Author Topic: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy  (Read 1152 times)

Bought a replacement 11speed cassette for my 5 year old CycloCross bike. Bought a new chain as well, this will be its 6th chain. I replace the chain at 1200mile, or yearly, intervals whichever comes first. I do check for chain wear every time I oil it, but never detected enough elongation to warrant throwing the chain away.

Unless the gradient is so steep I cannot climb in my largest cassette sprocket, I always use the larger of the two chain rings, as this reduces the load on the chain.
(On a 50/34 crankset, the chain is subjected to 47% more pull on the 34 than on the 50, for the same gearing and acceleration.)
I never use water to clean the bike, if the chain is still in situ.
If washing the bike, I remove and clean the chain in petrol/diesel mix sourced from when someone misfuelled their car (not me).

How many miles do other cyclocross bike users get out of their cassettes?  I have no idea of whether or not mine is worn, but as other people reckon 2 or 3 chains per cassette, it feels I should replace it now, and I don't want to be greedy.
"Ott's Law states that the worst weather will coincide with the worst part (for that weather) of any planned ride"

robgul

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  • cyclist, Cytech accredited mechanic & woodworker
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Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #1 on: 23 May, 2024, 02:28:07 pm »
Get yourself a cassette sprocket checker - the Unior model works up to about 21T but that gives you a good idea for the general condition (there's a Rolhoff model too that, I think, works with the bigger sprockets)

. . . and have you tried waxing the chain? . . . I've been doing it for a while on a couple of my bikes and it does seem to a) keep the chain cleaner, and b) give smoother running.  Using a mix of wax and PTFE in a cheapie slow cooker.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #2 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:17:45 pm »

I get about 3000-4000km from an 11 speed chain. I replaced it when it gets to 0.5% elongation.

I don't wash my bike unless I've been out on salty roads, in which case a spray with fresh water to get the salt off.

I lube the chain when it needs it, which can be upto 1200km between applications, but is usually closer to 800k (I use chain-l 1000mile lube). The major limiting factor is how far I can ride between rain showers.

I replaced the cassette every 3 chains.

I'd say you're probably swapping chains more often than you need to.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #3 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:38:00 pm »
I don't know how often I change my cassette and I find it hard to judge wear visually. Might take up Rob's tool advice. Chains get changed at 75% or less, and I don't log miles.

I don't do what the OP does and choose gearing according to load, but I will say that using the small ring rather than big ring and sprockets 2,3, and 4, produces much less noise which I equate with lost energy and wear.

Chain wear seems to depend on brand, with SRAM wearing the quickest,  but at £12 each I don't care.
On any bike with good drive train I only use Shimano chains as they run smoother and last a bit longer.

The wear that I really try and avoid is chainring.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #4 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:42:02 pm »
^This.
Chainrings are  spendy to replace and a new crankset can often work out cheaper.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #5 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:46:11 pm »
^This.
Chainrings are  spendy to replace and a new crankset can often work out cheaper.

Really? Are road chain rings much more expensive? The big ring on my bike is €36 to replace.

My cassette is ~€100

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #6 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:46:40 pm »
If you always change the chain before it wears the cassette there's no wear on it to require replacement. It isn't mileage that wears them out but elongated chains.  There's no formula of chains to cassettes, one elongated chain will wear the cassettes enough for the next chain to skip, ten chains swapped before that point won't.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #7 on: 23 May, 2024, 06:51:44 pm »
^This.
Chainrings are  spendy to replace and a new crankset can often work out cheaper.

Really? Are road chain rings much more expensive? The big ring on my bike is €36 to replace.

My cassette is ~€100

J

For example: Ultegra cassette=£45ish.  Ultegra chairing will be over £100

Also worth pointing out that worn chainrings are bloody dangerous

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #8 on: 23 May, 2024, 07:07:59 pm »

Really? Are road chain rings much more expensive? The big ring on my bike is €36 to replace.

My cassette is ~€100

J

For example: Ultegra cassette=£45ish.  Ultegra chairing will be over £100

Also worth pointing out that worn chainrings are bloody dangerous

Yikes. Didn't realise it was so differently priced.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/


Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #10 on: 23 May, 2024, 08:02:12 pm »

I use chain-l 1000mile lube


Where do you get it from? I have been intrigued by this stuff for a while.
"There are proven ways; play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering"

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #11 on: 23 May, 2024, 08:30:39 pm »

I use chain-l 1000mile lube


Where do you get it from? I have been intrigued by this stuff for a while.

I got the first bottle from a MTB place in the UK that sold it, then they stopped and I got 3 bottles direct from the US manufacturer.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #12 on: 23 May, 2024, 08:48:26 pm »
Deore cassettes can be had for £20 if not too worried about some extra grams.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #13 on: 23 May, 2024, 08:58:04 pm »

I use chain-l 1000mile lube


Where do you get it from? I have been intrigued by this stuff for a while.

I got the first bottle from a MTB place in the UK that sold it, then they stopped and I got 3 bottles direct from the US manufacturer.

