Chain Durability: 8-speed vs 9-speed vs 10-speed
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  1. #1
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    Chain Durability: 8-speed vs 9-speed vs 10-speed

    Talked to a guy at my local LBS, and got a curious comment from him regarding chain durability. He said he'd expect, on average ('cuz ppl & drivetrains vary widely, obviously) to get about 2000 miles out of a 10-spd chain, and maybe 3000 miles out of an 8-spd, with 9-spd somewhere in the middle.

    I thought to myself, "Wha?". Because

    1) Back when I rode 7-spd, and was ignorant of such things as the need to replace your chain regularly, I rode the same chain for several YEARS, did nothing to it other than brush off the grit and dab some Triflow on it from time to time, and it worked great forever and ever. Yay.

    2) 8-spd chains are pretty much the same as 7-spd, AFAIK.

    Guess what I'm trying to say is, it doesn't seem to be a '50% more durability kind of thing' for 8-spd vs 10-spd. But what's the real deal, in ppl's experience? And would ya say 9-spd chain durability is closer to 8-spd, or closer to 10-spd?


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  2. #2

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    I'm not someone who breaks chains (despite my 215lbs) but I have found over the years that my 9 speed chains do not last as long as my 8 speed chains (using a Park chain stretch gauge). I really am not someone who is in to recording my mileage so I don't have exact figures but I know I replace chains more often with 9 speed. I don't ride 10 speed yet (and hope I won't for a while at least) and 11 speed drivetrains sound even more unnecessary (Campagnolo...your Italian...you don't need to prove to the bicycle world that you have a bigger Johnson than the Japanese...its already assumed!).
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  3. #3
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    In my narrow, completely limited experience that lacks any authority. Shimano 10sp chains are as soft as butter. Campy 10 are 2-3 times more durable, or more. SRAM 8 spd chains last a very, very long time on a fixed gear bike. All of this is with frequent homebrew lubing.

  4. #4
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    No question in my experience that chain life is

    8sp>9sp>>>10sp

    -assuming similar chain care and riding conditions.

  5. #5
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    I've been getting between 5000 and 6000 miles out of my Dura-Ace 9-speed and Campy 10-speed (C-10) chains. I now have about 1200 miles on a Campy UN 5.9 with no apparent elongation. I weigh about 165 lbs. and clean my chains often, on the bike.

    Al

  6. #6
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    search...

    Do a search under chain life. I've repeated a lengthy post serveral times, explaining how to measure chain wear.

    Of course, as chains become narrower and the surface area carrying the load becomes smaller, chains will not last as long, but it's not as bad as some people contend. Shimano chains wear faster than any brand I've tested, or about 1/3 less life than a Campy chain. Different brands also wear differently, so you have to measure both elongation and roller wear separately if you really want to evaluate a chain's condition.

  7. #7
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    I'm trying to figure out what happened with my chain: I've only got about 2000km (~1200 miles) on a SRAM PC 971 chain and I just measured the length it's already stretched by 1/8 of an inch! I've never raced and I'm certainly not hard on pedalling. I clean and re-lube about once a month or if there's a lot of grit build-up and always after getting caught in the rain, so I'm trying to figure out why I got such a short chain life out of this chain. Should I upgrade to a PC 991 chain?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    Of course, as chains become narrower and the surface area carrying the load becomes smaller, chains will not last as long, but it's not as bad as some people contend. Shimano chains wear faster than any brand I've tested, or about 1/3 less life than a Campy chain. Different brands also wear differently, so you have to measure both elongation and roller wear separately if you really want to evaluate a chain's condition.
    What do you think of SRAM chains?

    ...
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did — peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

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  9. #9
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    thoughts...

    Quote Originally Posted by SystemShock
    What do you think of SRAM chains?

    ...
    I think I've read a lot of reports of failures and poor life. There are better options out there, since most stores ask a lot for their chains. I haven't had the time to test one, though.

  10. #10
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    1/8 inch...

    Quote Originally Posted by shinsplints
    I'm trying to figure out what happened with my chain: I've only got about 2000km (~1200 miles) on a SRAM PC 971 chain and I just measured the length it's already stretched by 1/8 of an inch! I've never raced and I'm certainly not hard on pedalling. I clean and re-lube about once a month or if there's a lot of grit build-up and always after getting caught in the rain, so I'm trying to figure out why I got such a short chain life out of this chain. Should I upgrade to a PC 991 chain?
    1/8 inch over how much length? Over a foot, that would be nearly a full pin diameter and twice what's commonly recommened. Over the full length, it's still a lot. The .5% maximum is about 1/4 inch over the full length. Are you sure you're measuring correctly?

