SRAM Eagle chain longevity is impressive

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endlesstrailz

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11/8/2017 9:14 AM

Hey all.

Just wanted to get a discussion rolling on Eagle chains and how impressed I am with them.

As an avid rider and Service manager in a large shop which sees tons of this stuff get puts through its paces, I've been very impressed with how long these chains last compared to the former 11 speed SRAM offerings. The later which required more frequent chain replacements and often new chainrings at the same interval or even surprise cassette replacements.

Over the last two seasons I've been replacing my own eagle chains purely based on slop when the slapping gets noisier as pins and rollers wear slightly and shifting gets a little bit less crisp. Typically chains get replaced when they reach a 0.5 wear measurement, 0.75 being slightly too long with the former 11 speed drivetrains.

With the Eagle chains I can never get any chain tools to even drop in at 0.5 whatsoever, this being months and nearly1000 km later with elevation gains of around 15000-20000 Meters. I've checked it be with a park tool and both of the Shimano chain checkers we have. Same result.

What has everyone else been doing or noticing with these chains? All I can say is I am impressed. These have also run quieter from the get go and throughout their life then the 11 speeds ever have.

Cheers

dstucki

Vital MTB member dstucki
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11/10/2017 8:05 AM

I am also a service manger at a shop and we have been seeing the same thing. The chains are impressively durable and resistant to wear.

My issue has been that our current tools for measuring chain wear, electronic gauges, and all the other chain measuring devices I've tried, don't drop in at all when the chain is brand new. Therefore the starting point for the measurement wouldn't be the same as all other chains.

After long phone calls with the service department at SRAM, they claim their engineers were finding that they would wear out two chain rings in the time it took to wear the chain out. The other issue we have had, was customers wearing out the 50t cog on the cassette to the point where a new chain skipped under load. The rest of the cogs, the ones that make up steel cluster, held fine. The chain that was taken off and replaced measured .22mm (KMC Digital Gauge) after a whole season of riding. This is a concern for our customers who are used to replacing two, maybe three chains in a season, but that becomes a whole other discussion when we're talking about $100 chainrings, and $430 cassettes. The techs did elude to the fact that the XO1 eagle chains behave much more similar to what we're used to seeing and are measurable with current measuring tools. Also, the shop owner has gone back and forth between XX1 and XO1 chains, and the XO1 chains wear much, much faster.

I currently have an ongoing discussion with some inside techs at SRAM about how to properly measure drivetrain wear. If in fact you can wear out two chainrings during the life of a chain, then that throws all our best tools for determining and educated guess on drivetrain wear out the window. Hopefully we will have some good information from the drivetrain engineers on the subject. When it comes through, I'll be sure to update this conversation.

bturman

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11/10/2017 8:46 AM

When the SRAM Eagle drivetrain was introduced I was given a rundown of everything new, including details about how the chain is made. Here's a recap:



Chain Updates
While it's not likely to get the praise it deserves, the new chain is the biggest reason why Eagle works better. On the inside of the links you'll notice they are smooth looking with none of the sharp edges or chamfers seen on prior SRAM designs. This results in less noise, friction, and wear on the entire system.



Changes to the chain required a new manufacturing process, which now uses progressive stamping to precisely mash metal into perfectly-shaped links over dozens of incremental steps. SRAM says the process was designed with future growth in mind, and we may see updates to other chains as well.



The plates are also flatter, meaning the riveting process can be more consistent for increased strength. It's reportedly SRAM's strongest chain to date. Add in some fancy coatings and the chain's life is extended and friction reduced even further.

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JVP

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11/10/2017 8:51 AM

Which 11 speed chains last the longest for the money? I heard some industry guy say (on a podcast or something) that a good quality chain is one of those money-well-spent things. I always assumed the more expensive chains are just shinier and lighter. $80 seems like a brutal amount to spend on a chain, but if it lasts 2x as long, then I'll do it.

I've always gone mid-grade like PC-X1 for chains. I tend to burn through them fairly fast, but I do replace before they're at .75 on the chain checker.

