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Help with understanding chain wear and what I'm doing wrong

Old 06-03-22, 09:19 AM
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jxpowers
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Help with understanding chain wear and what I'm doing wrong


Hi guys, i bought a bike exactly 2 weeks ago today, its brand new, with a sram force groupset.
Its a 1x11 with a MTB cassette ( not sure if this is relevant)

Ive done 10 commutes to work in sunny dry weather and in that time ive degreased and lubed the chain once with finish line dry lube.

Milage on the bike so far must have been close to 100 miles.
My question is, is this worn considering Ive only ridden it for 100miles?

Ive read that for 11spd chains you need to change the chain once it hits .5% wear, according to my chain checker am i almost/already at .5% wear?

Does riding style dictate how fast your chain will wear? Eg intense pedalling?

Ive read somewhere chains last around 2000 miles before people change it.

im also very concious about cross chaining, i mostly use the middle of the cassette and i always let off the pedals when changing gears so that they arent changing under pressure or crunching.
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Old 06-03-22, 09:24 AM
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cxwrench
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Use a ruler to measure chain wear. I promise that you haven't put any measurable wear on that chain in a week.
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Old 06-03-22, 09:34 AM
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Tawraste666
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Yep, no wear in a week unless you bathe it in sand first.
Contaminants in the oil grinding the chain's component parts are what cause wear.

Keep that chain clean and lubed (just 1 drop per roller) and it won't wear for thousands of miles.
Edit: here's a chain flushed out with carb cleaner so you can see the crap from the road.


Last edited by Tawraste666; 06-03-22 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 06-03-22, 09:47 AM
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Why degrease a new chain?
Why carb cleaner down the drain?
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Old 06-03-22, 09:51 AM
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Tawraste666
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Why degrease a new chain?
Why brake cleaner down the drain?
Agreed, no need to clean a brand new chain. As for the carb cleaner down the drain, thats my cleaning regime:
250 miles, flush with carb carb cleaner then relube with ACF-50.
Both my chains are on 4000 miles. They look super shiny at all times and have ridiculously minimal wear.
Hooray.
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Old 06-03-22, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
Use a ruler to measure chain wear. I promise that you haven't put any measurable wear on that chain in a week.
Youre 100% correct. Why didnt i know about this. Why is my chain checker way off. What a waste of money
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Old 06-03-22, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Why degrease a new chain?
Why carb cleaner down the drain?

Just wanted some thing to do 🤣 no particular reason apart from boredom
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Old 06-03-22, 10:11 AM
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soyabean
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Originally Posted by Tawraste666 View Post
Agreed, no need to clean a brand new chain.
For most novice riders, that would be fine, but most enthusiasts will remove the default (thick and heavy) shipping grease that is on all new chains, and re-lube with their favorite lube.
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Old 06-03-22, 10:22 AM
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Tawraste666
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Originally Posted by soyabean View Post
For most novice riders, that would be fine, but most enthusiasts will remove the default (thick and heavy) shipping grease that is on all new chains, and re-lube with their favorite lube.
I quite agree, but thought it simpler to not break down into every variant. The OP had already done it, I thought I would look like a tool calling him a novice.
I also thought I would look rude if I undermined trailangel as senior member.
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Old 06-03-22, 11:10 AM
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The common Chain checkers only measure between the opposite sides of the two rollers. And that really doesn't matter as much since they'll "float" into place as they engage the cog. Shimano and a few others make a chain checker that measures more accurately to the same side of each roller.

However with my Park chain checker, it's always been close enough and I use it for a quick check, then when it shows the chain wearing to the point yours is, I'll double check with a steel scale or tape and measure to the same side of the pins to see how far beyond 12" they are apart. A 1/16 inch more than 12 inches is almost .5% wear. 12 x 0.005 = 0.06 and 1/16" = 0.0625

Does riding style dictate how fast your chain will wear? Eg intense pedalling?
I'd expect someone that puts a lot of power into the pedals to wear out the chain faster. Lugging up a hill in high gears using all your leg muscle particularly bad, IMO. Also, if you cross chain in the large front and large rear, that might add more wear.

Regardless, I'd consider anything under 2000 miles as bad chain life. I usually get 4000 or more out of a 11 speed. My older bikes with 5 and 6 speeds would see 8000 miles... but that admittedly is just a guess.
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Old 06-03-22, 11:29 AM
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Since you have a Quik Link, remove the chain and measure a 3' section. (3X better resolution than measuring 12")
Use that as a reference to calibrate your chain checker.
On my CC, I know if it reads .5% that it's actually still good.
IF it reads .75%, THEN I'll grab the tape measure. I just haven't gotten to that point yet.

