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Here's a question related to this and this -- I've got a IGH bike and want to keep the drivetrain clean. I prefer to remove the chain for regular maintenance, but don't want to have to remove the rear wheel from the vertical dropouts to get this done. I put a SRAM Power Link in, but even with about 0.5-inches of vertical play in the chain, there's not enough slack to "unbuckle" it (no chain tensioner present, either).

On non-derailer bikes, is it best to use a chain tool every time, dial in enough chain slack to use a "buckle style" link (SRAM Power Link / Wipperman Connex / KMC Missing Link), or use a retaining clip type of link (KMC Master Link)?
(Sorry for the image links, still getting my reputation up for image posting)

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teebar, welcome to Bicycles.SE. I had a similar problem with an IGH bike a while back. However, questions here need to be written so that they can have a single answer, as opposed to starting a conversation. (As explained in the FAQ.) I've taken the liberty of rewording your question a bit to meet these requirements; if I've missed the mark, please revert my edit or make further changes. –  Neil Fein Sep 4 '11 at 6:13
    
Thanks for the edits, Neil! –  teeber Sep 4 '11 at 6:23
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Shimano use a connecting pin for their 1/8" Nexus chains, for which you need a chain tool. As Neil notes, there is room for error popping these in and out.

As you have discovered, the SRAM powerlink does not result in a practical solution - you cannot flex the chain enough.

Therefore, the tried and tested 'buckle style' link is the desired solution. I have not known of these to fail, you can also obtain a chain with one even if you are in the back of beyond.

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Thanks to all who have chimed in. I just got a "buckle" style link, but it's still not forgiving enough for me to re-assemble the chain without taking the rear wheel out of the vertical dropouts in order to generate some slack. Any tips on tools/techniques for reassembling a chain under tension would be great, but the simple "remove wheel from dropouts" technique is serviceable enough. –  teeber Sep 11 '11 at 5:21
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The chain path of an IGH or a fixie/singlespeed bike is really quite simple, and in the end, whether to use a masterlink or a one-piece chain really comes down to personal preference. Which is most convenient depends on your skills.

I've found that it's best to use a chain with a masterlink, simply because of the ease of removing the chain for cleaning. Using a chain tool takes me a bit longer than unclipping a masterlink. If you slip up and push the pin out of the chain, it can be very difficult if not impossible to replace it back into the link. (If you can even find the missing pin!)

I assume when you're talking about dialing in slack, you mean moving the rear wheel forward in the dropout?

The only time I had a masterlink break was, ironically enough, when a mechanic did the work for me. (Perhaps that was due to a bad masterlink. That mechanic in question was otherwise very, very good at his job.) Since then, I've learned that simply double-checking the link by putting pressure on the link is sufficient to test it.

With a bike where it's difficult to readjust the rear wheel (and therefore the tension on the shifting chain into the rear hub), I might say it makes more sense to use a masterlink. However, releasing (or installing) a masterlink with the chain under tension is quite difficult without a lot of practice. Practiced wrenchers can do this, but I don't quite have the knack. With an easier-to-adjust hub (like the Nexus 3), I might worry about this less and use a one-piece chain if I didn't have a spare masterlink handy when swapping out a chain.

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I can almost see myself getting the power link to release under load, but installing it seems like it would be impossible. Also, I've got vertical dropouts, and don't want to mess with the eccentric bottom bracket just yet -- that's what I meant by 'dialing in slack,' because a half link seems like it'd be too much slack. –  teeber Sep 4 '11 at 6:40
    
I struggled for an hour to get the masterlink installed under load before giving up and bringing the bike to the shop, head hung in shame. –  Neil Fein Sep 4 '11 at 6:42
    
Fastening any chain under load is a challenge. Probably easier with a master link than a chain breaker. I would guess that the bobby pin style master link would be a hair easier to install than an SRAM style. But one can "unbuckle" an SRAM with a pair of needle-nose in a tight situation -- reach into the chain with the noses of the pliers and press the two pins of the master link together. (Though, when there's slack, it's easier to just double-up the chain and use a pair of regular pliers on the plates.) –  Daniel R Hicks Sep 4 '11 at 11:45
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