Dogboy

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11/10/2017 9:03 AM

JVP wrote:

Which 11 speed chains last the longest for the money? I heard some industry guy say (on a podcast or something) that a good quality chain is one of those money-well-spent things. I always assumed the more expensive chains are just shinier and lighter. $80 seems like a brutal amount to spend on a chain, but if it lasts 2x as long, then I'll do it.

I've always gone mid-grade like PC-X1 for chains. I tend to burn through them fairly fast, but I do replace before they're at .75 on the chain checker.

I've had great luck with the higher level SRAM XX1 chains. I have 3 that I use in rotation on 2 different bikes and have a ton of miles on them.

bsavery

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11/10/2017 9:05 AM

I use XTR/Dura Ace chains on XX1 to great effect. Stupid question, can eagle chains be used on XX1?

jasbushey

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11/10/2017 1:02 PM

Hey @dstucki. Good responses. I don't have eagle, but going to upgrade to a bike with one in the spring. I have a few questions.

One the X01 or GX Eagle cassettes, can you swap the 50t out for a replacement ring, similar to what you can do with with a Wolftooth or Oneup cog on the 11 speed X01 cassette? This makes replacing a full cassette unnecessary as in most cases you are going to wear the largest cog out first. Also saves some serious $.

Also, what is the best way to measure that a chainring or a cassette ring wear, or is there nothing? Skipping is obviously a tell tale sign, and today I just typically look at it, but are there any tools to determine this?

jasbushey

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11/10/2017 2:29 PM

So a little bit of research on the sites shows nope, Wolftooth and Oneup don't make anything for 12 speed, yet. I'd like to think they would soon, or that Sram would offer replacement cogs, which currently I do not see.

Here's hoping they actually figure a way out for the consumers to not go broke. At $195 for GX Eagle Cassette and $99 for a chainring, lets hope there is other options soon.

dstucki

Vital MTB member dstucki
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11/10/2017 2:38 PM

jasbushey wrote:

Hey @dstucki. Good responses. I don't have eagle, but going to upgrade to a bike with one in the spring. I have a few questions.

One the X01 or GX Eagle cassettes, can you swap the 50t out for a replacement ring, similar to what you can do with with a Wolftooth or Oneup cog on the 11 speed X01 cassette? This makes replacing a full cassette unnecessary as in most cases you are going to wear the largest cog out first. Also saves some serious $.

Also, what is the best way to measure that a chainring or a cassette ring wear, or is there nothing? Skipping is obviously a tell tale sign, and today I just typically look at it, but are there any tools to determine this?

As of right now there are no options to replace the aluminum 50t carrier cog separate from the entire cassette. For a while, they were making the 11spd carrier 42t aluminum cogs available separately. The techs at SRAM encouraged me that it is extremely rare for the 50t to be the first cog in the system to wear out due to the large surface area. In theory, this cog should last the duration of the rest of the cassette, however we have seen otherwise.

As far as I have found, measuring chain wear and knowing the drivetrain's history is the best way to accurately gauge the cassette and chainring wear. Based on that a test chain (Brand New) can be used to evaluate the chainring and cassette wear. The x-sync II chainrings do give you signs they are wearing, such as lack in chain retention, and they get noisier over time, especially with a new chain. Visual inspection is obviously the most vague, and inaccurate way to tell, but there certainly signs a trained eye will notice.

To answer your question, a truly accurate gauge on cassette and chainring wear does not exist. Hoping SRAM will get back to me with some good information. It seems like the updates they have made in chain performance are going to require new ideas and tools for evaluating drivetrain wear.

endlesstrailz

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11/11/2017 9:05 AM

dstucki wrote:

I am also a service manger at a shop and we have been seeing the same thing. The chains are impressively durable and resistant to wear.

My issue has been that our current tools for measuring chain wear, electronic gauges, and all the other chain measuring devices I've tried, don't drop in at all when the chain is brand new. Therefore the starting point for the measurement wouldn't be the same as all other chains.

