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Can 11 speed chain work on 7 speed cassette?

Old 10-11-19, 07:00 AM
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Cheez
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Can 11 speed chain work on 7 speed cassette?

Can an 11 speed chain work on a 7 speed cassette? I have a Trek 1400 road bike and has a 7 speed cassette. A long long time ago I had a chain upgraded to rollhof chain (it was the top of the line) and it worked gloriously. If I remember correctly it was narrow too but I don't remember if it was a 7, 8, or 10 speed chain.. I lost that cause it got rusted. I'm currently on a base level Shimano 7 speed chain. Wanting to upgrade to a Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed chain. Has anyone tried using an 11 speed chain on a 7 or 8 speed cassette on your old bike? Any experiences to share..

Thanks

Last edited by Cheez; 10-11-19 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 10-11-19, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Can an 11 speed chain work on a 7 speed cassette? I have a Trek 1400 road bike and has a 7 speed cassette. A long long time ago I had a chain upgraded to rollhof chain (it was the top of the line) and it worked gloriously. If I remember correctly it was narrow too but I don't remember if it was a 7, 8, or 10 speed chain.. I lost that cause it got rusted. I'm currently on a base level Shimano 7 speed chain. Wanting to upgrade to a Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed chain. Has anyone tried using an 11 speed chain on a 7 or 8 speed cassette on your old bike? Any experiences to share..

Thanks
An 11 speed chain will have narrower links than a 7 speed chain, which will likely cause problems shifting. It will also have 116 links as opposed to 114, so you would need to remove the extras.

Why in the world would you think using the wrong chain would be an upgrade?

Sram makes some upper-level models that are compatible with 7 speed Shimano cassettes if having a nicer chain is that important to you.
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Old 10-11-19, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Can an 11 speed chain work on a 7 speed cassette? I have a Trek 1400 road bike and has a 7 speed cassette. A long long time ago I had a chain upgraded to rollhof chain (it was the top of the line) and it worked gloriously. If I remember correctly it was narrow too but I don't remember if it was a 7, 8, or 10 speed chain.. I lost that cause it got rusted. I'm currently on a base level Shimano 7 speed chain. Wanting to upgrade to a Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed chain. Has anyone tried using an 11 speed chain on a 7 or 8 speed cassette on your old bike? Any experiences to share..

Thanks
That sounds like a remarkably bad idea.

Are you having any chain-related problems right now? New cyclists are often surprised by how often the chain needs to be changed, they wear almost as fast as tires. If you've left the old chain on too long, chances are good that you will probably need a new cassette and chain.

I know this is basic, but I don't often hear anyone saying they lost a chain to rust.
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Old 10-11-19, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
That sounds like a remarkably bad idea.

Are you having any chain-related problems right now? New cyclists are often surprised by how often the chain needs to be changed, they wear almost as fast as tires. If you've left the old chain on too long, chances are good that you will probably need a new cassette and chain.

I know this is basic, but I don't often hear anyone saying they lost a chain to rust.
Are you saying that the chain can be revived from heavy amount of rust? I thought the rust eats away metal...so it shouldn't be restorable... if it is restorable I made a big mistake getting rid of that rohlof chain I paid $100 for that thing 27 years ago...

I heard that chain upgrade is much wiser and cost effective than upgrading the cassette to higher number of speeds...as it will require upgrading the rest of the components such as front and rear derailleurs, brake/shifters, chain rings etc. Chain upgrade is important because it runs through gears smoother and quieter...plus the weight saving. I think the old expensive chain I had was narrow....narrower than the Shimano stock chain.
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Old 10-11-19, 09:22 AM
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Get a good quality 7 or 8 speed chain.
An 11 speed chain may work, but I don't see how it would be better.

Keep your chain lubricated to prevent rust.
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Old 10-11-19, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Are you saying that the chain can be revived from heavy amount of rust? I thought the rust eats away metal...so it shouldn't be restorable... if it is restorable I made a big mistake getting rid of that rohlof chain I paid $100 for that thing 27 years ago...

