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How to install a new motorcycle chain and how to rivet the master link

How to install a new motorcycle chain and how to rivet the master link

Hi, I’m Dave and welcome to the CayonChasers Garage. Replacing the chain isn’t as difficult as you would think. Plus, if you replace your chain soon enough you can typically get away with two chains to one set of quality steel sprockets. But, if you let your chain get too rough it can actually damage the sprockets enough that you’ll need to replace them as well. We’ve found, that with proper care and maintenance we can easily get between 20 and 30-thousand miles out of a high quality aftermarket chain. However, most manufacturers tend to put lower quality chains on new motorcycles. Typically, OEM chains even with proper care and maintenance are lucky to last about ten- thousand miles. To learn more about how to lube and adjust a chain, or to learn more about adjusting chain slack, be sure to check out our other videos. Now, there are a couple of methods for measuring the wear on your chain. The first is we’re simply going to measure the chain slack across the length of the chain. Rotate the wheel about a quarter to half a turn and check the chain slack. If any part of the chain is outside the acceptable slack measurement, typically between one inch and an inch and a half, you are most likely due for a new chain. The second method is, to again across the length of the chain, pull the chain away from the rear of the sprocket at about the three o’clock position. If the chain pulls away from the sprocket by about three to four millimeters, then the chain is worn. The final method, and the most accurate one, is to actually measure the chain. If you have a 520, 525 or 530 O-ring or X-ring chain, which happenes to be the most common chain sizes, we want to count 16 pins, not links. If the distance between the 16 pins is greater than 256.5 millimeters, or greater than 10.1 inches, your chain needs to be replaced. Additionally, if the chain has any tight links, links that do not relax when the chain is straight, that’s a classic sign that your chain needs to be replaced. Finally, you want to inspect your sprockets. If the teeth are hooked, visibly worn, or broken, then you’ll need to replace the sprockets as well as your chain. But, like we mentioned earlier, if you replace your chain early enough you can typically get away with running two chains to one set of high-quality steel sprockets. We’ve been running two chains to one set of sprockets for decades. On our current Multistrada 1100, the original chain was replaced at around 10,000 miles. The chain that’s on it right now, currently has over 20,000 miles on it, and both those chains were run on the original OEM sprockets. Now, you can only get away with doing this if you replace your chain before it gets too far out of spec. Otherwise, the worn chain will cause the sprockets to wear rapidly which will force you to replace the chain and the sprocket simultaneously. Now, when it comes time to replace your chain we strongly, strongly encourage you to use a rivet-style master link, not a clip-style master link. We’ve seen too many situations where a clip-style master link has failed, which can cause the chain to come off and, potentially, lock the rear wheel. We’ve even seen cases where the chain came off and got balled up around the front sprocket and broke the engine case. So, please, just use a rivet-style master link. In order to do this you will need a high-quality chain rivet tool. This will be a fairly expensive purchase, but the more affordable chain tools can, typically, only handle one to two chains before they fail. Whereas, the more robust chain tools will last a lifetime. For example, Motion Pro sells two chain tools. One for $90, and the Jumbo Chain Tool for $140. Don’t bother with the cheaper one unless you are only working with smaller non O-ring chains. In order to install a new chain we’re going to first need to cut off the old chain, cut the new chain to the correct length, rivet it in place, set the chain slack, and finally lube the chain. So, first things first, we need to loosen the rear wheel and move the rear wheel adjustment pretty much all the way forward. The Jumbo Chain Breaker will push the pins out of even the most burly chains, but in order to help your tools last longer we encourage you to use an angle grinder with a flap wheel to cut the tops off of the pins before we push them out. Remember, sparks will fly, so wear the appropriate protective gear. With the tops of the pins ground down, take your chain-breaker and retract the extractor-pin into the body of the chain breaker, so that you can clamp the tool onto the chain. You want the extractor-pin to be about two millimeters inside the chain-breaker. Clamp the tool onto the chain, making sure to align the extractor-pin precisely over the chain pin. Just snug the body-bolt to hold everything in place. This doesn’t need to be super tight. Next, you’ll need to advance the extractor-bolt, pushing the
extractor-pin into the chain-pin. Once the pin comes out of the back,
retract the extractor-bolt and pin and remove the chain-breaker and
the old chain will come off. Now’s a good time to clean everything because with the chain out of the way you can really get in there and clean all the gunk away from the area
around your front sprocket. With everything clean, put your new chain on. In most cases, your new chain is going to be too long. So, you’ll need to figure out
exactly how many links you’ll need. It’s likely you’ll need to move your rear wheel back again to get the most accurate reading on exactly how many links you’ll need. Be very careful during this step. You do not want to cut one link too short, otherwise, you’ll end up with a brand new chain that you can’t use for anything. Just ask fellow CanyonChaser Ryan about how much fun it is to
cut a brand new chain one link too short we suggest using a sharpie to mark exactly which link needs to be cut off. Then, simply, use the same method we’ve already used to break the new chain to the exact right length. Your new master link will
come with a pack of o-rings, or x rings, as well as a pack of grease. We need to put an o-ring on each of the pins then apply a liberal amount of grease to the pins and maybe even some into the inside of the chain rollers. Once the rivet is in place, we want to grease the face of the pins and install the last two o-rings over the pins. Then, we want to place the master-link plate over the top of the pins. The outer plate of the master-link needs to be pressed on, so don’t be stressed when the outer plate doesn’t seem to fit the master-link pins. To install the chain-plate retract the chain-pin all the way into the tool and install the press-plate in its place. When you fit the chain tool the press-plate should fit nicely over the outer-plate of the master-link. To press the master-link plate into place use only the larger body bolt. You’ll only need a few turns to get the plate started. You need to double check that
the master-link plate is pressing onto the chain correctly. We need to make sure that the holes drilled into the face of the press-plate, line up with the pins of the master-link. If you skip this step you could
damage the master link pins. Now, it’s extremely important that we only press the master link plate on exactly as far as all the other plates in the chain. It’s not a bad idea to measure an existing chain-plate with a set of calipers, and use that measurement to ensure you push the master-link
plate to the same distance. This final step is actually
the most important step. We need to be extremely careful not to over- flare or over-mushroom the master-link pins, otherwise the strength of the master link could be compromised. We’ll need to set up the tool to rivet the pins, so remove the press-plate and, depending on which chain tool you have, you may need to remove the extractor pin in order to fit the dimpled rivet head in its place. Most chain tools will also require you to fit the anvil on the back side of the tool to ensure the pins don’t get damaged on the back
side of the master link. Also, there is a very specific
amount of flare we want for the master link. Typically, we want 0.5 to 0.7 of a millimeter of flare, which isn’t much at all. We absolutely do not want to flare it smooth against the master-link plate. Measure the diameter of the rivet pins before you flare so you have a starting point. This rivet measures five millimeters, so we need to flare it a total of 5.5 to 5.7 millimeters. We can only flare one pin
at a time, so set the rivet dimple over the master-link pin, and make sure the backside fits nicely against the anvil on the back side of the chain. Again, we only want to use the body bolt to flare the rivet. This typically takes less than one full turn. We like to only turn about a half a turn, remove the tool, and measure the flare. We’re currently at 5.3 millimeters so we’ll refit the chain tool, turn about a quarter of turn, and measure the flare again, until we get the desired final number. Then we simply repeat that process on the second pin. Next, we want to adjust our chain to the proper chain slack. If you don’t know how to do this be sure to check out our other video that walks you through these steps. Finally, even though the chain does have some white grease on it, we suggest adding a nice coating a fresh chain lube Again, please check out our other video that walks you through the process of cleaning, but most importantly,
lubing your chain. And there you have it, a sparkling clean, new chain. You’ll swear your engine runs smoother and shifts better with this new component in place. Just be sure to properly lube and maintain it to get the maximum amount of life out of this expensive component. We suggest lubing your chain every three to five hundred miles or every other tank of gas, more if you ride in the rain. Well, thanks so much for watching. We hope you enjoyed this video. Please check out for more product reviews, travel logs, how-to videos, and much much more.