After long phone calls with the service department at SRAM, they claim their engineers were finding that they would wear out two chain rings in the time it took to wear the chain out. The other issue we have had, was customers wearing out the 50t cog on the cassette to the point where a new chain skipped under load. The rest of the cogs, the ones that make up steel cluster, held fine. The chain that was taken off and replaced measured .22mm (KMC Digital Gauge) after a whole season of riding. This is a concern for our customers who are used to replacing two, maybe three chains in a season, but that becomes a whole other discussion when we're talking about $100 chainrings, and $430 cassettes. The techs did elude to the fact that the XO1 eagle chains behave much more similar to what we're used to seeing and are measurable with current measuring tools. Also, the shop owner has gone back and forth between XX1 and XO1 chains, and the XO1 chains wear much, much faster.

I currently have an ongoing discussion with some inside techs at SRAM about how to properly measure drivetrain wear. If in fact you can wear out two chainrings during the life of a chain, then that throws all our best tools for determining and educated guess on drivetrain wear out the window. Hopefully we will have some good information from the drivetrain engineers on the subject. When it comes through, I'll be sure to update this conversation.

Very happy to get this response from you @stucki

Your findings and observations confirm my assumptions.

I think a chainring wear indicator tool could be a great thing, however like you say with our trained eye it is pretty easy to spot when a worn out cog won't work quite that well with a fresh chain.

I Definitely want to be able to give customers the best informed answer when situations like these arise, this discussion has been enlightening.

Cheers!

BergMann

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11/13/2017 12:36 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/13/2017 12:58 AM

Some good beta here on Eagle durability, but scratching my head over why all commenters above assume that SRAM chainring use is necessary, or even desirable given their track record & absurd $100+ asking price. When narrow-wide rings by RaceFace, etc. are compatible with the internal spacing of Eagle chains, function flawlessly, & can be had for $50, why bother with a Truvative product with a SRAM sticker on it?

On the chainstretch front, dstucki's reference to "0.22mm" of wear on a worn out Eagle chain does not compute without a reference. 0.22mm over how many links? Most scaled chain gauges do not express chain wear in mm, but rather as a percentage. A reading of 0.5 = 0.5% not 0.5mm.
If current drop-in gauges aren't inserting into new XX1 Eagle chains, then it's time to revert to the old-school method of using a precision ruler to measure 12 links in the chain, center of pin to center of pin. 12 links in a new, unworn chain = 12" (304.8mm). 0.5% wear over 12 links = 1.524mm

uphillsg

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11/13/2017 8:43 AM

My mrs rides heaps, and rinses gear, the chain and front chainring of her eagle groupset are still original and in great shape, despite her bike being 10 months, 4 rear derailleurs, 5 bottom brackets and 4 back wheels old. by comparison the xx1 chainrings lasted her a month until the steel version came out.

endlesstrailz

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11/13/2017 5:01 PM

BergMann wrote:

Some good beta here on Eagle durability, but scratching my head over why all commenters above assume that SRAM chainring use is necessary, or even desirable given their track record & absurd $100+ asking price. When narrow-wide rings by RaceFace, etc. are compatible with the internal spacing of Eagle chains, function flawlessly, & can be had for $50, why bother with a Truvative product with a SRAM sticker on it?

On the chainstretch front, dstucki's reference to "0.22mm" of wear on a worn out Eagle chain does not compute without a reference. 0.22mm over how many links? Most scaled chain gauges do not express chain wear in mm, but rather as a percentage. A reading of 0.5 = 0.5% not 0.5mm.
If current drop-in gauges aren't inserting into new XX1 Eagle chains, then it's time to revert to the old-school method of using a precision ruler to measure 12 links in the chain, center of pin to center of pin. 12 links in a new, unworn chain = 12" (304.8mm). 0.5% wear over 12 links = 1.524mm

The Eagle rings run way quieter and smoother than the previous iteration of SRAM rings and other non X-sync rings.

Narrow-wide chainrings do a reasonable job considering their much lower price but we've found most tend to wear out much faster than the SRAM ones and will start dropping chains earlier in their life than SRAM ones. Not the result we look for in the PNW region where I am. We have lots of steep climbing and relentless weather that just punishes drivetrains.

I'm with you guys on the subject of conventional chain-checkers not giving up any accurate readings on eagle chains. The "campy-style" method of using Vernier calipers may be the ultimate way of doing it.