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Thread: Chain stretch?

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    Chain stretch?

    My wife is petite and averages about 14 mph or so when riding. She would not be what I would call "hard on a bike". A year ago during a bike check for the Trek Across Maine it was discovered that her chain was stretched and needed a new chain and cassette. Shimano chain and Ultegra cassette were installed. I just bought a chain gauge and for giggles I used it on her chain, its telling me that she needs a new chain already after about 1,500 miles! I just installed a new chain and cassette this season and probably have almost as much mileage on them and the chain gauge said mine was fine. I just find this hard to believe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeRojo View Post
    My wife is petite and averages about 14 mph or so when riding. She would not be what I would call "hard on a bike". A year ago during a bike check for the Trek Across Maine it was discovered that her chain was stretched and needed a new chain and cassette. Shimano chain and Ultegra cassette were installed. I just bought a chain gauge and for giggles I used it on her chain, its telling me that she needs a new chain already after about 1,500 miles! I just installed a new chain and cassette this season and probably have almost as much mileage on them and the chain gauge said mine was fine. I just find this hard to believe.
    Those chain wear measuring devices are often way off, showing significant wear on a brand new chain. Go out in the kitchen and pull open the junk drawer. In there you will likely find a 12" ruler. Use that to measure the elongation of the chain. I wouldn't be surprised if you found virtually none. Replace the chain when you get 1/16" elongation in 12 inches (24 links).

  3. #3
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    Chains don't stretch.

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    What Kerry said. Also check chain for side to side wear. If the chain moves side to side a lot compared to a new chain, replace it. Also 1,500 miles is often used as a rule of thumb to replace a chain.

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    What the three fellows above said. I used to have a Park chain gauge before I got smart and unloaded it on e-bay. I could make a brand new chain read "worn out" according to that gauge.

    Now a 12" ruler (actually I made a 13" one out of a dollar store tape; it makes it much easier to measure 12 1/16") plus derailer tension is all I need to measure chain wear (not stretch) accurately.
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    I use the Park Tool gauge as a reference, as it's very quick using it. If it says the chain is worn, than I check it with a tape measure. I find it's usually pretty accurate if you use it properly; indeed it can show a new chain half worn, but seems to still be accurate when it shows the same chain wore out..
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    1,500 miles IS NOT the rule of thumb to replace a chain! That means tires are lasting twice as long as a chain? I think not. What's probably happening is she's cross chaining, meaning she riding with the chain on the smallest chain ring on the front and then going to the smallest on the rear or vice a versa. This is putting to much strain on the chain due to the severe angle the chain has to go into to hit those gears.

    Most chains if taken care of will last at least 6,000 miles, mine last longer on average.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    1,500 miles IS NOT the rule of thumb to replace a chain! That means tires are lasting twice as long as a chain? I think not. What's probably happening is she's cross chaining, meaning she riding with the chain on the smallest chain ring on the front and then going to the smallest on the rear or vice a versa. This is putting to much strain on the chain due to the severe angle the chain has to go into to hit those gears.

    Most chains if taken care of will last at least 6,000 miles, mine last longer on average.
    i think you're a little out of touch w/ chain wear...1500mi is a lot more accurate than 6000mi in my experience, and i'll bet a look at a lot more chains that you do.
    i work for some bike racers...
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    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
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    oh, those belong in another forum

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    i think you're a little out of touch w/ chain wear...1500mi is a lot more accurate than 6000mi in my experience, and i'll bet a look at a lot more chains that you do.
    Whatever you say, you know more about my chain wear then I do.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvk63...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=p92Stnnigjs
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelman55 View Post
    Also 1,500 miles is often used as a rule of thumb to replace a chain.
    often used? by whom...?

    my guess would be chain salesmen...
    eff all y'all...

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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    Whatever you say, you know more about my chain wear then I do.
    this was your reply to OP's post...
    "1,500 miles IS NOT the rule of thumb to replace a chain! That means tires are lasting twice as long as a chain? I think not."

    i'm not saying a damn thing about your personal chain durability. i'm responding to your apparent lack of experience w/ anything other than your own chains. i'm saying, based on many years of experience, that 10spd chains will last between 1500 and 2000 miles for the vast majority of riders. i rarely if ever see one that has anywhere near 4000 miles much less 6000 that hasn't completely ruined the rest of the drivetrain. reading comprehension ftw.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

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    I've had pretty good luck with the Rohloff chain wear indicator, and prefer it to the Park tool as it has no moving parts.

