Cycling is a great sport and can be enjoyed by many, but unlike many other sports, it requires a certain level of knowledge of the tools you use. I am speaking here about bike maintenance. Companies design bikes to work on them easily, and many jobs can be done with something as small as a multi-tool.
When you start cycling, you typically find the common issues you will have are changing tires and inner tubes, adjusting brakes, and swapping pads and cosmetic parts like bar tape and grip swapping. Few cyclists know how to work on their chain, and this is a vital part of the bike and quite easily goes wrong.
What is a master link?
A master link is a part of your chain which can be unclicked and make your chain capable of coming on and off without breaking or damaging it. It looks slightly different from most of the links and is identifiable by the gaps in the center.
You use a tool called a chain master link removal tool not just to remove the link but also to put it back in.
How do I remove the chain link with the tool?
A master link removal tool looks like a pair of pliers. It’s a straightforward job to do this. You need to put the ends to each side of the master link and compress the handles.
You will feel it click. Once you have felt this, remove the tool, and the link will pull apart in your hands.
How do you reattach the chain with the master link remover tool?
What’s great about a master link removal tool is that you use it to attach the chain link. You will need to get the link into place, and once in place, you will notice it is smaller than the other links because it is not connected at the end of the run. You go to the outside of the link to stretch it out, and it will click into place.
What if I don’t have a master link removal tool?
Typically some multi-tools might have a function that you can use to remove the master link. We highly recommend a tool like this for when you’re on the road.
Some cyclists will also tell you that you can bend the link to make it unclick, but we don’t recommend this as it heavily weakens the link.
Why do we remove our chains?
Typically there are two reasons why you might need to remove a chain. The first is in case it is faulty or has broken. The second is that you are doing some maintenance on the chain.
Next, we will explain why you might need to change a chain and remove it for maintenance.
What problems can come from a faulty chain?
Chains typically can go wrong, and you need to keep on top of your chain’s health to keep your bike in the best condition possible. What are some common problems you can get with your chain?
It can break
Quite simply, your chain can break. This is quite scary when it happens as your pedals just drop tension altogether, and it can easily make you fall off.
It can stretch
Chains typically stretch when they get old. They don’t shift well when stretched and will slip along your gearing. It’s not ideal at all and makes putting any power down impossible.
It wears out other components
If your chain is worn, stretched, and rusty, it won’t work well. Unfortunately, it will also quickly start to bite into your cassette and chainrings, too, meaning in time, not just will you need to chain your chain but those as well.
Removing the Chain for maintenance
A lot of cyclists have started removing the chain for maintenance. Why would you need the chain free to do work on it? Here are two processes of maintenance that require the chain to be free.
To use an ultrasonic cleaner, you will need to remove the chain. There’s nothing like using an ultrasonic cleaner, and they are something special when it comes to removing dirt and grime. If you’re serious about going fast and want some free wattage, you need to be doing this.
Waxing a Chain
Another reason you might want to remove a chain is to wax it externally. Commonly done by many cyclists, they actually use chain wax instead of using chain oil. The whole chain should be off the bike for the best effect with this process.
What if my bike doesn’t have a Master Link?
It is very common for chains sometimes not to have a master link. This is because many manufacturers tend not to use a master link for chain installation.
We highly recommend that when you get a bike, add a master link yourself to work on the chain efficiently.
A master link is an excellent way of removing a bike chain, and we believe it’s a very handy component to have on your bike. A master link makes removing the chain and reattaching it very easy.
We think every bike should have one, and every cyclist should own a master link removal tool.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.