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Chain and Cassette Life?

Old 06-24-20, 10:21 PM
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alloo
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Chain and Cassette Life?

How long do your chains and casettes last on your bicycle? With regular maintenance vs w/o maintainance? Miles? Time? I've had two bikes that have needed new chains after about 800 miles is this normal?
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Old 06-25-20, 01:43 AM
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There's no straightforward answer to this. My previous regular commute had a Campy 9-speed groupset and I found that the chain lasted me about 10,000 miles. My new commute came with SRAM Force 11 groupset but the cheapskate manufacturers put on bottom of the range PC 1110 chain and cassette. That chain only lasted 2,000 miles. I replaced with the 1170 chain which has so far done another 2,000 miles with no sign of wear. I've never had to replace a cassette because of wear.
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Old 06-25-20, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
How long do your chains and casettes last on your bicycle? With regular maintenance vs w/o maintainance? Miles? Time? I've had two bikes that have needed new chains after about 800 miles is this normal?
They usually last a bit longer than that. I get a few thousand km out of a chain and a cassette lasts three or four chains or so. I don't do a great deal of maintenance (each chain gets properly cleaned maybe two or three times in its life if it's lucky).
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Old 06-25-20, 04:01 AM
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Where are you riding ... is it dusty, gritty, sandy, muddy ..... I've only just learnt how much crap you can pick up in the summer with too much wet lube it was literally caked on the chain, cassette and jockey wheels and I'm sure it'd shorten it's life dramatically if I hadn't of realised and cleaned it off.

Some people set a regime of using the 3 chains ... run the 1st 2 until they've stretched to 0.5 and the 3rd until it's stretched to 0.75 and then go back and use the 1st two until they hit 0.75 .... supposedly this gives you the max usage out of your chains and cassette.
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Old 06-25-20, 04:01 AM
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Define “need new chain.”

I get 3000 miles/chain with not much maintenance, replace when elongated by 0.75% or so. Cassettes last longer, around 10K miles.
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Old 06-25-20, 04:09 AM
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800 miles is definitely lower than normal in my experience, unless you are constantly riding in dirt/grit and never cleaning it off! I normally closer to 3,000 miles on my road bike, longer on my older 9 speed bike.

Some things that make chains last longer:
  • Make sure your derailleurs and derailleur hanger are all tuned/indexed/aligned properly.
  • Make sure you lubricate the chain regularly - and clean it (and the cassette/chain rings) each type you lube it, vs. just adding more lube.
  • Avoid cross chaining - avoid big ring in front, small in back or small ring in front, big cog in back combos. The straighter the chain stays from chain ring to cassette the longer it will last.
  • After each ride, wipe the chain off to remove surface grit - only takes a second
Since you've had the problem across 2 different bikes, probably not the first item.
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Old 06-25-20, 04:39 AM
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^^^^^^FIFY
Avoid cross chaining - avoid big ring in front, big in back or small ring in front, small cog in back combos. The straighter the chain stays from chain ring to cassette the longer it will last.
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Old 06-25-20, 07:40 AM
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OP needs to provide more info:
-What sort of drivetrain? 11sp doesn't last as long as 7sp.
-Ridden in which sort of conditions? Riding in mud and dirt may shorten life of chains and cassettes by more than half.
-What sort of maintenance is being done?
-etc.
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Old 06-25-20, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Define need new chain.

I get 3000 miles/chain with not much maintenance, replace when elongated by 0.75% or so. Cassettes last longer, around 10K miles.
Me too. I don't get it!

I put on 8,000 miles between 2 cheap derailleur type drivetrains and never changed a chain or sprockets with minimal maintenance. Both worked fine when I gave them away. I didn't even know they wore out until I joined BF's. Ignorance is bliss!

That said, on my recent 2018 bike I brought in for service, they told me my chain was stretched or worn. I didn't measure it so I had them change it since it didn't cost much. I've been checking the new chain and at 1,400 km there is 0 stretching.

I'm sure drivetrain wear is highly dependent on total weight, conditions (hills, tough trails, etc.), rider power applied and proper operation of the drivetrain. Considering my 150 - 160 lbs, mostly flat roads and perhaps average power I suppose my results aren't too surprising.

