That New Chain Feeling

I replace my chain every year, more or less. It tends toward less as I don’t have a set anniversary for new chains. Usually I notice the shifting is lagging a second and it dawns on me that the chain is in need of replacement. In my youth I would keep the same chain on the bike forever. I even used to take it off, and reinstall it inside out (?!) thinking…thinking that I was a cheap idiot. The result of that was the rear cogs were always ruined too, reinforcing the cheap idiot thing. Since replacing the chain on a yearly basis I’ve never had to replace a cassette. I’ve heard that the Fabian Cancellara’s of the pro peloton get a new chain once a week. The pros are fifty-two times more mighty.

This most recent chain replacement had me using a Campagnolo Chorus chain I had attempted to install on another bike and failed. I shamefully put the chain on a shelf until I had stocked up on Campagnolo’s special bullet shaped, don’t drop this on the shop floor or you will never find it, you only get one shot at this, very special chain pin. Maybe it’s like redoing your handlebar tape or filing taxes; these jobs only done once a year never go perfectly. Installing the Campagnolo chain is like what I imagine arming a field tactical nuclear weapon is like. It is cramped. It requires small hands. It requires excellent vision. It requires mechanical skills and you only get one shot at it. Luckily, for me, the whole mess was contained with a KMC 11-speed quick link, whew, done and dusted.

My point is, when one changes just one component on one’s bike, the change is very noticeable, The first few pedal strokes out on the road with a new chain is a subtle revelation. It feels different. It feels better. Damn it feels excellent.

Or is it all in the mind. This article was linked in the Velominati posts a while back. In a world full of anecdotal evidence I do enjoy an article where our perceptions are put to the test. Maybe my new chain feeling is all in my head? Who cares, I can still enjoy it and “in my head” is where enjoyment happens anyway.

Related Posts

154 Replies to “That New Chain Feeling”

  1. @frank

    But you also want none of the HATE in the chain, so clean it with a chain cleaner like the Park Chain Cleaner or this Finish Line one if it was exposed to any real filth like a muddy Roubaix or some such.

    Chains already have a hard enough life (Greasy, Dirty, Muddy, Always Under Power), we don’t need to burden them with HATE as well.

  2. @RedRanger

    A question; lube chain pre or post ride? a couple of the guys at the bike shop I work at advocate lubing post ride.

    Post ride always the lube to “seep” as it sits waiting for the next ride.

  3. The best part of this chain deal (for me) is finding the best chain deal to buy. Chain rings are stock piled in the shop. And then I confirm there is an appropriate or new cassette to complete the deal.

  4. Components and end product for making device for holding your chain when fixing or removing the link……

  5. @Teocalli

    Components and end product for making device for holding your chain when fixing or removing the link……

    Good tip! I’ll make one tonight! That’s a Park Tool coathanger there right? Or is it a Shimano one? Wouldn’t want to  use any old crappy wire hanger after all . . .

  6. I get at least 5000 km out of a campagnolo chain.  I wipe off the extra goop on the new one, then start lubing after 200km with NixFrixShun.  Why would you strip out the factory lube?  Do you think you know better than Campagnolo or Shimano what works?  Wipe after every ride, and it’s shiny clean.  Add three drops when the chain starts to make noise.  I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

  7. @frank

    @Ron

    @unversio

    @Gianni

    Bar tape 3 to 4 times a year — and utilize a winter drivetrain and a summer drivetrain. This guards the Principle of Silence all year.

    As much as I’d like to replace it, the fi’zi:k microtex glossy on my LOOK is going strong after a few years. It looks new, those guys have to make less awesome tape.

    The only reason I ever change my fi’zi:k tape is when the cables or handlebars wear out.

    I really hope your handlebars outlast your cables more often than not.

  8. @Nate

    I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    We need to get on a cogal together then — I can’t even hear my own bike, except for the tubular tyre hum.

  9. @unversio

    @Nate

    I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    We need to get on a cogal together then — I can’t even hear my own bike, except for the tubular tyre hum.

    That’s how I roll too.

  10. Remember that a chain can ‘appear’ to be clean, but it’s not! Last winter we had a load of dust dumped on London from the Sahara desert (not an unusual event) and, although I regularly clean the bike and chain, with a Park Tool, I thought everything was OK. Took it to the LBS for a service* and was told I needed a new chain, cassette and BB as the sand had ground everything down. I trust them, and could immediately tell the difference when I rode it home.

