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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm running a 1x10 setup. The chain is between .5 and .75 when I measure the stretch. Next time I replace the chain, I'm going to have to replace the drivetrain. It's the 3rd or 4th chain - I forget. 9th and 10th skip rarely, when I'm really stomping on them at the wrong time.

The question: do I wait until they start skipping regularly to replace the drivetrain parts, or will that put me at risk of a failure in the middle of nowhere at 5:30AM in sub-40 degree temperatures? I commute on the bike and reliability is absolutely the #1 concern. I also already have the parts.

If there's no risk of failure, I'm just going to ride the current parts until they are skipping routinely under load. My tolerance of that risk is at zero.
 

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The drivetrain itself not going to fail, it will just start shifting like garbage. The cassette teeth start getting worn in goofy when you've had a bunch of stretched chains on it and the new chains won't mesh perfect. Failure very rarely happens though. I've ridden cassettes with broken teeth and all kinds of stuff.

Personally I think you should get a lot more than 4 chains out of it, but it depends on how stretched the other chains have been and how sensitive you are to the shifting on your bike.

I'd say just replace the chain now and ride it until you notice the shifting getting bad and you can't correct it with derailleur adjustment, then replace the chain and cassette.
 

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3 or 4 chains is about right for a decently maintained mtb drivetrain. I'd replace everything if it's skipping now because running it with old worn parts will prematurely munch your new chain.

Everyone has their own risk tolerance but having a chain let go during a max power burst could potentially cause permanent damage (to your self) so I won't tolerate a worn, skipping drivetrain.
 

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If it's skipping now (even rarely), now is the time that I'd replace it. You're letting your chains go far enough that they've put some wear into the system.

For me, ANY amount of the chain jumping the cogs because of wear is cause to replace worn parts. I also won't say that you won't have a failure. The more worn stuff is, the more likely you will be to have a chain snap. It's not a black/white situation, and it'll also depend on how hard you use/abuse your stuff. Being fairly new, I'll bet you're still figuring some things out, and that's when I broke chains with some frequency.
 

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having a chain let go during a max power burst could potentially cause permanent damage (to your self)
buddy of mine was in a group road ride when this happened to one of the other riders in the group. chain blew during a sprint, dude caved his face into the pavement and died in the hospital. there were doctors and nurses actually in the group so he got attention quickly. but the amount of damage that wreck caused was not trifling. my friend has a little PTSD about hearing the guy's breath gurgling through the blood while they were all laying in the road. the guy was known to not maintain his stuff very well, and to also be a fairly aggressive rider, really liking to get up and sprint.
 

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The main reason not to just run the cassette and chain into the ground is that you will also be wearing out your chainring. Since 10-speed chains and cassettes are relatively inexpensive, I would replace them now. I rotate through three chains, so that when the chains are worn out, so it the cassette. (I wax mine, so this is also more convenient.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If it's skipping now (even rarely), now is the time that I'd replace it. You're letting your chains go far enough that they've put some wear into the system.

For me, ANY amount of the chain jumping the cogs because of wear is cause to replace worn parts. I also won't say that you won't have a failure. The more worn stuff is, the more likely you will be to have a chain snap. It's not a black/white situation, and it'll also depend on how hard you use/abuse your stuff. Being fairly new, I'll bet you're still figuring some things out, and that's when I broke chains with some frequency.
Well, I have the new chainring, cassette, and chain. Just trying to decide when to pull the trigger and make the swap. Based on your other scary story, it sounds like sooner will be better. I did replace the derailleur pulleys last time I did this, so those are still pretty solid looking. Having a chain snap is kind of my nightmare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
3 or 4 chains is about right for a decently maintained mtb drivetrain. I'd replace everything if it's skipping now because running it with old worn parts will prematurely munch your new chain.

Everyone has their own risk tolerance but having a chain let go during a max power burst could potentially cause permanent damage (to your self) so I won't tolerate a worn, skipping drivetrain.
No chance of a new chain on these parts - there's no way it'd run without skipping. The last chain I changed out skipped for a few days and then functioned, so this is the last chain on this chainring and cassette.

Thanks for the advice.
 

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Catastrophic failure isn't a typical thing and no one here can tell you how likely it is with the info we have. You say you've gone through 4 chains. Did those get replaced because the bike sat or because they had a ton of miles on them? How good are you about cleaning and lubing?

