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New Chain - question about chain install/remove & tools needed

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New Chain - question about chain install/remove & tools needed

Old 05-10-16, 11:31 AM
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New Chain - question about chain install/remove & tools needed

I bought a used 2013 Trek Domane 2.3 with 105 components that included what I assume is the original Shimano 10 speed chain (I believe it's a Tiagra 4601 chain). It was very clean and looked almost brand new upon arrival (likely was thoroughly cleaned before purchase) but the drive-train doesn't spin as smoothly and quietly as I think it should, especially when the chain encounters the rear cassette, and lubing the chain with teflon lube didn't seem to do the trick. I figure it's pretty cheap to just buy a new chain and even if this current chain still has some life left I'll at least be starting with a brand new zero mile chain.

I'm a newbie to bike maintenance and am eager to do everything myself and I want to be able to take my chain on and off as needed to get a thorough cleaning going forward. I had a few questions if anyone can help answer these...

Curious if I should just buy an SRAM chain with the power-link instead of a Shimano Ultegra chain then so I can take advantage of the power-link for easy removal? Any other chains easier to remove than the SRAM?

If I do buy an SRAM (PC 1051 for example), would I need any special tools specific to SRAM to install the chain and also do I still need to buy any tools to remove the current Shimano chain or can your average homeowners toolkit suffice?

I'd prefer not to spend double the price of the new chain just to be able to replace my current chain and also don't want a bunch of tools going unused over the next couple of years until I have to replace the chain again so perhaps just going to my LBS is best?

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 05-10-16, 11:35 AM
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my preference is KMC chains (which come with a quick-connect).

you'll need a chain tool to remove the Shimano chain and to remove any extra links in whatever you replace it with.

a hammer and a screwdriver won't quite hack it...
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Old 05-10-16, 11:36 AM
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SRAM/ KMC/whipperman, chains Join with little fuss via a Quick Link ..

You shorten the chain to have 2 inner links on each end , the QL is the outer link with the Pins in It.

The chain tool will shorten by pressing out a pin.

The latest chains are never as good as New when you try to press the pin back in.

they will break there . as flush pins leave little margin for error.

30 years ago, 6 speeds, they were more tolerant .. but the need for 'speeds' the chains had to get thinner.
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Old 05-10-16, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mcb345
I bought a used 2013 Trek Domane 2.3 with 105 components that included what I assume is the original Shimano 10 speed chain (I believe it's a Tiagra 4601 chain). It was very clean and looked almost brand new upon arrival (likely was thoroughly cleaned before purchase) but the drive-train doesn't spin as smoothly and quietly as I think it should, especially when the chain encounters the rear cassette, and lubing the chain with teflon lube didn't seem to do the trick. I figure it's pretty cheap to just buy a new chain and even if this current chain still has some life left I'll at least be starting with a brand new zero mile chain.

I'm a newbie to bike maintenance and am eager to do everything myself and I want to be able to take my chain on and off as needed to get a thorough cleaning going forward. I had a few questions if anyone can help answer these...

Curious if I should just buy an SRAM chain with the power-link instead of a Shimano Ultegra chain then so I can take advantage of the power-link for easy removal? Any other chains easier to remove than the SRAM?

If I do buy an SRAM (PC 1051 for example), would I need any special tools specific to SRAM to install the chain and also do I still need to buy any tools to remove the current Shimano chain or can your average homeowners toolkit suffice?

I'd prefer not to spend double the price of the new chain just to be able to replace my current chain and also don't want a bunch of tools going unused over the next couple of years until I have to replace the chain again so perhaps just going to my LBS is best?

Thanks in advance for any input.
You will probably need a chain tool to get the chain length right. You might get lucky and the chain will be the right length but that seldom happens in my experience. Chaintools aren't that expensive.

As for the chain, yes, go for the Power-link over Shimano's stupid "pin". The Power-link is a thousand times better. You may need a set of chain pliers to close and open the link...it makes life a little easier but it isn't completely necessary.

All in all, this is a relatively simple job and easy for someone to do. Determining the chain length is probably harder than actually replacing the chain. Hint: use the old chain as a guide.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:02 PM
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Thanks for the quick replies. I think I will stick with something from SRAM most likely.

Looks like I can grab the PC-1071 model for $1 more than the PC-1051 model or up to the top of the chain for a PC-1091 for $4 more than the 1051. I'm sure there's almost no difference except for 10-20g but if I"m going through the effort should I just buy the high end model or do the higher end models typically have less life in them / more susceptible to breaking?

I'll pickup an inexpensive chain removal tool as well and of course will use the old chain as a guide for the new one so there aren't any hiccups there.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:05 PM
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chain-link pliers being custom-designed for the job, I'm sure they work really well. But I get by with the lift-and-bash method. I can't find the illustration right now, but you put the chain on the big ring with the masterlink at 3:00, work one link of slack into the chain so the masterlink and its neighbor are poking up off the chainring like an A, then use a hammer (or a rock) to tap whichever plate of the masterlink needs to be tapped to open it up.

But you will need a chain tool to push a pin out of the old chain to get it off (or maybe try a dremel with a cutoff wheel?), and to shorten the new chain to the matching length.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad
I can't find the illustration right now, but you put the chain on the big ring with the masterlink at 3:00, work one link of slack into the chain so the masterlink and its neighbor are poking up off the chainring like an A, then use a hammer (or a rock) to tap whichever plate of the masterlink needs to be tapped to open it up.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:45 PM
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Buy a decent size chain tool/chain breaker. The little micro tools that are meant for carrying on your bike in a little tool bag are not designed to take the abuse of breaking modern chains (which have the pins peened/mushroomed over the sideplates). The tool handles are too short and leave the user no leverage. A shop/medium grade tool is the minimum you should consider ($30 and higher).