J

Thanks. Shipping seems cheap, though one would expect that for a tiny bottle.
"There are proven ways; play on the certain knowledge of their superiority, the mystique of secret covenant, the esprit of shared suffering"

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #14 on: 23 May, 2024, 09:52:31 pm »
Get yourself a cassette sprocket checker - the Unior model works up to about 21T but that gives you a good idea for the general condition (there's a Rolhoff model too that, I think, works with the bigger sprockets)

. . . and have you tried waxing the chain? . . . I've been doing it for a while on a couple of my bikes and it does seem to a) keep the chain cleaner, and b) give smoother running.  Using a mix of wax and PTFE in a cheapie slow cooker.

Might have to add sprocket checkers to my armoury. Thanks for the tip  :thumbsup:
Used to wax motorcycle chains until one of my mates had a nasty experience with a waxed chain on a large motorbike.

...
I don't know how often I change my cassette and I find it hard to judge wear visually. Might take up Rob's tool advice. Chains get changed at 75% or less, and I don't log miles.

I don't do what the OP does and choose gearing according to load, but I will say that using the small ring rather than big ring and sprockets 2,3, and 4, produces much less noise which I equate with lost energy and wear.

Chain wear seems to depend on brand, with SRAM wearing the quickest,  but at £12 each I don't care.
0.75% elongation is way too much for an 11 speed. 0.5% elongation is recommended max according some blurb I read somewhere, sometime (probably written by Shimano).

Noise? Something is wrong if you get noise when cross chaining big / big on an 11speed.
I use SRAM PC1110 chains. Yes, <£12 a pop.

Deore cassettes can be had for £20 if not too worried about some extra grams.

Deore 11 spd cassettes are >£40 wherever I look. Prices have probably gone up, or I am looking in the wrong places!

If you always change the chain before it wears the cassette there's no wear on it to require replacement. It isn't mileage that wears them out but elongated chains.  There's no formula of chains to cassettes, one elongated chain will wear the cassettes enough for the next chain to skip, ten chains swapped before that point won't.
So I am doing it right then, by changing chains more regularly than necessary? And if I get a sprocket wear checker or two I might not ever have to change cassettes?


"Ott's Law states that the worst weather will coincide with the worst part (for that weather) of any planned ride"

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #15 on: 23 May, 2024, 10:11:05 pm »
0.75% elongation is way too much for an 11 speed. 0.5% elongation is recommended max according some blurb I read somewhere, sometime (probably written by

Shimano).

I don't think it is. I'd be changing my chain every 3 weeks if I changed it when the tool says 0.5

Quote
Noise? Something is wrong if you get noise when cross chaining big / big on an 11speed..

No, nothing is wrong with the setup. It's just the effect of a sharp chain angle. Cross-chaining is really bad for your drive train.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #16 on: 23 May, 2024, 11:19:45 pm »
How do they justify 12 speed single crank set ups then?
"Ott's Law states that the worst weather will coincide with the worst part (for that weather) of any planned ride"

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #17 on: 23 May, 2024, 11:39:07 pm »
How do they justify 12 speed single crank set ups then?

They don't have to justify it, they just do it.
Making things a bit-more-crap has a long ignoble history in all industries.

There are Reasons for a 1x set-up for things like MTB that don't really translate to road. But we've been sold the story, and here we are.
Yes, it works, to a point.
No, it's not optimal, for my usage scenarios at least.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #18 on: 24 May, 2024, 05:43:26 am »
^  this x1000%

Remember the 1x 3T Strada bikes in the World Tour peloton?

That went well, didn't it.  Shortly after the team abandoned the bikes, the brand were being sold off at 30% of RRP on merlincycles.  And where are they now?

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #19 on: 24 May, 2024, 08:09:12 am »

I don't know how often I change my cassette and I find it hard to judge wear visually. Might take up Rob's tool advice.
Be aware! The shipping costs are more than the actual item.

robgul

  • Cycle:End-to-End webmaster
  • cyclist, Cytech accredited mechanic & woodworker
    • Cycle:End-to-End
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #20 on: 24 May, 2024, 10:01:10 am »

I don't know how often I change my cassette and I find it hard to judge wear visually. Might take up Rob's tool advice.
Be aware! The shipping costs are more than the actual item.

??? there are at least 3 UK located suppliers selling the Unior checker at around £20 ...  plus nominal postage cost.

Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #21 on: 24 May, 2024, 02:11:19 pm »
My problem with the cassette checkers I have seen so far (and I admit I have not been looking for long), is that they tend to only be for sprockets in the 12-21 range (please prove me wrong).

As these are the sprockets I am never using for long (ie generally just while accelerating / unintentionally decelerating), if the middle sprockets show wear, the probability is that the extreme sprockets will already be dead. 

I am a big unit, so tend to switch between the top ratio on the flat, and inevitably the bottom ratio on any climb. The only extended periods in the middle of the cassette is if there is a stiff headwind or a very gentle steady gradient.
"Ott's Law states that the worst weather will coincide with the worst part (for that weather) of any planned ride"

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: Chain and cassette maintenance, replacement, management strategy
« Reply #22 on: 24 May, 2024, 04:09:56 pm »
I don't bother with any checkers for the cassette.
I just replace it when it begins to skip with a new chain on the most-commonly used sprockets.

I do check the chain, though.
I tend to replace chains when the .75 lug can drop through freely.