I heard that chain upgrade is much wiser and cost effective than upgrading the cassette to higher number of speeds...as it will require upgrading the rest of the components such as front and rear derailleurs, brake/shifters, chain rings etc. Chain upgrade is important because it runs through gears smoother and quieter...plus the weight saving. I think the old expensive chain I had was narrow....narrower than the Shimano stock chain.
I didn't know you were talking about a 27 year old chain--how long was it left to rust? People tend to freak out when they see a little rust on a chain that's been neglected for a few months, but I'll be honest with you, I don't think a lot of people would remember what chain they bought 27 years ago so "it sat for years to rot" isn't something I considered.

No question that upgrading the drive chain is more expensive than replacing the chain. Heck, it can easily be more expensive than replacing the entire bike with a better one. But that doesn't mean you're likely to notice much of a difference from a more expensive chain, and certainly not from one that's designed for a completely different kind of cassette.

As far as chain noise and "smoothness", I think variations in lube are more likely to affect those noticeably than the cost/quality of the chain.

How many miles do you have on the cassette? Those wear out, too. Often changing them for a new cassette and chain of the same quality will improve the bike immensely.
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Old 10-11-19, 11:05 AM
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Generally you can do a +1 speed pretty easily. But a 11speed to a 7 speed sounds like there will probably be issues. But you can try. Then you'll know for sure.
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Old 10-11-19, 11:25 AM
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Homebrew, I can't find any nice chain designed for the 7 speed other than the one I'm using (Shimano HG71) or the SRAM chain that costs $17. Plus they don't ship it to Amazon hub pickup location... only certain sellers are participated to do that.

LiveDark, lubing is just cosmetics...or called temporary bandaid. You can make a bent/twisted cassette and chain to operate quitely by lubing them good but it is not a permanent solution. The rohlof chain I had had very little lubrication and I waxed the thing to make it shiny and glossy. People in my bike group complemented me for the beautiful chain... not only did it look damn nice but was silky smooth and silent as well. It was butter smooth and silvery shiny. The engineering/design of the chain and its material do make the difference. The reason for the rust is because I didn't use it for good 26 years and was exposed to rain/moist for some time...

I just took a close look at my chain and the cassette and the chain seems awfully close to other gears next to it almost touching. The chain looks wide. Funny thing is that the chain has NARROW engraving on the side of the chain I laughed.

Yes my cassette is not new it is used I have no clue how many miles it has on it but the cassette teeth appears to be worn out. The middle gears' teeth are a little bent or twisted. Other gears seem better shape.

Last edited by Cheez; 10-11-19 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 10-11-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Are you saying that the chain can be revived from heavy amount of rust? I thought the rust eats away metal...so it shouldn't be restorable... if it is restorable I made a big mistake getting rid of that rip-off chain I paid $100 for that thing 27 years ago...

I heard that chain upgrade is much wiser and cost effective than upgrading the cassette to higher number of speeds...as it will require upgrading the rest of the components such as front and rear derailleurs, brake/shifters, chain rings etc. Chain upgrade is important because it runs through gears smoother and quieter...plus the weight saving. I think the old expensive chain I had was narrow....narrower than the Shimano stock chain.

FIFY

Don't go back to that shop- they'll stick you for $250 this time.

OTOH, if it lasted 27 years, maybe it was a really, really good chain.
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Old 10-11-19, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Homebrew, I can't find any nice chain designed for the 7 speed other than the one I'm using (Shimano HG71) or the SRAM chain that costs $17. Plus they don't ship it to Amazon hub pickup location... only certain sellers are participated to do that.

