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newbie bike question - how to tell if bike chain is worn too much  

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Stephen:

> Hi there Just thought I would ask here to see if anyone had any advice. I bought a bike about 8
> months ago from a local bike store. Last time I took it into be serviced I was told that the chain
> was worn and that I needed a new one. I was told that it was at .9 wear (whatever that is) and I
> should replace it within a month for $50 (for a better quality german chain) .
>
> Me being cheap went to another bike store that had a 20% sale of bike stuff. There I was told that
> it wasnt that worn and that I shouldnt replace just the chain and I shouldnt even take the chain
> off at all. He went on to say that they were just using a chart or somthing that said that its
> time to get a new chain even if it dosnt need one. He said clean my chain with a car wash
> degreaser spray and leave it where it was on the bike He then pulled my bike chain a little to see
> how loose it was, which didnt move that much.
>
> Who to believe?? Bike store number 1 who gave me a quote off $320 to fix my mountain bike that I
> wore pretty much everything out off and then 2 months later told me $700 Or bike store number 2
> that is a competitor

Run away from both and don't come back.

Get a $2 ruler and measure the distance between 12 links. If this length is 12", you're laughing. If
it's more than 12" but less than 12
1/16", you're smiling. If it's more than 12 1/16" but less than 12
2/8", it's time to replace the chain, but your cassette and chainrings will most likely be still ok.
If it's more than 12 1/8", there's a good chance you might need to replace your cassette, and you
might have to check your chainrings depending on how long you've been riding with the 12 links
over 12 1/8".

If you replace your chains before you reach the 12 1/16" limit, your cassette should outlast at
least two chains, likely three, and chainrings should outlast several cassettes (steel ones last a
lot longer than aluminium ones).

If you have worn out your cassette, just get a new one with a new chain. If you need to get new
chainrings as well, then get that but it shouldn't cost anywhere near $700 to replace these items,
even if you throw in other consumables such as brake pads and cables.
post #2 of 3

Re: newbie bike question - how to tell if bike chain is worn too much

Hi Stephen. After detailed responses posted by Jose and Fred, I thought I would give you some non-technical but still lengthy (!!) perspective.

On a general note, what counts when it comes for overhaul is the actual condition of the bike components (in this case chain, rear cassette and/or front chain rings). If you think you do not have the technical experience/knowledge to judge for yourself, you will need a bike mechanic's opinion. Since there are a minority that would rather entice customers to spend unnecessary dollars, I'd suggest you find a reliable bike shop first. If you're going to be into riding regularly, you won't escape this fact.

Now, the length of time is not relevant to determine the time for overhaul. It is the actual mileage and the conditions of ride plus the grade of components quality to start off with. One may ride over 5000 km in 8 month and another may ride only a 100 km. Besides, riding in dirt and rain wears the drivetrain a lot faster, especially if they are not cleaned and lubricated properly after such rides.

So rather than being confused, just think about your ride history over the past 8 months, and take your bike to your trustworthy mechanic (once you found one) and see the assessment. From this you start to learn for yourself.

I myself, use a combination of Ultegra and 105 components, and change my chain every 2000-2500 km of riding in dry conditions. I'd say this is a perfectionist approach. On my hybrid bike, I just went lousy and changed the chain after 6,500 km. I also needed to cahnge the rear cassette. Front chain rings were still in good condition. Before the change, the gear was still running well except that rear gear change started to get sluggish. I'd say I could have gone a couple of thousand km before it started to get into trouble. The lubrication was always properly done. This might give you some idea.



Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen
Hi there Just thought I would ask here to see if anyone had any advice. I bought a bike about 8
months ago from a local bike store. Last time I took it into be serviced I was told that the chain
was worn and that I needed a new one. I was told that it was at .9 wear (whatever that is) and I
should replace it within a month for $50 (for a better quality german chain) .

Me being cheap went to another bike store that had a 20% sale of bike stuff. There I was told that
it wasnt that worn and that I shouldnt replace just the chain and I shouldnt even take the chain off
at all. He went on to say that they were just using a chart or somthing that said that its time to
get a new chain even if it dosnt need one. He said clean my chain with a car wash degreaser spray
and leave it where it was on the bike He then pulled my bike chain a little to see how loose it was,
which didnt move that much.

Who to believe?? Bike store number 1 who gave me a quote off $320 to fix my mountain bike that I
wore pretty much everything out off and then 2 months later told me $700 Or bike store number 2 that
is a competitor Thanks Stephen
post #3 of 3

Re: newbie bike question - how to tell if bike chain is worn too much

With 2800 km, the chain may need to go. But before that, as you plan, it wouldn't hurt at all to clean and lubricate it to see how it performs. Unless it is filled with grit or mud, you wouldn't really need to break the chain in order to clean it. Just apply the lubricant and wipe the chain. If necessary repeat untill it looks clean. Chain rings and cassette can be wiped as well.

In any case, $700 to fix the gear shifting problem with or without changing the chain sounds rediculous.

The slow response in gear change can be due to different things. It doesn't necessairily mean that your chain is worn. I can name the length of the chain, condition and tension of cable and adjustment and condition of derailleur as primary factors to consider first.


Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen
Thank you for the replies I use the bike (a specialised hardrock) for transit to and from work
(18-19 km round trip 5 days a week) as I dont have a car I have done about 2800 km on it, missing
out on maybe a months of bike riding when I fell off and fractured my scaffoid I havnt noticed the
chain slipping much at all , Though it sometimes is a little slow to change gears. Im guessing with
their quote off $700 to fix my bike(the first one that I wore the components out of a avanti
barracuda) that this bike store might be a little untrustworthy?? 8-) So maybe clean the chain real
good with turps (remove chuck in the bottle and shake) and lightly oil and ignore the bike store for
now? Stephen sorry bout the doublepost too newsgroups were playing up
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