If your hand length lower than average, then I'd recommend a chain tool/chain breaker in the $60 range (will have even longer handles for greater leverage than the $30 tools).

The chain pliers/tool designed for opening and closing replaceable links is not necessary, but it is a convenience (it's only $10-$15). Makes taking links off a snap. Locking links on is a snap, even without the tool.

Last edited by RoadGuy; 05-10-16 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 05-10-16, 12:57 PM
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If you plan to take the chain off for cleaning, I highly recommend getting chain link pliers.



How many times does a tool need to make your life easier to be worth $11?

KMC appears to have separate tools for opening and closing the link, but I've never needed a tool to close it (just move the link past the cassette, hold the rear wheel and give the cranks a hard push). The Pedro's and Park chain link pliers appear to be designed to open and close if you really feel the need for that, but the KMC tool is a couple of dollars cheaper. There's nothing about this that would be brand specific, so any of these tools should work with SRAM chains too.


I suggest getting a chain tool that says it works with 11-speed chains, even if you've got 10-speed now. Chances are you'll eventually go to 11-speed.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:07 PM
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Installing a chain with any master link does not require tools. Size the chain to the correct length leaving two male ends facing each other. Install the master link and mate the halves being sure the pins are engaged on both sides. Turn the crank backwards if needed to place the master link on the top run of the chain with one pedal forward in the 3:00 o'clock position. Lock the rear brake and step on the forward pedal to close the link completely.

Removal of most master links is much easier with the proper pliers. I've found Wipperman's Connex links are hand removable but KMC and SRAM links are too tight to remove with out the pliers.

I don't share cyccommute's distain for Shimano's joining pins but they do require some technique to install properly and are not removable.

Edit: One more thing. Since you have no idea how many miles are on the original chain and cassette, don't be surprised if the new chain skips on the old cassette, particularly in some of the middle and smaller cogs. You may need to change the cassette along with the chain.

Last edited by HillRider; 05-10-16 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Installing a chain with any master link does not require tools. Size the chain to the correct length leaving two male ends facing each other...
Sizing the chain does require a chain tool. Installing it does not.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider

Edit: One more thing. Since you have no idea how many miles are on the original chain and cassette, don't be surprised if the new chain skips on the old cassette, particularly in some of the middle and smaller cogs. You may need to change the cassette along with the chain.
Yes, I'm prepared to have to buy a new rear cassette, already scoping those out actually. I figure, if I do have to buy a new rear cassette it would be a very very convenient time for me just to go ahead and upgrade my wheels all together while I'm at it...

Curious, would I noticed better shifting performance using the Shimano Ultegra 10 speed chain vs the SRAM PC-1091? I can get both for about the same price. I thought perhaps if the Shimano will shift a lot better maybe it's worth it to deal with the Shimano installation / no power-lock as opposed to going with SRAM. I've read SRAM might not shift as smoothly as Shimano on a Shimano drivetrain.
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Old 05-10-16, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mcb345
Curious, would I noticed better shifting performance using the Shimano Ultegra 10 speed chain vs the SRAM PC-1091? I can get both for about the same price. I thought perhaps if the Shimano will shift a lot better maybe it's worth it to deal with the Shimano installation / no power-lock as opposed to going with SRAM. I've read SRAM might not shift as smoothly as Shimano on a Shimano drivetrain.
I haven't used a Shimano chain with a Shimano drivetrain in years, so obviously I'd be surprised if there's a big difference, but also obviously I don't actually know. What I do know is that you can buy master links separately and use them with a Shimano chain.
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Old 05-10-16, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
I haven't used a Shimano chain with a Shimano drivetrain in years, so obviously I'd be surprised if there's a big difference, but also obviously I don't actually know. What I do know is that you can buy master links separately and use them with a Shimano chain.
That might be the best of both worlds. My bike shifts extremely well right now, leaps and bounds better than my 1st and previous road bike with a Shimano Sora 9 speed drive-train so now I'm thinking perhaps it's best to avoid SRAM where it MIGHT not shift as perfectly (I know it very well may shift just fine) and do the Shimano Ultegra 10 speed chain and throw a link in a link to connect the ends.

I've read a few things here and there saying you likely won't notice the difference between SRAM chain and Shimano drivetrain but see a few people chiming in on forums across the web saying you'd be stupid not to think a Shimano chain and drive-train combo would yield the very best shifting performance...
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Old 05-10-16, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dsbrantjr
Sizing the chain does require a chain tool. Installing it does not.
Right, I should have said "installing a master link does not require tools". Sizing the chain certainly does.

Also, Andy_K is right that it's very possible to use a Shimano chain with another make master link. KMC and Wippermann links work well with them and both are available as separate items.

Last edited by HillRider; 05-10-16 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 05-10-16, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
Right, I should have said "installing a master link does not require tools". Sizing the chain certainly does.

Also, Andy_K is right that it's very possible to use a Shimano chain with another make master link. KMC and Wippermann links work well with them and both are available as separate items.
I think the winner might be a 6 pack of KMC master links with a Shimano Ultegra 10 speed chain...
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Old 05-10-16, 02:50 PM
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For me, the chain goes on the bike once, then stays on the bike until it is ready for replacement. So, I prefer if it is all pinned together.

Shimano chains just use a standard chain tool.
Campagnolo chains are supposed to be peened too.
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