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  1. #1
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    1st time Replacing chain/cassette: What should I have learned?

    With about 3000 abusive miles on my drivetrain, I'd shot my chain and worn my cassette. Starting my second summer as a commuter, I figure I ought to learn how to do it myself. Arrogant and ill-informed, naturally I made some mistakes, so now my goal is to figure out what I should have learned from them. Hopefully someone here can confirm what I did wrong.

    With the right tools, the cassette was easy. The chain was the problem.
    I bought a cheapie Nashbar chain, figuring it wouldn't cost so much to replace when I screwed it up. (The only thing I did right) The chain came with a two-part master link that I can use to put the chain on and off without tools for cleaning. In my wisdom I said screw that, I'll just drive the pin mostly out, and then drive it back in to reconnect the chain. -- was this my first mistake?

    [This is the part where I got really stupid]
    So I measured and broke the new chain at the right point. So far so good. I thread the chain through the derailleur and drive the pin back in to reconnect. And realized I'd threaded it through incorrectly. So I drove the pin out again, threaded it through correctly this time, and reconnected. Only to find I'd gotten my derailleur cable housing on the wrong side of the chain. So I drove the pin out again, and _finally_ got it right and reconnected the chain.

    I take it for a spin around the block, and things seem to work well. The next day however, my first time through an intersection I bear down and bust a link on the chain. So the question is, did I damage the link by abusing the pin so many times, or did I screw up from the get-go by trying to extract and re-insert the pin at all?

  2. #2
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bveraa
    With about 3000 abusive miles on my drivetrain, I'd shot my chain and worn my cassette. Starting my second summer as a commuter, I figure I ought to learn how to do it myself. Arrogant and ill-informed, naturally I made some mistakes, so now my goal is to figure out what I should have learned from them. Hopefully someone here can confirm what I did wrong.

    With the right tools, the cassette was easy. The chain was the problem.
    I bought a cheapie Nashbar chain, figuring it wouldn't cost so much to replace when I screwed it up. (The only thing I did right) The chain came with a two-part master link that I can use to put the chain on and off without tools for cleaning. In my wisdom I said screw that, I'll just drive the pin mostly out, and then drive it back in to reconnect the chain. -- was this my first mistake?

    [This is the part where I got really stupid]
    So I measured and broke the new chain at the right point. So far so good. I thread the chain through the derailleur and drive the pin back in to reconnect. And realized I'd threaded it through incorrectly. So I drove the pin out again, threaded it through correctly this time, and reconnected. Only to find I'd gotten my derailleur cable housing on the wrong side of the chain. So I drove the pin out again, and _finally_ got it right and reconnected the chain.

    I take it for a spin around the block, and things seem to work well. The next day however, my first time through an intersection I bear down and bust a link on the chain. So the question is, did I damage the link by abusing the pin so many times, or did I screw up from the get-go by trying to extract and re-insert the pin at all?
    Please put down the tools and slowly step away.

    I'm completely baffled as to why you continuously removed and replaced the pin if the chain came with a master link. I'm also confused as to how you could have "threaded it through incorrectly."

    To answer your question, yes you did weaken the link and yes you should have just used the master link in the first place.

    Good for you for wanting to learn, though. Get a good maintenance book and be prepared to learn from the many more mistakes you may make in the future.
    Last edited by Peek the Geek; 04-18-06 at 12:42 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peek the Geek
    Please put down the tools and slowly step away.

    I'm completely baffled as to why you continuously removed and replaced the pin if the chain came with a master link. I'm also confused as to how you could have "threaded it through incorrectly."

    To answer your question, yes you did weaken the link and yes you should have just used the master link in the first place.

    Good for you for wanting to learn, though. Get a good maintenance book and be prepared to learn from the many more mistakes you may make in the future.
    Couldn't have said it better if I tried. So I won't. ++++1

  4. #4
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    Generally, try to break and rivet only once at a given link. Shimano insists that you use a new pin rather than driving the old pin back in. I am glad that you were not injured....sometimes people bite the bars, hang their nuts and crash when the chain separates. Hey, it is a lesson well learned.

  5. #5
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    As for he baffling, "why not use the master link?" It was one of those cases of, I've got this new tool, why not see how many times I can use it? I knew it was dumb, yet I couldn't help myself. And of course, once I started down that path, it would have been a sign of weakness to decide it was wrong. Kind of like reading the instructions. Or asking for directions.
    And yes, when I bought a new drill, I did put holes in things just because they were there. Don't ask what happened when I got the circular saw.

    The misthreading the derailleur.... well, if you've already passed the point of rational thought and are in the "hurry up and put it together" mode, and the bike's upside down so it's an unfamiliar angle and..... Ok, I confess, I don't know how I did it either. I probably couldn't do it again if I tried.

    In the future, I'll use the master link and it will all be fine, but I was mostly wondering if breaking and riveting was allowed once, or not at all, or what. Sounds like the answer is somewhere between 1 and 0.

    Thanks for humoring me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    Don't beat yourself up over incorrectly threading the chain on the first two tries. It's very easy to focus on the details of a job, and lose sight of the big picture. I've done some REALLY dumb stuff.

    EVERYBODY SCREWS UP. Yes, you will screw up less with experience, but more importantly, experience will allow you to fix your screw ups.

    My way of fixing the derailer-threading issue is to take the pulleys out of the derailer, wrap the chain correctly, and then put the derailer back together again. I might even justify all of it by acting like it was time to clean and lube the pulleys, anyway.

    The cable issue could have been fixed by unbolting the cable from the stop on derailer, untangling it from the chain, putting it back together, and readjusting the derailer. Just act like the derailer needed to be adjusted anyway.

