If you have a shaft final drive there is nothing for you here…at all.

Ok chain people, a few minor tips that might stop you getting stranded or help you out if you have chain issues or you want to lighten your toolkit.

Mostly, a well looked after chain can last a very long time, tens of thousands of miles/ km’s, regular cleaning and oiling will extend its life significantly.

Chain quality really is one of those parts of the bike, that you do get what for you pay for.

A few words to make it a little better, safer, reliable and a tool you may have not seen…

Initially buying the chain you like, X-brand, if you can always buy it oversized/ length and shorten it to fit yourself.


That extra few links could come in handy and is worth its weight in your tool roll if you intend on taking long trips, and to help you fix a snapped chain

My chain can snap?

Plain and simple, yes, likely…not so much. Usually, the reason is installation error, putting on the chain and adjusting it tension too tight. Or, installing the chain at the correct tension but putting the retaining clip on the wrong way around, then it gets knocked off.

How do I know if the chain is too tight?

Chain tension will be at its maximum when the transmission main shaft, swingarm pivot, and axle are all aligned. The easiest way to know this is to undo or take out your rear shock and create a line along all three.

Once you do this then check your tension there should be a little play, maybe 3/8″ or so, and tighten your axle at this point.

Put your shock back in place, put both wheels back on the ground and make a mental note of your chain slack/ play: a measurement, a finger or two in a certain location, maybe a socket, or a key as a reminder for measurement – whatever works for you to make sure that chain is set at the right slack and has the right amount of play. Every. Single. Time

How important is the quality of the retaining clip?

It needs to be a snug fit, a loose-fitting clip has more likelihood of coming off, carry a spare or two

…but what if its the only one I have, in the middle of nowhere, any tips for keeping it secure?

Yes, mounting the clip on the inside of the chain will make it less prone to being hit and being knocked loose or off completely

other options are to secure it with safety wire

just make sure it’s between the rollers so the chain won’t ‘cut’ the safety wire as it rotates. Replace that bad safety clip ASAP.

What if it’s gone!

Safety wire to the rescue again, the object here is to stop the plate leaving the chain, this is the most likely time that the chain snap could happen, secure like this

and again get a replacement ASAP

What about a press fit outer link instead?

So much better, but the tools required are very heavy to be strong enough to complete the task and most likely too heavy to carry in your kit to justify their minimal use! (I’ll come back to this and a solution)


Above you can see where a chain has two pressed links ‘repairing’ a broken chain where spring clips had failed with that small section of unused chain you had in your kit.

A great tool to fit press/ rivet fit chains together is the Motion Pro PBR Chain tool

Would I carry it in my tool kit to travel with, no!, What if MP sponsored me with it…still no! It weighs nearly TWO POUNDS!!!

I would ask them for their cheapest chain tool…btw I’m not sponsored by them, just using them as a reference as they make one of the better selections of chain tools

and to make my kit complete I would add a tool that some of you haven’t seen before from a company that you haven’t heard of either, Afam, a Belgian company.

The tool is called an ‘AFAM EASY RIV5 handy chain riveting tool’ – do a search and you’ll find sellers for it on eBay and other places, for around $30

It will press on the side plates to the correct depth and form the rivet in a hollow head chain link, and combined with the most basic MP chain breaker these two tools weight slightly more than 1/2lb vs nearly 2lb for the PBR tool to do the exact same thing.

Hope this helps a few of you out, and if you have a smaller lighter better solution please share with all of us in the comments below.

If you wanted to see what bike this tool set up will be carried on, there is a build thread on my new lightweight RTW bike here in the ‘Thumpers’ section

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