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As I always do, I've used a an 11-speed KMC quick link to close my 11-speed chain. However, this time the quick link was particularly easy to fit (and similarly very easy to remove). Is this an issue? In other words, could there be a situation, under normal use, in which the chain is not operating in tension and the quick link unexpectedly comes apart? If I compress the chain by hands the link easily opens and I'm a little nervous that the same would happen when I'm out on the road.

Update: I took the bike to my local bike shop and they replaced the KMC link with a Shimano one saying "the KMC links tend to be on the loose end, so we prefer to use Shimano ones"

enter image description here

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  • Did you use a brand new quick link or is it a used one? – Max Nov 25 '20 at 14:31
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    There should be an audible click and some resistance to overcome while the link closes. Yours may be faulty. – Carel Nov 25 '20 at 16:05
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    @maupertius You do not have to actually ride it (and I certainly didn't mean any extensive riding that could endanger you) but you do have to try to connect it with some force. Indexing the gears is nothing. You have to at least pull the two ends of the chain strongly away from each other. Normally, you feel when it joins, as also Carel mentions. If it does nothing, it is probably faulty. Basically, Weiwen Ng mentions in their new answer, I also think that you might not have closed it fully. – Vladimir F Nov 25 '20 at 16:24
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    Is it possible the pin is engaged with the slot on one side but not the other? – Adam Rice Nov 25 '20 at 17:33
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    @DanielRHicks I should have mentioned that the picture was taken with the chain not in tension, as it was easier for me to capture it due to lighting – maupertius Nov 26 '20 at 9:35
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If the link can be easily opened just with your fingers I’d say that’s unacceptable. I don’t know what the probability of the chain coming apart is, but I would not risk it.

Quick links are relatively inexpensive so just replace it.

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@Argenti correctly noted that if you can open an 11s link with your fingers, then unless it is a Wipperman Connex, this is a bad sign. Most 11s and 12s links need a lot of force to close, and need pliers to open. YBN's 11s quick links see the easiest to close of all the links I’ve used, but even these can't be opened by hand.

I would wager that the OP may not have engaged one of the quick link's pins in the opposite hole, or that they might not have closed the link fully. If it's the latter, then that shouldn't be a big deal and you could just close the link properly. If it's the former, then if something had been bent out of shape then I would not risk it (except maybe to ride slowly to the bike store to get a new link).

Some of KMC's quick links are rated for re-use, and some are explicitly single use only. I found this out after my one 11s KMC chain had worn out, and I can't remember which type of link I got. It's possible that the multi-use KMC links are easier to open and close. However, even if true, then I don't think they could be opened by hand if closed properly. Even 9s and 10s links, as I recall, were not easy to open by hand except for the Wipperman Connex, pictured below. Note how the opening is shaped.

enter image description here

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You might have just gotten one where the tolerances just don’t line up. For example, the slot on the side plates might be on the wider side, while the slot on the chain pins may be on the narrow side.

I agree with Argenti, don’t ride it. Since there evidently isn’t very much holding the chain together, you risk having the little tabs that actually engage with the chain pins rip off. One big, powerful multi-gear shift where the master link happens to be the one doing the work could put enough of a sideways load to break it.

If you buy another master link of the same model, you can try mixing the two links to hopefully get two working links.

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There's a high chance it's counterfeit, depending on where you bought it from. The KMC quicklinks and chains are accurately made. Counterfeits are not. Some counterfeits will stay together IME, others from the same source will not

If you bought it from an Amazon seller, AliExpress or Ebay, it's likely to be fake.

This photo might not be clear but if you look at the genuine quicklink (bottom), it's chamfered which the fake is not (merely rounded). The markings do not mean too much.

enter image description here

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  • Quite possible. I read one credible report of a forum acquaintance buying counterfeit SPD-SL cleats on Amazon, although the corroborating photos are gone. forums.thepaceline.net/… also, I’ve seen off-brand chains on eBay that are “comparable” to KMC and basically look like KMC copies, e.g. ebay.com/itm/202405667332 – Weiwen Ng Nov 25 '20 at 18:38
  • I would exclude this in my case as I've got it from a reputable bike parts company, but it's good to know it's a possibility – maupertius Nov 25 '20 at 21:06
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    @WeiwenNg AFAIK, anything sold by Amazon itself should be ok. But 'fulfilled by Amazon' is basically the same as buying direct from China in terms of being reputable. Here's a fake Shimano chain on Ebay: ebay.com/itm/… – thelawnet Nov 25 '20 at 21:20
  • Not necessarily true. If just one 'marketplace' seller sends in counterfeit inventory you can end up receiving it even if you buy 'sold by Amazon.' Google 'amazon sku bin counterfeits'. – Affe Nov 25 '20 at 23:26
  • Although the Chinese vendors are bad (I mistakenly ordered a Shimano RD from there that was pretty obviously fake), I have had good luck with a number of vendors from Taiwan. – Armand Nov 26 '20 at 16:34

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