  7. #7
    Senior Member spunkyruss's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that I agree that it's best to break the chain exactly one time -at installation. Also, get a spare master link when you buy your new chain. Keep the spare with you whenever you're on the bike. I've honestly never needed one, but I consider it light and cheap insurance.

  8. #8
    is slower than you Peek the Geek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bveraa
    The misthreading the derailleur.... well, if you've already passed the point of rational thought and are in the "hurry up and put it together" mode, and the bike's upside down so it's an unfamiliar angle and..... Ok, I confess, I don't know how I did it either. I probably couldn't do it again if I tried.
    Okay, this clears things up a bit for me. I originally thought you meant you threaded the pin improperly through the chain. Threading the chain through the derailleur wrong is not such an unusual blunder.

    Make it easy on yourself and use the master links. But don't throw away that chain tool. You'll still need it to remove damaged links if your chain breaks or to remove extra links if you need to resize a chain.

    And yes, everybody does screw up at some point. We're just not as forthcoming about it as you have been.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bveraa
    As for he baffling, "why not use the master link?" It was one of those cases of, I've got this new tool, why not see how many times I can use it? I knew it was dumb, yet I couldn't help myself. And of course, once I started down that path, it would have been a sign of weakness to decide it was wrong. Kind of like reading the instructions. Or asking for directions.
    And yes, when I bought a new drill, I did put holes in things just because they were there. Don't ask what happened when I got the circular saw.

    The misthreading the derailleur.... well, if you've already passed the point of rational thought and are in the "hurry up and put it together" mode, and the bike's upside down so it's an unfamiliar angle and..... Ok, I confess, I don't know how I did it either. I probably couldn't do it again if I tried.

    In the future, I'll use the master link and it will all be fine, but I was mostly wondering if breaking and riveting was allowed once, or not at all, or what. Sounds like the answer is somewhere between 1 and 0.

    Thanks for humoring me.
    Great and honest response...glad you don't take yourself too seriously. "Life's too important to be taken seriously."

    I just replaced my first chain last week. While I didn't have the same problems you did, I was nervous as heck on my inaugural ride just wondering when/if the chain will break. So far, no problems.

    Keep at it!

  10. #10
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    good judgement comes from experience
    experience comes from bad judgement
    tuition to the school of hard knocks

  11. #11
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    I am a wrench in an lbs. We always recommend that people buy a Sram chain with a speed link on it when they want to swap chains. You can usually get one that is the proper size (for an eight, or a nine, etc.) so you do not have to measure the chain..

    That's what I use on my bike. Oh, although I hesitate to ask this - how did you kill a cassette in only 3,000 miles? Most cassettes will last anywhere from 7,500 to 15,000 miles, depending on the rider, conditions, etc. A chain maybe, but a cassette?

    Not to add more fuel, but I would suggest swaping chains once a month - it will save wear on your drive train.

  12. #12
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    If the pins were swaged, like a shimano chain, then driving the pin out enlarges the holes in the sideplates. Shimano replacement pins are sized with this in mind. Putting the original pin back in results in a loose fit that will sooner or later (sooner in your case) result in the pin backing out. You're lucky that the pin did not catch in your derailleur cage and cause major damage.

    I think it's pretty obvious that you should have used the master link as intended. As it worked out, it's a pretty cheap lesson.

  13. #13
    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    >>Arrogant and ill-informed, naturally I made some mistakes, so now my goal is to figure out what I should have learned from them. Hopefully someone here can confirm what I did wrong.<<

    i love it...and you are being honest .

    when the quick links first came out i wouldn't use them...and then i got injured and took a 7-year hiatus. i only recently started cycling again and i now think the quick links are great...but do get the park pliers for removing them because the right tool makes the job so much easier.

    ed rader
    Last edited by erader; 04-19-06 at 08:55 AM.

  14. #14
    cptn. x-chains sidekick gmoneyhobbit's Avatar
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    chains that come with masterlinks arent meant to be broken like that... the rivets are not the same as say a shimano hg chain


    take sram for example it comes with a master link and if you break it you will see shavings etc... this is because when manufacturing the chain the rivet with a machine that presses the sides..

    now when you break a chain to cut it down.. you bail the pin and use the master link to connect the two therefore creating no points where the sides have been "sheared" so to speak

    when you shear the sides, you create a weak spot .. now torque that bad boy, and the pin will want to move within the chain later pulling out from the plate.

    even with hg chains the pin that you press in has a side that is "flattened" out so to speak, and the other side, once you break the pin, is positioned further out.. so any movement from the pin wont, usually cause a failure.., unless you are breaking an old chain which has stretch... with that said never break/ or try to repair an old chain with stretch over 1/8in

  15. #15
    Senior Member erader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmoneyhobbit
    chains that come with masterlinks arent meant to be broken like that... the rivets are not the same as say a shimano hg chain


    take sram for example it comes with a master link and if you break it you will see shavings etc... this is because when manufacturing the chain the rivet with a machine that presses the sides..

    now when you break a chain to cut it down.. you bail the pin and use the master link to connect the two therefore creating no points where the sides have been "sheared" so to speak

    when you shear the sides, you create a weak spot .. now torque that bad boy, and the pin will want to move within the chain later pulling out from the plate.

    even with hg chains the pin that you press in has a side that is "flattened" out so to speak, and the other side, once you break the pin, is positioned further out.. so any movement from the pin wont, usually cause a failure.., unless you are breaking an old chain which has stretch... with that said never break/ or try to repair an old chain with stretch over 1/8in
    so what happens if yoiu need to add a couple of links to a chain...are you screwed?

    ed rader

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