Chain with 6000 km shows NO stretch using Park Tool wear indicator

I bought a 2019 Tarmac Disc Expert last year right around this time. Since then, I have put around 6000 kms on it, about 2500 of which were on an indoor direct-drive smart trainer. I never ride in the rain, I only weight about 65 kg, I tend to favor cadences at 90+ rpm, and I take pretty good care of my bike.

Some of my riding buddies have told me that it’s time to replace the chain because it has a lot of kms on it. However, I recently used a chain wear indicator to measure my chain, and it measures to be almost brand new. I even used the same wear indicator on a brand new bike, right out of the box, same Ultegra drivetrain, and it falls pretty much in the exact same place as it does on my bike. For the reasons mentioned above, I can see why I get more life out of a chain than a typical rider, but I still have no idea how it has lasted this long.

My question is: should I replace the chain or should I keep the current one, and since I have waited this long should I also replace the cassette? While the chain may show hardly any sign of longitudinal wear, I am aware that it can also wear laterally (the chain and rollers gets sloppy side to side but not stretched), which is a bit harder to spot. I have had no shifting issues whatsoever. The only thing I have noticed is that the chain is occasionally squeaky, and lately I’ve had to use quite a lot of lube to get rid of the noise. I’m thinking of just replacing the chain and holding off on the cassette for now, but I’d like to know people’s thoughts. Thanks in advance.

Could be so far worn that it’s an entire link out?

joking/not joking.

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The chain wear gauges can be wrong too, so I’d double check with other tests. For example, if you take the chain off, and hang it next to a new one, it should have the same length - that is, each link matches up, not the total length. Because the ‘stretch’ is cummulative (it adds up), wear is easier to see the longer the distance you compare. You can also measure the chain, because it should be some round number in inches.

I’d also inspect the cassette (and chainring, but that goes last) for wear - the teeth on the sprockets could show wear (google a few images if you’re not sure, it’s hard to discribe).

If everything looks fine, I’d just keep using it.

Personally I wouldn’t fix something that is not broken (or worn).

Since you seem to keep your drivetrain clean (no rain/lots of indoors) plus you don’t put too much stress on it (assumption, given your weight), I have no reason to assume that your measurements are wrong. When well maintained the Ultegra chains can go a long way. Probably less for someone with double your weight, riding in dirt and not cleaning the drivetrain…

The creaking you described is the only thing that concerns me. If that is too extreme it might be something with the rollers… I’m pretty certain people with more knowledge will answer that ;).

Edit: If you have something similar an SRAM XX1 cassette for 500$ on your bike: Replace the chain :wink:

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Chain wear depends massively on riding conditions and yours sound pretty optimal. If you’re confident that you’re using the wear indicator properly and there are no other signs of wear like sloppy shifting, I wouldn’t worry about it.

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Count yourself lucky a chain lasts you that long :grinning:

I seem to stretch out a chain in less than 2000 km’s!! but then I am 90kg’s fully naked :laughing:
And I wipe chain down and re lube after every single ride.

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Nearly half your “distance” coming from indoor riding on a smart trainer can be a big factor here. This will minimize stress as you can keep the chain line straight and eliminate all the stress from shifting. You’re also not picking up all the dirt as you would from riding outdoors.

6000km might be above average, but not outrageous. 2000-3000 miles are numbers I always see kicking around for average chain life, or 3225-4838 km, but how well does the average rider take care of their chain? Keep it clean and continue to keep an eye on it, then update this thread once it finally does wear out. :+1:

One way to solve the mystery is measure with a metal ruler. 12" pin to pin if the last pin is more than 1/16th inch beyond 12" that indicates the bushings are worn (stretched).

I use a Park tool CC3.2 and several times the tool has indicated it’s fine but, the ruler said otherwise. In every case the chain in question was noisy compared to a new chain.

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There’s a big article on Cycling Tips about chains and how to measure them. Iirc it’s a couple of specific Pedro’s and Park tools for 11 and 12 speed chsins. Might be worth checking with one of those tools.

I got a Pedro’s one, less than 16 quid so seems better than than miss reading and wearing cassette out quickly.

I’m 56kg just now but typically 60-62kg in the past and of course we are all different and conditions vary massively but I typically get between 5000 and 7000km out of a chain without having to change a cassette. I gave up on chain checkers a while back. Based on my experience I’d consider changing the chain, anymore kms it’d probably need a cassette. I usually by a chain and cassette but only fit the chain. If the new chain/ old cassette doesn’t mesh I replace the cassette.

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Yeah this happened to me as well this year. With around half of my riding this season being indoors and actually not doing any hard sprint/sprint specific training my last chain started showing signs of wear after 5-6k km, whereas last year 3k km was the average amount of km I could do on a chain. So what you are describing is surely in the realm of possibilities and your chain is still good :slight_smile:

I would perform a visual check, so just a scan over the links to make sure they look good, e.g no stiff links. If this visual check is fine, then carry on as you are.

You’re not a whole link off. You wouldn’t be able to ride if jt was.

6k is nothing crazy, but I like to replace around 4K regardless of how it measures. Any stretching will dramatically accelerate cassette and chainring wear. Cassettes can go 40k+ if you don’t run tired chains. Also, a chain can fail unrelated to stretch when a side plate cracks. broken chains are no fun.

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I used my metal ruler to measure chains for years and then got a Park chain measurer because I felt that was what I should be using. I still use the Park tool occasionally, but I switched back to the ruler because I felt it was more precise and (to me) easier.

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After watching a GCN video last night, I used a ruler and measured 8 links of the chain. The distance from center of pin to center of pin was just shy of 8 and 1/16” which means if I were to measure out 12” it would probably be too long. I could also pull the chain off the big ring at the 3 o clock position and it was stretching quite a bit. Probably time to replace it.

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@Danimal123 and @Nick_Zaffino the only downside to a ruler is user error. It can be tedious to make sure you are right on the pin and not moving the ruler for example.