    * although I can do most routine stuff myself, I came to the conclusion that it’s cheaper to pay the LBS for a full service than buy all the special tools. Plus I’m about as a patient as a women with PMT with fiddly little screws.

  11. @Nate

    I get at least 5000 km out of a campagnolo chain.  I wipe off the extra goop on the new one, then start lubing after 200km with NixFrixShun.  Why would you strip out the factory lube?  Do you think you know better than Campagnolo or Shimano what works?  Wipe after every ride, and it’s shiny clean.  Add three drops when the chain starts to make noise.  I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    On a better day I’d ignore this, I’ll probably regret getting into it later, and far be it from me to question Shimano. Much less Campagnolo. But it is possible that rather than the absolute best OE chain lubricant, something that is the best compromise across expected usage, wet/dry, hot/cold, dusty/muddy, ends up in there? Throw in cost. Is the logical extension of this approach to replace the factory-spec. tyres on one’s top bike with the same exact model again and again? And what tyre pressure does the factory recommend? Or we could seek to improve, refine and tailor to specifics…

  12. Even if, and I think this is a big IF, as your last paragraph would imply, the effect of a new chain can be marginalized down to a simple application of Rule #6, does it not take fewer pedal strokes to close a gap in the line or to open a gap when you have a new chain on?

  13. @osbk67

    @Nate

    I get at least 5000 km out of a campagnolo chain.  I wipe off the extra goop on the new one, then start lubing after 200km with NixFrixShun.  Why would you strip out the factory lube?  Do you think you know better than Campagnolo or Shimano what works?  Wipe after every ride, and it’s shiny clean.  Add three drops when the chain starts to make noise.  I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    On a better day I’d ignore this, I’ll probably regret getting into it later, and far be it from me to question Shimano. Much less Campagnolo. But it is possible that rather than the absolute best OE chain lubricant, something that is the best compromise across expected usage, wet/dry, hot/cold, dusty/muddy, ends up in there? Throw in cost. Is the logical extension of this approach to replace the factory-spec. tyres on one’s top bike with the same exact model again and again? And what tyre pressure does the factory recommend? Or we could seek to improve, refine and tailor to specifics…

    (1) why strip the lube out of the inner sanctum of the chain?  The system I’ve arrived at works for the conditions I deal with.

    (2) can’t speak to the second question as my purchasing habits tend toward framesets to which I fit one of several available wheelsets according to the riding I intend to do rather than complete bikes.  Agree that the tires fitted to complete bikes are almost universally rubbish.

  14. Just quietly, it doesn’t matter how new your chain is at this point…there’s still too much friction.

    36×25 was not the appropriate gearing…

  15. @Nate

    @osbk67

    @Nate

    I get at least 5000 km out of a campagnolo chain.  I wipe off the extra goop on the new one, then start lubing after 200km with NixFrixShun.  Why would you strip out the factory lube?  Do you think you know better than Campagnolo or Shimano what works?  Wipe after every ride, and it’s shiny clean.  Add three drops when the chain starts to make noise.  I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    On a better day I’d ignore this, I’ll probably regret getting into it later, and far be it from me to question Shimano. Much less Campagnolo. But it is possible that rather than the absolute best OE chain lubricant, something that is the best compromise across expected usage, wet/dry, hot/cold, dusty/muddy, ends up in there? Throw in cost. Is the logical extension of this approach to replace the factory-spec. tyres on one’s top bike with the same exact model again and again? And what tyre pressure does the factory recommend? Or we could seek to improve, refine and tailor to specifics…

    (1) why strip the lube out of the inner sanctum of the chain?  The system I’ve arrived at works for the conditions I deal with.

    (2) can’t speak to the second question as my purchasing habits tend toward framesets to which I fit one of several available wheelsets according to the riding I intend to do rather than complete bikes.  Agree that the tires fitted to complete bikes are almost universally rubbish.

    R5 came with 700×25 Conti GP4000s as stock. Exception to the rule.

  16. @Mikael Liddy

    @Nate

    @osbk67

    @Nate

    I get at least 5000 km out of a campagnolo chain.  I wipe off the extra goop on the new one, then start lubing after 200km with NixFrixShun.  Why would you strip out the factory lube?  Do you think you know better than Campagnolo or Shimano what works?  Wipe after every ride, and it’s shiny clean.  Add three drops when the chain starts to make noise.  I will put the silence of my machine against any of you.

