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Shortening XT chain: possible without replacement pin?

Michael FalkMichael Falk Posts: 169
edited November 2007 in Tour & expedition
Not really Touring & Expedition appropriate topic, but I'll try here.

To cut a long story short, here touring in Argentina I've replaced my emergency 8.5pesos (less than 2 pounds) imported Chinese chain on my Thorn-Rohloff bike with a Shimano 9 speed XT'ish quality chain. It was rather difficult to find.

My concern is eventually I have to shorten the Shimano chain (the rotating bottom bracket will not take up all the slack when the chain stretches). The problem is that I cannot get the required replacement pins & the information I can find strongly recommends not pushing in & out the same pin to shorten the chain.

Should I just push out the original connector pin (in the opposite direction that it was just pushed in) until the side plate? This is what the bikeshop mechanic recommended but information on the web does not recommend it.

What's the best solution? I have to shorten it eventually.



  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 81,520 Lives Here
    find any chain connector.

    eg a sram power link or one from some other maker. you dont have a conventional gear set up so width is not important.

    and i would say that if the bb will not take up the slack then the chain will need replacing as it will be close to failure.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • The fact that I can't get replacement pins for the Shimano chain also relates to that I almost cetainly won't be able to get the power links here either, Argentina is very anti-imports at the moment. Very bad for buying bike quality parts. If I do somehow get one, do they work on another brand's chain?

    With a previous SRAM 68 chain I twice had to remove liks because the BB didn't take up the slack. That was a lot of extra KM covered using a pretty worn chain. It was running rough at the end but did no harm & of course gear changing still worked.

    thanks for your advice!

  • The powerlink things work perfectly across brands as long as they're for the right chain thickness (8spd or 9 spd). Compare side by side.

    Is it already on? If not it's easy, just shorten now and wind the EBB back a bit to compensate. Then use the black pin supplied.

    If yes, you can shorten it - just a bit trickier on a used/connected one. Avoid the black pin as that's non-reusable, but the other, normal pins will push out OK using a chain tool. Make sure you don't over push the chosen pin, leave it engaged, but pushed out enough to wiggle/remove the unwanted link. Turn the tool round, put the two ends of chain into the 'other' slot on the chain tool and carefully push back in.
  • Chris

    I've already put the chain on, that's how I realised I may have some problems. A German guy here (who's cycled from Germany to Singapore, so I'll trust his knowledge) said to me putting in the same pin was fine but much care was required. Also he suggested a very good chaintool (Park, Shimano). My chaintool is pretty basic but it was poor with this Shimano chain. I'd never had a problem with it before.

    Here in Argentina the good bikeshop here sells it's good chaintool (Taiwan) for about 2pounds. I can't find better.

    A friend is now posting me out 3 chain pins from Australia, this should solve the problem. Customs here though are terrible about anything imported so the pins may never get to me. Then I'll won't have a choice but to try & reuse the same pins.

  • satanassatanas Posts: 1,303
    As long as you leave the original joining pin alone, you should have no difficulty rejoining the chain with any other pin. I've done this many, many times, and it will usually hold up even for MTB enduro racing.

    As you have no derailleurs - and thus no lateral force or twisting on the chain - there is no reason why you should have any problems.

    When using the chain tool I recommend you avoid using any "other position" theoretically designed to loosen up any stiff links; this is not likely to help, but might break the chain tool. Instead, firmly grasp the chain on either side of the stiff link (if it IS stiff) and twist it forcefully back and forth. You may need to rotate the chain at the pin and do this at a few different angles if it is particularly recalcitrant.

    Chaintools tend to be backwards compatible, but not forwards compatible; i.e. Shimano 10 speed will work on 8, 9 speed chains, but the reverse may not be so effective.
  • Thanks Satanas!

    If the pins arrive from Aust it'll be fine.

    there is no reason why you should have any problems.

    BUT there was! I ruined 1 link & then the mechanic at the shop did too! He then found one of the proper connecting pins lying around & that solved the problem easily. If the pins don't arrive from Aust I'll have to break & rejoin the chain using the same pin. I'll just try to do it very carefully.

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