18

Someone recently told me that if I replace my cassette I need to replace my chain (and vice versa) so that they wear evenly.

Is this true? And, can anyone elaborate on the reasoning for this a bit more? Why is it important for them to wear evenly?

Why does this not apply to the front chainring? Or does it?

  • It's worth pointing out that the decisions about when to replace chain and or cassette depend partly upon absolute and relative cost, which vary hugely. Often a chain is tens of dollars whereas a cassette may be over a hundred. On the other hand, 105/ultegra 10 speed chains and cassettes can now often be purchased for 20 dollars each. – Craig Hicks Mar 18 '16 at 19:11
18

You may need to change your cassette with your chain due to damage, but only if your bike has missed out on some previous maintenance. If you ride one chain beyond the point of wear, it will damage both cassette and chain rings to different degrees.

Your chain is a consumable component on your bike.

For most people, 1200-1500 kilometers on a chain is a safe distance to ride it before it stretches enough to damage the cassette or chain rings.

If you treat changing your chain like changing the oil in your car, and just do it based on mileage, regardless of the actual wear on the chain, then you can continue to use the same cassette through (on average) 5 chain swaps.

The chain rings, at least a good quality set, are thicker metal, with a larger diameter, so they don't wear as quickly. Usually, I get 10 chain swaps before I need to change the chain rings. But they will eventually need to be changed as well.

I hope that helps.

  • 2
    "Your chain is a consumable component on your bike" - agreed. One of my favorite bike factoids to share with new cyclists. – SSilk Oct 30 '17 at 15:36
  • Also, given that chains are fairly cheap, and most cyclists do < 2,000km a year (I'm guessing), a good rule of thumb might be to simply replace the chain at the end of every season, unless you're a two rides a season kinda person. Then you've got a nice fresh one at the beginning of the next season. – SSilk Oct 30 '17 at 15:38
  • Though a chain stretch gauge is incredibly cheap and easy to use. parktool.com/product/chain-wear-indicator-cc-3-2 – Daniel R Hicks Jul 21 '18 at 1:21
  • That’s true. Assuming you are consistent in how you use it. And different models of chain gauge can give very different results. The tool you linked is a good choice, both for ease of use and consistency. – zenbike Jul 21 '18 at 1:46
10

You should always install a new chain (or have one that's pretty new already) when you install a new cassette. But you can go through 5 or so chains on a single cassette.

7

A previous answer from mine to a similar question can be seen here:

https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/7880/2355

But the essence is this:

  • The chain wears faster, and it causes the wear of the other components (cog and chainring);
  • The chain wears because there is friction between pins and inner plates, so the actual distance between pins increases due to lost material in the contact zone. Thus, the longer chain starts to climb the teeth on the gears, so that their tooth becomes ramped ("shark tooth");
  • Slightly worn chainrings rarely skip with new chains, and they end up "matching" the pitch of the new chain again. Slightly worn cogs might sometimes skip to the point it is very difficult to get mileage on them (pedalling very lightly) so that they recover. Also, currently most rings are aluminum, which is softer than the steel in the cogs.

Hope this helps.

protected by Community Jul 24 '18 at 12:52

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