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  1. #1
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    breaking chain without chain tool

    I'm trying to break my chain to add a master link.

    I'd hate to buy a chain tool just to add a 75c link, but I can't manage to break the chain. I tried hammering out the pin with a small screwdriver, but I couldn't get it to budge. Then I tried wedging open a pair of outer links with some pliers, but I ended up snapping the pliers.

    Is there any way to break a chain without a chain tool (it's okay if the link gets damaged...I'm replacing it)?

  2. #2
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    You are going to end up ruining a chain to save a few dollars on the tool. Nashbar has one for $5. Even if you can get the pin out, I would not be inclined to ride a chain that I went at with a screw driver and a hammer.

  3. #3
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Invest in a $5 chain tool. You'll be glad you did.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
    .litespeed.classic.litespeed.firenze.bianchi.pista.dean.colonel.plus.more.

  4. #4
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    Good heavens! You'd "hate to buy a chain tool"? You'll have earned then whatever the result of your innovative thriftyness.

    Already cost you a pair of pliers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member TimJ's Avatar
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    I don't buy this. I think this is troll town.
    fun facts: Psychopaths have trouble understanding abstract concepts.
    "Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria."

  6. #6
    Destroyer of Worlds kyledr's Avatar
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    I somehow doubt someone with 500+ posts is trolling, however pathetic this post is. Buy a chain tool. You need to take the chain off to clean it anyway. I've pressed a pin that was completely removed from a chain into a chain before so as to not buy a new chain, but that only required a bench vice and some duct tape. Removing the pin will be much harder, although a crafty person could certainly rig something up with a bench vice. But by the time he's done that, he has essentially created a chain tool and wasted more than enough time to warrant buying a chain tool.

  7. #7
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    Well, I got it out. What ended up working was taking two flat head screwdrivers, hammering them both between outer links and then twisting them in opposite directions.

    If the chain is screwed then I'll just buy a new one for about the same price as a chain tool. Aftermarket chains almost always come with master links anyway, so I shouldn't need a chain tool after this.


    The problem I have now is that the master link has some widthwise play to it. Not sure why. I measured the chain where I inserted the master link and it isn't warped at all. 1/8" on the nose. Does anyone know if KMC master links are supposed to have widthwise play?

  8. #8
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    invest on the 5 dollar caintool, is way better than poking holes on ur fingers with your nail and hammer.

    also, you can ways use it to remove your chain, and then soak it in oil.. @ least thats what id o to lube my chain.

  9. #9
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    Well, I got it out. What ended up working was taking two flat head screwdrivers, hammering them both between outer links and then twisting them in opposite directions.

    If the chain is screwed then I'll just buy a new one for about the same price as a chain tool. Aftermarket chains almost always come with master links anyway, so I shouldn't need a chain tool after this.


    The problem I have now is that the master link has some widthwise play to it. Not sure why. I measured the chain where I inserted the master link and it isn't warped at all. 1/8" on the nose. Does anyone know if KMC master links are supposed to have widthwise play?
    Dude, are you serious? When you buy a new chain you will still have to cut it to fit your bike. That is going to require a chain tool. Masterlinks just make it easier to take the chain off the bike for cleaning. If you really used two screw drivers to pry the plates apart, make sure you carry a cell phone when you ride. You are going to need a lift home at some point.

  10. #10
    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    Considering what you did to your chain, you need to toss it and buy a new one, unless you like catastrophic failures that lead to painful crashes.
    "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)

  11. #11
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    Can anyone tell me how to measure the width of my chain? The LBS told me it was a 1/8" chain and they gave me a 1/8" master link, but I don't think that's right because the 1/8" master link is way too big. Seems like I could fit an extra plate in there.

    On the chain, the width of the roller is 1/8", but the width of the inner plates is 3/16". So does that make my chain 1/8" width or 3/16" width? The master link measures about 1/4" from plate to plate. Is that right for a 1/8" master link?

