09 September 2015

Maintenance: Replacing the chain

9 September 2015:  Ride less, wrench more?!

About 2 months after ordering my new chain, I finally put it on.  During this year's FZ1OA Rally, I realized babying my current chain to get a few more miles out of it wasn't going to work.  It seemed like I'd just put the chain and sprockets on and I wasn't ready to take the $$$ hit so soon.

My memory and reality have been estranged since I discovered I had lupus.  The good in that is I let things go a lot easier than I used to.  Events seem to dissapate shortly after they happen unless I write them down.  Time is different to me as well.  I know it's passing but last week or last year or last decade are all pretty much the same.

In reality, “so soon” meant about 10k miles ago.  I was shocked to read that in my repair log but the sprocket still looked very good so I just bought a chain. A cheap one at that.  My first replacement chain was an RK something or other that barely lasted 10k miles.  The next two were DID, that lasted around 10k.  Each time, I replaced the sprockets too even when they didn't look like they needed replacing.

I don't know what sprocket salesman convinced me that chain and sprockets should only be replaced together.  Up until yesterday I believed it with religious feracity.  Jesus is the son of God; sprockets and chains should be replaced together.

The decision not to change the chain when I first noticed I probably should was made because of that belief.  When I ordered a $50 chain, I did it believing the sprockets would likely reject the chain like the body will a transplanted organ.  I just hoped chain lube would be like the drug that allows the body to keep the organ.

As usual, I began by watching youtube videos on how to use my chain tool.  With my memory refreshed, breaking the chain and removing it was a cinch.  The $50 chain came with a clip style master link.  I don't know squat about clip master links except not to use them.  I don't know why they shouldn't be used only that I wouldn't be using this one because I didn't know how and don't want to learn.

Instead, I went to cycle gear and bought a rivet style master link for a 530 o ring chain (my $50 chain is x ring).  After a careful inspection of my sprockets—they look as good as new—I installed the new chain.

Thanks to youtube, I had my digital caliper out to measure the thickness of the links on either side of the master link so I would press the plate on too far.  I worried about that on the last chain so much that I ordered a 2nd master link to replace the one I thought I pressed too tight.

Which one is the master link?
Once I got the same thickness on the master link, I measured the unriveted pins so I could know when my riveted pin was .3mm therefore properly riveted.  I went .1mm over to .4mm but it looked good to me.  I'm not so worried about this one to go get a replacement.  Only problem is it's silver while the rest of my chain is gold.

With the chain well riveted, I used the digital caliper to be sure I had the rear wheel straight once I adjusted the chain.  A liberal dose of lube and I was good to go!  A short test ride revealed a much smoother motorcycle.
Cleaning has nothing to do with wrench more.

Better on take off, better when hard on the throttle, just better over all.  The sprockets didn't seem to care about the chain being an interloper.  Who in the world puts these myths out there that sound so reasonable but are full of crap?

Because of needing new bearings when I replaced the last chain, those sprockets truly needed replacing.  However the all the others looked like they had many miles in them before I had to replace them.  Oh well, now that I know I'll do better.

Up next?  Replacing my aux lights.

For the record, I still believe in Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading.
patrice, theWolfTamer
Looks just like my nearly $200 chain.  Stay tuned for the "Damned $50 P.O.S. chain" post...


  1. Good write up. But I can tell you that the sprockets don't like new chains when you have a really bad chain run on them for a while like I did. My new chain was noisy like you would not believe until I changed my front sprocket out. Can't blame it though. I had already run 2 chains on that sprocket for over 20k miles. It needed to be replaced.

    1. I forgot to say it's whisper quiet! If either sprocket looked slightly worn, I would still be a member of sprockets with chain always cult.


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