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Chain getting longer? Directional chains?

Old 11-21-19, 09:16 PM
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Chain getting longer? Directional chains?

So yesterday I was at my LBS and ended up talking with the owner for a really long time. He was thrilled that I was interested in his vintage collection. (He head a beautiful Panasonic and I wanted to steal, to be honest.) But one thing he said struck me as odd.

He said that if you clean a chain, it gets longer. Something about grease between the links keeping them at the correct distance and cleaning removing the grease. So if you degrease a chain, it will no longer fit to the cassette and crank and will actually wear out the gears quicker.

So he said not the degrease a chain but if it's crusty, just replace vs. cleaning. Granted, the shop sells parts...Then he said you can put a chain on backwards because it's directional. Am I really clueless or are these things I just didn't know? I'll admit that either might be the case. But neither of these things struck me as true.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:19 PM
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Old 11-21-19, 09:27 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
EXACTLY!

Is this, "hey, this woman is here and I can tell her anything!"

Because in the past I was told I needed a car part replaced to the tune of $350...and it turned out that a 1984 Mercury Lynx didn't even have that damn part in the first place. *glares*
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Old 11-21-19, 09:30 PM
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I put a chain on backwards once. Spent the whole day riding in reverse.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
I put a chain on backwards once. Spent the whole day riding in reverse.
I knew it!
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Old 11-21-19, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by TriBiker19 View Post
EXACTLY!

Is this, "hey, this woman is here and I can tell her anything!"

Because in the past I was told I needed a car part replaced to the tune of $350...and it turned out that a 1984 Mercury Lynx didn't even have that damn part in the first place. *glares*
Probably trying to "impress" you.

I always tell the guys at Jiffy Lube that my wife changes the air and cabin filters on my car (true). That usually puts an end to the upselling.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
Probably trying to "impress" you.

I always tell the guys at Jiffy Lube that my wife changes the air and cabin filters on my car (true). That usually puts an end to the upselling.
I nodded my head and thought, "I'm gonna ask the guys about this one."

Probably like why I negotiate all the car loans. I was burned once. And in 2001, I negotiated my husband's (then fiance's) car deal. A month later, I went in to buy another car for me and the manager just waved his hand and said, "Just give her what she wants."

But still, every time we go to buy a car, the salesman talks it up to my husband and ignores me. My husband is not the one they need to impress.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:43 PM
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I've heard that theory before, but I don't buy it.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:43 PM
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I once removed a chain and then immediately reinstalled and it wouldn't shift right at all. Since All I did was remove chain, I flipped it then reinstalled it and presto worked exactly as before with no problems. So it either got worn in a certain direction or it was directional.
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Old 11-21-19, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TriBiker19 View Post
I nodded my head and thought, "I'm gonna ask the guys about this one."

Probably like why I negotiate all the car loans. I was burned once. And in 2001, I negotiated my husband's (then fiance's) car deal. A month later, I went in to buy another car for me and the manager just waved his hand and said, "Just give her what she wants."
Yeah, I watched my wife totally own a sales manager after buying a Honda. He was trying to sell her an extended warranty.

She replied: No thanks, this is a "transitional vehicle". I could see the wrench going into the gears inside the poor guys head. His ego wouldn't let him ask what she meant, so after about 20 seconds he replied "OK". Totally stopped him in his tracks.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by thinktubes View Post
Yeah, I watched my wife totally own a sales manager after buying a Honda. He was trying to sell her an extended warranty.

She replied: No thanks, this is a "transitional vehicle". I could see the wrench going into the gears inside the poor guys head. His ego wouldn't let him ask what she meant, so after about 20 seconds he replied "OK". Totally stopped him in his tracks.
LOL!

When I was in Seattle and didn't want to upgrade to leather seats, I'd tell the salesperson I was vegan and then act offended.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by texaspandj View Post
I once removed a chain and then immediately reinstalled and it wouldn't shift right at all. Since All I did was remove chain, I flipped it then reinstalled it and presto worked exactly as before with no problems. So it either got worn in a certain direction or it was directional.
I could see it worn that way, but he phrased it as "you know chains are directional, right? Put it on the wrong way and you'll ruin your cassette and crank."

Meanwhile, he admitted that he only had one mechanic between the three stores that would be able to work on a pre-2000 bike.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:15 PM
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Is this the C&V Subforum?

Perhaps you guys should be excused.

https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/dm/DM-CN0001-05-ENG.pdf

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Old 11-21-19, 10:17 PM
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The area where the pins roll is where chain "lengthen" with use, but it's because the pins wear, not because lubricant gets forced out.

I mostly don't recommend degreasing chains, but that's because chains with dry lubricants don't get very dirty, and wet lubricants generally do a pretty good job of cleaning themselves (not perfect, but good enough that it won't matter much after ten minutes into the next ride). Stripping a chain on a routine basis just isn't very useful.

Originally Posted by P!N20 View Post
I put a chain on backwards once. Spent the whole day riding in reverse.
You jest, but modern chain designs often are directional.​​ Getting a chain backwards on an 11-speed drivetrain can significantly affect shift quality.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Is this the C&V Subforum?

Perhaps you guys should be excused.

https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/dm/DM-CN0001-05-ENG.pdf

Wow. This is the first time I've felt uncomfortable posting a question...and I've posted many dumb questions. Congrats, not just for "highlighting the owners manual" for me, but for the fellow C&V folks.

