Parts are in, the bikes are prepped, and it’s raining. A lot. April showers right? While some dry trails might be a ways off, at least we have been able to officially start the chain wear testing. If you didn’t catch our announcements after the first installment of the chain wear challenge, we addressed the fact that many of you commented on the fact that new chainrings weren’t listed as being new at the beginning of the test. Well, at the time we weren’t sure if new rings were going to be in the budget for the testing, but after hearing you loud and clear, and wanting to guarantee the most unbiased testing possible, we knew it had to be done.

So, please take note that all bikes involved in testing have had brand new XT cranksets installed. That’s right, all 9 speed test bikes are now equipped with new 9 speed Shimano XT M770 cranks, while the 10 speed test mules have been outfitted with new Shimano Dynasys XT M770 cranks. To review, this means that all test bikes have been set up with new chains, cassettes, cranksets, cables, and housings.

After building up each bike with the new parts, a baseline measurement of each chain was taken as a start point for the wear testing. The results? Well, they were somewhat surprising, but you’ll have to jump past the break to find out why!

Check out the starting measures, Rider Bios, and Bike Checks after the break!

After carefully measuring each chain multiple times in at least 4 different location on each chain with the Feedback Digital Chain Gauge, the results were fairly interesting. Obviously, with any manufacturing process, there is an acceptable level of tolerance in the final spec, which is clearly shown here by the difference in measurements. Keep in mind that the numbers represented in the chart, and graph are hundredths of a millimeter which is quite small, but the numbers don’t lie. Not only did the 10 speed chain measure lower on average than their 9 speed competition, but the measurements deviated less, meaning the measurements through the entire chain were more similar on the 10 speed chains, than on the 9 speed models.

How is this going to affect chain wear? Only time will tell.

Test Rider Profiles:

Zach (me):

1. Mountain Bike Experience:

I started mountain biking when I was 12, and quickly fell in love with it.  Have been riding since, riding just about every discipline, on almost every style of bike. Started with XC, then XC racing, then got into dirt jumping, then downhill.

2. Weight, height, and age:

Currently at 158 lbs, 5’8″, quarter of a century old.

3. Bike Set Up:

17.5″ Trek Fuel EX 9.8, Easton Haven wheels, 175 XT cranks

4. Mash or Spin? I’m not built like a cyclist, so it’s usually mashing. But I’m trying to spin more at a higher cadence.

5. How would you describe your riding style? Aggressive trail/AM style. I climb really slow usually, in order to save it for the down hill. Try to hit as many jumps, berms, stunts as possible.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? I will ride in just about any weather condition, but don’t like to ride when the trails are just horrible. Around here, when it’s wet, there’s not much you can do.


1. Mountain Bike Experience:18 years ago I started riding in the woods on a Trek fully rigid, raced that bike for a year, then got a VooDoo with a Marzocchi fork, what a difference with suspension up front! Through the years I’ve ridden trails all over the East Coast, Rocky Mountains and the West Coast. I like them all for different reasons, the Pisgah/Dupont area of North Carolina is my favorite. For now.

2. Weight, height, and age: 175 – 6 foot – 53

3. Bike Set Up: 2011 19.5″ Trek Fuel EX 9, Haven Wheels, 175 XT cranks

4. Mash or Spin? Mash mostly, lots of standing with the singlespeed (which isn’t involved in this test, -Zach).

5. How would you describe your riding style? Fairly smooth, I try to flow on the trail like water. I also like to climb.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? If my riding will mess up the trail, I won’t ride.  I will ride in the rain, hail, thunder, lightning and snow.



1. Mountain Bike Experience:

Roadie who saw the truth.  Began MTB about a year and a half ago.  Previous motocross racing experience as a youth.

2. Weight, height, and age:

165lbs., 5′-11″ hgt., age 40

3. Bike Set Up:

2011 18.5″ Trek Fuel EX 9.9  with 175 triple XT cranks

4. Mash or Spin? Definitely a spinner.

5. How would you describe your riding style? Style-Moderately aggressive but I take care of my equipment and myself.  Hell I’m self employed!  No medical days off for me.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? Fair weather??? No Way!  Froze my fingers and feet on more than one occasion.  15 degrees with snow to 95 degrees with high humidity.  Year rounder all the way.  Trail conscious as Bob said, though.


1. Mountain Bike Experience: My mountain biking experience entails three years of serious mountain bike riding.  I focusing on getting better every season.

2. Weight, height, and age:

125 lbs, 69 inches tall, 23 years old (probably 24 by the time I get this all written. Happy Birthday!)

3. Bike Set Up:

I ride a 2010 17.5″ Fuel Ex 9 converted to 9 speed for the durability challenge.  My wheels are 26 inches big.  My cranks are Zach?? (175 XTs)

4. Mash or Spin? Spin

5. How would you describe your riding style? I enjoy climbing up long hills as well as going down.  Most of my riding is cross country due to the local trails.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? I live in Ohio, if it rains I am forced to hit the roads.



1. Mountain Bike Experience:

I have ride mountain bikes for about 5 years between Costa Rica and here.

2. Weight, height, and age:

195lbs (trying to lose some weight), 5’9″, 32 years old

3. Bike Set Up:

2010 17.5″ Fuel EX 8,  XT Crank Length 175mm


4. Mash or Spin? Mash most likely

5. How would you describe your riding style? I like to jump, fast down hill, try stunts but most important than anything else to have fun when I’m riding with my friends.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? I ride every time I can, so I don’t think I’m a fair weather rider



1. Mountain Bike Experience:

Novice riding back in the 1997 to 2002. Away from mtn biking for a few years doing triathlons and road racing.  Then got back in to mountain biking in a big way in 2009.  3 years of serious mtn biking since. Race for Cyclesport & Tri.

2. Weight, height, and age:

170lbs, 6’0”, 35.

Bike Set Up:

2010 19″ Fisher HiFi Pro, 19”frame, 175mm Cranks

4. Mash or Spin? Spin

5. How would you describe your riding style? Long distance endurance riding.  A-events for the year are a few NUE series events.  Training involves many 50+ mile days in the saddle.  Rather conservative on technical areas but improving those skills.

6. Are you a fair weather rider? I’ll ride in bad weather but I am trail conscious.  If he trails are muddy, I’ll take ride fire roads in the state and national forests around the area.


Even though all of us have already started testing, it will most likely be a few weeks before the results start rolling in hot and heavy. You can expect quite a few more posts with the continual results in the future, but until then, stay tuned!


  1. The 9 speed tooling is likely quite a bit more worn than the newer 10 speed tooling, therefore more deviation in initial subset of measurements. Similar to die extrusion of rim weights, earlier models are 2-5% lighter than 5 years later, just ask Velocity.

  2. Yes Bob. The whole point was to have as few variables as possible, hence the very similar bikes. If I knew 6 people with the exact same bikes, and the exact same set ups, that would have been ideal, but this will suffice.

  3. 2 Months already !
    Is there any progress ?

    In 2 months 500 miles is pretty easy. Could be a first measuring point.

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