Check that Chain!
When I did my last chain maintenance I was sitting at 75% on the Park chain-checker tool, so I figured I had one more lube cycle before the chain was gar-baage. Turns out I was more right than I realized.
I think we may have gotten another 150 miles out of the chain before the shifting performance quickly deteriorated. Minute adjustments of the in-line cable adjusters on the fly proved futile and that’s when the light bulb went on; oh yea, the chain’s shot. Fortunately, we were doing short rides when it reached the point where the chain pitch began to exceed the rear cogs pitch — making for a lot of drive train noise and auto-shifting – but thankfully no harm done to the rear cassette or chain rings.
Given that there were very few miles on the recently cleaned drive chain I decided to throw on the new KMC X10-L chain with the factory lubricant “as is” out of the box. Yeah, I know… it’s gonna be a mess in no time. Well, at least that’s conventional wisdom and that’s what I’m going to investigate. As you’d expect – or maybe not, in which case this may be an epiphany for you – the shifting was magically restored to near perfect performance with just a few twists of the in-line cable adjuster to un-do what I’d done while trying to adjust-out the chain chatter on the fly.
Yes, a chain that’s worn out will definitely make a mess out of your bike’s shifting performance – initially at just the rear derailleur, but eventually at the chain rings if not caught early – and will eventually ruin your cassette and chain rings by elongating the valleys / wearing down the teeth and effectively changing the pitch of your cassette and rings. The latter is quickly discovered when you install a new chain on worn chain rings in particular, as the chain will often times skip or slip under load, especially in the middle ring or the smallest ring if you use it a lot. The rear shifting will also be pretty bad with lots of chain chatter that you can’t adjust out. Just something to be aware of if you find you have shifting woes that can’t be solved. It’s almost as bad as mistakenly installing a 9 speed chain on a 10 speed drive chain; different cause but a similar effect.
While I had the chain off for maintenance I also decided to pull apart the rear hub and service the pawls and ratchet ring. I figured since I’d just done the same to the front hub, the rear was most likely in need of some love as well, remembering that these wheels were used as the “go-to” wheelset whenever I had an issue with the Topolino’s or Rolf’s and also did some temporary duty on the triplet. As I suspected, the pawls and ratchet ring grease was a mess. So, I’m glad I took the time to clean, inspect and lubricate the internals as it will pay-off in the long run.
The first ride with the fresh chain, freshly serviced rear and front hubs was sublime! The front wheel was as quiet as a mouse, the drive chain was actually very quiet with its very viscous factory lubricant covering every inch of every roller, pin and side plate and the shifting was spot-on. I think the only remaining irritant is the right-hand Ergo lever brake hood which is sorely in need of replacement.
More Weeknight Rides!
Yes, it’s true it’s true…. For the second week in a row I’ve made a point of leaving work early enough to join my sweetie for tandem rides on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings before sitting down to dinner. What could be better short of being retired or self-employed and setting your own hours! We could really enjoy making a habit of this, but we’d sure like to get started earlier so we could do longer rides. Short, hard rides have a purpose but they’re no substitute for long steady distance.