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Chain breaking & sticky links. My fault?

Old 08-18-16, 07:31 PM
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Doc_Wui
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Chain breaking & sticky links. My fault?

Is it bad technique? I took apart a chain today to swap a derailleur. The latter didn't fit, so I had to break a second link to get back to the original part. Luckily, I noticed both links were stuck going around the gears. I fiddled around with the breaker tool, pushing the pin around, but no help.

I finally got them loose, working the links with pliers. Is that the norm?
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Old 08-18-16, 07:40 PM
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What specific brand/speed-class of chain was this and what exactly did you do?

If it was an 11 speed chain, you should not be re-using pins. Ever.
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Old 08-18-16, 07:47 PM
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Many new chains come with a "Master Link" that enables you to open and close the chain without even using a chain tool. I prefer the old method of pushing the pin in and out.

But until you've had some experience with a chain tool, you're going to end up with stiff links. Most chain tools come with a second slot on which you can drop the link and adjust the pin until the link loosens up, but you need to be very careful not to push the pin all the way through.

I'd say, avoid the pliers and experiment on an old chain until you've developed a feel for reinserting the pin so the link moves freely.
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Old 08-18-16, 08:20 PM
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What kind of chain was it? It's a relatively new chain, 3/32" I believe, off a Walmart class bike frame. Less than 100 miles. The links are free now.

Until I tied down the derailleur to kill its spring tension, I was having great fun trying to hold both ends together while trying to push the pins back in.
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Old 08-18-16, 10:38 PM
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Old 08-18-16, 11:48 PM
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inadequate lubrication and forcing shifts, late, under power.
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Old 08-18-16, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Doc_Wui View Post
Is it bad technique? I took apart a chain today to swap a derailleur. The latter didn't fit, so I had to break a second link to get back to the original part. Luckily, I noticed both links were stuck going around the gears. I fiddled around with the breaker tool, pushing the pin around, but no help.

I finally got them loose, working the links with pliers. Is that the norm?
Were you working on the front derailleur or rear?

On the rear, I find it is handy to just remove the jockey wheels, and lube them up if it hasn't been done in quite some time.

Many front derailleurs can be separated at the rear cage bolt.

The lower shelf on the chain tools is for pushing the pin in and out.
The upper shelf on the chain tools can be used to open up plates slightly.
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Old 08-19-16, 12:15 AM
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Use a piece of wire, coat hanger gauge about 150mm long and bend the ends at 20mm to just past 90% use this to hook each end of the chain a few links back from where you are joining it this allows the links to hang loose so no gymnastics required
The standard method for loosening a rejoined tight link is to grab the chain either side of that link and flex the chain back and forth not in the direction that a chain usually pivots but perpendicular to that (hope that makes sense) just make sure your happy with where the pin is in relation to the outside plates and then wiggle away.
+1 for master links

Last edited by headasunder; 08-19-16 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 08-19-16, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
I prefer the old method of pushing the pin in and out.
This was acceptable on older, wider chains (6-speed and prior) but is a recipe for chain failure if you do it with newer (7-speed and up) chains with flush, riveted pins.
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Old 08-19-16, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
What specific brand/speed-class of chain was this and what exactly did you do?

If it was an 11 speed chain, you should not be re-using pins. Ever.
If it's a 9 speed chain, you shouldn't be reusing pins. It's even iffy with 8 speed.
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Old 08-19-16, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
This was acceptable on older, wider chains (6-speed and prior) but is a recipe for chain failure if you do it with newer (7-speed and up) chains with flush, riveted pins.
Really? This is news to me. I've been doing it for years with no problems, but I will heed your warning and learn to use those pesky little master links in the future. Thanks for the heads-up!
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Old 08-19-16, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Really? This is news to me. I've been doing it for years with no problems, but I will heed your warning and learn to use those pesky little master links in the future. Thanks for the heads-up!
It is also why Park and others make chain-pin peening-tools. Because for example Campag 11 chains you cannot just drive a new rivet in, you also have to peen the end. That is after you removed links from the correct end of the chain (on a new chain, you're only supposed to subtract links from one side), and after you drove the new rivet in from the correct side of the mounted chaain.