Chains break, even new ones. I've had it happen. If the chain is all youre worried about, keep the extra chain you cut off in your pack with a breaker and a spare quick link. With those few things you can always fix a chain trailside.

As for the rest of the drivetrain, cassettes and chainrings rarely just explode out of nowhere. If your shifting is getting skippy and you can't adjust it out, replace the chain and cassette and order an extra quick link to carry with you.
 

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3-4 chains is right for an MTB drive train. For me it's 3-4 chains per cassette and 3-4 cassettes per set of chainrings. Check each chain at 2,500 kms and take it from there. One thing, though, is that I've never had a 1x drivetrain. How often do you guys replace alloy narrow-wide chainrings? A Blackspire snaggletooth for example.
 

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buddy of mine was in a group road ride when this happened to one of the other riders in the group. chain blew during a sprint, dude caved his face into the pavement and died in the hospital. there were doctors and nurses actually in the group so he got attention quickly. but the amount of damage that wreck caused was not trifling. my friend has a little PTSD about hearing the guy's breath gurgling through the blood while they were all laying in the road. the guy was known to not maintain his stuff very well, and to also be a fairly aggressive rider, really liking to get up and sprint.
I think I got PTSD just from reading this.

All of us that did BMX back in the day recall how bad it sucked if the gate didn't drop when it was supposed to - instant faceplant. I can't even imagine doing the essentially the same thing at speed on the road. Well, I can...I just don't want to.
 

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I think I got PTSD just from reading this.

All of us that did BMX back in the day recall how bad it sucked if the gate didn't drop when it was supposed to - instant faceplant. I can't even imagine doing the essentially the same thing at speed on the road. Well, I can...I just don't want to.
I think my friend told me the sprint was well in excess of 30mph when the guy went down (can't remember if they hit 40 or not). he took out a lot of people, too, but afaik, all of their injuries were minor, relatively speaking. my friend didn't ride at all for several months after. and we both worked in the same shop at the time. I wasn't working that day, so I didn't experience any of it directly. Just spoke with other employees and other riders in that group after the fact.

I had a chain snap on me when I was riding a greenway. I had stopped for traffic at an intersection. When I stepped on the pedal to cross the street, my chain snapped and I got dumped OTB and into the road, with a dump truck heading my way. Had to scramble to get out of the road before assessing myself or my bike. That was with 9spd chains. I can't remember if my installation was bad, or there was a previous "repair", if I was riding a clapped out drivetrain, if I had damaged it from poor shifting, or what. Thankfully I wasn't really moving at the time and I think all I did was skin up my knee.
 

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Two of my most serious mountain bike crashes were from broken chains. Luckily it seems like the newer high end Sram 12 speed chains are actually quite strong. Initially going 1X, from 10 through 11 speed, the chain plate working itself off of the pin was pretty common for me, long before there was detectable stretch.

I was gun shy to lay down power after my second crash, it's still in the back of my head most times.

Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Catastrophic failure isn't a typical thing and no one here can tell you how likely it is with the info we have. You say you've gone through 4 chains. Did those get replaced because the bike sat or because they had a ton of miles on them? How good are you about cleaning and lubing?

Chains break, even new ones. I've had it happen. If the chain is all youre worried about, keep the extra chain you cut off in your pack with a breaker and a spare quick link. With those few things you can always fix a chain trailside.

As for the rest of the drivetrain, cassettes and chainrings rarely just explode out of nowhere. If your shifting is getting skippy and you can't adjust it out, replace the chain and cassette and order an extra quick link to carry with you.
I'm good about cleaning my drivetrain, and as I ride in dry Colorado with Rock 'n Roll Gold, I clean and lube my chain, as well as wiping down the chainring and pulleys after literally every ride. I like things quiet.

I carry a spare Powerlink. Again, mostly just concerned about catastrophic failure in the middle of nowhere, though I carry the tools and parts I need to repair common things.

I do, also, measure my chains. They get replaced the second any part of them reach 0.5 on the Park measuring tool, which is the lowest stretch that tool measures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Two of my most serious mountain bike crashes were from broken chains. Luckily it seems like the newer high end Sram 12 speed chains are actually quite strong. Initially going 1X, from 10 through 11 speed, the chain plate working itself off of the pin was pretty common for me, long before there was detectable stretch.

I was gun shy to lay down power after my second crash, it's still in the back of my head most times.

Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk
That's why I prefer SRAM chains to Shimano. I trust the linkages more.
 
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