    To measure over 12 inches, get a presicion 12" scale. Lay the scale on the edge of a pin and check the pin at the opposite end. When new that pin will be completely covered by the scale. With 1/8" of elongation, that pin would be almost completely exposed. After twice that mileage with a Campy chain, you I can rarely detect any elongation over 12". I have to use my home made full-length measuring setup to detect 1/32" over the full length.
    Last edited by C-40; 08-06-2008 at 02:10 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    I think I've read a lot of reports of failures and poor life. There are better options out there, since most stores ask a lot for their chains. I haven't had the time to test one, though.
    Hmm, that sucks.

    How about the other players in the field, like Connex/Wipperman? Or anyone who might be good, i.e. up there with the Campy chains.

    ...
    MH: I want to go like my Dad did — peacefully, in his sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

    Sys: COMPLACENCY IS LETHAL. VOTE in November.

    Homer: I believe that the children are our future. Unless we stop them now.

    Plat: I'd rather fellate a syphilitic goat than own a Cervelo.

    Seam: Saw Bjork poop onstage back in the day. It blew my teenage mind.


  12. #12
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    After 3600 miles, my DA 10 speed chain is .2% longer. Using my Park CC-2 tool the max elongation over the 5" the tool measures is 1mm. My chain shows .25mm, or the same as a new chain. Since the Park tool adds bushing wear in with the pin wear, there seems to be no wear at all.
    At this rate, I'll get over 10,000 miles before the chain gets close to .8mm (I don't wait to hit 1mm) My 10 speed chain seems to wear a little faster than my 9 speed chains (I would get over 12,000 miles on those)
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  13. #13
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    After 2200km my Ultegra CN-6600 10 speed chain has elongated about 2mm (0.2%). Of this wear, a third occurred during the first 200km. ' Running in' haha.

    I am saving this chain for later.. in the mean time running another with is showing comparable wear.

    This is about the elongation I got with each of six CN-HG73 9 speed chains after 4500-5000km.

    The 10 speed (Ultegra) chain is of different construction compared to the 9 speed Shimanos. Probably made in a different factory. The 10 speed has actually very neat pin bushings formed into the roller cage plates. But maybe the pins are softer. Also the original grease is different.

    For all that, the dimensions differ very little between 9 and 10 speed. The rollers are 2mm wide. The cages plates are same thickness. The 10 speed chain just has thinner side plates and shorter pins. So, all else being equal, a 10 speed 'should' be equally durable as a 9.

    The LBS of course contends a 10 speed 'should' and 'will' wear more quickly.

  14. #14
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    can't be...

    I'm sorry, but that is just NOT possible. The rollers start at .210 inch apart when new and after 3600 miles, I would expect them to measure at least .230 inch and perhaps as much as .240 inch. The roller wear alone would .4-.6%, without the actual elongation. I suggest a more accurate method of measurement, like a full length measurement with a tape measure for elongation and a caliper or plug gage check of the distance between rollers.

    Maybe if you ride on totally flat terrain and average less than 100 watts of power output, this might be remotely possible.

    The DA 10 chain that I tested was the worst wearing chain I'd ever used. I'm only a 135 lb rider and don't put out a lot of power, but I couldn't even get a much slower wearing Campy 10 chain to last that long. After 6,000 miles a Campy chain may only show .15% elongation, but the distance between the rollers will have increased from .200 to .235-.240 and it is shot. The side clearance will also have increased to nearly twice the original amount. If you leave a single chain in use that long, it will probably wear out some of the cogs and a new chain will skip on those cogs.

  15. #15
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    Have not tried 10sp SRAM chains yet, but I've had better life with 8 & 9s SRAM chains on my MTB's than I have Shimano. Only broken chain was due to trail hazard (rocks). Currently trying a 10s Wippermann (w/ProLink lube) on my main roadie, but too soon to comment of durability (only 800mi so far). Hope its better than what I've had with Ultegra 10sp chains.

  16. #16
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    On my 9 speed bike, I'm on my third chain and have yet to replace any cassettes (no skipping) Like I said above, I get over 12,000 miles from a 9 speed chain.
    Maybe it's my chain lube.
    Two of my friends have campy systems, and my chains always last longer then there's do. (I have a feeling that they replace them before they need to)
    I had even better chain life when I had an 8 speed system.
    Go figure.

    I've checked my 10 speed chain three times, and each time it comes out the same, .25mm elongation. ......Maybe the chain fairies are sneeking into my house at night and changing my chain.