I almost would have preferred to be "well actually"ed.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
The area where the pins roll is where chain "lengthen" with use, but it's because the pins wear, not because lubricant gets forced out.
THAT makes sense to me. The lubricant thing didn't.

And directional after using the chain for a while makes sense, too, but not that a new chain would be impactfully directional. I would guess that after a while, wear would lead to similar performance in a normal or backwards chain.
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Old 11-21-19, 10:51 PM
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The directional thing on certain models of Shimano chain started with 10-speed and has continued to 11 speed.

I have had a bike or two come in with shifting issues that was caused by the 10-speed chain being on backwards.

There was an older version of Shimano 10s chain that was not directional.

If what that shop owner said about not degreasing your chain was true, then there would no doubt be problems from using any of the many chain lubes which contain high concentrations of solvent. But of course no such problems occur!
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Old 11-21-19, 10:57 PM
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With the new Shimano 11 speed chains, the inner and outer plates are slightly different, and thus not as much directional as inside vs outside (see above).

I haven't thought much about unidirectional wear patterns. Perhaps there would be some slight differences as a chain beds in. Perhaps with respect to the direction of wrap around the sprockets. But, then that would beg the question whether there would be a benefit of wrapping around the sprockets in the opposite direction periodically.

Personally, I like to pin my chains, and install once, ride, then remove when beyond spec.

I have experimented a bit with Wippermann chains that come with a removable quick link (which also has a top/bottom so it only wraps around the sprockets one way).

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Old 11-21-19, 10:57 PM
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Many years ago a friend with may years of bike wrenching experience told me he removed a nasty old chain from a bike, and cleaned it in degreaser, reinstalled it, and the bike never shifted properly again and it skipped under load. It had a campy groupo on it and the rings and freewheel were worn, to the chain, but now the chain was a different length than it was, and to replace the rings and freewheel with new parts and a new chain was way more money than was going to be spent on this bike, so, cleaning the chain totalled the bike essentially.

I go the other direction, I clean my chains thoroughly and regularly in lacquer thinner from day 1 and they last and last and last as do the rings and cassettes...
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Old 11-21-19, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TriBiker19 View Post
And directional after using the chain for a while makes sense, too, but not that a new chain would be impactfully directional. I would guess that after a while, wear would lead to similar performance in a normal or backwards chain.
Maybe. I'm not sure what all contributes to the directional differences. The visually-obvious directionality on Shimano 11-speed chains is the beveling on the plates, and that won't wear in appreciably with use.
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Old 11-21-19, 11:44 PM
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Shimano confuses the issue for their 11 speed chains by labeling the inner and outer plates as "front" and "reverse." The chain can be reversed in lengthwise direction and still be correctly oriented with the outer plate facing outward. It would just present a fresh set of unworn rollers contacting the gear teeth. If flopped regularly, say once a month for cleaning and oiling, it should wear evenly.

With KMC chains 8-speed and below I never pay any attention to chain orientation after cleaning and lubing. Never noticed any problems.

Lube between friction/bearing surfaces would be measurable but probably insignificant for a bike. I've ridden chains that were noticeably "stretched" from bearing surface wear and still worked fine. I usually get at least a year and usually more, several thousand miles, before replacing them even though the chains still ran and shifted okay.

My waxed chains seem to last longer, presumably because it doesn't develop an abrasive paste like oil. But wax is more labor intensive and usually needs to be redone every week or two. I still use Park CL-1 oil on one of my hybrids and it'll go as long as a year on a single treatment -- CL-1 is water resistant, while wax tends to need to be redone after a wet weather ride.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Shimano confuses the issue for their 11 speed chains by labeling the inner and outer plates as "front" and "reverse." The chain can be reversed in lengthwise direction and still be correctly oriented with the outer plate facing outward. It would just present a fresh set of unworn rollers contacting the gear teeth...

I'm thinking that since the rollers rotate, there won't be any worn vs. un-worn surfaces.

And, as the front and rear sprockets each force the rollers in roughly opposite directions, reversing the direction of the chain might have next to no effect.
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Old 11-22-19, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by TriBiker19 View Post
LOL!

When I was in Seattle and didn't want to upgrade to leather seats, I'd tell the salesperson I was vegan and then act offended.
Ha, good one. 😁👍
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Old 11-22-19, 08:43 AM
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Interesting, but maybe the manufacturers should stamp the side plates with directional arrows. You know, like some plumbing parts and furnace filters.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Is this the C&V Subforum?

Perhaps you guys should be excused.

https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/dm/DM-CN0001-05-ENG.pdf

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Old 11-22-19, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
I'm thinking that since the rollers rotate, there won't be any worn vs. un-worn surfaces.

And, as the front and rear sprockets each force the rollers in roughly opposite directions, reversing the direction of the chain might have next to no effect.
While the load directions are different between the front and rear sprockets, the load distribution is not the same. The load is distributed over many more teeth on the front. Depending on the gear combination, the individual tooth load (and consequently the individual link wear) on the rear can be 4X to 5x that on the front. This why rear cogs are typically manufactured from steel, while chainrings can be made from aluminum.

Also, while the rollers can rotate, leading to more even wear, the other wear surfaces are the bushes/flanges on the inner plates and these only pivot though a limited range as the chain wraps around a cog. This, in conjunction with the higher loads at the rear, results in bush/flange wear that is predominantly on one side. Once the flanges wear enough, the pin will start to wear, again predominantly on one side. Attached are pictures showing (extreme) bush/flange and pin wear and how it occurs predominantly on one side. Consequently, periodic reversal of chain direction can extend chain life.


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