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After 300 km GX Eagle chain is at 0.5% wear which indicates to me I have to buy a new chain?

Is this normal? How to prevent it or advice for better chains?

I mostly drive MTB in the woods in Belgium in a dunes area. So a lot of very short and steep climbs and descents (think 50/100m). My gear ratio on a 34 tooth chainring is mostly on the 3 smallest and on climbs on the 3 biggest. I am running SRAM Eagle SX derailleur, with NX cassette and GX chain.

My bike gets washed almost every ride with me also cleaning the chain, cassette, sprockets and chainring from dirt. If I don't wash the bike it's because it's not dirty.

How I wash the drivetrain:

  1. use garden hose to sprinkle of the biggest dirt from chain
  2. clean chainring and sprockets with toothbrush
  3. clean cassette with larger brush
  4. use 2 nail brushes and let chain run in between
  5. use garden house to get remaining dirt of
  6. use an old rag and clean/dry chainring and sprockets
  7. use old rag and thoroughly rub chain back and forth to dry it.
  8. lube chain with a drop on each roller
  9. go through a few gear high and low to let lube sink in.

Lubing with is done with wet lube since there is a lot of rain lately.

Any advice on better more lasting chains or does somebody have a similar experience and a possible solution?

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  • 2
    You might be over-cleaning it. Or it may be that your chain gauge is not accurate. Nov 4, 2020 at 18:34
  • @DanielRHicks when do you define an over clean? It's on a MTB by the way so the chain contains dirt.
    – Christoph
    Nov 4, 2020 at 18:40
  • Hint: Get yourself a chain scrubber. Nov 4, 2020 at 18:42
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    Are you using a chain checker that's rated for 12s SRAM chains? I'm not sure how much it would throw off a chain checker, but SRAM chains have slightly larger rollers than others. Some models of chain checker, like the Pedros' Chain Checker Plus II and the Park CC-4, account for this. I think it's more an issue on SRAM 12s AXS chains, but even the Eagle chains have slightly larger rollers than other brands. cyclingtips.com/2019/08/bicycle-chain-wear-and-checking-for-it
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 4, 2020 at 19:42
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    @WeiwenNg Wouldn't larger rollers reduce the chain wear measurement, rather than increase it?
    – MaplePanda
    Nov 5, 2020 at 3:21

4 Answers 4

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I found the answer and i was just stomping the chain too hard. I switched my riding style and am switching gear constantly now based on the terrain instead of stomping through. this greatly increases chain lifetime.

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Yes. Get a new chain. When I was running Sram Eagle, I found my chain worn out pretty early too, and I also found it made a big difference to change earlier rather than later.

In my experience, this is within the range of normal...on the low side of normal for sure, but not anything that I think you are doing wrong.

Keeping your chain clean is a good thing but not fool proof.

Lastly, I remember reading an article several months ago where several chains were put to the "wear test". The conclusion was that more expensive chains don't last longer. In fact someone at a bike shop told me once that the more expensive chains actually wear quicker because they are made with weight in mind. I don't know if that is true or not. If I can find that article, I'll add it to the post.

Good luck.

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  • I read a similar article indicating the price per KM cyclingtips.com/2019/12/… You would think a more expensive chain lasts a lot longer but if you compare the NX and the XO1 the XO1 is only marginally better. Thanks for letting me know you have similar experiences. I think about switching to a box 9 speed prime when this bike is a few years old to hopefully get a bit less wear.
    – Christoph
    Nov 5, 2020 at 6:45
  • what are you running right now and does it have less wear?
    – Christoph
    Nov 5, 2020 at 6:48
  • Most recently I am using the sram 1110. I rode roughly 500 miles in about a year, and I just put on my third chain. So that would be about 250 miles. If you have not already, make sure you check your chain in several places, because the links will not wear uniformly. I actually measure my chain in a rather unconventional way. I take it off the bike, and use a yard stick. 50 half links (one pin to the next), should be 25 inches. One quarter inch is 1% of 25, thus each extra sixteenth of an inch indicates 0.25% chain stretch. I do this from both sides ends.
    – Ben Stokes
    Nov 5, 2020 at 17:18
  • Another good way to measure that takes the whole chain into account...Buy your new chain first, since you are going to need it anyway. Break it to the correct length, and hang both the old one and new one on a nail. Most bikes have close to 100 half links in there, so if the old one is one half link longer, that is a decent estimate of 0.5%. If want to be more exact you can pretty easily do the math.
    – Ben Stokes
    Nov 5, 2020 at 17:21
  • @Christoph I think the conventional wisdom is that mid-tier bike stuff is more durable than the low-tier stuff, but as you go up from a group like 105, you don't expect durability to increase. As the Cyclingtips article you linked pointed out, SRAM's top-end Eagle MTB chains may be an exception, with the XO1 and XX1 chains showing a lot more durability than the NX or GX.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Nov 6, 2020 at 16:39
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Expanding on a comment I made: manufacturers put surface coatings on their premium chains. Shimano and Campagnolo add low-friction coatings. SRAM adds what I think is a chrome-based treatment to their premium chains, i.e. the Force and Red AXS chains on the road, and (I believe; less familiar with MTB lineups) the Eagle XO1 and XX1 chains (compared to the GX chains).

