Best quality chain for road bike?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by rwe2156, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. rwe2156

    rwe2156 New Member

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    Older version 105 9 speed triple front crank.

    LBS replaced my chain with HG73 which I notice is a $15 chain (which they charged me $35....). Seems to be working ok and I'm planning on leaving it on there, but when the time comes, I want to replace it with a better quality chain.

    Looked at several in the $25-30 range but wondering if it makes that much diff.
     
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  2. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    You're plenty good. HG53...HG73...any shimaNO 9-speed chain is going to function just fine.
     
  3. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    Also SRAM chains are compatible. I've used them and never had a problem with them. Plus side is they come with the master link that makes removing the chain easy and with your hands if you are semi handy mechanically.

    But I find Shimano runs smoother with my Shimano drivetrain. I'm running an HG 93. I got it online for about $20. I see now they area about $18 online. Jenson USA.
     
  4. rwe2156

    rwe2156 New Member

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    Thx. My next question is LBS said there is an outside or inside to the chain. I believe he said the writing is on the outside. Anything to this?
     
  5. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    I know some chains (maybe 10 speeds) are directional. One plate has different style plates for the opposite side. You'd have to read the descriptions. It helps to view online bike sites and read the info on chains etc. Some have really helpful info. Look at Jenson US, Ribble, Probikekit and others, you can learn a lot from reading some of the descriptions/specs.
     
  6. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    If you buy a Shimano chain, it should come with clear installation instructions. Or, you can find the instructions right on the Shimano website.

    Personally, I like Shimano chains better than SRAM. I've had a couple of quality issues with SRAM over the years, but never an issue with the HG-93s. Seems several experienced guys here prefer KMC chains for quality and value.
     
  7. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Just get a Shimano chain, they cost less than the fancy high priced ones and last just as long. My LBS mechanic said they found KMC and Wippermann to be problematic and won't last as long as OEM chains.
     
  8. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FYI. A "$15" chain via mail order will almost always cost you more if-or-when you are paying retail at an LBS because they have overhead costs to cover ...

    Essentially, YOU were paying for the convenience -- time saved in not waiting for an item to arrive through the mail (PLUS any shipping fee which you would have paid) + installation ...

    While I think that almost everyone should do as much DIY maintenance as they can learn to do, I also do NOT think that people should begrudge what a shop charges if they cannot-or-will-not do it the work as long as the customer knows-and-agrees to the cost ahead of time ...​

    The difference between an HG53 and an HG93 is mostly cosmetic with the former being AS FUNCTIONALLY EFFICIENT as the latter.​

    FWIW. IMO, there is probably no reason to choose-or-use ANY brand other Shimano with regard to bicycle chains, regardless of the drivetrain ...

    BUT, if a person is keen on having a Masterlink-type of connector, then so be it ...
    Shimano chains work very well with Campagnolo shifters-and-derailleurs, and vice-versa ...

    SRAM's front derailleurs (which they are obviously trying to convince people are not necessary) probably don't play any worse with Shimano chains than SRAM chains.
     
  9. cyclintom

    cyclintom Well-Known Member

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    ALL of the chains are good. There are no bad one's. But perhaps the Campy and the Shimano chains are slightly higher quality despite what advertisements indicate. The only real difference between chains is the finish on the exterior of the pins and the interior of the rollers. The materials they're made from are the same.
     
  10. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    cyclintom, mostly true, but there are bad ones that get out. I had a bad one from Sram a few years ago. One of the rollers "popped" and fell off the chain on my first or second ride. The materials may all be steel, but the QA control has to be there every step of the way. Raw steel can have defects, many opportunities throughout the process to screw things up. Not sure what happened to cause that roller to bust, but I'm guessing a defect in the steel or bad heat treat.

    Another chain I installed apparently had undersized rollers on every other pin. When I measured it after the first 1K miles or so, my Park gauge was dropping in every other pin, indicating 0.75% wear. I kept running the chain, and the wear actually seemed to "even out", giving more-or-less normal life (about 4K miles for me).
     
  11. Power Meter City

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    I've been running KMC for several years now with zero issues. I think their prices are pretty reasonable too. I buy them in bulk and use them on all my bikes (road and MTB). Usually go with the X10 SL. Not the cheapest chain but light and strong.
     
  12. Weatherby

    Weatherby Well-Known Member

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    Dura ace chains are the longest lasting and lowest friction when properly run-in and lubricated. Google friction facts. Expensive. Probably makes more sense for most riders to use cheaper 105 or kmc chains and throw them away every 1000 miles. I get 4-5,000 miles from my chains and usually just get tired of cleaning them and put a new one on I don't think there are bad chains out there. It there might be some marginal benefits to some like the plating done on the dura ace that gives a little more durability. Ymmv
     
  13. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    I also get 4-5K miles from chains, using Prolink about every 100-200 miles. I rarely do any cleaning other than wiping down with a rag maybe once between lube applications. Exception would be after ride in dirty conditions or getting caught in heavy rain. I might use the clamp-on chain cleaner with citrus solution once or twice a year.

    Believe a lot depends on where and how you ride. After a week of riding out in Colorado, my chain was loaded with grit and needed a deep cleaning. Usually here there is little dust or sand on the roads; the chain doesn't get very dirty.

    The biggest "hardware junkie" friend I have swears by KMC chains for quality and value, but I've never tried them.

    Weatherby, why do you think that DA chains are longest lasting and lowest friction? Is it better materials, tighter dimensional standards or some other manufacturing difference? I've never heard that claim made.....thought the only functional difference was that they were a few grams lighter than Ultegra or 105 chains.
     