With the increase in speeds, the simple act of breaking/assembling a chain has gotten much more complicated. Hence the love of master-links on all chain platforms (KMC, SRAM, Wipperman, even Shimano for 2016 has their own take on the master link....only non-player is Campag).

Last edited by Marcus_Ti; 08-19-16 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 08-21-16, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by headasunder View Post
Use a piece of wire, coat hanger gauge about 150mm long and bend the ends at 20mm to just past 90% use this to hook each end of the chain a few links back from where you are joining it this allows the links to hang loose so no gymnastics required
The standard method for loosening a rejoined tight link is to grab the chain either side of that link and flex the chain back and forth not in the direction that a chain usually pivots but perpendicular to that (hope that makes sense) just make sure your happy with where the pin is in relation to the outside plates and then wiggle away.
+1 for master links
I just drop the chain, usually on the inside to remove the stretch.. No need for the clips. Although the clip may be handy for the initial sizing of the chain.
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Old 08-21-16, 06:54 AM
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Huh. I thought master links had been phased out of bikes 40 years ago, but what do I know. I never had to open a chain until this recent derailleur swap. So that KMC chain I bought off Amazon and keep as a spare will need one? I better look.
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Old 08-21-16, 07:10 AM
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Even modern 6-7-8 speed chains it's hard to find one that you can re-use a pin on. The KMC spare you bought on Amazon will have one (a connecting link) included though, so you might as well replace the chain now.

As far as normal, yeh when re-using pins it was kind of normal to have needed to fiddle with the pin or work it with pliers to resolve a stiff link.
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Old 08-21-16, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Doc_Wui View Post
Huh. I thought master links had been phased out of bikes 40 years ago, but what do I know. I never had to open a chain until this recent derailleur swap. So that KMC chain I bought off Amazon and keep as a spare will need one? I better look.
Back in the day it wasn't possible to use any kind of master link on a derailleur bike. The ones that worked on single speeds and machinery chains would get popped going through the ders. That changed in the 80s when Sedis* came up with a new kind of link and a chain that used two less parts per link. A big deal. Those chains shifted better on derailleur bikes and pretty much took over the industry in a matter of months. The modern quick links are reliable, mostly reusable and pretty easy to work with. For ordinary people they are more reliable than the old "push the pin back in" method. I've never even seen one fail. I have had and seen failures to rejoin a chain, and those can be fairly disastrous.

Really, go with the link. Clean, easy and very reliable.

The KMC chain you bought from Amazon probably has one. They almost all do nowadays. Check the package.

* A small company in Portugal, since bought out by SRAM.
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Old 08-21-16, 06:15 PM
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So why am I still carrying a chain tool? If a chain breaks on the road and it doesn't break at the master/quick link, how am I supposed to repair it? Should I be carrying extra quick links around?

I can't believe what an eye-opener this thread has been for me. Here I've been feeling so cocky all these years because I'm an ace at using my Park CT-5!
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Old 08-21-16, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
So why am I still carrying a chain tool? If a chain breaks on the road and it doesn't break at the master/quick link, how am I supposed to repair it? Should I be carrying extra quick links around?
Yeah, supposed to be carrying connector links. But maybe the real reason you're carrying the chain tool is in case the RDR falls apart and you could reconfigure the chain for a single-speed. It's more likely than a chain break IMO.
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Old 08-21-16, 07:31 PM
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Definitely heading to the LBS tomorrow for a new Hyperglide chain and maybe some spare links. Of course, that means I'll never have a chain break on me ever again and I will probably lose the spare links before I ever have to use them. It'll be like the FiberFix spoke repair kit I bought and keep in my bag. Haven't had a spoke break in the two years since!
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Old 08-22-16, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Definitely heading to the LBS tomorrow for a new Hyperglide chain and maybe some spare links. Of course, that means I'll never have a chain break on me ever again and I will probably lose the spare links before I ever have to use them. It'll be like the FiberFix spoke repair kit I bought and keep in my bag. Haven't had a spoke break in the two years since!
Unfortunately, Shimano's design doesn't lend it's self to using master links. Shimano's chains are somewhat asymmetrical in that the back plate is a different shape than the front plate. You need to use a replacement pin for Shimano chains. Rumor has it that Shimano is developing a master link, however.

