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post #1 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: TEXAS
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Spare Chain Parts of Tool Kit - Practical?

I am preparing the wee-strom for our trip in June from Dallas to Alaska. I have read a lot of people carry a few links of extra chain and a couple of spare master links. My question is, in what instance would the chain break in such a way that I would actually be able to use these parts. In my head if I have a riveted master link that partially fails then i need to be carrying a chain tool to remove what would be left (i.e. maybe one pin failed) so that it then could be replaced with a clip-style master link that i would have in the tool kit, right? Say the chain breaks on a factory riveted section of chain - now what? I forgot the dremel at home... I guess i am wondering if it is even necessary to carry theses parts, and what would be a real-world situation where spare links and chain pieces would come in handy. Do I need to carry a chain breaker/rivet tool? I do plan to start the trip with new sprockets and chains. Please pardon my ignorance on this issue, and i appreciate the insight you all will provide.

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post #2 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 10:08 AM
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Put a few hundred miles on the chain before the trip. If it hasn't failed by then it probably won't for a long time.

The simplest chain repair kit would be a chain breaker / presser / rivet tool and a couple of master links. There's nothing wrong with more than one master link on a chain in an emergency, they are as strong as any link if done properly.

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post #3 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 10:18 AM
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Seems like overkill to me. The chances of a good chain, with a proper rivet-type master link failing in a catastrophic manner (i.e. breaking) are pretty damned small, and if it does so while you're going any sort of speed there's a very good chance you would be screwed, anyway (as the chain get pulled and bunched up in the countershaft area and breaks stuff). And as someone else pointed out, you'd probably need a grinder, or at least a file, and a chain tool to remove the old link parts to get a new one on there. Put a good, new chain on if necessary and forget about it. Well, don't forget about it - keep it lubed and adjusted as necessary, but don't worry about it.

Last edited by V-Strom Ry; 04-01-2010 at 11:18 AM.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by SCraig View Post
Put a few hundred miles on the chain before the trip. If it hasn't failed by then it probably won't for a long time.

When I did my trip, I wore out the chain about 2/3 the way through, and it was just noisy the rest of the way. I'd make sure your chain has less than 10,000 miles on it before you go. The stock chain is good till about 20,000 miles.

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post #5 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 09:29 PM
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A few thoughts on this:

I agree with those who say just install a new chain before the trip. Then ride it a few hundred miles or so to get the initial “stretch” out of the way.

My original chain broke for no apparent reason at 12,000 miles. I was going very slowly, shifting up from 1st to 2nd gear when it parted, the end of one link blew out, and the chain wrapped around the rear sprocket and jammed against the swing arm, locking the rear wheel. Fortunately I was down to just about walking speed when it locked, I was pulling off the road already and it just skidded a little dirt, and I stoppped OK. If it had happened on the freeway at 70MPH I’d likely be dead.

My broken chain did not touch the front sprocket or transmission casing at all. It wrapped around the rear sprocket, jammed between the sprocket attach bolts and the swingarm. Those bolts protrude through the attach nuts by about 4 threads. When I installed the new sprocket, I trimmed off those bolts to one thread beyond the top of the nuts, so now there is room for the chain to pass between them and the swing arm. This lessens the chance of it’s jamming in there, although it won’t eliminate it altogether.

I replaced the chain and both sprockets, but I carry the old chain for a spare, along with a master link and my chain tool. Think about all the steps to replacing a chain and you’ll realize you don’t want to carry a NEW chain as a spare. You want one that has been in service for a little while and has already been “stretched” (worn) a little. It should be the same length or a little longer than your in-service chain, that way you can install it without having to loosen and adjust your rear wheel. A little too loose just to get you home is better than a lot too tight. Remember, it is only going to break at the absolute worst time and most difficult place to work on the bike. Argue my theory if you want, that’s OK, but that’s my opinion.

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post #6 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 09:53 PM
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I've had one fail, but not too far from home and not going too fast. I think the idea of carrying 4-5 links of chain and 2-3 master links is a good idea if you are going to be of the beaten path by yourself. The idea isn't so much to "fix" the chain, but to cob it together enough to get you to a safe place to buy/install a replacement. On a lighter, dirt-bike I even fabricated a McGyver master link from safety wire, a piece of fence wire and duct tape that got me the 10 miles out of the woods.

Don't let the first time you play with a chain tool be while your on the side of the road! Take that old chain and play with it. You need to take of a small section for your kit anyway, so practice some.

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post #7 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 10:38 PM
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I can attest to the fact that a link will break in the middle of nowhere, it happened twice to me in South America. And in fact it was the clip master link that failed both times.

If you have a chain breaker, take it. If you are anywhere near a town or village, some car shop will have a grinder to take the old one off, but unless like me yours disintigrates, you will need something to remove th eold one should it break. Mine was an OEM chain kit, but they installed a clip link.

Get yourself some EK screw type master links, excellent to have as a backup as many bike shops don't carry rivet types, and these are easy to put on. I wish I had them when I broke down. I had to use fencing wire and ride 30km!

Both times the chain snapped they did get a little buched up in the front sprocket area and bent the clutch shafr, this is easily straightened out with a hammer, before that there will be oil leaking. No damage to the case was caused, nor did the chain lock up the back wheel, I just freewheeled to a stop.

As long as the chain is nearly new, it should be no issue though, but I just got me two new screw type master links and I will always carry them from now on.

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post #8 of 10 Old 04-01-2010, 11:00 PM
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Anyone know if the EK screw type master links work with a DID chain?
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-02-2010, 12:00 AM
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I agree..EK screw master-links work well in an emergency situation and I have kept a few on-hand for years just in case. Something else to consider for your long travel. (1) tire plug kit and (2) 12V emergency compressor for flats...belive me, you may need this unexpectedly. In my commute this afternoon, I had my rear tire go flat at 75mph and these two items were very handy. The compressor has been laying in wait underneath my seat for about 3 months as well as the plugs...Now, I have to go tire shopping tomorrow!!! YEAH!!
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-02-2010, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Milan, NH
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When I took my KLR on an 1100 mile ride to Kentucky last spring, I decided to pack my chain tools. I've never owned a chain breaker before, but I bought one "just for the heck of it" when I replaced the chain on my KLR at around 11k miles. During my trip, at around 16k miles (so 5k on the "new" chain and sprockets) the chain let go while doing 75 on the interstate in Virginia. No warning, no noise, and it was a well maintained, adjusted, and lubed chain.

The chain did the same as Pirate660's, and wrapped itself around my rear hub. It did minor damage to the engine cases (just a few nicks and scratches), but almost ripped my rear pannier rack off, and the whipping action of the tail of the chain ripped open my airbox, tore apart my inner fender, and ripped apart all the chain guards and brackets.

I was able to get a ride and buy a new chain, but no sprockets, so I opted for a cheap non O-ring chain, because I knew my chewed up rear sprocket would destroy it quickly. I was able to use my chain breaker to remove links and fit the chain to the bike, and get back on the road. If I didn't have the chain tool, I would have had to have the bike hauled to the dealer.

I know this is a 1 in a million scenario, but I was glad I had the tool, and I would never ride a bike with a chain without having one in the tool kit. Along with the chain tool I carried 2 master links. Once your factory chain wears out and you replace the chain, you will most likely end up with a master link (unless you have a dealer install it and press it together). Having a couple spare master links could come in handy if you were to ever have the master link come apart. Having owned a KLR, I quickly learned that you can never have too many spare parts with you!

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