So, your CC can be useful for a quick check to prove the chain is good.
To prove it's bad can take a bit more research for your specific CC.
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Old 06-04-22, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Why degrease a new chain?
Why carb cleaner down the drain?
Do not remove the original lube, it is the best your chain will see. It is Fuch from Germany. Get rid of that chain checker it is not accurate. Use a ruler and replace the chain when the measurement. shows 1/16" elongation in 12" of chain.. Park Tool and Pedros make a chain checker that is a copy of the shimano model and eliminates the play in the rollers that screw up the measurement.
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Old 06-04-22, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jxpowers View Post
Youre 100% correct. Why didnt i know about this. Why is my chain checker way off. What a waste of money
...a ruler or a steel tape measure is far and away the most accurate way to measure this, but the do make some chain checker tools that work a little better than the one you bought. The better ones have a couple of extra hooks, that serve to pull a section of the chain into tension, before the measuring indicator is inserted into a link. They look like this, if you're interested.


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Old 06-06-22, 03:01 PM
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I'd suggest a good quality steel ruler. Tapes and cheap rulers have wider marks that make it tougher to see small differences. That's fine for building houses or bigger stuff. But in this case you're looking for smaller amounts. That's where a nice steel ruler with fine engraved lines is nice to have. And a good ruler like that has other similarly accurate uses too. So it's not just a specialty bicycle thing.

Here's a low cost but what looks pretty good cheap set of 6 and 12" options. Includes metric too which will be handy since bike stuff is almost wholly metric other than some things like the chains or very old vintage stuff. To be fair though I suspect that these are stamped and not etched. But they look decent in the closeups and are hardened stainless.

Mr. Pen Steel Rulers, 6 inch and 12 inch Metal Rulers, Pack of 2 - - Amazon.com

If you don't mind spending slightly more to ensure top quality this one has it all. Hardened stainless and photo etched and black filled markings. Those features neatly check off the whole list of goodies for a top notch steel machinist's ruler.

Shinwa 12" 300 mm English Metric Rigid (1.250 wide x .040 thick) Zero Glare Satin Chrome Stainless Steel E/M Machinist Engineer Ruler/Rule with Graduations in 1/64, 1/32, mm and .5mm Model H-3412C - - Amazon.com

And when checking the wear with a ruler where there's nothing built in to tension the chain be sure to measure across the upper run of the chain while you hold some tension on the crank arm so the chain is under tension. If you want both hand free use a bungee cord from the rear wheel spokes to the pedal with the crank on the low side to tension the chain up.
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Old 06-06-22, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Tawraste666 View Post
Agreed, no need to clean a brand new chain. As for the carb cleaner down the drain, thats my cleaning regime:
250 miles, flush with carb carb cleaner then relube with ACF-50.
Both my chains are on 4000 miles. They look super shiny at all times and have ridiculously minimal wear.
Hooray.
Is it non-toxic carb cleaner? I understand they make such products now, but I'm not familiar with them.
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Old 06-06-22, 11:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
Is it non-toxic carb cleaner? I understand they make such products now, but I'm not familiar with them.
Indeed it is. The data sheet states not considered a danger to the environment or to aquatic organisms.
Apparently the really toxic stuff was all outlawed years ago.
That said, the sink is in a garage where I have a large bucket of sawdust I can put beneath the trap to create a dry residue I can dispose of at the local tip.
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Old 06-07-22, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
I'd suggest a good quality steel ruler. Tapes and cheap rulers have wider marks that make it tougher to see small differences. That's fine for building houses or bigger stuff. But in this case you're looking for smaller amounts. That's where a nice steel ruler with fine engraved lines is nice to have. And a good ruler like that has other similarly accurate uses too. So it's not just a specialty bicycle thing.
In the tape measure's defense, you can measure between 1" and 13 1/16" for a 12" span. My better tapes have plenty of space between 1/16" markings, so they're fine to use. It might be easier to find the Park spoke ruler, which has 12 1/6" and 12 1/8" markings than a 15" steel rule. 1/64" markings on a good machinist's rule are just noise for this application.