I worked with a 280 lb man that rode one of those skinny tire road bikes about 15 km to work 5 or 6 days per week. He wore everything out on those bikes every year even on flat roads.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 06-25-20 at 08:13 AM.
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Old 06-25-20, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
How long do your chains and casettes last on your bicycle? With regular maintenance vs w/o maintainance? Miles? Time? I've had two bikes that have needed new chains after about 800 miles is this normal?
I get 4,500 miles out of Campagnolo 10 speed chains which I replace due to degraded front shifting from increased side plate wear causing flexibility. At that point they've only elongated 1/32" over 11" (you won't notice the extra 0.006" of wear over 12", especially past the fractional inch marks on a foot long ruler).

I add oil when they no longer run silently (800 miles in dry weather on factory lube, 100 miles in the rainy season, whatever) but never clean them beyond wiping off the excess. That removes lubrication deep within the chain, risks contaminating the new oil, and is counter productive on road bikes.

I have 25,000 miles on my current nickel-chrome plated cassette, although the new chain skipped a few times accelerating until it wore in on the most recent replacement. It'll go when the current chain stops shifting well.

I never noticed a difference in wear between 135 and 180 pounds.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 06-25-20 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 06-25-20, 09:38 AM
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All you can really do is check the chain periodically with a ruler.

I normally count on wearing a chain out every 2,000 miles or so. I just checked the other day, and my 2,000 mile old chain is still OK. That's a relief, because the time before last I was too busy having fun to check the chain; after 4,000 miles I had to replace all the chainrings, cassette, and the chain. $Ouch.
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Old 06-25-20, 11:35 AM
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I used to average around 2,000 miles on both my 10 and 11 speed drive trains. I used various brands of high end chains to see which one gave me the best life and they all were about the same. After being nagged by a friend, I broke down and started using Squirt chain lube with SRAM Red 22 chains. The first Red 22 chain has 4,000 miles on it and my chain tool still hasn't fallen in the links. I changed it with the current chain because I was doing a cross state ride and didn't want any chain problems. It's now a backup chain. The current Red 22 chain has over 3,000 miles and my chain tool isn't showing any wear. I replace my cassettes once a year, whether they need it or not. For me, this combination is a keeper.
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Old 06-25-20, 12:01 PM
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2K at best for entry-level SRAM chain.....
Front chainring (1X setup)....5K miles? Always in same ring....and has pretty bad crosschaining wear too. I expect a 2X setup will go twice that?
Rear cassette.....never worn one out before. It seems I always upgrade to something else before I wear one out.
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Old 06-25-20, 12:41 PM
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When I used to keep track 3500 miles was common for a chain. i do reasonably well with chain maintenance.

Cassettes last a lot longer if you don't ride with a worn out chain. I have worn cassettes to the point where a new chain skipped, but only once. Think that was before I owned a chain stretch gauge. I almost certainly own cassettes that are older than many of the members on this site.

For some people chain maintenance is a religion, almost like they lose sleep worrying about a chain not being optimal. The latest obsession seems to be waxing chains. Do yourself a favor and avoid chain lube arguments.
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Old 06-25-20, 01:49 PM
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I change the Sram Red chain every 3000 miles. I still have my original chainrings and cassette with 24,000, Chains are cheap enough.
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Old 06-25-20, 02:05 PM
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I can use the chain checker to measure..

or measure a foot of length.

every link pin was at 1/2" centers when new,

so combined wear is how much longer 12" of chain is than 12" ...
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Old 06-25-20, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I can use the chain checker to measure..

or measure a foot of length.

every link pin was at 1/2" centers when new,

so combined wear is how much longer 12" of chain is than 12" ...
1% is definitely worn, so 0.125 inch = 1/8 inch.

Some like to replace at 0.5% which is 1/16 inch.

I split the difference and change at around 0.75%.
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Old 06-25-20, 04:08 PM
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The OP has not answered my question about how he/she defines worn chain.

I wonder if the LBS said it was worn.

Bueller??
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Old 06-25-20, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post

I wonder if the LBS said it was worn.