LiveDark, lubing is just cosmetics...or called temporary bandaid. You can make a bent/twisted cassette and chain to operate quitely by lubing them good but it is not a permanent solution. The rohlof chain I had had very little lubrication and I waxed the thing to make it shiny and glossy. People in my bike group complemented me for the beautiful chain... not only did it look damn nice but was silky smooth and silent as well. It was butter smooth and silvery shiny. The engineering/design of the chain and its material do make the difference. The reason for the rust is because I didn't use it for good 26 years and was exposed to rain/moist for some time...

I just took a close look at my chain and the cassette and the chain seems awfully close to other gears next to it almost touching. The chain looks wide. Funny thing is that the chain has NARROW engraving on the side of the chain I laughed.

Yes my cassette is not new it is used I have no clue how many miles it has on it but the cassette teeth appears to be worn out. The middle gears' teeth are a little bent or twisted. Other gears seem better shape.
KMC is also another major manufacturer of chains. I've always like theirs a lot.
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Old 10-11-19, 12:07 PM
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I've seen modern, narrow chains jam between the rings on older cranks.

7 and 8 speed chains are still readily available (and work fine on 5 and 6 speed clusters, for that matter), so why would you want to use an 11-speed chain on a 7-speed cluster?
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Old 10-11-19, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
FIFY

Don't go back to that shop- they'll stick you for $250 this time.

OTOH, if it lasted 27 years, maybe it was a really, really good chain.
I ordered that chain online for $100 and had a LBS to install it for $10 or 15 so it was not a rip off... the chain was really good I regret for letting that thing rust.


Originally Posted by 86az135i View Post
KMC is also another major manufacturer of chains. I've always like theirs a lot.
KMC makes low grade chains...


Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I've seen modern, narrow chains jam between the rings on older cranks.
That's good to know.

7 and 8 speed chains are still readily available (and work fine on 5 and 6 speed clusters, for that matter), so why would you want to use an 11-speed chain on a 7-speed cluster?
Cause Campagnolo doesn't make a 7 or 8 speed chain...I can't find them online. The Chorus and Record only come in 10 speed or greater IIRC..

My hypothesis is that the narrow chains "should" work as long as the gear shifer is tuned to have gear sit in the center of the chain and not toward the edge. So it should work. I was hoping I could find anyone here who have already tried this and to share their experiences..

I really am trying not to upgrade my entire drivetrain cause it costs thousands of dollars. I already got a quote from LBS to have the following done it would break $2000...

- Campagnolo Chorus brake shifters
- Campagnolo Chorus wiring and housing
- Campagnolo Chorus Front and Rear derailleurs
- Campagnolo Chorus chain and chain ring
- Campagnolo Record wheel hub
- Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed cassette
- Rear wheel assembly with standard alloy rim

With labor and all that costs over $2k... I think they mark up the price on these items also.

Which path is wise choice for me? A simple upgrade of chain and 7 speed cassette? Or the drivetrain componentry? You decide
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Old 10-11-19, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post

Cause Campagnolo doesn't make a 7 or 8 speed chain...I can't find them online. The Chorus and Record only come in 10 speed or greater IIRC..
KMC makes Campy-compatible 7 and 8 speed chains:

https://www.kmcchain.eu/chain-tourin...ispeed-8_speed

https://www.kmcchain.eu/chain-tourin...ispeed-7_speed
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Old 10-11-19, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post

KMC makes low grade chains...

Right...even when they contract manufacture for other brands as well? I mean you might as well call Shimano and Campagnolo low grade chains as well.
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Old 10-11-19, 02:47 PM
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The biggest problem with running an 11-speed chain on a 7 speed drivetrain is the shifting up front. If you only have one chain ring on your crankset, then that's not in issue. If you have a double or triple crankset, you will have a very hard time with your front derailleur shifts. The chain won't want to move, because it's not designed for the chain rings, and when you compensate with various adjustments to get it to move, you will throw it onto your bottom bracket shell, between the rings or overboard. I spent one whole season trying to make a 10-speed chain work with a 7-speed crankset, and it was a nightmare. I eventually gave up and did everything in the 53 until I could afford to replace the crank and have it match the rest of the bike's drivetrain.

