I have a new mountain bike with an SRAM GX 12-speed drivetrain. I am thinking about rotating the chain to make maintenance easier and to increase the lifetime of the cassette. I would swap between two chains every 250 km or something.

But the chain comes with an SRAM PowerLock. SRAM advertises these links as a one-time use link. This makes me think that I have to use a new PowerLock every time I am swapping between the chains. This cost would make it less desirable for me. But they are cheap, so it is surmountable.

So my question is: How can I rotate chains on an SRAM GX-12?

Is it worth using a new PowerLock every time?

  • 4
    What do you mean by 'rotate the chain'? Have more than one chain and swap them out periodically? – Argenti Apparatus Oct 9 at 14:52
  • @ArgentiApparatus That was my interpretation too. And in the case of mountain biking which can wear chains out very quickly depending on conditions, sounds like a giant headache for minimal gain to me. – Andy P Oct 9 at 14:56
  • I guess it would extend the life of the cassette as two chains would effectively half the ‘stretch rate’ of the chain, but it increases maintenance time required to swap the chains of course. – Argenti Apparatus Oct 9 at 15:01
  • Uh, the chain rotates whenever you turn the crank. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 9 at 21:23
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    Is it worth using a new PowerLock every time? No, not at all. It's anecdotal, but I broke SRAMs "never reuse a PowerLock" rules for years with zero problems - as did a lot of fellow riders. (I've been using KMC chains lately, so I've been reusing KMC's quick links - again with zero problems) – Andrew Henle Oct 10 at 15:44

It is not officially recommended to reuse single use master chain links, but in reality everyone re-closes them all the time (even roadies, I read somewhere). The worst that can happen is that the life span of the master link will decrease after reuse, but you were about to throw it anyway ending its lifespan. Carry a spare new one with you so that you can replace it in an (unlikely) event of breaking. Just don't sue the manufacturer in that case.

If stakes are high and you are in some serious competition, obviously you don't want a mechanical problem; otherwise, you should be prepared for on-trail repairs anyway.

The last thing: do not carry old master links over to a new chain. if you throw away a chain, its master links go away with it.

  • 1
    If your chains aren't too worn when you get rid of them, an old master link could serve as a get-you-home spare, but certainly don't plan on reusing them (for long) – Chris H Oct 9 at 19:56

If you change a 10, 11 or 12 speed SRAM chain that has a PowerLock, yes you have to use a new one. See: https://www.sram.com/sram/mountain/technologies/powerlock

Same For KMC 11 speed chains, from their FAQ:

The Missing Link on chain models X11SL and X11L can not be reused. All other Missing Links can be reused between 2-3 times per life cycle of the chain. If you purchase a replacement chain, the used Missing Link should not be reused and is not interchangeable. Missing Links offer riders ease of maintenance and quick chain replacement when there is an emergency on the road or trail.

  • 2
    Not all master or power links are single use. Some but not all from KMC may be re-used. – Carel Oct 9 at 18:05

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