need changing chain and cassette advice

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by oberlaenderm, Nov 5, 2003.

  1. oberlaenderm

    oberlaenderm New Member

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    Hi!

    I've just reached about 2700 miles on my road bike and am wondering about changing the chain and cassette on it. I've heard different views on this from my local bike club and wondered what you think of this.

    First opinion: change cassette (SRAM 8-speed, 12-26) and KMC chain at same time, at about 3000 miles. If so, does it matter what kind of chain I get, since I couldn't find a matching KMC one at Bike Nashbar? They do have the same SRAM cassette in stock, so I guess I'll stick with this one.

    Second opinion: after changing both at 3000 miles, change the chain every 1200 miles, and the cassette every three chains. That way I'd get a little more life out of the cassette.

    Third opinion: after changing both, switch to wax lubricant (instead of the teflon one I use), dress the chain every week and ride happily for 10,000 miles on both. Yes, one of my bike club members actually does this. :)

    Either way, I'd like to get decent performance, but don't want to spend mega bucks every 3-4 months to change out both, since that's how long it takes me to get to this mileage, so I'd like some thoughts on this. I don't race, but do want to keep up with my club on Saturday rides.

    Any tips on what to look for in buying a chain, or will pretty much any chain for an 8-speed bike do? I'd like to be able to buy the parts via mail order, since that saves $$, and my good local bike store has no problem just charging me labor to install the parts.

    I look forward to your technical advice. Happy cycling!

    Michaela
     
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  2. cachehiker

    cachehiker New Member

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    Get out a ruler and measure the chain. It is the only way to be sure. Unless it there is rust or something else wrong, I replace my chains at 0.5% elongation. This last occurred at 3500 road miles for me. At 900 miles, the current mountain chain is only getting close.

    I've been very happy using SRAM PC-68 and PC-69 chains. The Shimano's seem to shift better, but the plating on the SRAM's make them easier to keep clean. I have not been happy with my one and only KMC chain. It is on my old foul weather hybrid, and it will get replaced with a SRAM in the spring.

    I clean and lube my road chain every 200 miles. After cleaning with Simple Green, I anal-retentively apply a tiny drop of Dumonde Tech to the inside of every chain roller using a needle tipped dispenser. This leaves very little excess lube behind and is the only way I've ever kept Pedro's Extra Dry or Dumonde Tech from attracting too much dirt. Waxing a chain sounds like a headache to me. It might be better for repelling moisture, but I live in a desert.

    An article that may provide some additional insights:
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html

    Given this regular attention, I have never needed to replace a cassette or cog on one of my own bikes. However, I'm also rarely in the smallest cassette cog which often wears out fastest.
     
  3. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    cachehiker: Agree not to replace the chain until it's worn. A set mileage schedule doesn't isn't needed because it's so easy to check for wear limits with a ruler. But I'd always heard up to 1/8 inch elongation over 12 inches was acceptable....that's about 1%. You no doubt feel it's an advantage to change at half that....certainly you're very meticulous about the lube process.

    And what about wear criteria for the cassette? Just go by appearance of the teeth, or is there a better measure?

    Dan
     
  4. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    cachehiker: The Sheldon Brown link is a good one, thanks. The photos of the badly worn sprockets mating with the chain are useful...that's the "test" I use, but it's kindof subjective.

    Maybe 1/16 inch wear is a better time to replace the chain, and I've been letting them go too long.

    I also like SRAM chains. Mine is shifting fine and shows no measureable wear after 2000 miles. I wipe it down and re-lube it often, but only clean once a season by removing and washing in solvent. I like the master link a lot better than the Shimano pins.

    Dan
     
  5. capwater

    capwater New Member

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    Don't forget to check your big ring also. Most likely it will start to show some wear, look for a "shark fin" effect. Chains are the cheapest component of the set (chain, cassette, chain ring). 20 bucks every 2k miles is good preventative maintenance. Alot of it depends on your riding style. If you hammer right much and pound on the hills you're putting far more stress per mile than if you're just tooling around on the flats. Measurement is the only true check.
     
  6. oberlaenderm

    oberlaenderm New Member

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    Thanks for all of your practical advice! I've copied the Sheldon Brown article and also just got Bicyling Magazine's "Repair Guide" to help out -- maybe I can change these components myself with the proper tools, since these activities were rated okay for novices.

    Good point about checking the big sprocket, too. When I rode my hybrid last year, I didn't do much chain maintenance at all (kind of like driving a car w/o changing the oil) and I want to make sure that my new road bike will do well for a long time to come.
     
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