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

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by Stephen, Nov 19, 2003.

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  1. Stephen

    Stephen Guest

    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
     
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  2. Jose Rizal

    Jose Rizal Guest

    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.
     
  3. Fred Nieman

    Fred Nieman Guest

    Heya Stephen,

    Jose R said all the stuff you need to know about chain, and front and back cogs wear that you need
    to know, so what I'm posting is just additional to that.

    The first thing that will wear out on your "running gear" is...

    Glossary time. "Running gear" means, in practical terms, mostly the greasy bits attached to your
    bike that go round when you pedal - the chain, the front gears ("chain-rings", "front sprockets"),
    and the back gears ("cassette", "rear sprockets", "free-hub", "gears"). These are the bits that
    wear out soonest and so need changing. But technically "running gear" also includes the stuff that
    changes the gears, the "front derailleur" that changes the gears where the pedals are, and the
    "rear derailleur" that changes the gears at the back of your bike where they are attached to the
    back wheel.

    (Glossary time, take 2. Add all of that "running gear" together and add brake/gear shifter levers,
    brakes, cranks and maybe pedals and a bike's "gooseneck" and you've got a "gruppo" or "group-set".)

    (Glossary time done, now.)

    The first thing that will wear out on your "running gear" is the chain. You'll find this out when
    your chain breaks, leaving you pedaling air. This means it's time to buy a new chain. Your Local
    Bike Shop ("LBS") will tell you that when you buy a new chain, it's also time to buy new front gears
    and back gears. They are right, and they are wrong. Your bike will run good as new with a new chain,
    and new front and rear gears, if you have the $ to buy all three. That's fine and dandy if you want
    to shell out the $. Truth is, a new chain with old gears works fine. Until, that is, it starts
    "skipping gears". You press down on the pedals, and skkkrt, the gears don't want to engage. Time to
    buy a new "cassette", "rear sprockets", "free-hub", "gears". You can buy a cassette tool, or get
    your LBS to fix them. And let's just skip the cassette gear ratios thing here, for simplicity's
    sake. Fine and dandy for a while... but now your front gears are skipping... the cog teeth don't
    look like \_/ but little shark's teeth \/. Check if your bike's front chain-rings have bolts that
    can undo the three chain-rings, or they are riveted to the pedals' cranks. If they are riveted to
    the pedals' cranks, then, ummm... buy a new bike. If they have bolts that you can undo... visit your
    LBS and buy a new middle (MTB) or little (road) crank ring...

    A mid-standard chain lasts about 8 000 km. Mid-standard cassette lasts about 10 000 km. Mid-standard
    (ish) 34-tooth MTB or 42-tooth road alloy chainring lasts about 14 000 km.

    Summary:
    * if your LBS says your chain is stretched, but you have no problems, do nothing;
    * if your chain snaps, buy a new chain;
    * if your bike skips its back gears
    - if you have recently bought a new chain, just get new back gears
    - if you haven't recently bought a new chain, buy a new chain and new back gears
    * if you have replaced your chain and back-gear stuff, your front gears should be fine, but if they
    skrkkrk, get a new 34 or 42 tooth front chain-ring.

    ps: a rear "derailleur" wears out and becomes flibby-flabby after about 20 000 km. A front
    "derailleur" wears out, etc, after about 40 000 - 50 000 km.

    p

    Stephen wrote:
    >
    > 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
     
  4. amirm

    amirm New Member

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    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.



     
  5. Stephen

    Stephen Guest

    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?? :cool: 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
     
  6. amirm

    amirm New Member

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    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.


     
  7. Fred Nieman

    Fred Nieman Guest

    Stephen wrote:
    >
    > Thank you for the replies

    Mutual. But as I said before, I'm just adding to what other folks said...

    > 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

    Body weak... mind strong..., must... not... recommend... Critical Mass or... Reclaim the Streets...

    > 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

    Ouch! (Wrist-bones... Apparently there was a Bug Report about this sent to God/Allah/insert name of
    your manifestation of the Divinity here, sometime around 1880 when bicycles became widely popular -
    seems there was a glitch with the BUI ("bicycle user interface", natch) in that collarbones healed
    quickly and fine, but scafoids were very problematic when the BUI "crashed"...)

    > I havnt noticed the chain slipping much at all , Though it sometimes is a little slow to
    > change gears.