All chains have the same inner width -- the inside distance between the plates. So, in theory, a narrower chain works fine in back because the rear derailleurs pulley teeth fit inside any chain and use that space to orient it to the proper cog. But cog tooth profiles have changed over the years, and certain chains are designed to work with certain cogs. So in reality, there are some issues you'll find with how mismatched chains and cogs work. Plus, your cassette sounds like it's totally shot, so no chain, not even a glorious $100 chain that shines like the jewelry of Mr. T., is going to do the trick.

It's true that KMC makes some low end chains. I just changed my garage door opener. The chain is a KMC. But they also make really excellent chains. I think all the people pointing you toward the 7 speed chains on the market are doing you a solid. Any 7-speed chain is going to work 1000x better on your Campy components than a fancy 11-speed chain. Take the money you save and buy a new 7 speed cassette. If you wax them and keep them clean, you'll probably still pick up a few compliments on the shiny drivetrain.

Last edited by ljsense; 10-11-19 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 10-11-19, 02:50 PM
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Campagnolo still makes 9 speed chains: https://www.xxcycle.com/chain-9-v-ca...ord-c9,,en.php which would certainly be much better than an 11 speed chain.
KMC, by the way, makes some extremely high quality chains, their best 9 speed chains are just as good, if not better than a Campagnolo Record chain
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Old 10-11-19, 06:24 PM
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I have had no problems with KMC chains.
Buy a 7-8 speed chain and then ride.

If you want to upgrade to 10-11-12 speed, that's a different discussion.
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Old 10-11-19, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
Homebrew, I can't find any nice chain designed for the 7 speed other than the one I'm using (Shimano HG71) or the SRAM chain that costs $17. Plus they don't ship it to Amazon hub pickup location... only certain sellers are participated to do that.

LiveDark, lubing is just cosmetics...or called temporary bandaid. You can make a bent/twisted cassette and chain to operate quitely by lubing them good but it is not a permanent solution. The rohlof chain I had had very little lubrication and I waxed the thing to make it shiny and glossy. People in my bike group complemented me for the beautiful chain... not only did it look damn nice but was silky smooth and silent as well. It was butter smooth and silvery shiny. The engineering/design of the chain and its material do make the difference. The reason for the rust is because I didn't use it for good 26 years and was exposed to rain/moist for some time...

I just took a close look at my chain and the cassette and the chain seems awfully close to other gears next to it almost touching. The chain looks wide. Funny thing is that the chain has NARROW engraving on the side of the chain I laughed.

Yes my cassette is not new it is used I have no clue how many miles it has on it but the cassette teeth appears to be worn out. The middle gears' teeth are a little bent or twisted. Other gears seem better shape.
.
Trust me, if the cassette and and chain are out of whack, the noise is going to be the least of your problems, and if your chain isn't properly lubed, it's going to make a racket no matter how good it is.

Do not change the chain unless you're going to change the cassette as well. Basically, you've filed down the cassette to mesh with the overworn chain. That cassette will not mesh properly with any new chain, and you will be miserable trying to ride it. Your problems will not be subtle, basically the bike won't stay in gear.

Sorry, but I have to suspect a major case of nostalgia is making you overestimate the qualities of a chain you last rode with 27 years ago. Seriously, I couldn't even name the bike I was riding 27 years ago.
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Old 10-11-19, 07:30 PM
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Thatís the first time Iíve ever heard that the chain is the most important part of the upgrade!

I just use plain-Jane SRAM PC-850 chains on my 7-speed cassettes. Theyíre inexpensive, shift well, and last a long time. I canít thing of a reason to change.
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Old 10-11-19, 08:24 PM
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I couldn't even make an 11 speed chain work on 10 speed-

it spun between the chainrings.
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Old 10-11-19, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post

Cause Campagnolo doesn't make a 7 or 8 speed chain...I can't find them online. The Chorus and Record only come in 10 speed....

