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I have a Specialized Tricross which I bought new last year.

In that time (approximately 1K miles), I wore out my chain and gears. At least two of my gears are still slipping, even with a new chain.

I think I spend the majority of my time in one or two gears. Should I avoid this? Are there other things I should be doing to avoid replacing my chain/gears every season?

I am a novice who mostly just commutes to work, so assume I know very little about form.

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A related link to help with the chain - bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2787/… –  user313 Mar 21 '11 at 19:40
    
Another related link - bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/1041/… –  user313 Mar 21 '11 at 21:04
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More information would help; can we assume that the sprockets that are worn out are the ones you spend most of your time in? Are the worn gears on the front triple chainring or on the rear, 8-speed cassette? –  Neil Fein Mar 21 '11 at 21:21
    
@Neil Fein: Yes, the worn out sprockets are the ones I spend most my time on. The worn gears are on the back. –  Brian Genisio Mar 22 '11 at 12:37
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3 Answers

A stretched chain will wear out gears (especially the rear cassette). You can see when this because the teeth get worn away to points - it's very obvious.

But it's very unlikely you wore out a chain and gears in 1000 Km. What is more likely is that the cable has stretched slight from new and the derailuer is out of adjustment so it is putting the chain slightly between two gears. For adjustment details see - http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html

To answer your question - No you aren't going to do any damage by using only one gear, if it's the correct gear. You are going to stretch the chain, and break more of them by being in too high a gear - just like in a car. You will also wear the chain faster by being in a 'bad' gear - eg on the inner front cog and the smallest back cog or (v.v.)

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+1 - @Brian Genisio - Your cogs (gears) will have a very long lifespan if you properly maintain/lubricate your chain and replace it when needed. –  user313 Mar 21 '11 at 19:31
    
Thanks for the answer. You mention that it is unlikely that the chain and gears are worn out at 1000 miles... but this isn't my assessment. It is the repair-guy at my bike shop. He told me that after putting on the new chain, two of the cogs were still slipping. Still, thank you. This is useful info. –  Brian Genisio Mar 22 '11 at 12:35
    
"being in a 'bad' gear" -- I take it that's "bad" because the chain is at more of an angle (when viewed from above) relative to the cogs, instead of more or less parallel. –  ChrisW Mar 22 '11 at 12:52
    
@ChrisW - yes, on your 21speed bike, these 2 gears aren't usable and a few other combinations are the same ratio. I will add something to the terminology q. –  mgb Mar 22 '11 at 15:43
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I wore out my chain and gears ... Are there other things I should be doing to avoid replacing my chain/gears every season? ... I am a novice who mostly just commutes to work, so assume I know very little about form.

One bit of self-maintenance (as well as keeping your tires pumped) is to keep your chain lubricated.

If your chain isn't lubricated then (it's slower to drive and) it wears out more quickly.

See How do I lubricate my chain?

I was told I don't need to especially clean my gears: a) because lubrication on the chain will sufficiently-lubricate the gears; b) I'm riding on road, not mud; c) I have fenders/mud-guards which help keep the worst of the muck off the bike as well as off me.

See also How much maintenance (for chains and cassettes)?

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Thanks. I was cleaning and lubing my chain about every 80 to 100 miles last season. I rode almost exclusively on pavement. Is that enough? –  Brian Genisio Mar 22 '11 at 12:32
    
That's about every month, then, of light riding: so, I'd have thought so. I hope someone else might answer because I am new to this too. –  ChrisW Mar 22 '11 at 13:20
    
Yeah, about every two weeks in my case... 10 mile round trip to work. –  Brian Genisio Mar 22 '11 at 15:34
    
@Brian Do you hear any noise at all, from the chain or drive, when you're riding (not when changing gear)? I don't (I hear only tires on the road, and the clicking from the hub when I'm free-wheeling). –  ChrisW Mar 23 '11 at 12:32
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The chain is what causes all the wear on your drive components. It is called chain stretch but your chain does not stretch it wears at each pin or rivet and increases in length. When this wear is excessive it wears the cassette teeth, chain set teeth and the jockey wheels on your rear gear.

When all this equipment is new, Keep it clean and oiled. Buy yourself a chain wear gauge and this will indicate to you when to change your chain before it causes excessive wear on your other drive components. Depending on how much you cycle you might require two new chains a year but that is cheaper than; new cassette, chain rings and jockey wheels.

If you cycle for a year and clock up 1000-1500 miles you will require to replace the chain and cassette. If you don't and just replace the chain you will find the gears will jump and that is due to the wear that is on the rear cogs. Hope that helps.

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Yes, this sounds exactly like what is happening here. I rode 1000 miles last year. I guess I just expected everything to last longer... I suppose I should have replaced my chain before it wore out my gears, then? –  Brian Genisio Mar 22 '11 at 21:38
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I thought that a lubricated chain might last 3 to 5000 km, and that the cassette would need changing approximately once for every 2 to 5 chains, so I'm surprised they've both worn out within 1500 km. –  ChrisW Mar 23 '11 at 3:22
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