    Either the master link is labeled with the wrong width or the LBS told me the wrong size.

    P.S. Thanks for all the advice everyone, but I'm not that worried about catastrophic failure. I was surprised at how strong the chain is (it broke my pliers!) and the only parts that were damaged were removed. I'll be replacing the rear sprocket and chainring soon anyway (and along with them, the chain), but first I needed a chain with a master link to try out the paraffin wax method of lubrication. The sprocket/chainring combination I choose will depend on how the paraffin wax performs.

    P.P.S. I would have just bought a chaintool, but I have a bike with a 1/4" pitch chain and I want to make sure the chain tool I buy can handle it. At present, I don't have time to find out what kind of a chaintool I need to handle chains of different pitch length. So I decided to hold off on my chain tool purchase.
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-29-07 at 11:54 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    Can anyone tell me how to measure the width of my chain? The LBS told me it was a 1/8" chain and they gave me a 1/8" master link, but I don't think that's right because the 1/8" master link is way too big. Seems like I could fit an extra plate in there.

    On the chain, the width of the roller is 1/8", but the width of the inner plates is 3/16". So does that make my chain 1/8" width or 3/16" width? The master link measures about 1/4" from plate to plate. Is that right for a 1/8" master link?

    Either the master link is labeled with the wrong width or the LBS told me the wrong size.

    P.S. Thanks for all the advice everyone, but I'm not that worried about catastrophic failure. I was surprised at how strong the chain is (it broke my pliers!) and the only parts that were damaged were removed. I'll be replacing the rear sprocket and chainring soon anyway (and along with them, the chain), but first I needed a chain with a master link to try out the paraffin wax method of lubrication. The sprocket/chainring combination I choose will depend on how the paraffin wax performs.

    P.P.S. I would have just bought a chaintool, but I have a bike with a 1/4" pitch chain and I want to make sure the chain tool I buy can handle it. At present, I don't have time to find out what kind of a chaintool I need to handle chains of different pitch length. So I decided to hold off on my chain tool purchase.

    I think any reply, given the nature of your posts, would only tend to promote stupidity.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    If the chain is screwed then I'll just buy a new one for about the same price as a chain tool. Aftermarket chains almost always come with master links anyway, so I shouldn't need a chain tool after this.
    Guess what? Since bikes require differing chain lengths, new chains come long and have to be shortened. You're still going to need the chain tool.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ollo_ollo's Avatar
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    You should just take your bike to a shop for help since it appears all your tools & parts will either be broken or lost.
    visit my homebuilding blog: www.monoplanar.blogspot.com

  15. #15
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    A chain tool is just one of those things you need if you are going to do anything with a chain. No two ways about it, unless you like breaking tools and messing up your chain.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by onbike 1939
    I think any reply, given the nature of your posts, would only tend to promote stupidity.
    As opposed to promoting being a dickhead like you're doing right now?

    Quote Originally Posted by ollo_ollo
    You should just take your bike to a shop for help since it appears all your tools & parts will either be broken or lost.
    No thanks. The job is already done and I've yet to find a bike shop that knows more about bikes than me, which is pretty bad considering the fact that I don't know much at all.

    One shop I went to told me you can only shift an internal hub while pedaling. Another gave me this master link in a bag labeled 1/2"x1/8", but I'm almost certain it's not 1/8". However, I'd like to know how to determine what size this link really is so that:
    1. They believe me when I tell them it's the wrong size.
    2. I can check that the next one they give me is the right size before I leave the store.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    No thanks. The job is already done and I've yet to find a bike shop that knows more about bikes than me, which is pretty bad considering the fact that I don't know much at all.