Which path is wise choice for me? A simple upgrade of chain and 7 speed cassette? Or the drivetrain componentry? You decide
I have many Campagnolo equipped bikes, in 7,8,9,10 and 11 speeds.

Chains last 2,000 miles; they are throwaway consumables.

You replace your chain 3-4 times for every cassette. Installing a 11-speed chain in a 7 speed drivetrain is among the worst bike advice i've ever run across. Not only will it shift worse than (any) 7/8 speed chain, but it will eventually jam up between your chainrings, and it will cost 4 times what an equivalent quality 7/8 speed chain will.

Who made this idiotic advice??

Anyway, on my 7/8 speed Campy-equipped bikes, I've used about every brand and model of chain ever made including Taya, Shimano, KMC, SRAM, and old stuff including Suntour, Regina, etc.

Best overall chain in terms of shift quality and quietness? Shimano IG 51 and 71. You should be able to find the 51s for about $15. Buy cheap and replace often.
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Old 10-11-19, 09:16 PM
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More advice... I have several bikes with 7 and 8 speed Campagnolo Ergopower. And a new build with 11-speed Ergopower.

The old bikes shift just as well as the new stuff. Same shifting speed and precision. No noise, no hesitation. The shifters are rebuilt every few years, I'm always running fresh cables and housing and chains.

Simply adding more speeds isn't going to make the shifting better. Bike shops will tell you otherwise because they just want to hustle you out the door with a new bike.

If you have something good, service it.
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Old 10-11-19, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
I ordered that chain online for $100 and had a LBS to install it for $10 or 15 so it was not a rip off... the chain was really good I regret for letting that thing rust.
You paid $100, 27 years ago, which, adjusted for inflation, is $183.01...

Massive rip-off.


Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
KMC makes low grade chains...
The guy who wanted to put an 11 speed chain on a 7 speed cassette is all of a sudden a chain expert now? Lol.

KMC makes good chains.


Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
My hypothesis is that the narrow chains "should" work as long as the gear shifer is tuned to have gear sit in the center of the chain and not toward the edge. So it should work. I was hoping I could find anyone here who have already tried this and to share their experiences..
Most people are intelligent enough to use the correct chain for their application. Good luck finding many people with experience using the wrong chain.

Originally Posted by Cheez View Post
I really am trying not to upgrade my entire drivetrain cause it costs thousands of dollars. I already got a quote from LBS to have the following done it would break $2000...

- Campagnolo Chorus brake shifters
- Campagnolo Chorus wiring and housing
- Campagnolo Chorus Front and Rear derailleurs
- Campagnolo Chorus chain and chain ring
- Campagnolo Record wheel hub
- Campagnolo Chorus 11 speed cassette
- Rear wheel assembly with standard alloy rim

With labor and all that costs over $2k... I think they mark up the price on these items also.

Which path is wise choice for me? A simple upgrade of chain and 7 speed cassette? Or the drivetrain componentry? You decide
So you've went from wanting a new chain, and possibly a cassette, to considering spending over $2k on upgrades for a $200 bike?

I have doubts about the legitimacy of your inquiry. Seems like you're purposely being difficult to get a rise out of people.

Last edited by Ross520; 10-12-19 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 10-12-19, 08:13 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Ross520 View Post
I have doubts about the legitimacy of your inquiry. Seems like you're purposely being difficult to get a rise out of people.
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Old 10-12-19, 08:42 AM
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Kapusta
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Putting an 11 speed chain on a 7 speed cassette is definitely NOT an upgrade not matter how good a chain it is. And if you are running 7sp front crank, you are definitely asking for problems. You are far better off with a run of the mill 7/8 speed chain.

Just get the nicest 8 speed you want to spend money on.

KMC makes some very good chains. You donít know WTF you are talking about on that one.
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