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Chains.

Whether you are wondering how to true a wheel, how to fix that clicking sound or simply maintain your bike for the long haul, the Workshop & Maintenance forum is your one-stop online mechanic shop.

Moderator: Pricey_sky

Chains.

18 Sep 2015 01:18

Your chain is a key element of your bike's transmission, being the essential link that connects the front part of your drivetrain (the pedals, cranks and chainrings/sprocket) to the rear (cassette/sprocket and rear hub). It's through the chain that pedal power is converted into forward movement, so it's essential to buy the right one and to keep it maintained.
Modern bike chains are properly called 'roller chains', and consist of short cylindrical rollers held together by side links. The gaps between the rollers mesh with the teeth on a sprocket or chainring, to drive the transmission when turned.
Most bike chains are made of alloy steel for strength but some performance models may feature high-end alloy parts or hollow pins/side plates to save weight.

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The type of chain you need will depend on the type of bike you are riding. A number of different chain widths are available, to suit specific bike types such as BMX, or to fit different road and MTB drivetrains (e.g. an 11-speed cassette requires a different chain to a 9-speed one – the chain must be thinner in order to fit into the narrower spaces between the sprockets.
Whatever bike you ride, chain maintenance is key. Chains will wear and stretch over time, and a worn chain will damage the teeth on your chainrings or sprocket. It's important to keep your chain clean and lubricated to minimise wear, and to regularly check chain length so it can be replaced when necessary.

When replacing your road or mountain bike chain you need to get one that matches the number of gears in your drivetrain.
The amount of sprockets on your rear cassette – 9, 10 or 11 is crucial. Because the distances between the sprockets vary on different 'speed' cassettes (e.g. the gap will be wider on a 9-speed block than on an 11-speed), you need a chain that fits. A chain for an 11-speed transmission will be narrower than one for a 9-speed, etc.
Generally chains and cassettes from different manufacturers will be compatible with each other, although Shimano and SRAM chains will not work very well with Campagnolo cassettes, and vice-versa.
It is also worth noting that some chains (e.g. Shimano) require special rivets to rejoin them once they have been split, and the old rivets cannot be used again. SRAM chains use a special 'Powerlink 'that can be split and rejoined without the need for a special chain tool, making them a popular choice even on non-SRAM transmissions.

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What is Chain Stretch
Cyclists often speak of chain "stretch", as if the side plates of an old chain were pulled out of shape by the repeated stresses of pedaling. This is not actually how chains elongate. The major cause of chain "stretch" is wearing away of the metal where the link pin rotates inside of the bushing (or the "bushing" part of the inside plate) as the chain links flex and straighten as the chain goes onto and off of the sprockets. If you take apart an old, worn-out chain, you can easily see the little notches worn into the sides of the link pins by the inside edges of the bushings.
All chains have a limited lifespan. Every time a link of a chain drops into the valley created between the teeth on a cassette, sprocket or chainring, two metal surfaces rub together. Add in the grinding paste that a transmission attracts and multiply by the hundreds of times this happens every time you turn the pedals, and you have a recipe for wear and tear.

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When do I Need a New Chain?
As chains wear out they tend to stretch, eventually starting to skip over the teeth on the sprocket when under load, instead of meshing with them as they should.
Once this starts to happen it is time for a chain replacement (and perhaps a new cassette and chainrings too, if the wear is considerable). However you can act earlier by using a chain measuring device to determine if your chain is beginning to wear – catch it quickly and you only need a new chain.
An alternative, but less accurate, method is to measure the length of 12 links, which on a new chain should be exactly 12”. When 12 links of an old chain measures 12 and 1/8” or less, you can get away with a new chain only. Any more than that however and you are going to have to buy a new cassette and possibly chainrings as well.

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User avatar JackRabbitSlims
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19 Sep 2015 21:56

My personal preference is the KMC- Z-72, but then I know how much chain my bikes can take.

May I question you about the "Powerlink Connector from SRAM" stuff, though?

I mean, doesn't that just look like your basic "missing link"? (Which I would preferably not be dealing with on my chains to begin with.)
User avatar Tricycle Rider
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Re: Chains.

27 Sep 2015 18:03

"although Shimano and SRAM chains will not work very well with Campagnolo cassettes"

You wrote. Not in my experience in my shop. 8/9/10/11s chains all cross compatible including KMC, Wipperman/Connex. The 'best', is to match group with similar branded chain but I have installed many Shimano, Campagnolo and KMC on different groups with great success.
User avatar Bustedknuckle
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Re:

27 Sep 2015 22:07

Tricycle Rider wrote:My personal preference is the KMC- Z-72, but then I know how much chain my bikes can take.

May I question you about the "Powerlink Connector from SRAM" stuff, though?

I mean, doesn't that just look like your basic "missing link"? (Which I would preferably not be dealing with on my chains to begin with.)

That's exactly what it is. I've never liked using them long term because they stay really stiff for ages but they're great to carry on the road just in case. I've gotten friends out of trouble with these more than once.
User avatar 42x16ss
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Re: Chains.

