Bike Tech Tip – Back on the Chain Gang

[cml_media_alt id='57676']BAD chain[/cml_media_alt]

As Shimano is now entering the world of Spinal Tap that is 11 speed cassettes, their 10 speed Dura-Ace chains are plummeting in price. You can find them for around 35€ on sites like Rose ( and Wiggle ( As most of you are already riding 10 speed Shimano with a few people on SRAM and others on Campagnolo, this is a great time to pick up a super strong and reliable chain for not much dosh. And yes, a Shimano chain will work perfectly with SRAM. There is some debate as to whether or not it will work with 10sp Campagnolo and if it will affect shifting at all, but the consensus seems to be that yes, it will work even on Campy, and from my experience in the mountains this summer riding an Easton wheel with a Campy cassette, it works just fine and dandily.

When you get your chain, you should also get a removable masterlink from KMC or Wippermann. You can get the 10 speed Powerlock link from SRAM, but notice… the name is PowerLOCK, not PowerLINK like every other masterlink they make for anything 9sp and below. The reason is that SRAM says they can’t make a masterlink for 10sp setups that will be strong enough to take off and put back on multiple times. Wipperman and KMC apparently don’t have this problem.

“But Roger, why should I get the master link instead of just using the Shimano (or Campy) pin system?”

Good question!

It’s because if you don’t have a proper chain tool, you won’t be able to install the pin for your brand new chain, so you won’t be able to install your brand new chain! The masterlink also lets you take the whole chain off in the flashiest of flashes so you can clean the chain and the drivetrain more easily.

“That’s great! Now how can I tell if I need to change my chain?”

Have you changed your chain since you joined the tri team? If you started any earlier than this year, you probably want to change it. It all comes down to how much you ride, how clean you keep your chain and cassette, what kind of riding you do and how often you shift. You can get a chain tool that will tell you if it’s too worn out. You can also tell that it’s time to change that chain if it skips, thunks, chunks or comes off. If your chain jumps off your bike and sits down in a nearby café for a cigarette, it’s also a pretty good sign that it’s time to get a new one. The last thing you want is for it to break on you during a climb!

If you keep your chain in good shape, keep it clean and change it before it’s worn down and stretched to the point that it could be a belt drive for something created by Handy Smurf, then you’ll be able to keep your expensive cassette and change only your inexpensive chain. If you grind your chain to the point of near oblivion, however, then you may end up having to change both. Et ça enchaîne autres coûts après 😉