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    When it comes to chains in general (power tools, machines, bikes, etc.) I try to find their strategic measures and then use a Vernier caliper to see if any have changed. That is, what has already been suggested

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    In my experience maintenance quality, environment (wet, mud, sand, etc), the number of speeds (lower better) and riding style/skills all bear on life. Had chains gone in 1,500 and today with my 8 speeds they go much longer.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    this was your reply to OP's post...
    "1,500 miles IS NOT the rule of thumb to replace a chain! That means tires are lasting twice as long as a chain? I think not."

    i'm not saying a damn thing about your personal chain durability. i'm responding to your apparent lack of experience w/ anything other than your own chains. i'm saying, based on many years of experience, that 10spd chains will last between 1500 and 2000 miles for the vast majority of riders. i rarely if ever see one that has anywhere near 4000 miles much less 6000 that hasn't completely ruined the rest of the drivetrain. reading comprehension ftw.
    Obviously you can't read, sorry but that's the facts. It is not a general rule of thumb that chains last 1,500 miles...it's not. I then said why her chains are probably not lasting more then that. Go back and reread my post. And no where in his post does he mention that she has a 10 speed chain setup, so your assuming she does just to make a point and so you can hack up a fur ball on me.

    Here's another forum discussing the same thing, one poster named hambones claims to get 7,500 miles on his 10 speed chain, one below that by the name of John T gets over 5,000, one below by the name of Dennisn agrees with hambones that people are throwing away perfectly good chains and cluster because the rider got sold into that belief that the chains and clusters don't last. Read through this forum and you'll see a lot of people get more then 1,500 miles. See:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/view...php?p=15134811

    Most of the problem with low chain life is from cross chaining, followed by poor lube and cleaning techniques.

    By the way, I also have the old school wide 5, 6 and 7 speed chains on a few of my bikes, I get at least 10,000 miles on those chains.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvk63...eature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=p92Stnnigjs
    "They don't do things that way anymore. This is the Age of Science Know-How, electronal marvels."

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    i think you're a little out of touch w/ chain wear...1500mi is a lot more accurate than 6000mi in my experience, and i'll bet a look at a lot more chains that you do.
    My last Campagnolo C9 chain had yet to reach 1/32" stretch when I replaced it at 4866 miles to move on to 10 cogs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pigpen View Post
    Chains don't stretch.
    Everything, includeing chains stetch under tension. But this isn't what's referred to when we speak of chain stretch in this context. Chains get longer (stretch) with wear, as the increased play at pins allows links to move farther apart.

    So, while chains don't stretch, they actually do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze View Post
    Obviously you can't read, sorry but that's the facts. It is not a general rule of thumb that chains last 1,500 miles...it's not. I then said why her chains are probably not lasting more then that. Go back and reread my post. And no where in his post does he mention that she has a 10 speed chain setup, so your assuming she does just to make a point and so you can hack up a fur ball on me.

    Here's another forum discussing the same thing, one poster named hambones claims to get 7,500 miles on his 10 speed chain, one below that by the name of John T gets over 5,000, one below by the name of Dennisn agrees with hambones that people are throwing away perfectly good chains and cluster because the rider got sold into that belief that the chains and clusters don't last. Read through this forum and you'll see a lot of people get more then 1,500 miles. See:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/view...php?p=15134811

    Most of the problem with low chain life is from cross chaining, followed by poor lube and cleaning techniques.

    By the way, I also have the old school wide 5, 6 and 7 speed chains on a few of my bikes, I get at least 10,000 miles on those chains.


    I'm gunna have to back up CX here!!!

    I replace chains every single day and 100% agree with 1500-2000 mile chain life for 10 speed chains!

    YES, there are some who get longer life, but in the vast majority of cases, mileage in excess of 1500-2000 will mandate a new cassette & have significantly worn the rings.

    In terms of chain life till breakage... hell 6k no worries.

    But if you're measuring "life" as not killing the cassette/rings and shifting well, CXwrench is spot on!

  19. #19
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    I usually get ~ 4000 mi from a chain and 12-15,000 from a 105 or Ultegra cassette. I measure the chain often & if it gets past the 1/16" mark-out it goes. I'm also absolutely anal about keeping my drive train clean, lubed, & properly adjusted.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  20. #20
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    There is no single rule of thumb one can rely for chain wear. There are far too many variables. Chain wear occurs based on tension (bearing load) and movement. That means that the biggest variable for chainwear is power.

    Those who don't directly measure power, can use indicators of power instead. These are; average speed, terrain, & rider weight. A big rider maintaining good speed in hilly terrain is vastly harder on his chain than a light rider riding at lower speed in the plains. Using the single indicator of chain stretch (which is not the only way chains wear), we can see variations in chain life from about 1,000 miles to well over 10,000 miles.

    Other factors include sprocket selection - using smaller rear sprockets - is harder on chains than larger - type and frequency of lubrication, and rider habits like cross-chaining, and sprinting steep hills in big gears.

    The only reliable to know when to replace a chain is to measure it for stretch over as long a distance as practical. But remember that the pin wear that causes stretch isn't the only way chains wear, rollers also wear, causing similar issues, and chains can develop excess side flexibility which isn't really an issue, but can cause sluggish shift response.

    Of course you can replace chains sooner than absolutely necessary, hopefully extending the life of the cassette, but the penalty in shorter chain life may offset those gains.
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    All make Good Points

    I have customers who blow thru chains at 900miles and others at 3000+.
    Most are 1500-2000.

    Factors that make a difference.