    On a better day I’d ignore this, I’ll probably regret getting into it later, and far be it from me to question Shimano. Much less Campagnolo. But it is possible that rather than the absolute best OE chain lubricant, something that is the best compromise across expected usage, wet/dry, hot/cold, dusty/muddy, ends up in there? Throw in cost. Is the logical extension of this approach to replace the factory-spec. tyres on one’s top bike with the same exact model again and again? And what tyre pressure does the factory recommend? Or we could seek to improve, refine and tailor to specifics…

    (1) why strip the lube out of the inner sanctum of the chain?  The system I’ve arrived at works for the conditions I deal with.

    (2) can’t speak to the second question as my purchasing habits tend toward framesets to which I fit one of several available wheelsets according to the riding I intend to do rather than complete bikes.  Agree that the tires fitted to complete bikes are almost universally rubbish.

    R5 came with 700×25 Conti GP4000s as stock. Exception to the rule.

    I suppose those are ok, for clinchers.

  17. @KogaLover

    @RedRanger

    @DeKerr

    @KogaLover

    One tool to check them all. You are correct, it is only the width of the chain that decreases as you add cogs to the cassette. The length from pin to pin is constant… unless you apply too much V (or not enough care), in which you have to swap out the chain.

    Also, a 6 speed steel steed!?! Pics pls.

    Yup. Link length hasn’t changed. Park tools does make another chain checker that costs about 3 times as much to tell you the same thing the one I posted does. For a home mechanic this will work perfectly.

    I saw that pricier tool as well. But since my LBS uses the cheaper chain checker, I thought that that one would be pro enough. I just got Park’s TW 5 tork wrench and now need to find adapters….

    Late to the party – but just stumbled over this exchange and was surprised that the request for pics hasn’t triggered a barrage of drool-worthy Koga Miyata photographs (yet)? To the best of my knowledge, the steed to which @Kogalover refers is a 1982 Koga Miyata Road Speed in the absolutely stunning colour referred to as “Indian Red”. (Yes, I’m suffering from severe Koga-envy…) I have a nice stock picture of such a bike on my hard disk and will try to figure out how to upload it. (But secretly hoping that @Kogalover will beat me to it)

  18. @Nate

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Nate

    @osbk67

      Agree that the tires fitted to complete bikes are almost universally rubbish.

    R5 came with 700×25 Conti GP4000s as stock. Exception to the rule.

    I suppose those are ok, for clinchers.

    I’d like to ask how you go about choosing replacement tyres (there seems to be a lot of choice), but would that take us too far off topic?

  19. Nate – yup, I regularly get over and above 5000km on my Campa chains. I lube post-ride frequently, and most definitely if it was wet out.

  20. So, that settles it.

    Replace chain, oil it, let bike set till next ride, wipe down chain, go for ride, replace chain. repeat for all consequent rides.

    Glad we got it cleared up.

    Seems a bit expensive…but what the hell, I buy Conti’s too.

  21. I’m a convert to dry wax lubes, especially squirt (I believe it’s a Sth African company?) where you apply at night ride in the morning. Most of my miles right now are on the commuter and the track bike, and have to admit that for the previous summer’s race season, I was all about the prolink for race day.

    Have to admit I don’t understand removing and soaking the chain in kero or degreaser – flushing out the grease inside the links, for one, would root the chain, and they’re disposable items these days – they’re just not supposed to last that long to make it worthwhile to go through that amount of hassle. Soaking in Paraffin, yeah sure, that’d get some marginal gains, but who can be arsed,really. You can get the chain super clean without removing it form the bike, and drip wax lubes perform really well in the wet.

  22. Speaking of drive train maintenance, I just stumbled across a new product for post-job hand cleaning:  the used dryer sheet!

    Yesterday, after cleaning the thick black sludge that accumulates around the rear D tight areas and underbelly of the bb I subsequently came up with hands so black you know you did the job right. I didn’t want to transfer said blackness to the garage doorknob, so I looked around for something to wipe my fingertips enough to open the door and get to the sink.  Spotted a used dryer sheet (does not need to be Snuggle brand). To my surprise, the sheet absolutely cleaned my hands completely, with no water/soap/solvents.

    Great re-use of a product and will start keeping them on my work bench. Always hated to just throw those sheets away after one spin in the dryer.

  23. @ErikdR

    Darn, you beat me to it. I just copied the pic from the catalogue and wanted to paste it, but then saw you already did. This post should be under the Bikes though. FYI: I got a new Koga signature last January, see catalogue pic.