Ben's statement about the Cyclingtips article did rely a lot on Adam Kerin's (Zero Friction Cycling) testing and experience. (Be aware that Cyclingtips got taken over by Outside Inc. Not all the data may display in the link, and it's also behind a metered paywall.) Kerin's current results are here. It is a bit more complicated than just more expensive chains don't last longer. For 11s Shimano chains, that did appear to be the case, i.e. Dura Ace had a shorter lifespan than Ultegra. However, the Cyclingtips article does show what I believe is Kerin's experimental data showing that the XO1 and XX1 chains (with hard chrome treatment) have much longer life than the GX chains (without hard chrome).

If you believe Kerin's testing is accurate, then you should consider the potential cost-benefit. Unfortunately, you won't know how much longer an XO1 chain would last with the current maintenance. The XO1 chain appears to have a street price in the US$60s, compared to the high US$30s for a GX chain. However, if the chain wears more slowly, this saves wear on the chainring and the cassette, and the latter is really expensive.

Personally, I believe Kerin's research is likely accurate, and it certainly appears very well thought through. Others must make their own assessments, naturally.


I don't MTB. The OP's stated 300km of life does sound very much lower than I'd expect, even if the GX chain isn't very durable. The OP's routine, however, would only remove dirt on the surface of the chain. This is not a criticism, in that most consumers probably do this. However, chain wear is accelerated by dirt mixing with lubricant and forming a grinding paste inside the chain, where the pins contact the rollers. If you can get this dirt out, it should improve chain life. An on-bike chain cleaner like this Park Tools unit would accomplish that job (many other manufacturers make their own versions). You would fill the tank with dilute degreaser, run the chain a few times, and preferably empty the tank and repeat the process a couple of times.

It would be even better to remove the chain and shake it with diluted degreaser in a bottle (e.g. old water bottle, scavenge a hard plastic drink bottle from the recycling). Again, this procedure is better if repeated a few times. People do use ultrasonic cleaners for this purpose, and they will work, but I find that shaking the chain in a bottle is more than adequate. The downside is that you have to remove the chain. SRAM quick links are officially rated as single-use. In practice, they can be re-used. However, SRAM and Shimano links snap hard by design when closed, and this puts a bunch of stress on the link. You would want to not reuse them once they're noticeably easier to close. You could buy links officially rated for re-use. For example, the YBN links should be compatible with GX, they are rated for 5 uses, and you may be able to get more uses than that. Wipperman doesn't make 12s links yet, but its quick links do not snap shut and can be re-used across the whole life of the chain.

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Answer: Yes this is normal for SRAM.

My experience with sram gx cassette and chain is terrible as they wear out every 500km. I'm very diligent with cleaning the chain after every ride.

Sram should be designing chains that can last at least 3000km. How much waste does sram contribute to through this poor design. They should be able to do better.

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    Hi, welcome to bicycles. I'm sorry you're having the same problem, but this doesn't really answer the question, which was if anyone had advice to prevent it. Once you have some reputation you'll be able to leave comments and upvote helpful questions; in the meantime you might want to take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Apr 17, 2023 at 13:23
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    This answers the question whether this is normal with "yes, it is for SRAM chains ridden with SRAM". You may disagree with the answer but it's a stretch (no pun intended) to claim it's not an answer. The implied solution is to use different chains/cassettes. Apr 17, 2023 at 20:30
  • Check out OP's accepted answer - it may be you can get more chain life too,
    – Criggie
    Apr 18, 2023 at 22:54

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