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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, I have been having a great deal of problems with the reliability of the Drive chain on my tandem, On Ragbrai my stoker and I broke two chain, one being a no good chain, and the other being a ultegra chain. Since then, I have broken that ultegra chain 4 times, each time repairing it with a power link. Im not shifting hard, it usually breaks under full power up a hill.
So, which chain will i have the most luck with? Thanks.
 

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Ride, Rinse, Repeat
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Shimano Chains

I quit using ANY Shimano chain years ago, even on my Singles, as I broke MANY of them. (And I'm a 155 lb, LOW power, "smooth" rider....)

Had good luck with SRAM chains on the tandem, but still have broken a couple. Think it's part of off road tandems. KMC has a good rep from my total bike-geek contacts...
 

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I' curious to know what the failure mode was?

Did the side plate BREAK? or did the pin come loose from the side plate? OR???

We are NOT a strong team BUT we run REALLY low gears and climb steep stuff at times (just not for very long:) and have never actually BROKEN a chain.

OTOH we have had MANY cases of chains failing do to side plates becomming disconnected from bad shifting under pressure and have found the Shimano more resistant to this than the SRAM. Those Shimano side plates are REALLY tight on the pins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We have broken the side plates, Once on the sync chain, once on the drive. Today we rode with a 971 with no problems. Cranked up a steep climb literally in the lowest gear while spinning the back tire getting up it with no problems. I think smart shifting is going to be the key to the life of the chain.
 

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go to 8 speed

the way that shimano and all rest made room for an extra gear was making the chainrings , chain , and cassettes thinner . thinner is weaker thick is strong . 8 speed will give you way less problems of breakage . on a single they last 30-50% longer . when everything is fresh , clean , new and properly adjusted 9 speed works great . however dirty and old 9 speed stops being so great . when the long cables get old and crusty , dirty or anything less than perfect they get fussy and stop working . factor in an old sloppy chain and shifter and it stops working i.e. missed shifts , ghost shifts . for you not yet a problem as your chains never get old enough to let it well... get old . tight clearances are great for perfect when new bad if you don't like working on your bike and replacing stuff on a regular basis . try a rohloff chain in 8 speed with a new right shifter and cassette in 8 speed . less trouble more drivetrain life . back in the day when I upgraded from 7 to 8 speed all i noticed was that the parts cost more . no difference in the actual performance . also look at your shifting technique as that is probably a big part of why you are having troubles . your parts might be less than ideal but i would put money on you not being as smooth as you think . I have spent too much time working in bike shops and heard too many "just riding along" stories . more gears are not always better . it sounds good and helps the bike biz sell more bikes . new and improved is not always improved
 

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MTB Tandem Nut
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delicatepetunia said:
the way that shimano and all rest made room for an extra gear was making the chainrings , chain , and cassettes thinner . thinner is weaker thick is strong . 8 speed will give you way less problems of breakage . on a single they last 30-50% longer . when everything is fresh , clean , new and properly adjusted 9 speed works great . however dirty and old 9 speed stops being so great . when the long cables get old and crusty , dirty or anything less than perfect they get fussy and stop working . factor in an old sloppy chain and shifter and it stops working i.e. missed shifts , ghost shifts . for you not yet a problem as your chains never get old enough to let it well... get old . tight clearances are great for perfect when new bad if you don't like working on your bike and replacing stuff on a regular basis . try a rohloff chain in 8 speed with a new right shifter and cassette in 8 speed . less trouble more drivetrain life . back in the day when I upgraded from 7 to 8 speed all i noticed was that the parts cost more . no difference in the actual performance . also look at your shifting technique as that is probably a big part of why you are having troubles . your parts might be less than ideal but i would put money on you not being as smooth as you think . I have spent too much time working in bike shops and heard too many "just riding along" stories . more gears are not always better . it sounds good and helps the bike biz sell more bikes . new and improved is not always improved
We heard this a lot when 9 speed was first becoming more common. I respectfully submit that our experience has been quite different; we've spec'd and used SRAM 9 speed drivetrains on most of the tandems we've built for about that long, with very little or none of those issues experienced by the owners (that I have been told about).
We had more problems with Shimano 9 speed chains breaking, but very little problem with SRAM. The broken chains I've personally experienced (SRAM and others) can be direclty linked to operator error; bad shifting method or improper installation of the chain pin when creating a stoker chain. The SRAM stuff seems to stay in tune much better after the cables get old and gunky as well.
However, all of the above is based on reasonably regualr maintenance and replacement of worn parts; I doubt any type of drivetrain will continue to function well if not maintained.
I agree that more gears aren't necessarily better, but a wider range of gears is definitely better, and more gears mean less of a step between gears. Since we're old and slow and spend lots of time in the lower gear ranges on the cassette, the wider range and corresponding smaller step between gears is certianly appreciated.
We've recently added a Shimano 9 speed 12-36 cassette and I'm very impressed with the shifting performance and appreciate the fact that there's not a huge gap between the 1st and 2nd cogs, as was the case with earlier wide-range cassettes.
I have heard recently of 10 speed chains breaking more frequently, which seems to parallel the introduction of 9 speed stuff several years ago, so I expect the industry will eventually strengthen the chains and other components as necessary (similar to the rear cassettes folding over a while back).
I think if the proper level of component is spec'd in the first place (no riveted cassettes, no superlight chains, etc), tandems seem to do well with 9 speed stuff.
 

