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Frequent changes to gearing/chain length - best chain to use(9 posts)

Frequent changes to gearing/chain length - best chain to useTNSquared
Oct 1, 2003 6:52 AM
I have acquired enough "spare" equipment (cassettes, chainrings, derailleurs) that I now have several gearing options available that will let me fine tune my gearing for different types of general riding, mountain centuries, cyclocross, etc. These would be big enough changes to require a change in the chain length, such as going from a 12-25 cassette to an XT 11-32cassette and XT derailleur, or from a 53-39 double chainring to a 46-38.

I understand that frequently breaking and re-connecting will weaken a chain, but that some chains such as SRAM offer a master link which can be opened without breaking the chain. I am currently running standard Ultegra chains which use a new "sub pin" each time the chain is re-connected.

Just looking for feedback on how well the master link design works and whether it's worth the extra expense, or whether the Ultegra chain will hold up to quite a few changes, etc. I don't think I would change gearing more often than 3-4 times before the chain needed to be replaced anyway, so I don't really know how much of an issue it is.

Thanks - todd
If it were me...biknben
Oct 1, 2003 7:45 AM
Here's an idea. Find out how many links of chain you need for each combo you may run. Write it all down.

Break/shorten the chain to the shortest that you will need. Rather than use Shimano pins, use a Sram powerlink (or other brand) to close it. In my opinion, the Powerlink is stronger than the pin and allows you to endlessly take it appart and back together.

Now create segments of links to add the chain when you need more length. One length for each combo you use. Use a
i second
Powerlink to close the chain with the added links.

For instance, when you use a double with a 12x23 you would just use the chain with one Powerlink. When you changed to a bigger cassette, you add the corresponding segment of chain and use
i another
Powerlink to close the chain. I'd envision a few different length of chain hanging on the wall waiting to be used.

You can run two Powerlinks and be fine. Also, Powerlinks can be used with any chain, not just Sram.

If you went and bought two Sram chains, you'd have the two powerlinks and enough chain to cover all the combos.

Just me two cents.

One thing worth mentioning. The chain that is on the bike most often is going to wear quicker than the extra segments that are only used from time to time. You may have to pay closer attention to chain wear. Putting a segment of 5 new links on a worn chain may create funking shifting results.
Good idea.KG 361
Oct 1, 2003 7:54 AM
I've used Powerlinks on Shimano chains for a while now. No probs. I've used 2 in a chain, too.
Better?: Two chains to cover all needs. nmSpunout
Oct 1, 2003 7:56 AM
Better?: Two chains to cover all needs. nmlyleseven
Oct 1, 2003 8:14 AM
I've used Wipperman with good results which has the same type of link as powerlink. No problems.
Great suggestions - Thanks!TNSquared
Oct 1, 2003 10:27 AM
Actually, I do plan on maintaing a separate chain for each gearing combination, and since I have two bikes with different chainstay lengths, for each bike. However, I was still concerned about the weakening effect of breaking the chain to remove it from the bike each time I swapped out.

So I will take all the suggestions and have a wall of different chain lengtht for each bike/gearing combo (except they will be full chains and not segments) and put a Powerlink on each one. Sounds like that will allow me to swap gears at a whim and will avoid the uneven wear rate that could result if I repeatedly add and remove segments to the same chain.

Might be a little expensive to set-up initially, but sheesh I oughtta bet set for quite awhile. And my garage will look cool! :)
Try just using the longest chain needed, it might work fine (nm)Kerry Irons
Oct 1, 2003 5:06 PM
Follow-up question...TNSquared
Oct 1, 2003 6:58 PM
I assumed that my gearing changes would be significant enough to require different chain lengths, but if not that would be great.

I understand your point that I would not have to worry about destroying a rear derailleur with too short a chain if I just go with the longest chain length needed, which would be a 53x32 gear (and that would be assuming a big-big crossover - which I of course would never do. lol)

My question then is what is the downside of using a chain that is slightly longer than what is really needed? If I determine the chain length based on a 53/39 and 11-32, then switch to a 48/38 and 12-25, what would the excess chain do to me in the second setup? If it's not enough slack to cause chain drop, would it slow shifting or otherwise affect performance?

And yes, I'm an anal-retentive type. :)
Time for some trial and error...biknben
Oct 1, 2003 7:38 PM
Kerry's idea may be adequate. If the chain were to long you'd know it before you even got the bike out of the repair stand. Put the chain on the smallest chainring and smallest cog. If the chain is too long you'll know immediately.

FWIW: A change in chainstay length from one bike to another shouldn't be large enough to require a change in chain length. Set the chain length for the longer of the two options and you should be fine when you switch to the other bike. The variation in gears is the big issue.

Over the summer, I set up my bike for a hill climb. I kept the chain length the same. I used a 34t cassette and a XTR Rr. Der. The chain length was fine when I was in the 39t chainring. When I went to the 53t ring, I could only use the 3 smallest cogs. The chain wasn't long enough. I suspect you will have the opposite problem. If you set the length to handle a 53x32, I think the chain will be dragging on the ground when you go to the 38x12.

In the end, you'll have to try it and see what happens.