Recently, I bought one of those go-no-go bicycle chain wear checkers. I tried it on two of my bikes that have obvious worn chains, they failed. I tried it on two of my other bikes, they also failed. I thought no big deal; it’s a bad gauge. I tried it on my last bike and a short section of new chain. They noticeably passed.
So now I am in the market for four new chains. Previous times, I would buy lower end SRAM. This time I noticed there are stainless steel chains for just a little bit more. A majority of my miles start with nine miles of lake front trail. We live in the middle. None of my chains are rusty. They mostly are a gritty oily mess. Riding in poor weather on surfaces sprinkled with goose poop and fine sand does that.
Do you think stainless steel chains would have any advantages for me? Do you have any positive or negative experiences with them? What are your thoughts or experiences?
Look better and slightly easier to clean but I don't think SS chains give you extra chain life. But you're right, the cost difference isn't that much. I generally replace my chains every 3000 mi. or so but results vary.
TLDR: As long as you continue to employ your chain checker (and maybe clean your chains more/better), you'll get the most miles for your buck by continuing to use those cheap SRAM chains.
The state and cleanliness of your chain also is a major factor in its longevity. Another exhaustingly long CylingTips article
clarifiies this. I have no experience with stainless chains but would doubt they're any kind of panacea. Keeping clean and properly lubed should outweigh any perceived advantage to stainless.
I have switched 2 bikes (going on a 3 year test now) to wax-based lube, specifically SQUIRT low-temp for winter and Pedros slick wax in summer. I have some annecdotal evidence that these lubes attract less gunk therefore keeping chains cleaner and subsequently, they last longer. Not by any huge margin but enough that I think along with a chain that requires less/easier cleaning as a result, modern-day wax lubes are the way to go. As always, YMMV.
When you mount the chains, spray lightly with WD40 to get a light coaring on the outside surface of the chain. Helps keep water and dirt from sticking. Don't try to get any of the lube out from the inside.