I just tried to replace my chain for the first time - Shimano, 9-speed, labeled as CN-GH53. After I inserted the special pin, the joint is somewhat more stiff compared to the other ones. On the insertion side, it seems to protrude from the plate about as much as the regular pins (so almost not at all), and on the other side, where the guiding part of the pin was, it's protruding by about 0.5 mm.

Is this normal, and will it get better once lube penetrates the link, or did I mess something up? I did notice that before I pushed it in enough to be aligned with the regular pins on the one side, the joint couldn't move at all and it got better once I got it further, but I don't want to push it in too far by accident.

  • Did you use the chain breaker tool or was it the masterlink/powerlink that you used to close the chain?
    – Mike
    Dec 2, 2018 at 20:31
  • Chain breaker tool.
    – koniiiik
    Dec 2, 2018 at 20:41
  • I've added my answer, I hope it helps.
    – Mike
    Dec 2, 2018 at 21:29
  • Read the instructions for the chain tool CAREFULLY. After you join the chain you move the tool so that a second set of fingers engage the chain, then give the lever about a half turn. This loosens the stiff link (that inevitably results from joining the chain). Dec 2, 2018 at 23:58
  • There were no instructions with the tool that I got. :P
    – koniiiik
    Dec 3, 2018 at 22:07

2 Answers 2


It happened to me several times and the most reliable way to fix it was to actually push the pin back a bit, i.e. use the breaker tool from the opposite side engaging the chain link on the other bits of the breaker tool, see the picture:

enter image description here

Red is the chain breaking tool
Black are the chain parts
Blue is the pin you are driving in

First you drive the pin (usually from the outside towards the frame) just to see it flush like the other pins on the frame side (middle figure). Since the whole link was resting against the massive part of the breaking tool, it gets somewhat compressed (towards the frame).
You then reposition the chain breaker tool so the chain link rests on the tiny leaves of the breaker tool (see the right-most figure) and drive the pin further relieving the link.

I've found a youtube video titled Bike Assembly and Repair - Chain Breaker Tool that shows the whole process as I've described it above.

  • 1
    If you read the tool's instructions they will tell you to do this. Dec 2, 2018 at 23:59
  • 4
    What manual? The Chinese "my friend" didn't attach any to my tool.
    – Mike
    Dec 3, 2018 at 9:44
  • 1
    This is the correct answer imo. It is part of the typical process when inserting a new pin into a chain and without doing this the chain will almost always be stiff. The extra chain holder part on the chain tool is for this purpose.
    – user74671
    Dec 8, 2018 at 20:20

It happens quite often, and can normally be fixed by flexing the chain (perpendicular to the direction it doesn't normally bend easily, i.e. left-right as you look down from a riding position). The easiest way I've found to do this is to position the stiff link on the lower (return) run of chain, where it's slack and grip the chain in both fists with your thumbs meeting over the stiff link. Then bend towards/away from yourself a few times. this should be enough, if everything is in the right place

  • 1
    Thanks, this seems to match my observations - I tried to apply some lube in the meantime, and as I was trying to work it in, I noticed that it was only stiff sometimes - when it was perfectly straight, it had no problem moving. So apparently the new joint just has a lower tolerance for sideways flex.
    – koniiiik
    Dec 2, 2018 at 20:45
  • My reading of "[flex the chain] perpendicular to the direction it doesn't normally bend easily" is "[flex the chain] in the direction it does bend easily." Please consider correcting or rephrasing. Dec 3, 2018 at 6:26

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