    One shop I went to told me you can only shift an internal hub while pedaling. Another gave me this master link in a bag labeled 1/2"x1/8", but I'm almost certain it's not 1/8". However, I'd like to know how to determine what size this link really is so that:
    1. They believe me when I tell them it's the wrong size.
    2. I can check that the next one they give me is the right size before I leave the store.
    Dude...seriously. You're going to get yourself killed. Find a good shop and listen when people tell you that attacking critical parts with blunt objects is a Really Bad Idea. Not to mention which, you've broken a tool that costs more than $5 and wasted hours of your time to save....$5. That's some serious false economy.

    As for your master link conundrum... Hint: Are you measuring the width of the link in the right place?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge
    As for your master link conundrum... Hint: Are you measuring the width of the link in the right place?
    That's the question I asked. Where is the link to be measured?

    Like I said, on the chain the width of the roller (which is the same as the distance between the inside surfaces of the inner plates) is about 1/8". The distance between the outside surfaces of the inner plates (which is the same as the distance between the inside surfaces of the outer plates) is about 3/16". If the master link fit then the distance between the inside surfaces of the two outer plates (which are the only plates) of the master link would be about 3/16", but it's closer to 1/4".

    As far as I can tell, these are all the possible width measurements. So the question is, what is "the width" of the chain and what is "the width" of the master link? From what I understand "the width" of the chain is the width of the roller, which is 1/8". However, I'm not sure if that is correct. Also, does the fact that the master link is about 1/16" too large mean that "the width" of the master link is 1/16" more than the width of the chain (ie 3/16" instead of 1/8") or does it mean that the master link is designed for a chain with thicker inner plates? Both the chain and the master link are KMC.
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-30-07 at 09:28 AM.

  19. #19
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    The pliers broke because they were cheap ones. This guys approsch has cheap written all over it. Unfortunately, cheapness is a widespread disease. Whining about money is even more ppopular. Go figure. bk

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke
    The pliers broke because they were cheap ones. This guys approsch has cheap written all over it. Unfortunately, cheapness is a widespread disease. Whining about money is even more ppopular. Go figure. bk
    Thanks for the social commentary. Now please excuse me while I go lay down a couple hundred dollars on a cycling specific outfit to ride to a cycling specific store to buy a cycling specific chain tool so I can ensure a 100% unadulterated cycling experience.
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-30-07 at 09:29 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Well, I am now changing my vote to troll.

    On the off chance that you are serious, the issue is not one of having to spend hundreds of dollars to act the part of a "cyclist". The issue is that you have done something to save $5 that has very likely compromised the chain. At best this could mean a long walk home. At worst it could result in fairly serious injury. If you value your teeth, go buy a new chain and a proper chain tool. Get one with a masterlink, cut it size and the install it. If you don't care to hear this, simply stop asking questions.

    Best of luck.

  22. #22
    Up on the Down Side CyLowe97's Avatar
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    A few years ago Bicycling magazine (that bastion of tech tips!) had a small bit on roadside fixes. They showed an illustration of breaking the chain by using the rear skewer. IIRC, they placed the chain between the dropout and the skewer and then used the quick release to push the pin out.

    Beyond my abilities and probably not best for the chain in general, but I guess it could be done.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyLowe97
    A few years ago Bicycling magazine (that bastion of tech tips!) had a small bit on roadside fixes. They showed an illustration of breaking the chain by using the rear skewer. IIRC, they placed the chain between the dropout and the skewer and then used the quick release to push the pin out.

    Beyond my abilities and probably not best for the chain in general, but I guess it could be done.
    Oh noes! Bicycling Magazine is teh troll!!1

    In all seriousness, thanks for the tip. I'll have to try that some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by barba
    On the off chance that you are serious, the issue is not one of having to spend hundreds of dollars to act the part of a "cyclist". The issue is that you have done something to save $5 that has very likely compromised the chain. At best this could mean a long walk home. At worst it could result in fairly serious injury. If you value your teeth, go buy a new chain and a proper chain tool. Get one with a masterlink, cut it size and the install it. If you don't care to hear this, simply stop asking questions.
    Your input on the integrity of my chain is duly noted. Can we move on?