Bueller??
Must admit I wondered if that was the case as well.
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Old 06-25-20, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
OP needs to provide more info:
-What sort of drivetrain? 11sp doesn't last as long as 7sp.
-Ridden in which sort of conditions? Riding in mud and dirt may shorten life of chains and cassettes by more than half.
-What sort of maintenance is being done?
-etc.
I ride a 7 speed bike. 1st bike Shimano Altus 12-32 T Casette 2017 Raleigh Retroglide IE. On my Second Bike Blix Aveny 48T Chainring, and Shimano Acera 14-28 T Casette. The mechanic at a LBS stated that my chain was .75 worn. What drive train changes would you recommend? Chain and Casette for the second bike? My rides are on the street and MUS Trails. Cherry Creek Trail in Denver. Any recommendations are appreciated. Thank You. I do ride in the drizzle, no mud. I've included my commute video.



Last edited by alloo; 06-25-20 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 06-25-20, 05:52 PM
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I like KMC Z51 chains for my 5-8 speed bikes. Now that I think about it I have a 5, 6, 7 and 8 speed bike.

You won't know if you need a new cassette until you put the new chain on it.
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Old 06-25-20, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by alloo View Post
I ride a 7 speed bike. 1st bike Shimano Altus 12-32 T Casette 2017 Raleigh Retroglide IE. On my Second Bike Blix Aveny 48T Chainring, and Shimano Acera 14-28 T Casette. The mechanic at a LBS stated that my chain was .75 worn. What drive train changes would you recommend? Chain and Casette for the second bike? My rides are on the street and MUS Trails. Cherry Creek Trail in Denver. Any recommendations are appreciated. Thank You. I do ride in the drizzle, no mud. I've included my commute video.

https://youtu.be/A3kKvYKYlZQ

https://youtu.be/POB_EmzNc80
7 speed chains last longer than 11 speed, and your conditions dont seem very harsh. Im wondering how are you know that they need to be replaced? It just seems too soon.
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Old 06-25-20, 08:12 PM
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I've had some chains last 600 miles. I average about 2000 give or take with a KMC X10SL silver or titanium coated. I swap between 3 cassettes and do not bother to keep track of each run time. I am riding in dirt, gravel, and wet and I cross chain at times. I do at least wipe and relube just about every ride but I am right back in the dust and dirt soon after. It is what it is and I'm not going through great lengths to squeeze some potential life out of of something easily replaceable and only about $35-40.

The KMC X8.93 is a nice low cost chain for a 6/8 speed. Only 7 speed freewheel I a have used recently is a Shimano "megarange" but I doubt that is what you want.

Last edited by u235; 06-25-20 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 06-27-20, 03:54 AM
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If you LBS said it is at .75, they should be able to show you with the chain checker tool they use that it is at .75, which is the recommended replacement indication (for modern chains 9 speed and above. Older 7 speed chains can go down to .5. Nothing immediately dangerous but at the point the chain is worn enough that if it gets more worn it will start to damage the teeth on your cassette. But, ask them to show you, if possible.

If it is really at .75, and you only got 800 miles, take the advice in earlier posts to change some things about the way you ride or take of your chain, or replace the chain more frequently than you would have to.
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Old 06-28-20, 06:01 PM
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A drive train in a bike works, and wears very similarly to a manual transmission in a motor vehicle.

If you change your gear oil at religiously, install a magnetic drain plug, double-clutch all of your heel/toe downshifts, gently engage the gears and clutch, avoid launches and clutch kicks, you can go past 200k without even replacing said clutch or having to perform any other repairs for that matter.
​​​​​
On the flip-side, you can blow a gear/clutch/etc., out of a brand-new transmission if you're inexperienced, or are running higher power levels, especially when you add aggressive shifting and clutch modulation to the mix.

Bicycles work the same way, very user-dependent...

Personal, I'm around 1000 miles on chains (DA), and double on my cassettes (Ultegra). I shift and put power through my bicycle transmission similarly to how I do so in my sports cars, aggressively, and my component life reflects that.

As others have mentioned, rider weight, rider power, shift habits, riding conditions, and maintenance level will determine how long your components last.
​​​​​

​​​​
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