I'm usually a lot more careful
April 18, 2010 10:23 AM   Subscribe

This evening I took my bike chain off to give it a full scrubbing. Unfortunately, the rivet fell out the other side of the link and I can't seem to wedge it back in.

It's a standard Shimano chain. All of the internet bike repair sites I've found operate on the assumption that you're not unfortunate enough to have pushed the pin all the way out and I'd really like to ride tomorrow morning. Am I going to need to replace the link, or is there some way I can cram it back in and reattach the chain?
posted by cmonkey to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Shimano chain pins aren't meant to be reused, but I've found that you can, it just takes some fiddling with a chain tool to get the pressure right. Do you have a chain tool?

I recommend buying one of these links for your chain, and that way you never need a tool to remove it again.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:29 AM on April 18, 2010

Replace the link with a masterlink.
posted by rhizome at 10:29 AM on April 18, 2010

I've had limited success flipping the chain in my chain tool and pressing it in from the side it fell out from, but it's a process fraught with curses and perilous maneuvering with a needlenose pliers.

I thought modern Shimano chains have a quick link thingie that you have to replace every time?
posted by werkzeuger at 10:30 AM on April 18, 2010

On preview: yep, the masterlink in the way to go.
posted by werkzeuger at 10:31 AM on April 18, 2010

Nthing Masterlink. I keep a few around the garage at all times, just in case I repeat that very same mistake.
posted by maudlin at 10:39 AM on April 18, 2010

Response by poster: No, mine didn't come with a master link, and the bike shops don't open until 10 AM or later tomorrow, so I hoped there was some trick that I'm missing to get it back in, as I can't seem to balance a chain breaker, the chain, and the pin at the same time.
posted by cmonkey at 10:46 AM on April 18, 2010

I've had luck using a pair of needle nosed pliers or the like to get the pin marginally seated before employing the chain tool. It takes a few tries. Once you have the pin in all the way, remember to use the chain tool to flex the chain from side to side (in the direction it is not supposed to normally go) to fully seat the pin. You need to flex and mess with the re-joined link until it is bending as smoothly as the rest or you will have awful chain skipping. Obviously, add some more grease as well.

A master link is also a great idea, although if you have a very old chain that has stretched significantly and possibly worn the gears down to match your chain might star skipping if a link with the length of an unused chain is suddenly inserted. I've waited too long to replace a chain a few times and found that with a new chain my favorite ratio skipped horribly because of the wear on those gears. I imagine the same problem might occur upon inserting a master link into a worn chain.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2010

I've used a combo of needle nosed pliers and some light taps of a hammer to seat a stubborn pin before. Not ideal, and you'll need to be gentle and flex the chain side to side after you get it back together as Derive says, but it may help in a pinch.
posted by BlooPen at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2010

Best answer: I managed to get a pin back in once. But it was such a pain in the butt that I quickly went to masterlinks. It can be done, but it takes three hands, patience, a good chain tool, needle nose pliers and a lot of luck. There's no real trick to it, just a lot of cursing.
posted by iwhitney at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2010

If you have some other chain around, you could take a few links out and replace it with the same number of links from a spare. It's not ideal, but if this is a chain/cassette that will need replacing soon anyways, it will be fine.
posted by advicepig at 11:12 AM on April 18, 2010

Is there a derailleur on the bike? Or can you spare a full link from the chain?

You could just remove one link completely and have the pin poking out, and then rejoin it. Though I've found that the act of pushing a link in can result in a stiff chain, so it's useful to poke a screwdriver in and lever the side parts of the chain gently until it loosens up again.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 12:15 PM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

No, I've never been able to get them back in when they come all the way out. For an emergency fix, just lose one link of the chain for tomorrow (ie, push another pin out, but not all the way, remove link and refix). Worst case is that you lose the use of one gear combination on your large chainring - not the end of the world.

on preview - beaten to it...
posted by genesta at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2010

Response by poster: After using the "curse a lot" method, I got it wedged back in, but in the process damaged the link to the point where it needs to be replaced anyway. I'll pick up some masterlinks tomorrow so I don't worry about breaking my neck. Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by cmonkey at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2010

Hammer method: Line up everything (both sides of the link, the other link), try to tap the pin into the hole so it's perfectly straight. In the best case, it actually enters the hole in the other link. Then use the chain tool. This usually takes about 20 minutes for me before it works, but I'm clumsy and prone to outbursts.

Depending upon the bike you could just take out another link and toss the damaged one.
posted by beerbajay at 1:41 AM on April 19, 2010

Best answer: If you haven't purchased it already, make sure you get the right masterlink for your chain (8spd, 9spd, 10spd). I think the Wipperman brand is superior to the SRAM, but SRAM works just as well (but sometimes the SRAM is a little hard to get off, but the Wipperman has always been a breeze). Not having to use tools to remove the chain is awesome. You can take the chain off and soak it in a tub of simple green to remove grime.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:03 PM on April 20, 2010

Response by poster: For anyone coming across this in the future - first I bought some generic master links, which worked fine, and then I bought an SRAM chain for one of my bikes and a Wippermann for my other bike, and the Wippermann is much easier to remove than the SRAM or the generic master links on a Shimano chain. Buy Wippermann chains and save yourself the blisters.
posted by cmonkey at 12:37 PM on May 18, 2010

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