Jeffrey L. Walker walkerjl at
Mon Mar 24 18:45:34 PDT 2008

There are some misconceptions here about O-Ring with clip type masterlinks
that need to be cleared up.

1) what you describe, not being able to separate the master link easily,
means that the master-link is designed properly!  

2) O-Ring clip type master links require a chain press to press the
sideplate on.  You'll have to press the pins to get it apart.  It is a close
tolerance tapered press fit between the sideplate and the pins.  These types
of masterlinks usually specify which side faces outwards.

3) People always talk about horror stories of masterlinks separating and
chains flying... that was before O-Ring masterlinks with pressed on
sideplates.  In fact, the only difference between that type of masterlink
and a rivet type master link is the length of the pins and the grooves cut
in the pins to take the snap clip.  The rivet type masterlink just has the
head of the pin get peened over to mushroom it out and prevent separation.
Both require the sideplate to be pressed on.

I rode my KLR 650 with a 520 O-Ring chain for well over 80K miles always
using clip type masterlinks.  I once put several hundred miles on it (I
figure) without the clip in place after a shop failed to install the clip or
improperly installed it.  I was on a trip and after I noticed it I had to
put in about 50 miles of saddle time to get to another shop and get a new
masterlink.  In over 20 years this is the only time I've ever experienced a
problem with a clip type masterlink.  Of course our bikes have a bit more
power applied to the chain, so I'll use a rivet type masterlink once my
stock chain wears out completely.

I used to have a chain breaker to separate the masterlink, but I can't seem
to find mine.  Worse case, you can separate that sideplate with a large
screwdriver and a vice grip carefully clamped on the sideplate edges.  It
takes a bit of grunt, prying back and forth and wobbling it back and forth
and it should work loose.  Be careful not to damage the sideplate or pins
though, and don't loose the O-rings if you intend to reuse the masterlink.
(but a new one costs $5)  You'll also need a chain press to get the
sideplate back on properly, but they are cheap.

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