Can I add links to a Shimano bike chain?
A bike chain is a component that requires the most maintenance on a bicycle. Chains can wear out, bend, break, stretch, and do a million other things – including being the wrong length. Sometimes the only thing that breaks is a small part of the larger chain.
Is it possible to add links to a bike chain?
Yes, you can! It would help if you had a chain tool and master link pliers. You should also know what method of adding links is best for particular chain types. Taking this into consideration, you can either save a broken chain or make a longer chain.
To find out if your chain is the wrong length, shift into the largest cassette cog and the largest chainring sprocket. While you shouldn’t ride this way, all bikes should function normally in these gears. If the derailleur feels too tight or even clogged/broken, it means the chain is too short. It may sound pretty good, but in reality, you may risk chain drops and have reduced shifting quality.
This video shows how you can add links to a chain (Credit to CyclingTips):
Why add links to a bike chain?
If you fix a broken bike chain or replace it completely, make sure it is not too short. A chain that is too short is actually a bigger problem than a chain that is too long. A long chain will result in dropping and the possibility that your bike may not be able to shift gears. However, long chains can be slightly reduced. But when you have too short of a chain, it can greatly affect the drivetrain mechanism.
The chain will not fall off if it is too short – there won’t be enough slack. But the drivetrains are sensitive, and even if you want to make the chain shorter because you aren’t using certain gears, you shouldn’t. Drivetrains require the exact right amount of slack to function flawlessly.
The reasons for adding links to a bike chain are:
- The chain is too short and requires additional links.
- The chain is damaged, and some links need to be added or replaced.
Parts, types, and sizes of bicycle chains
Before discussing the methods of adding links to a bicycle chain, it is necessary to understand how chains and axles differ from each other.
What does a bike chain consist of?Bicycle chains consist of several pairs of outer and inner steel plates (or links). Between a series of outer and inner plates, there is a roller. The entire chain is held together by a rivet that runs through each roller. This rivet is a pin that is driven through the chainplates on each side, while the roller hole has a larger diameter so that it can run freely.
Modern bike chains follow the same pattern in their pitching. The pitch is approximately 0.5 inches for all chains, regardless of the number of sprockets manufactured. Their sprockets and teeth are designed to fit the standard step but are not yet interchangeable in terms of the number of steps.
How to install a quick link
Setting up a quick link is relatively straightforward, but there are a few things you should pay attention to. The instructions below describe the basics:
- Ensure your chain is the correct length, and both ends of the chain have open inner links (using a chain breaker as needed).
- Insert the links into the open ends of the chain so that they are opposite.
- Place the pins of each link into the larger slots of their opposite link. Make sure the two parts of the link are securely connected (otherwise, the link is not safe to ride).
- You can now pull the link to the closed position. If you are using an 8- or 9-speed link, you can pull it shut with your hands; you may need to squeeze the link at the same time.
- Newer 10-, 11-, or 12-speed links are made more and more compact, and we have found that the use of tools makes the installation process easier. Tightening the links between the fingers usually makes the process easier, and this is only possible with the right tools. Look for tools that apply external pressure with leverage – like Shimano. Insert the pliers into the link rollers, tighten them, and the link will lock into place.
- Although some prefer to use tools, connecting to a strong link can be done without them. With the link semi-connected, pedal the chain so that it is centered above the chainstay. Hold the rear wheel with one hand and firmly press the pedal clockwise with the other. This force will help spread the chain and close the link. If you are successful, you should hear a click or pop. Inspect the chain to make sure the pins are fully engaged.
- If the previous step fails or you have difficulty, place the bicycle on the ground. Make sure the chain link is centered above the chainstay. Firmly apply the rear brake, and stand on the drive side pedal. Press until the link seats itself.