  14. Weatherby

    Weatherby Well-Known Member

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    Friction facts tested chains and lubes. Dura ace was on top. PTFE and nickel add to durability. There have been some informal tests on the internet showing the 11 speed dura ace to last the longest. Dunno but in 15,000 miles last year I went thru two chains and the third is still good but could be changed.
     
  15. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    OK, didn't know what you meant by "Google Friction facts" above. Went to the Friction Facts website to find some info. But the reports cost $7.98? I'm a bit skeptical of the test setup they show in the photo because it looks like an 11 tooth cassette on the rear axle. That would be the worst-case for power losses under high load I believe due to the extreme rotation of the links, the imperfect fit and the few teeth bearing load which would result in very high contact forces.

    Your chain life is very good though. If you want to share, I'm curious what chain lube you are using, and how you are measuring wear limits. I usually go just beyond the 0.75% on the Park CC-3 drop in gauge.
     
  16. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Friction Facts published 'some' of their data on chains, lubes, bearings, derailleur pulleys, etc. on a couple of the cycling blogs and tech websites. Pay up, sucker, if you want to read the total test results and testing standards and parameters.

    It was a bunch of semi-scientific stuff saying "this chain saves you 0.2 Watts! under ideal conditions!" and "Lube XYZ will cause 0.002 Watts less wasted than Lube ABC!" and "These Churman uber high zoot $700 Ceramic Speed bearing 19-tooth derailleur pulleys will save 3 Watts over the totality of the Alp d'Huez climb!".

    In real life...after riding across 50 miles of Ohio Spring time road grit and dirt and grime...it matters not a lick to a Cat. 2 rider leaving the start line for the Tuesday Afternoon World Championships which chain is bolted on, what lube the dirt is sticking to or what ABEC Class ceramic bearing balls are in his derailleur pulleys.

    I ride Campagnolo chains. Not because they are shinier. Not because they spin faster. Not because some pay-for-play tester said they are cooler. I ride them because they are NOT shitmaNO brand. Hey, at least I'm honest. And I didn't charge you $8!
     
  17. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Thanks for the free report CB. I'm skeptical because of the setup and the premise too. I predict that a lighter chain should always come out marginally better, not because of friction, but because there is less weight being slung around that 11 tooth sprocket. Even when there is no load on the hub, work has to be done to change the direction of the chain. That, plus minor differences in the particular test article, could make for some conclusions that wouldn't mean a thing to me going to buy my next chain.
     
  18. Weatherby

    Weatherby Well-Known Member

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    I only measure chain wear after cleaning. I use a ruler. I never hit 12 1/8 inches or I should say never let it go that far. My cassettes are all SRAM 1190 (they are not cheap) and the nine smallest cogs are cut from machined tool steel whatever that means. I know I have failed to wear one out yet and I am a frequent cross chainer using the big ring. I'm going on a long ride in the rain today on my "winter" rig and that chain has seen salt, sand, and crud. It's time for a new one once this crappy weather blows thru.

    When I take off the chain, it goes into a mineral spirits unless the rides have been sandy and wet in which case it gets Dawn dish soap and hot water first. I should have an ultrasonic but I just use some agitation, Then, it goes into lacquer thinner. Sorry Hippies. For lubricant, it is either ROCK N ROLL Gold or Molton Speed wax. If I am going to do a long ride in the rain (say more than 150 miles), I'll put SQUIRT on the chain links and let it soak and then wipe it off. SQUIRT is a liquid waxy lube. I also tend to ride with fenders in this kind of lousy weather, so, my chains suffer less damage.

    I do not understand why some road riders only get 1000 miles from a chain but then again many of the measuring tools and methodology induce measurement error.

    Whether one accepts that a few watts are available or not by certain lubricants and methodology is beyond my interest. There is probably 1-2 watts there. I busted my ass all winter for a lousy like 8 watts increase in FTP. Taking the chain off to clean properly is easy in compariosn. However, I am pretty certain poor or no chain maintenance can cost 10-20 watts on top of having to replace chains and cassettes frequently. I've used 3 in 1 oil in a pinch. Worse was when I ran out of lube on a bike tour and dug into my extra virgin olive oil.


    http://pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-004/000.html
     
  19. rwe2156

    rwe2156 New Member

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    Thx that was more info than I ever thought I would get.

    Now another question: LBS experiences for me have been pretty bad. One shop I paid for a total overhaul when I got the bike back first off the headset was not tight. Then, after the first 8 miles the bottom bracket was squeaking and crackling like a bad staircase. Took to a LBS where I was riding: cranks were not tightened.

    A couple weeks ago I had it to another one (hence the new chain). Same thing the bottom bracket need to be replaced and, you guessed it, the cranks were not tightened. So I'm going over the bike when I tightened the cranks looking a the chainring bolts 2 needed tightening and 1 was completely corroded and loose. Arrrg!!

    I am fortunate to have 2 bikes so if I screw something up I can still ride, but I'm now watching a lot of videos an learning about stuff and I'm gonna start servicing my bike myself. My nephew is an avid rider and he said he gave up on LBS a long time ago.

    I know there are good mechanics out there, but I haven't found one yet. So now when I go into a shop I see 20 something kids a different one every time I'm not going there.

    Any of you guys have experiences like this or am I just unlucky?
     
  20. Weatherby

    Weatherby Well-Known Member

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    There are good shops and good wrenches but I think shops just do not charge enough for labor. I've had stuff not done right. I trust the owner of a LBS who I brought a new fork that I intended to cut down but lacked the tool to compress the star washer. He cut it and installed the star for 5 bucks. I begged him to charge more but he double checked. That was his price. I'm still scratching my head.

    Most repair jobs are easy and are not worth my time and effort to make an appointment and then drive back and forth to the bike shop twice.
     
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