8 months old and I'm guessing I did close to 2000km on it?[/quote']

 

MichH, thos things are not 100%. They measure the rollers that run around the pins, not the exact measurements from pin-to-pin.

 

Read this

 

You prevent sprocket wear by regularly changing your chain. However' date=' most people allow their bike shops to replace their chains too often, which is also unnecessary and in the end, as expensive as a new sprocket cassette. Replace the chain only when it has elongated by 1%. It is easier to determine than it sounds. Regularly measure your chain with a ruler calibrated in inches. These are hard to come by in metric countries but it is worth the search. I found a cheap carpenter?s square with inch markings at my local hardware shop and it works fine ? the short end of the square even gives me a good handle on things and the fact that the measurements start at the edge of the rule means I can hook it against a pin or sideplate when measuring and only focus on the 12-inch side of the rule.
A one half percent elongation works out as 1/16th of an inch per foot of chain (24 links). You don?t even have to count the links, you simply lay the end of the rule against any point on the chain ? I like to jam my steel rule against a pin, pull the chain straight and look at the 12-inch mark where I can quickly see whether my end point lines up or runs over. Your inch ruler will almost certainly be marked in 1/16ths. Up to just below 12 and 1/16th inch mark, the chain is still good, on and above it, it should be replaced. If it has already elongated by 1/8th, you?ve ruined the sprocket. Replace it.

[/quote']

 

 

 
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Thanks Mampara. I have a tape measure in inches at home. I will bear this in mind when checking. But it sure is a handy way to keep an eye on it, just drop it in, and if it fits, check further.

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Yes, it does depend, and that's why you cannot expect a kilometer  answer to your question that will make any sense. Chain life is purely a function of chain hygiene. If your chain were to run in a bath of filtered oil (as it does on a car engine's timing chain), it would last 300 000 kms. Unfortunately it runs in dirt and grime and that dramatically affects its life. A road bike's chain life is a bit easier to define: if you clean and lube your chain often, you can get 3500kms out of it before it is elongated to the maximum of 1%.

 

I have a long and comprehensive article on my website on chain life. It is a dirty, but fascinating subject full of myth and lore.

 

 
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400km outta chain !!! What are you doing dick !!! A decent chain should take you way beyond the 2000km mark easily .

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The following usefull conversions may apply:-

 

12"         = 12.0"       = 304,8mm         - new chain, out of the box

12 1/16" = 12,0625" = 306,3875mm   - replace chain

12 1/8"   = 12,125"   = 307,975  mm   - replace chain, cassette and maybe chainrings as well!!!!!!!!
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The following usefull conversions may apply:-

 

12"         = 12.0"       = 304' date='8mm         - new chain, out of the box

12 1/16" = 12,0625" = 306,3875mm   - replace chain

12 1/8"   = 12,125"   = 307,975  mm   - replace chain, cassette and maybe chainrings as well!!!!!!!!
[/quote']

 

Not very useful at all. I challenge you to measure 306,3875mm with any sort of instrument you can lay next to your chain. Bear in mind that a vernier measures to 1/10th of a mm only (i.e. one decimal point) and a micrometer to 1/100th of a mm. Neither of these instruments can be used over a length of 12 inches, or like you prefer, 304,8mm.

 

On the other hand, if you use an inch callibrated ruler, anyone can see if it is worn or not.

 

I love the metric system but trying to apply it to a system developed in imperial measurements, like the bicycle chain is nonsensical.  I know that inch rules are scarce and I know it is illegal to even sell them, but do yourself a favour and get one.

 

Finally, a chain that's elongated to 12 and 1/8th of an inch does not damage the chainring. And even if it did, a chainring is a driving sprocket and acts differently to a driven sprocket when worn.

 

Read the article on my website, it'll explain it all.

 

 
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What about using SUPER VISION that is after you dressed in a phone booth!!!!!!!

 

My dear mr Bornman ...... "Daan Desimaal" came to our country in 1961. Nobody may sell Imperial measuring equipment any more. If you have one it can be described as true "Aficana". I said in my attempt to make things easier for our metricised youth these conversions "MAY" help. If they can make sense out of it let them use it by all means. I am lucky I have a steel straight edge that is Imperial. I can measure it this way and use my Park tool for quick measurements. I am also well versed in the usage of vernier calipers as well as micrometers. I do agree that trying to live Imerial in a metric world is difficult. We experience that in Soil Mechanics all the time with our TMH tests.

 

You can also read in my post .... if you did read it properly, that I said it may damage your chainring. I am fully aware that chainring wear different to a driven gear. I studied this in Mechanics II.

 

To end this discussion. If you measure 306 mm to determine the 50th percentile wear you may as well replace the chain...... what the hell the 0,3875 mm will not really make a difference in anybodys so called "perfect" cycling world
Hendrik Petoors2007-08-06 11:57:39
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My standard vernier measures to .02mm (1/50mm) or 1/1000 inch, although it only measure to 140mm , Standard verniers are available which measure  more than 300mm

With an inch ruler you will be guessing anything finer than 1/16 of inch. My only use for a inch gauge is symbolic.

 

I have experienced worn chainrings on a mountain bike that needed replacement although I have never had a worn road chainring that needed replacement. I have some Campag chainrings still doing service 35 years later.
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I have just bought a Park Tool chain measure. You can use it to very quickly check if your chain is worn' date=' and should be able to replace chain before it damages the cluster. Unfortunately mine was already at 1% 'stretch' (yes I know it's not really stretched all you smart mouths!), so I'm changing mine. But it was 8 months old and I'm guessing I did close to 2000km on it?[/quote']

 

MichH, I also have one of those Park tools and my last chain JUST stretched enough for  the0.75 gauge to fit and I replaced the chain immediately, but the cassette was also shot!  I find the tool works pretty well with my road bike, but for mtb, I think the gauge is pretty much useless.

 

Just my 2 cents...
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Thanks for all the replies so far.

 

I also have a park tool chain wear indicator and have also read the previous threads on this topic on the Hub, where most of the same was said.

JB - bookmarked your website from a previous thread, but still need to read.

 

I was interested to hear what kind of actual chain life other MTBers where getting.

i.e. when you apply all that has been said above, what mileage, which of course may vary, do you get? (puns intended Smile)

 

I checked my MTB chain after this weekend's Stellenbosch Challenge mud fest - the park tool indicates between 0.75% & 1% wear.

The bike has done 850km since new and I was wondering how this compared to what others are getting.

 

Yes, we did have a muddy wet winter in the Cape, I am a heavy rider (90kg) and I always try not to get off my bike on the hills if I can help it.

Got to make use of these heavy muscular legs which mostly count against me sometime! Wink

 

From what people say above, 850km sounds like average to good going under the conditions.

 

I like Dick's idea of rotating chain and thereby extending the time that the cluster can mate with a chain.

Expect a new thread from me soon asking about drive train replacement...

 

 

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Thanks for all the replies so far.

I like Dick's idea of rotating chain and thereby extending the time that the cluster can mate with a chain.
Expect a new thread from me soon asking about drive train replacement...

 

There is no merit in rotating a set of chains like that. There is no difference in rotating between 5 chains and using up five chains sequentially. The effect on the sprockets, all things being equal, is the same.  Having five chains to rotate is almost as much trouble as a completely fair polygamous relationship. Who was last? Who's next?

 

Give it up, ride your chain until it is 1% elongated and put on the next one. As soon as your new chain starts to skip on the old sprocket set, replace that. There are no magic formulas for how long a sprocket or chain will last. But you can be certain when they have come to the end of their life.

 
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