    This might be because the gear lines (most probably the line to your back gears) are dryish, aren't
    lubricated enough. Try this:

    - get your bike into its lowest rear gear (meaning the biggest cog at the back, the one closest to
    the wheel)

    - then, without pedaling or anything, flip the right-hand gear lever to its highest rear gear.
    The rear gear line will go all floppy, and you can move the plastic-over-spriralled-steel gear
    "outers", -- 1) DOWN from where the "outer" goes to the handlebars to past where it is connects
    to the frame of your bike; and, -- 2) UP from where the bare gear cable goes into the "outer"
    to where it connects with the rear "derailleur" (gear shifting thingy with two little
    gear-wheel things);

    - lubricate* the gear cables where the front and back "outers" would otherwise be;

    - then slip the gear cable "outers" back to where they were before;

    - flip the right-hand gear lever to the lowest rear gear;

    - lift the back wheel up and give the pedals a few pushes to make sure it's all ok;

    - watch some TV, read a book, etc, then go to bed;

    - ride to work with gears that are much better behaved.

    * "lubricated"? This mostly means grease. There are dedicated bike gear- and brake-cable greases,
    but "Low Melting Point" car grease works fine (I borrow a dob of this from my LBS-s whenever I
    change over a gear- or brake-cable.) Nevertheless, bike shop chain-oil, sewing-machine oil from a
    supermarket is OK; even salad oil (same for a squeaky chain) will do at a pinch. Go the grease
    option, long-term, tho.

    > 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?? :cool:

    Maybe they probably just want to give you the level of service that a self-confessed noob with $
    would expect, which I guess is their bread and butter. When something goes wrong with the bike,
    perhaps you could ask to buy the tools (and ask for advice about how) to repair it instead of
    getting them to do it. Maybe buy a bike repair book (any suggestions, ng?). Sounds like you already
    want to service your own bike...

    > 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?

    Not turps, unless you are lubrication your chain with oil paint! It might remove some of the gunk,
    but it won't really work all that well. Kerosene or just plain petrol will clean all the gunk off,
    at a pinch, but citrus oil based cleaners are lots more environmentally friendly (ok, I guess this
    means, still environmentally ugly, but less than kero or gas) and work 90% as well. You can buy them
    at your LBS (a spray-pak by "Finish Line" is a product that comes to mind) but you can get just as
    good results with "Citro-Clean" that you can buy in the supermarket. And another bonus is they are
    water-soluble, and smell nice, unlike (on both counts) kero and petrol.

    > Stephen sorry bout the doublepost too newsgroups were playing up

    p

    ps: sorry 'bout the "I know everything" post too, brain were playing up
     
  8. Stephen

    Stephen Guest

    > > 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
    >
    > Ouch! (Wrist-bones... Apparently there was a Bug Report about this sent to God/Allah/insert name
    > of your manifestation of the Divinity here, sometime around 1880 when bicycles became widely
    > popular - seems there was a glitch with the BUI ("bicycle user interface", natch) in that
    > collarbones healed quickly and fine, but scafoids were very problematic when the BUI "crashed"...)
    Scaffoid - one of the worst bones in the body to damage apparently It is a funny shape and some of
    it has a very poor blood supply so if you damage the wrong part it dosn't heal that well or at all.
    I spoke to maybe 5 - 10 people at work (a servo) who came in with similar sorts of cast and
    2/3 of them said that their wrist didnt heal the first time. One guy said he had a cast on for 2
    years (he had a removable fibreglass cast so he could wash it), waiting for elective surgery to
    remove the scaffoid altogether but he said he shattered his real good on a motorbike. With me ?
    well its been 10 months almost and my wrist still hurts somtimes when I bend it, my cast was on
    for 10 weeks. One other person said that they took a piece of bone out of his hip and replaced or
    grafted or somthing like that the damaged part of the scaffoid because the bone had died in his
    wrist. The best thing about it for me was I was directly on my way to work so workcover covered it
    - would have been 1-2000 otherwise.

    "Body weak... mind strong..., must... not... recommend... Critical Mass or... Reclaim the
    Streets..." im actually not that strong in body to ride a bike everwhere Im a little unstable and
    driving cars freaks me out so its walk or ride or public transport Stephen stuff you maybe didnt
    want to know..... thanks again for the answers
     
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