    @DeKerr: it’s been raining cast and dogs here in Switzerland over the past couple of days (see Tour de Romandie footage, which ended yesterday), so I have not been able to take any nice sunny pictures of the old  steel Koga Miyata (now promoted 8 steps from nr 1 to bike nr 9) , still have to gussy her up a bit and make it Rule #26 compliant before posting. I did clean the chain though yesterday ;-)

  24. @RobSandy

    @Nate

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Nate

    @osbk67

      Agree that the tires fitted to complete bikes are almost universally rubbish.

    R5 came with 700×25 Conti GP4000s as stock. Exception to the rule.

    I suppose those are ok, for clinchers.

    I’d like to ask how you go about choosing replacement tyres (there seems to be a lot of choice), but would that take us too far off topic?

    If you’re racing TTs, choose GP4000s over and over again. They seem to strike a pretty ideal balance between rolling resistance (very good score), aerodynamics (those little ridges apparently make it fast) without being super-fragile. They’re not exactly my first choice for Pave or rain, nor do they feel supple – but they undeniably work. Conti Attack/Force are pretty much the same, might be a touch faster.

    If you’re willing to put up with a bit more puncture-risk and gain a slightly faster tyre, Specialized Turbo Cottons are the current king-of-the-hill in terms of Crr/aero tradeoffs. Rumor has it they’re also super-supple and grippy, and would make great road racing tyres – but that they tend to cut easily.

    I like Vittoria Corsa Evo CXs for summer riding and road-racing, GP4000s on the TT wheels and a Roubaix-style open tub (Challenge, Vittoria Pave etc) for the #1 wheelset – latex tubes on all, these make the biggest difference. Winter and gravel on the Conti 4-Season, because I get hypothermic easily if I stop mid-ride.

  25. @Teocalli

    I think I actually have exactly the same pair of pliers (first set given to me by my dad around 40 years ago) but not so sure about the coat hanger. Hope it will work though…

  26. @tessar

    While on the subject, what are your thoughts on TT tubs?

    I’ve recently acquired some Mavic 80s with Mavic’s own tubs for the Trinity.

    Having ridden clinchers all my life I was expecting something on the level of divine revelation but it was decidedly anti-climactic. My Enves with Vittoria Open Corsa and latex tubes on the TCR actually feel nicer and on the Trinity if I did a ‘blind’ test I doubt that I could distinguish between the Mavics and the Giant P-A2 alloy clinchers it came with.

    Anyway at some point I’m going to have to replace them and I understand that the Mavic tubs are pretty poor in terms of resistance. Although I can get them at a heavy discount, so there’s that…

    What other options should I look at do you think? I’m generally riding on pretty smooth, well-maintained surfaces so speed and feel is above durability.

  27. @ChrisO

    Mavic CXR80s? On some frames it’s the fastest wheel bar none! You’re right that the Mavic tubs are poor in terms of Crr.

    I’d say the newest Zipp Tangente SLSpeed are a pretty good bet. Crr-wise they’re some of the fastest road tubs (nearly as fast as the fastest clinchers) – to get significantly faster than that, you’ll have to hedge your bets on specialist track tubs. Also, they apparently play nice aerodynamically (expected for Zipp?). No other option on the market nails Crr+Aero at the moment, for a tubular. Schwalbe’s Ironman used to, but now they come with butyl tubes (same with Conti’s tubs).

    I’m not surprised you’ve been underwhelmed by the difference. Despite the romantic musings on this site, there’s nothing magical about gluing a tyre as opposed to a bead-hook holding it in place (assuming road pressures, not ‘cross). The whole mystique of a tubular comes from the days when tubs were handmade works of art and came with a supple cotton or silk sidewall and a thin piece of thread glued to it, while clinchers were thick, rubber behemoths. These days, you can get shit tubs with vulcanized rubber threads, or top clinchers with supple sidewalls. An “Open Tub” – essentially a supple, tubular-like casing with thread glued to it, just with a bead-hook – will ride as nicely as any equivalent tubular: Your Open Corsa is nearly identical to a tubular Corsa, and in fact some bikes at Paris-Roubaix this year had threads from the clincher models glued onto tubular casings – they’re that similar.

  28. @tessar

    That’s the one – where you can put the little insert between the rim and the tyre, although I haven’t done it.

    Reviews seem to suggest that the gain of the insert is more than offset by the requirement to use Mavic tyres.