And when checking the wear with a ruler where there's nothing built in to tension the chain be sure to measure across the upper run of the chain while you hold some tension on the crank arm so the chain is under tension. If you want both hand free use a bungee cord from the rear wheel spokes to the pedal with the crank on the low side to tension the chain up.
Or you can simply measure the bottom run, where the derailer (should your bike be equipped with such a thing) keeps the chain tensioned.
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Old 06-07-22, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Tawraste666 View Post
Indeed it is. The data sheet states not considered a danger to the environment or to aquatic organisms.
Apparently the really toxic stuff was all outlawed years ago.
That said, the sink is in a garage where I have a large bucket of sawdust I can put beneath the trap to create a dry residue I can dispose of at the local tip.
I have a gallon can of carb cleaner with a basket in which objects to be cleaned are put and soaked in the gallon of liquid. I think this gallon must be at least 15 years old, because it's been at least that long since I was rebuilding a very old mercury outboard and had to soak the carb parts to get it running again. My first thought when I saw your post was geeze, even the 1970s me wouldn't put that stuff in a drain (I won't tell you what 1970s stupid me did with waste oil...I said stupid, remember that). Nide to hear the technology has advanced.
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Old 06-07-22, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by soyabean View Post
For most novice riders, that would be fine, but most enthusiasts will remove the default (thick and heavy) shipping grease that is on all new chains, and re-lube with their favorite lube.
In the past I left it on (other than cleaning the outer surfaces) Nowadays, I've switched over to liquid wax based stuff because it's so much cleaner and we do a lot of loading the bikes in and out of cars and such and got tired of greasy tatoos on skin, clothing and everywhere else. Since we almost exclusively ride in dry conditions, it's working fine. But that factory lube - whatever it is - sure worked well and lasted a long time.
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Old 06-07-22, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
I'd suggest a good quality steel ruler. ...

...And when checking the wear with a ruler where there's nothing built in to tension the chain be sure to measure across the upper run of the chain while you hold some tension on the crank arm so the chain is under tension. If you want both hand free use a bungee cord from the rear wheel spokes to the pedal with the crank on the low side to tension the chain up.
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
...Or you can simply measure the bottom run, where the derailer (should your bike be equipped with such a thing) keeps the chain tensioned.
I take my chains off every once in a while to do a deep soak cleaning in mineral spirits. I have a little nail in the edge of a shelf in the garage. I hang the chains from that nail and measure a foot with a steel ruler. In between times, which is almost always, I use the fancier type of chain checkers shown above. I think I have a Pedros and a Shimano. They work about the same.. If I have any question at all, I just dangle the chain and measure with a ruler.
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Old 06-07-22, 10:48 PM
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Chain

I use a citrus degreaser concentrate and add water to it and soak my chain in it for an hour or so and lube it once itís on the bike. Not sure why but I do ride my bike daily and need to lube it weekly! Will look into carb cleaner as the degreaser isnít good for the environment.

I need to look up this method of using a steel ruler as I was going to buy a tool for chain wear. I have made a mistake of taking off a chain because I thought it had surface rust and it meant that it was worn down!
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Old 06-08-22, 04:40 AM
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I hang the old chain along side a new chain on my garage door frame. I measure the entire length. Super fast, easy, and accurate.

0.5% of 12 inches is 1/16 of an inch. Not so easy to be accurate.

0.5% of 116 links is a touch over 1/4 of an inch. I measure the difference between the new and old chain at full length. The only problem with this approach is wear isn't always uniform but I replace at 0.4%
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Old 06-08-22, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by soyabean View Post
For most novice riders, that would be fine, but most enthusiasts will remove the default (thick and heavy) shipping grease that is on all new chains, and re-lube with their favorite lube.
That's a silly notion. You will never put a better lube on your chain than the factory job. Wipe the excess off of the outer parts of the chain and ride. I've ridden as much as 1000 miles before removing, cleaning and lubing a new chain.
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Old 06-08-22, 11:15 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
Use a ruler to measure chain wear. I promise that you haven't put any measurable wear on that chain in a week.
As Mr. Wrench notes, the ruler is most accurate. But for a quick and dirty check, it's probably better to use a longer chain checker than that stubby little thing in the OP's photo.
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Old 06-08-22, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
The common Chain checkers only measure between the opposite sides of the two rollers. And that really doesn't matter as much since they'll "float" into place as they engage the cog. Shimano and a few others make a chain checker that measures more accurately to the same side of each roller.

However with my Park chain checker, it's always been close enough and I use it for a quick check, then when it shows the chain wearing to the point yours is, I'll double check with a steel scale or tape and measure to the same side of the pins to see how far beyond 12" they are apart. A 1/16 inch more than 12 inches is almost .5% wear. 12 x 0.005 = 0.06 and 1/16" = 0.0625


I'd expect someone that puts a lot of power into the pedals to wear out the chain faster. Lugging up a hill in high gears using all your leg muscle particularly bad, IMO. Also, if you cross chain in the large front and large rear, that might add more wear.

Regardless, I'd consider anything under 2000 miles as bad chain life. I usually get 4000 or more out of a 11 speed. My older bikes with 5 and 6 speeds would see 8000 miles... but that admittedly is just a guess.

Chain care, wear and skipping by Jobst Brandt (sheldonbrown.com)
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