    Maybe the secret is to keep the chain lubed and to prevent abraisives from entering the wear areas.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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    poor measuring??

    If all you've ever used to check you chains is Park chain checker, it's not very good information. It's quite common for a Shimano or KMC chain to show .25% elongation when NEW. That's because the distance between the roller starts at about .210, while a Campy chain only measures .200 inch.

    I'm real confident that Shimano chains elongate about 4 times faster than a Campy chain and the rollers don't wear any better than Campy rollers either. After the same mileage a Campy chain will have a little less roller wear and a whole lot less elongation. You can't rely on measures of elongation to judge when to change a Campy chain. I measure the roller wear and change when the distance increases by .035-.040 inch.

  18. #18
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    If Park had made a defective tool, my 9 speed cassettes would skip like crazy. It seems that either 1) I'm getting "special" long lasting DA chains, 2) My methods of lubrication works better than most people, or 3) Your methods of testing Shimano chains is lacking.
    When you consider that I've put 25,000 miles on my main training cassette (9 speed), and I put on a new chain this year (after wearing out two others), without skip, just maybe I'll get similar results with my 10 speed bike. Just in case you're wondering, when I put on my race wheels with low milage cassettes, I don't get skipping. Ditto for 9 speed race wheels.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  19. #19
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    I'm with Grumpy. I replaced my first DA 10 speed chain just cause I thought I should after around 5000 miles. It still measured ok on the Park gauge. I replaced it with a new chain and no skipping with the old cassette. I used prolink or homebrew prolink exclusively and lubed often.
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  20. #20
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    Most people don't know it but Industrial chains are never lubed with a thin lube. They would wear out too quick. Grease would make the ideal lube, but it is too thick to penetrate the side plates, bushings, and rollers. (yes, industrial chains have rollers)

    PS The only time thin oil is used as a lube, a drip system is used to keep the chain wet.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  21. #21
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    Ideally every link should have a grease nipple that lets you grease from the inside out. I figure I can build a chain like this... weighing about 4 pounds and only allowing for shifting in one direction. To shift in the other direction, you simply flip the chain!
    Last edited by DrSmile; 08-06-2008 at 01:05 PM.
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  22. #22
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    After every ride, the chain should be removed and cleaned. After cleaning, the chain should be dipped in hot grease, and left until the chain reaches the temperature of the grease. The chain should then be removed and allowed to cool. After cooling, all excess exterior grease should be removed except for a very light coating..........repeat.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR_GRUMPY
    After every ride, the chain should be removed and cleaned. After cleaning, the chain should be dipped in hot grease, and left until the chain reaches the temperature of the grease. The chain should then be removed and allowed to cool. After cooling, all excess exterior grease should be removed except for a very light coating..........repeat.

    it's never not a good time to post this:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-40
    1/8 inch over how much length? Over a foot, that would be nearly a full pin diameter and twice what's commonly recommened. Over the full length, it's still a lot. The .5% maximum is about 1/4 inch over the full length. Are you sure you're measuring correctly?

    To measure over 12 inches, get a presicion 12" scale. Lay the scale on the edge of a pin and check the pin at the opposite end. When new that pin will be completely covered by the scale. With 1/8" of elongation, that pin would be alsmost completely exposed. After twice that mileage with a Campy chain, you I can rarely detect any elongation over 12". I have to use my home made full-length measuring setup to detect 1/32" over the full length.
    Hmm... I measured according to what I read on Sheldon Brown's website: using a 12 inch measure. I used a tape measure. My interpretation of Sheldon Brown's advice was that I should measure 12 inches from the center of the pin. When I did that, the pin at the end of the 12 inch measure was 1/8 inch away.

    The reason why I thought the chain might need to be replaced is that I've noticed a light grinding feel & clicking noise when I'm in any gear above 19 (on a 12-25 9sp cassette). This started just after the last time I cleaned the chain by taking it off and putting it in a bio-degreaser (organic solvent, mild alkalis) after getting caught in heavy rain. I didn't put it in long (maybe swishing it around for 30 seconds) and wiped it dry with a clean rag. I then put on White Lightning on every link. Maybe it's the White Lightning?

    Sorry to hijack the thread.

  25. #25
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    info..

    Quote Originally Posted by SystemShock
    Hmm, that sucks.

    How about the other players in the field, like Connex/Wipperman? Or anyone who might be good, i.e. up there with the Campy chains.

    ...
    I don't think any brand will last as long as Campy, but if you're looking for the most bang for the buck, the KMC DX10SC, as sold by Nashbar and Performance is a good chain that will last longer the Shimano and only cost $20-24, if you catch one of their sales.

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