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.

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154 Replies to “That New Chain Feeling”

  1. Would a handy comparison perhaps be a back to back ride on Bora (or Aeolus/Zipp/Hed) tubs with Corsa Evos followed by the same on the clincher version with Corsa Evo Opens? Anyone done that?

  2. @TommyTubolare


    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?

    There are still enough tubular wheelsets around to justify producing the Corsa Evo.

    How near is identical: My measure here is that the outer half of the tyre – the part that touches the ground – is identical. The back half – the half that should rigidly adhere to the rim anyway – ends with basetape on one, and kevlar bears on the other. Close enough for me. It’s the casing and thread that make the tyre magical or shit, and you can have any of the four combinations. The point is ChrisO tried exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison: Shit tubs vs excellent clinchers.

    In a peloton, tubs make sense and if I had any money on me, my next purchase would be a set of mid-depth tubular wheels and a set of nice tyres. For time-trialing, physics drive my decision-making because there’s nothing else that should affect equipment choices – no “can I ride my way out of a peloton with a flat” to consider, just Crr and aero. Tony Martin agreed before Etixx switched to FSA/Vision (what the hell?) – Zipps and unbranded HED Jets gave him three rainbow skinsuits.

    P.S Veloflex Criterium roll worse than the new Zipps, which are built on the same 320tpi casing as Vittoria Corsa Evos.

  3. @Nate


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

    In his terrain, aging 6 months might cause the latex to disintegrate. I had a few latex tubes degrade in desert storage, and tyres get dryrot very quickly.

  4. @Owen



    Speaking of cheap idiot, when I changed the chain for the first time on the now #1 I cheaped out and got the SRAM chain for an Ultegra gruppo-san. Wouldn’t you know it never shifted right until I finally bought the more expensive but correct chain. On the bright side, constantly troubleshooting shifting problems *did* allow me to find a crack in the frame that was subsequently covered by the Fuji warranty.

    Interesting. So, the shifting issue went away when you switched back to the Ultegra chain? I also switched to a SRAM chain (easier to remove and replace for cleaning) but it hasn’t functioned as well as the Ultegra.

    Yeah changing the frame out helped a ton but it didn’t quite index right until I changed to the ultegra chain. Something about the shape of each link does it. In retrospect for what I paid for the bike plus wheels I shouldn’t have balked at a 30 dollar chain but here we are.

    Just wanted to follow up on this, with a thanks to you @Owen. I changed back to my Ultegra chain last night, prior to my ride today. I cannot believe what a difference that made! I was cursing that SRAM chain – lagging shifts from the centre of the cassette, slipping under load – awful. Today, I enjoyed the return to the crisp, snappy changes that I had come to appreciate before changing chains. Hard to believe that a good chain can make that much difference but, it’s night and day. Thanks again.

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