Sram, as well as KMC, chains are symmetrical with a front and back plate that are exactly the same. Both have quick links that are superb and the chains aren't bad either. Personally, I'd choose Sram chains over Shimano's any day.
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Old 08-22-16, 08:07 AM
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6, 7 and 8 speed is the same chain. And I've had no problems with reusing links, especially in a pinch, if you're not in a position to get a new pin, or a quick connector link. Carrying an extra connector link is a smart thing. Just in case. Along with a chain tool.

Having said this, it's been well over a decade since I last had a chain brake on a ride, at least on my bicycles. Lube, clean, replace in time, don't shift under load.
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Old 08-22-16, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar View Post
6, 7 and 8 speed is the same chain. And I've had no problems with reusing links, especially in a pinch, if you're not in a position to get a new pin, or a quick connector link. Carrying an extra connector link is a smart thing. Just in case. Along with a chain tool.

Having said this, it's been well over a decade since I last had a chain brake on a ride, at least on my bicycles. Lube, clean, replace in time, don't shift under load.
We could probably quibble on whether or not an 8 speed chain is the same width as a 6 or 7 speed chain. The difference is quite small although the cog spacing is slightly different.

However, a large part of the reason that you haven't broken a chain in over a decade is because of the way that chain are made and why you can't reuse pins on chains anymore. Peening, or mushrooming, the pins of the chain let them take more side force without slipping off like they could in the 5, 6 and 7 speed days. But the peening means that pushing the pin out widens out the hole in the plate and it won't hold if the pin is just pushed back into place.

Cleaning and lubrication does little to keep the chain from breaking and the peening means that the chain can be shifted under load. Add in the shift ramps on cassettes and chainrings and shifting under load is a worry of the distant past. Good riddance too.
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Old 08-22-16, 11:41 AM
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OK, I just got off the phone with Shimano and they told me they still recommend using a chain tool and replacing pins on their chains, rather than using a Quick Link. I told him I use a 7-speed Hyperglide. Now I'm totally confused.
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Old 08-22-16, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
OK, I just got off the phone with Shimano and they told me they still recommend using a chain tool and replacing pins on their chains, rather than using a Quick Link. I told him I use a 7-speed Hyperglide. Now I'm totally confused.
Shimano sells a special pin for it I believe, and that's what they meant IMO. I just use KMC or SRAM with the connector links - seems easier and cheaper.
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Old 08-22-16, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
We could probably quibble on whether or not an 8 speed chain is the same width as a 6 or 7 speed chain. The difference is quite small although the cog spacing is slightly different.

However, a large part of the reason that you haven't broken a chain in over a decade is because of the way that chain are made and why you can't reuse pins on chains anymore. Peening, or mushrooming, the pins of the chain let them take more side force without slipping off like they could in the 5, 6 and 7 speed days. But the peening means that pushing the pin out widens out the hole in the plate and it won't hold if the pin is just pushed back into place.

Cleaning and lubrication does little to keep the chain from breaking and the peening means that the chain can be shifted under load. Add in the shift ramps on cassettes and chainrings and shifting under load is a worry of the distant past. Good riddance too.
Edit: correct, chains do differ. Slightly, but differ - 6 being the widest, 8 being thinnest.

Although for 6 to 8 speed chains, never had problems with re using a pin, at least for one time operation. Guess they are more forgiving.

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