    Cross Chaining is Just Bad
    Spinning stretches less
    Mashing gears stretches more
    Keep it clean has less grit to help wear and tear
    Dirty chain has grit to increase wear & tear
    5-6-7 speed chains have more metal - more strenght - less strenght
    8-9 speed are less metal so stretch easier
    10-11 speed have even less metal
    Less $ on low quality chain is lower quality metal stretches easily
    Moderate $ Good resiliency
    High $ of hollow light chains tends to stretch easy

    If you can think of more factors please add them in.
    These are a wide range of factors, some have more effect then others, but the combination of one or all can lead to a chain that is done at 900 miles or one that reaches 3000+.

    I usually have people change their chain when stretch is starting to become evident.

    I measure with a Park tool CC-2Chain Checker, listed below is their guidlines, between 0.5% and before 0.75% is a safe place to change the chain.


    The CC-2 is 10 and 11 speed compatible. For the modern 9 and 10 speed chains, replace chain at or just before the 0.75% readings. For the 11 speed chain, replace at or just before the 0.5% reading.>

    The other way of actually measuring the chain, and i use this to show customers, is to hold the old chain up against the new one and when you look a about 2 feet down you can see the links are off by half a link. No squinting or measuring.....just a response from the customer of......"ohhhh wowwwww....chains really do stretch"

    You can change 4 chains @ $25 = $100 and get 4 x 1500 miles =6000 miles
    One chain and one cassette (105) is about $100 and you can push it a bit and get
    maybe 2000-3000 miles with the chnace of destroying your chainrings.

    Also I get bikes in for service from the 70's and 80's and that stuff does not wear, tear, or stretch.......construction materials were very different back then.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickt30 View Post
    I have customers who blow thru chains at 900miles and others at 3000+.
    Most are 1500-2000.

    Factors that make a difference.

    Cross Chaining is Just Bad
    Spinning stretches less
    Mashing gears stretches more
    Keep it clean has less grit to help wear and tear
    Dirty chain has grit to increase wear & tear
    5-6-7 speed chains have more metal - more strenght - less strenght
    8-9 speed are less metal so stretch easier
    10-11 speed have even less metal
    Less $ on low quality chain is lower quality metal stretches easily
    Moderate $ Good resiliency
    High $ of hollow light chains tends to stretch easy

    If you can think of more factors please add them in.
    These are a wide range of factors, some have more effect then others, but the combination of one or all can lead to a chain that is done at 900 miles or one that reaches 3000+.

    I usually have people change their chain when stretch is starting to become evident.

    I measure with a Park tool CC-2Chain Checker, listed below is their guidlines, between 0.5% and before 0.75% is a safe place to change the chain.


    The CC-2 is 10 and 11 speed compatible. For the modern 9 and 10 speed chains, replace chain at or just before the 0.75% readings. For the 11 speed chain, replace at or just before the 0.5% reading.>

    The other way of actually measuring the chain, and i use this to show customers, is to hold the old chain up against the new one and when you look a about 2 feet down you can see the links are off by half a link. No squinting or measuring.....just a response from the customer of......"ohhhh wowwwww....chains really do stretch"

    You can change 4 chains @ $25 = $100 and get 4 x 1500 miles =6000 miles
    One chain and one cassette (105) is about $100 and you can push it a bit and get
    maybe 2000-3000 miles with the chnace of destroying your chainrings.

    Also I get bikes in for service from the 70's and 80's and that stuff does not wear, tear, or stretch.......construction materials were very different back then.
    no, they really don't 'stretch'...you should know this. you should be taking this opportunity to explain to them what is really happening.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    no, they really don't 'stretch'...you should know this. you should be taking this opportunity to explain to them what is really happening.
    ^^^^This. x eleventy billion. Oh I'm sure someone could argue (and might) that a 3" diameter ball bearing can be made to stretch but hey..................
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Oh I'm sure someone could argue (and might) that a 3" diameter ball bearing can be made to stretch but hey..................
    Not sure about that bearing, but chains do stretch if you mean elastic elongation. When subjected to the linear forces (newtons) a top sprinter can put out, a chain can stretch elastically more than 0.1 mm per link, which would exceed the wear limit. Of course, once those linear chain forces go back to zero, that elastic elongation also returns to zero.

    And really, I don't see anything wrong with "stretch" in the sense of "wear elongation." An object formerly a certain length got longer because of wear, so it stretched in the dictionary definition of the word.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    When subjected to the linear forces (newtons) a top sprinter can put out, a chain can stretch elastically more than 0.1 mm per link, which would exceed the wear limit. Of course, once those linear chain forces go back to zero, that elastic elongation also returns to zero.
    And really, I don't see anything wrong with "stretch" in the sense of "wear elongation." An object formerly a certain length got longer because of wear, so it stretched in the dictionary definition of the word.
    Even if someone of Chris Hoy's strength could "stretch" a chain - and oh yeah I'll bet there is a device in this world that could measure such a fete - the term "stretch" when used in common cycling circles pales massively to the amount of elongation due to wear. What we really see in a chain - wear - is the term that should be used. Stretch would take a multi-thousand dollar machine to measure it. Wear can be measured with a dollar store tape.
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