28 Sep 2015 05:52

Bustedknuckle wrote:"although Shimano and SRAM chains will not work very well with Campagnolo cassettes"

You wrote. Not in my experience in my shop. 8/9/10/11s chains all cross compatible including KMC, Wipperman/Connex. The 'best', is to match group with similar branded chain but I have installed many Shimano, Campagnolo and KMC on different groups with great success.


your experience is valuable and very welcome - thanks for contributing

i can't help but think that would have been tough for you?
you openly state that you pretty much despise the "S" brands and have a very strong loyalty to Campy.....are you saying you've installed a sram or shimano chain instead of a Campy to a Campy Group / Cassette?

just asking the question

my experience is much more limited
my boss is always fine with the sram / shimano swap, but has always maintained Campy chains on Campy cassettes

be great if you could offer more advice in this section
User avatar JackRabbitSlims
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Re: Chains.

28 Sep 2015 11:49

JackRabbitSlims wrote:
Bustedknuckle wrote:"although Shimano and SRAM chains will not work very well with Campagnolo cassettes"

You wrote. Not in my experience in my shop. 8/9/10/11s chains all cross compatible including KMC, Wipperman/Connex. The 'best', is to match group with similar branded chain but I have installed many Shimano, Campagnolo and KMC on different groups with great success.


your experience is valuable and very welcome - thanks for contributing

i can't help but think that would have been tough for you?
you openly state that you pretty much despise the "S" brands and have a very strong loyalty to Campy.....are you saying you've installed a sram or shimano chain instead of a Campy to a Campy Group / Cassette?

just asking the question

my experience is much more limited
my boss is always fine with the sram / shimano swap, but has always maintained Campy chains on Campy cassettes

be great if you could offer more advice in this section


I never sold sram anything. If I got a bike to work on with spam, I used shimano chains and cogsets.

Sometimes the gent didn't want to spend the $75 for a Campagnolo chain and opted for a less expensive shimano type, 10s or 11s. I don't really have a beef with shimano. Yes they are the gorilla and their design philosophy drives me nuts..like hubs, every new hub has completely new, and non compatible, innards with every other hub..type thing. BUT I have put shimano 11s chains onto Campagnolo 11s groups, and shimano and KMC chains on 10s/9s/8s systems.

spam on the other hand, makes cheap, fragile junk and leaves it up to the cyclist to find things wrong with their stuff. MTB a little better(altho SLX/XT MTB stuff far superior to like priced spam) but road? No thanks. If it weren't for cross, spam would really be hurting.
User avatar Bustedknuckle
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Re: Chains.

28 Sep 2015 19:58

I use yaban self lube chains " I don't use any lube on my chain" They are crazy light. lighter than KCM. They last as long as anything. I pick my gold chains [ bling baby] up on Ebay for less £21
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/mr-ride-YBN-10-Speed-116-Link-raod-Mtb-Bike-Bicycle-Chain-Gold-Sram-FSA/141755253031?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D33661%26meid%3D79f1ce3b1389452ba94048ada55a52fa%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D131587848367

here's the deal

SLA Supeior Lubricating Aid series

YBN took two years to explore the Ni-PTFE Teflon Coating, and made the "SLA" Superior Lubricating Aid series. Less Friction, Smooth, Noiseless and Easy cleaning are the main characteristics of SLA chain series. The Durability of the SLA series are upgraded 200% by these characteristics. SLA Superior Lubricating Aid series no need to grease heavily, slightly greased after cycling will be fine.

Chromium Carbide Surface Hardened Treatment

YBN has been using the DHA Chromium Carbide Surface Hardened Treatment to increase the hardness of chain pins. Excellent performance can be expected even in adverse conditions, including the presence of abrasive contaminants. Furthermore, DHA pins is also anti-rust. DHA Chromium Carbide Surface hardened pins are able to prolong 100% of lifetime. The chains are not prolonged easily
ray j willings
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11 Aug 2016 20:18

I found Dura Ace chains cheaper than Ultegra my last two changes...?.... Went for the swap a week after the LBS mechanic, who normally does me right said that cogs,rings and chain stretch was minimal.
New chain on the bike, front small ring so warn that the chain just jumps under pressure. Had front ring replaced, now old chain back on while I wait for new cassette to arrive after ordering.. The only drive train good news I have had in years is Squirt, best product I have tried in a while.
fatandfast
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24 Oct 2016 08:53

My suggestion is to go the chain lube section of product reviews on this forum, choose the top few rated lubes with a decent number of reviews, than read the reviews focusing on those from reviewers describing riding conditions similar to yours. That should help you narrow down the many choices to a short list of two or three, then try one, and if not pleased try another.

Most experienced riders have tried a number of lubes before settling on a long term favorite, others have more than one favorite depending on the bike or season.
Mattsch
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Re:

25 Oct 2016 23:46

Mattsch wrote:My suggestion is to go the chain lube section of product reviews on this forum, choose the top few rated lubes with a decent number of reviews, than read the reviews focusing on those from reviewers describing riding conditions similar to yours. That should help you narrow down the many choices to a short list of two or three, then try one, and if not pleased try another.

Most experienced riders have tried a number of lubes before settling on a long term favorite, others have more than one favorite depending on the bike or season.

What "chain lube section of product reviews" thread are you referring to?

We don't have one as far as I know.... :confused:

Welcome to the forum. :)
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