Regular readers will recall my post in late May where I discussed the surprising revelation that my chain was stretched. With no organized rides, vacations, or other significant adventures in my near future, I decided the time was right to attempt a replacement. I ordered a chain tool and 1o-speed chain from the good people at Nashbar and these arrived earlier this week. Armed with my parts, the knowledge from several Youtube videos and websites, and absolutely no personal experience, I made the attempt this evening.
It was a near thing.
The Second Law Of Thermodynamics states that all things move toward disorder. This is why it was much easier to break my old chain than assemble my new one. Armed with my brand new Park CT-5 chain tool, I quickly removed a pin from my old chain. With the chain now broken, it was a simple matter to remove it from the sprocket, cassette, and derailleur.
Following the advice from one of my Youtube videos, I hung the chain from a nail on my garage wall. I hung my new chain next to it and was thus able to quickly determine the correct length required for the new chain (I did take into account the old chain was stretched).
Before installing the new chain, I took the opportunity to clean up my bike using TOTALLY AWESOME ORANGE, which once again made my bike sparkle. The entire process up to this point took 15 minutes. The next 45 minutes is where the drama occurred.
First, feeding the new chain through the derailleur was surprisingly difficult. After a bit of fussing, I got the thing through and over my sprocket, so the two ends were dangling toward the ground on either end of the drain train. There was only one small, simple thing left to do: attach the two links.
My Nashbar chain has a nifty feature called the Missing Link. When connected, two pieces form the final link in the chain. The pin from either slide is held in place by the other piece, and one needs to merely pull on both sides of the chain to cause the pins to slide permanently into place. Or at least that’s what the instructions said. In practice, it was extraordinarily difficult to get this link to click into place. I tried multiple positions (sitting alongside, behind, above, and lying beneath) to no avail. I then removed the chain and tried to use my work bench. I then tried using the pin I removed when I shortened the chain to the correct length.
Nothing worked. It was hot. I was sweaty, and the sun was setting. I was in an ill humor.
Finally, I grabbed two thin screw drivers and inserted them between the links in the chain. Using these screwdrivers as handles, I pulled them in opposite directions with a great deal of force. The pins budged, but not quite into their final positions. I pulled on the screw drivers with even greater force, to the point where I thought I might break the chain.
I heard a click. Huzzah!
I inspected the chain and it appeared to be in good shape with no bent pins from my extreme measures. I lubed the chain and put my bike and my tools away. I had originally planned to give the chain a test ride tonight, but it was getting dark and I had already “enjoyed” myself as much as I cared to today. Either the chain works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, I don’t care to know that fact tonight.
So the jury is still out on my chain changing experience. I think the Park tool I bought is barely serviceable. It required considered force to push the pins out and the tiny tool doesn’t give you much leverage. The bargain-basement Nashbar chain was a bit of a challenge, but if it holds up over time it will have been worth the frustration during assembly. Time will tell.