  29. @ChrisO

    Indeed, but despite Mavic’s warnings, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to use faster tyres from other manufacturers on those wheels. Besides, since these inserts are raceday-only items, I reckon they can’t cause much harm to the sidewalls anyway.

    Mavic’s prototype CXR clincher tyres apparently tested quite well, but I’m not sure if the same holds true for the production version (and is definitely not true of the tubulars). Might indicate that the compound itself is good, but held back by butyl tubes inside the casing. I wonder what Katusha and other Mavic-sponsored teams are using.

  30. @tessar

    The inserts aren’t UCI legal apparently, which is another reason why I haven’t bothered with them – not that anyone would check out here. Unless we beat the locals…

  31. @Oli

    Thanks Oli. To be honest I immediately knew somebody like you might appreciate this little encrustation.

  32. @tessar

    @ChrisO

    Indeed, but despite Mavic’s warnings, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to use faster tyres from other manufacturers on those wheels. Besides, since these inserts are raceday-only items, I reckon they can’t cause much harm to the sidewalls anyway.

    Mavic’s prototype CXR clincher tyres apparently tested quite well, but I’m not sure if the same holds true for the production version (and is definitely not true of the tubulars). Might indicate that the compound itself is good, but held back by butyl tubes inside the casing. I wonder what Katusha and other Mavic-sponsored teams are using.

    Veloflex and FMB. What else is there really? Depends who though. Paolini had FMB, Kristoff had Veloflex.

    Anyway, pick a name and win.

  33. @tessar

    Have you ever ridden Barum tubulars? How do they compare to modern tubulars, let’s say Vittoria or Veloflex.

    Any differences I might be missing?

    Why Corsa Evo is still in production if Open Corsa is nearly identical? How near is nearly?

    How romantic is peloton today with all these power numbers, EPS, Di2 and robotic racing? How come they decided to keep romantic tires and not something as romantic as down tube shifters?

  34. @TommyTubolare

    @tessar

    @ChrisO

    Indeed, but despite Mavic’s warnings, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to use faster tyres from other manufacturers on those wheels. Besides, since these inserts are raceday-only items, I reckon they can’t cause much harm to the sidewalls anyway.

    Mavic’s prototype CXR clincher tyres apparently tested quite well, but I’m not sure if the same holds true for the production version (and is definitely not true of the tubulars). Might indicate that the compound itself is good, but held back by butyl tubes inside the casing. I wonder what Katusha and other Mavic-sponsored teams are using.

    Veloflex and FMB. What else is there really? Depends who though. Paolini had FMB, Kristoff had Veloflex.

    Anyway, pick a name and win.

    Truth.

    @TommyTubolare

    @tessar

    Have you ever ridden Barum tubulars? How do they compare to modern tubulars, let’s say Vittoria or Veloflex.

    Any differences I might be missing?

    Why Corsa Evo is still in production if Open Corsa is nearly identical? How near is nearly?

    How romantic is peloton today with all these power numbers, EPS, Di2 and robotic racing? How come they decided to keep romantic tires and not something as romantic as down tube shifters?

    They best way to judge a tubular is not by its coefficient of rolling resistance, but by the lyrical sound it makes whizzing over the pavement.

  35. @Nate

    @TommyTubolare

    How romantic is peloton today with all these power numbers, EPS, Di2 and robotic racing? How come they decided to keep romantic tires and not something as romantic as down tube shifters?

    They best way to judge a tubular is not by its coefficient of rolling resistance, but by the lyrical sound it makes whizzing over the pavement.

    Main reason being that they can ride on them (relatively) safely with a puncture to pick when they can hook up with the team car?

  36. @Teocalli

    @Nate

    @TommyTubolare

    How romantic is peloton today with all these power numbers, EPS, Di2 and robotic racing? How come they decided to keep romantic tires and not something as romantic as down tube shifters?

    They best way to judge a tubular is not by its coefficient of rolling resistance, but by the lyrical sound it makes whizzing over the pavement.

    Main reason being that they can ride on them (relatively) safely with a puncture to pick when they can hook up with the team car?

    The main reason being that they are immeasurably superior to all other tires.

  37. @ChrisO

    Further to what @TommyTubulore said, get yourself some Veloflex Master/Criteriums, preferably aged 6 months.  There will be a date code on the basetape.

  38. Yes I might try the Veloflex, thanks.

    As for the immeasurable superiority, at least on my current setup, you’re right there – I can’t feel any superiority which could be measured.

    If I put the Veloflex on and a heavenly host appears singing hosannah I’ll be sure to report back though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.