A short story of a bicycle chain…

I got my Ridley carbon fibre bike when I retired and have not used it a lot. I told, I think, in an earlier posting about how it had a 10speed chain with a 9-speed link, fitted by the factory which caused a lot of trouble until I diagnosed it and got a new chain fitted.
The other day while cycling, and with about 2000-3000 miles on this chain I felt a skip-skip. Had a look.

One of the links had become twisted (having becomed jammed during a rare dechaining episode) so I managed to get home and measuring it with my Rohloff chainwear tool (well-worth having. Much easier to use than messing with a ruler) found that it merited replacement. I had a spare chain and when I fitted it, I couldn't handle the old chain as it was so filthy so I guessed how many links I had to take off and fitted it. This was done just before a cycle with my friends. I had grossly underestimated how many links to remove (I had a compact system) and had removed four. During my spin I found that the chain was too long by far and skipped on the smaller chainwheel on some of the bigger back sprockets. Mick guessed that I'd need a new cassette but I was able to manage with the big ring.
When I got home, I found that I had to remove 8 further links to get the right length.
When I tried this it was perfect and didn't skip at all, nor did it on a 40-miler today.
So, try it before you change the cassette. Cassettes are not free!
The End.

10 comments on “A short story of a bicycle chain…”

  1. Chris wrote:

    I worried that I wouldn't have enough links when I first changed the chain on my latest bike. It has large chainwheel of 50T and largest sprocket (though in practial terms I don't go above the 23T rear sprocket) of 34T. 114 links, one removed to make two female ends to fit an SRAM Powerlink and that does me.

    12 links seem a lot to remove. Set them aside and after, say, 20 years you'll have an entire spare chain 🙂

  2. Patrick wrote:

    I'm not sure why a long chain would skip more. You'll have more slack dangling underneath and the rear derailleur arm will be angled further back, but that won't affect the tension in the drive section of the chain. How does the top bit know about the bottom bit?

  3. Garry Lee wrote:

    It may not do so at an obvious level, Patrick, but I'm absolutely sure it affects it enough to make the difference between skipping on lightly worn sprockets, and not doing so. I've no other explanation!

  4. Patrick wrote:

    Garry wrote: ... the chain was too long by far and skipped on the smaller chainwheel on some of the bigger back sprockets.

    Strange, Garry. You'd expect chain skip to show itself on the smaller spockets, not the bigger ones. I suppose you might have worn the bigger sprockets very quickly by climbing too many hills!

    I hate filthy chains. It's not just the premature wear. They leave a horrible mess on the big chainring which ends up on my leg.

  5. Kern wrote:

    Patrick wrote: I hate filthy chains.

    Me too. That's why I like White Lightening. I apply it before each ride and wipe off the excess. The chain and gears stay clean as a whistle.

  6. Hilary wrote:

    I hate fithy chains too. Prolink also does a good job of keeping the whole drivetrain clean and running sweetly.

    Incidentally what does anyone else do with the links they remove? I can't seem to bring myself to throw them away though I've no idea what I could possibly want them for!

  7. Patrick wrote:

    My chains come with 114 links to fit the bikes so there are no offcuts but I make a habit of binning old inner tubes, tyres, bits of cable, used brake pads, mystery nuts and bolts, instruction sheets, receipts, discarded saddles and pedals, and anything else that has been used then replaced. I find 'things that might come in useful' are rarely ever useful!

  8. Jim wrote:

    I thought ,according to sheldon brown, that you put the chain around the largest two sprockets without going through the derailleur and added two links. This then gave you the correct chain length. is this wrong? Recently I suffered a catacylismic rear mech failure in the middle of nowhere in France so had to break the chain and remove the rear mech and use one rear sprocket. My companion insisted that the chain should be realy tight to avoid skipping. I was not so sure but followed his direction. The chain constantly broke so I wonder what the correct position is regarding chain length?

  9. Garry Lee wrote:

    Jobst Brandt would've agreed with Sheldon, but a few extra does no harm in that it gives you slack for repair purposes. Your companion was not right. A small bit of slack does no harm. I run a Rohloff hub on one of my bike and a 1cm waggle (between up and down) is recommended and more causes little problem. The problem about really tight is that it may be too tight at one part of the circulation.

  10. Chris wrote:

    Garry, I know you wouldn't normally run "big to big", but would you mind putting your chain on large front and large rear and taking a picture to show me what it looks like on any of your non-Rohloff bikes? Then do the same for small front and small rear, if you get chance some time. Cheers 🙂

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