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Chains suck, Chain suck.

VC's picture

By VC - Posted on 22 July 2010

When my chain gets muddy it suffers chain suck really bad. I wanna throw my bike into the bush (nearly did on saturday).
Is it an old chain thats stretched, middle cog too old or an inherent problem in mud, The drivetrain was changed at the same time a few months ago, please HEELLPP , this drives me NUTS....!!!!

[Mod. moved to MTB gear]

hawkeye's picture

Mud doesn't help, but if the chain is worn/dirty and/or the chainring teeth are starting to look a little like shark fins, chain suck is where you're heading.

Following a tip from jacojoco I now run two chains, swapping the dirty one out when it needs a clean - which can be after every ride, if it's wet. This *should* extend the life of the cogs and rings to four chains instead of two.

Important: don't skimp on chains - XTR is where it's at. Longer life from the chain dramatically improves the life of chainrings and cassettes, as chain elongation is the main driver of wear in the rest of the parts.

Supagav's picture

So can you give us a bit more to work with brands etc? what is the chain? what are the chainrings? new cassette as well? what bike?

a few things lead to chainsuck,
1: dirty and worn out gear
2; unevenly worn gear (plus mud in your case)
3; not enough lube
4; wrong type of lube
5; bad gear choices
6; bad chainlines caused by frame (eg not to do with bad gear choice)
7: suspension movement leading to chain tension/poor chain line.
8; damaged tooth/teeth in the system

I have suffered from most of the above causes during my first few years of riding. I had a old specialized that was not dead square in the back end and it always suffered from chain suck once I got a bit of mud in there.
If riding in muddy conditions use a suitable lube. make sure the running gear is clean (spotless) before you lube it.
certain chains and chainrings will not play nicely together. My advice is to go with the best quality chain you can, mainly they are made with better materials and are a lot easier to keep/get clean, because of this they last longer. I tend to run middleburn chainrings on shimano XTR chains and they work very well.

BT's picture

Don't ride in the wet! It ruins the trails....and your bike.

Lach's picture

Chain suck is basically the chain wanting to keep wrapping around the front cog instead of straightening out and heading off towards the back ones. This is more likely to happen if your chain is dirty, rusty, worn or some combination of these. Keeping the chain clean (as in taking it off and really cleaning it with degreaser, kero etc) and lubed with a good dry chain lube is good. Wiping clean and re-lubing on longer rides is also good.

Using a "wet" lube and letting the grease build up brings it on quicker when there is mud or even dry sand around, although wet lube lasts longer in wet conditions than dry lube (d'oh).

Not much you can do about it if its really muddy - I'm sure everyone that did the Capital Punishment had multiple issues of chain suck - there were plenty of broken chains as a result. Even there I found giving it a scrape / wipe and a re-lube helped quite a bit.

VC's picture

Good advise guys, i do most maintenance things on my bike to keep it running well.I also try maintain correct chain lines. No i dont ride when it's too wet ,but inevitably there are puddles on tracks at some time, The bike is a giant trance( in case they have any inherant probs) ,I think i might update drive gear more often. Thanks guys , will definately observe your advice.

Hop fiend's picture

don't ride when it is wet, kills bikes & trails(I know it can be hard not to get MTB fix)

Scottboy's picture

too all of the above, top line cassettes & chain & rings you can't scimp on . I might not be fast or do a lot of riding but I have the good running gear & I see the cassette gets dirty I pull the chain off thoroughly clean the running gear & the bike ,cheaper in the long run

Morgan's picture
Not much you can do about it if its really muddy - I'm sure everyone that did the Capital Punishment had multiple issues of chain suck - there were plenty of broken chains as a result.

Incorrect. I had no problems running my 1 x 9 with a single speed specific chainring.

I did get shifting issues but not so bad as to regret not throwing my Rohloff back onto the bike...... Smiling

Supagav's picture

Just to get one thing straight, Mud does not cause chain suck! poor meshing and releasing of the chain to the chainrings causes chain suck. As I said before all sorts of things lead to poor meshing/releasing of the chain.

BTW, V or I did not suffer from chain suck once during Capital punishment. (I was on a SS though).
The wet lube was used and allowed to soak in over 24hrs done post a very good clean of the drive chain of course. V's drive chain was working perfectly at the end of the race. BTW so were her gears, GO NOKON!!!
also note that if any of you know V you will know that she does a few Km on her bike and that drive chain had been on the bike since Jan.
It is still going strong now. Just rotating a couple of chains and keeping the gear clean makes a big difference.

personally if it was me I would be replacing chainrings, chain, rear cassette (and full new cables). I hate chain suck! The damage it could do to your frame could be very bad. or a broken chain could lead to a long walk.....

Riding in the wet is fine just ride the fire trails or tracks like stromlo that can deal with it. (they are around).

If you couldn't build trails that can deal with wet then the poor buggers in the UK especially would never ride:-)

Noel's picture

Trance X is known for a bit of chain suck. I find that if you suck in a big mouth full of water from your hydro pack and then spit it all over the chain as it is around the front ring, then repeat around the cassette. It can help fix it mid-ride. It seems to happen when you get a build up of sand and grit. Sometimes the worst is that as you approach a hill and drop down into granny that you get the chain caught up in the front derailleur.

I think on the higher end Trances X's the read derailleur (XTR) has an adjuster to allow you to put more tension on it.

I avoid riding in the wet, but if I get a build up from puddles and then riding through sand I just spit water on there. If you know where your local public water taps are then all the easier too. I can spit water on my drivetrain while riding along.

loki's picture

Check your chain for any stiff links too.
eg if using the Shimano joining pin you may have a link that doesn't flex as easily as the rest.
Or there could be chain damage such as a dent or a twist that is causing the chain to stick to the chain ring instead of releasing and continuing its travels to the rear dérailleur.'s picture

Schlecks chain fell off after what looked like chain suck on the replay

ar_junkie's picture

Changing under load is a rookie mistake, one AS will never make again!

Rob's picture

For those not keeping up with the TdF, 'AS' in Junkie's post == Andy Schleck.

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