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just broke our SRAM chain...

We just broke our SRAM chain, not sure which one but I think it was the SRAM X-7 level chain. We were rounding a corner and ascending at the same time. I might have shifted at the same time, I can not be sure, I shift the bike under load all the time and it has yet to have a problem. What is the best SRAM chain to buy? Should I get the lower end chain from SRAM? Will a higher end chain be more robust?
 

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Used many models of Shimano and SRAM chains. Popped side plates on all of them. The only chain that has held up on my offroad tandem has been the nickel plated Wipperman 9-speed chain. They seem to resist wear really well also. I have not yet been able to pop a side plate on a nickel plated Wipperman yet say 5 or more years using them on off road and road tandems. I have however cracked connex links. Watch them carefully as the stainless steel they use on the connex links seems to be brittle. A SRAM quick link will work if needed.
 

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sram stuff

Forgot to update this thread, I called Alex Nutt and talked to him about what happened. He basically said that breaking a chain is not uncommon esp if you are shifting under load. I asked him if I should keep a spare chain on me when I ride and he says that he just packs a couple of sram quick links. I bought a bunch at the bike store and they look like they will do the trick. A very good cost and weight effective solution.

I will checkout the Connex chains if I continue to break the sram chains, One thing I am trying out is unloading my power as I shift the bike, I would really rather not have to communicate every shift to my stoker as there is already so much to communicate when riding single track.

-Chris
 

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We have been having very good success with XTR/Dura Ace chains and SRAM quick links. Haven't broken one since switching over from SRAM. Had a bad run with SRAM chains late 08 season and into early 09. We were using the higher end SRAM chains (not sure of exact model but they were X-9/0 level) and were breaking them about once a month. Maybe due to bad shifting tech but we also broke the timing chain (9-speed SRAM) twice during that period so it kind of spooked me on SRAM chains. The XTR/Dura Ace chains are a lot quieter and seem to shift better too.
 

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Simplest solution to your problem is to make sure your next chain is Made in USA or Made in Japan and not fake brand Made in China. Not even your LBS will distinguish fake from original.
 

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Chris,
Unloading the chain while shifting is the key. We also carry a few links. Make sure your timing chain and drive chain are both the same as some use 8 spd chains for the timing chain and the links don't inter change. You don't need to communicate every shift just the ones that are done under pressure, like going up a steep climb. I used to call every shift to Pat when we first started so she could get the feel of what I was doing and she adapted pretty quickly. The only time I call out a shift now is going up a steep grade to be sure we both let off the power for a second. We use the term gear when shifting the rear cassette and ring when shifting the chain wheels. FWIW Price Point has 2010 Sram PC991 chains for around $30. We use them on the MTB tandem both sides so if I break the drive train at least I can cobble something together from the timing chain to exit the woods. I started using KMC chains on the road tandem but they haven't been on long enough for an opinion. I have used KMC chains on my single bikes with a lot of sucess.
Ed and Pat Gifford
the Snot Rocket tandem
 

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SRAM are an investment company backed by what used to be Lehman Bros from 2008, and their taxpayer dollars. They buy up cool parts companies, high end stuff.

SRAM chains are Sachs chains, used to also be branded campagnolo. They bought Sachs all the way back in 1997.
 

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And your point is?
Well, there's a few points there.

#1: SRAM buy high end bike parts companies and move production to the far east, so on one hand they're about quality, but on the other hand they're about profit.

#2: SRAM's market value & profitability is filling in the financial black hole created by the credit crunch.

#3: You might as well find a far eastern company with less investment in branding and acquisitions who make chains, you'll probably get more bang for your buck.
 

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That's a pretty well-crafted troll.

Most of us that actually have tandems have tried most of the chains out there. I don't see anyone challenging the SRAM 951 on a "bang for your buck" test.
 
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