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I need to replace my chain (for the first time). My bike is roughly 4 years old using Alivio 8 speed (24 gears) system. Looking at wiggle they seem to have 3 chains available.

Looking at other questions on here, (for example Are all 9 speed chains compatible with all 9 speed systems?) it would seem that any 8 speed should work.

I would like to ask is there a good reason to go for one or another (they all roughly the same price, within a few pounds).

http://www.wiggle.co.uk/?s=shimano+8%20speed%20chain

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No, all 8 speed chains are not compatible. For that matter, neither are all 9 speed chains. But for practical purposes, they will be within tolerance to work well enough. Ideal shifting is best obtained with all components being of the same design, in good condition, and good adjustment.

The chains you linked to: There are 2 types of Shimano 8 speed chains. The common one, HG or Hyperglide and IG, or Interglide chains, which are not designed to work together.

If you have HG, and buy a shimano chain, you should get an HG chain.

SRAM chains have looser tolerances, so any 7/8 speed chain will do as well as any other.

I am not saying you can't use any 8 speed chain. Only that some will shift better than others.

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thanks for the info.. how would I tell if my cassette / current chain is HG or IG? Never knew there was a difference till you mentioned it. :-) –  Jon Jul 12 '11 at 11:57
    
It's usually printed in the model number on the old chain, to start with. (i.e. HG-50 or IG-50.) Also the cassette model number will usually have a reference to it, and is usually printed on the back of the cassette. (The spoke side) Last, if you have to guess, go HG. Most are HG at this point. But it could be wrong, and it won't shift well if it is. Also, ask your LBS, if possible. One sign of an LBS I won't trust for me is if they only stock one brand/style of chain. To me, that says, "I'm OK with Good Enough". Since I want perfection in my bike, then I look somewhere else. –  zenbike Jul 12 '11 at 12:16
    
It's only a detail, but details matter. There's balance to everything, and if a shop refuses to sell you a chain because it is not the exact match, and you've told them it's just got to work today, that bugs me, too. –  zenbike Jul 12 '11 at 12:18
    
As for the chain: Get as close to an exact match to the original as possible. I assume this is the first time you're changing it, since you're asking these questions, and I will say that 4 years is a long time to run on one chain. Have a knowledgeable mechanic check the chain rings and cogs for wear, as a new chain on an old drive train can actually be worse than no maintenance at all. Apologies if that assumption isn't accurate, but hey, it's an assumption. :) And feel free to ask for more info as needed. You might ave noticed I run off at the mouth with just a little provocation. –  zenbike Jul 12 '11 at 12:21
    
LOL... thanks Zenbike.. your right, first time the chain has been changed... first time I have ever attempted this at all. Learnt how to use my chain tool a couple of weeks ago (when it snapped on a ride). Will look at those details tonight. –  Jon Jul 12 '11 at 13:24
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As well as the Shimano chains that you have 'linked to' there are also the SRAM chains. These have the 'powerlink' that enables you to put the chain on and take it off a bit easier (almost tool free).

Although Shimano can make a good chain these days, this has not been the historical situation. Because of this there are a lot of people like myself that advocate the SRAM (formerly SEDIS) chains.

Google SRAM 8 Speed Chain and you will find affordable and expensive variants. The more expensive ones have more nickel plating on them, but are essentially the same chain underneath. The basic ones work great.

8 speed chains are marginally fatter than their nine speed counterparts, 8 speed chains should also work fine on 7 speed.

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