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I have the choice of buying a 114 or a 116 link chain for the same price.

Why would I not buy the longer one and shorten it?

In my case my bike previously had 108 links, and assuming that was correct, 114 should be sufficient, but given it may need shortened, is it not worth buying the longer chain just in case?

5

If your old chain was sized appropriately for your drivetrain, and you're not changing anything, then you're going to shorten the new chain to the length of the old chain (via counting links, or lying the chains on the ground and pinching them together).

Then, you throw the remaining links into your tool box in case of needing them as spares for a repair in the future. Eventually, you have enough spare links in your tool box and you start throwing the spare links away when you get a new chain (or better yet, as Kibbee suggests, donate them to a bike co-op/shop).

So, it doesn't matter which one you buy in the long run -- the chain just has to be long enough to begin with (unless its a bike which needs a longer chain, like a tandem in which case you need to buy 2 chains and combine them).

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    Eventually you could use all the left over pieces of chain and put together a whole new chain. At 8 extra links per chain, that would only take 14 new chains to create a whole chain from the left over links. – Kibbee May 21 '15 at 12:39
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    Not really a good idea to build up a chain from leftover pieces -- wouldn't be nearly as strong as a new chain, since a lot of the rivets would be pretty damaged. I'd be willing to splice maybe one section of chain into a new chain for a repair. But in principle, if you were very cheap, you could do that. – Batman May 21 '15 at 12:42
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    More meant as a joke, buy you should probably donate them to your local bike co-op rather than start throwing them out when you get too many extras. – Kibbee May 21 '15 at 12:44
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    What if you needed (say) 100 links, buy two 120-link chains, take 50 from each one, your spare link sections are 70 links long and you can easily build all your chains from two sections. – Random832 May 21 '15 at 15:02
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    @Random832 - Ah, right. Its not a bad idea, but I think most people would rather do something more useful with their time (e.g. go to the pub). – Batman May 21 '15 at 21:58
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With 8 extra links you can make your own chain whip with a nice piece of wood next time you need to swap your cassette. I actually did this recently. Worker reasonably well.

3

I would think that both these are from different manufacturers, or maybe slightly different product lines (DuraAce vs. Ultegra). I can't think of why a manufacturer would bother shipping 2 identical chains with one only having 2 links more than the other. Choose one based on some other criteria such as which brand you trust more, or which is actually supposed to be better.

  • In this situation, they are both listed as Tiagra 4601 10 speed chains. If they are variants in any other respect, that is not advertised. (cn-4601) – gaijintendo May 21 '15 at 13:00
  • A common Shimano 8-speed chain is often available from the same seller in 114,116,118 and even 120 link lengths, for very similar prices. – Chris H May 21 '15 at 13:28
  • I looked and guess you are right, they do exist. I can't think of why they would do this. You'd never be able to make it so that people wouldn't have to remove links. Even on bikes with the same size cogs and cassette, the difference in chain stay length would still mean you need to adjust the chain length. – Kibbee May 21 '15 at 13:51
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I would go for the 116 link chain just so that you have a little extra spare in case something goes wrong.

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