    Why should I stop asking questions just because I don't want to replace my chain, just to test out a configuration for a few weeks before I replace it again? Why do so many of you feel the need to keep telling me about the integrity of my chain when the only question I'm asking at this point is about how to measure chain width?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by makeinu
    That's the question I asked. Where is the link to be measured?

    Like I said, on the chain the width of the roller (which is the same as the distance between the inside surfaces of the inner plates) is about 1/8". The distance between the outside surfaces of the inner plates (which is the same as the distance between the inside surfaces of the outer plates) is about 3/16". If the master link fit then the distance between the inside surfaces of the two outer plates (which are the only plates) of the master link would be about 3/16", but it's closer to 1/4".

    As far as I can tell, these are all the possible width measurements. So the question is, what is "the width" of the chain and what is "the width" of the master link? From what I understand "the width" of the chain is the width of the roller, which is 1/8". However, I'm not sure if that is correct. Also, does the fact that the master link is about 1/16" too large mean that "the width" of the master link is 1/16" more than the width of the chain (ie 3/16" instead of 1/8") or does it mean that the master link is designed for a chain with thicker inner plates? Both the chain and the master link are KMC.
    Here's what you do:

    Method A:
    1) Take bike to shop.
    2) Do not tell bike shop what you think you need.
    3) Let bike shop help you.
    4) Ask to watch while mechanic works.
    5) Learn.

    Method B:
    1) Search google for proper chain widths.
    2) Find useful site: http://www.bikewebsite.com/chain.htm
    3) Read information: "Derailleur-equipped bikes have 3/32" bike chains, usually with no master link. All the links are the same. For these chains you need a chain tool, available for under ten dollars at bicycle shops. "
    4) Purchase correct parts
    5) Install according to instructions

    Note that you probably in fact do not have a 1/8 chain unless you're riding a single speed. Measure from the insides of the plates.

    To respond to another of your posts: yes, you SHOULD be worried about catastrophic failure. Seriously, do you not think that the collected wisdom of people who have had these things happen is worth listening to? Chains wear, and if you've placed stress on it (which you probably have), there's a good chance a pin can eventually shear at a weak point. Note that under pedaling, the load is applied differently than you did with your pliers. Chains do in fact break.

    To sum up, listen to the many people who know much more about bikes than you do, all of whom are basically giving the same advice. Find a good shop, and let them do the work. You'll live longer, and keep more of your original teeth.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge
    Here's what you do:

    Method A:
    1) Take bike to shop.
    2) Do not tell bike shop what you think you need.
    3) Let bike shop help you.
    4) Ask to watch while mechanic works.
    5) Learn.
    Yeah, like I'm gonna let the guy who thinks you should shift internal hubs while pedaling touch my bike, much less pay him to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge
    Method B:
    1) Search google for proper chain widths.
    2) Find useful site: http://www.bikewebsite.com/chain.htm
    3) Read information: "Derailleur-equipped bikes have 3/32" bike chains, usually with no master link. All the links are the same. For these chains you need a chain tool, available for under ten dollars at bicycle shops. "
    4) Purchase correct parts
    5) Install according to instructions

    Note that you probably in fact do not have a 1/8 chain unless you're riding a single speed. Measure from the insides of the plates.
    Usually and probably doesn't make the link fit. If I want to purchase correct parts then I need to know what size I need, which is why I'm asking for your help in determining the correct part.

    Now, when you say to measure from the inside of the plates. Is that the inside of the inner plates or the inside of the outer plates? My chain measures 1/8" between the inside of the inner plates, which I believe is "the width" of the chain.

    However the master link is only a pair of outer plates. So how do I measure the width of the master link? The label the LBS put on the package says 1/8" width. So as best as I can tell, it should fit my chain, but it doesn't. Is that because it's not really a 1/8" link or for another reason?
    Last edited by makeinu; 05-30-07 at 02:18 PM.

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