100 comments on “How to install a new motorcycle chain and how to rivet the master link

  1. Hey there, thanks for the guide, my 125cc bike chain came with a clip on master link. I've got a rivet tool and was wondering if it can be riveted or do I have to use the clip?

  2. I would say this is one of the best video riveting the masterlink on the chain. I'm very particular with my work and I like the idea of using a caliper on the rivet flare and so with the exact measurement of the chain width.

  3. Wow. This was actually a very good video. Subscribed, and look forward to watching other posted vids of yours.

  4. Great video, best i've seen on the subject. The only thing i'm missing is the other type of rivet, the one that is not hollowed out (just a straight pin that needs to be pressed/hammered to match the look of the other link-pins)

  5. Totally agree with Chet, super detailed explanation and very helpful for my 1st time chain install.
    Thanks much!

  6. 10k miles on a stock chain? WTF…. 16200 miles on my stock oem honda chain ('12 cbr600rr)… looks like its going to run 10k more…. Is 10k the norm for other manufacturers?
    oh and yeah, that chain sees alot of stress…. but i take care of it

  7. My master link came off and the chain is stuck at front sprocket. I was just moving bike before hurricane Irma. do i have to remove primary cover. 1971 Tr6r

  8. Thinking of getting back on a bike, for commuting, after about 15 years off. Nice video. A few little tips to remind me the way it should be done. Thanks guys, keep up the good work.

  9. Thanks for thoroughly explaining how you "get away with" two chains to one set of sprockets. I've always heard replace both and still agree with that in general however the way you stated everything made complete sense! Also have never heard the 16 pin/10.1 in. measurement. This was great! Thanks for the vid!

  10. Why do people bother with using the chain tool to remove a bad chain? I use a Dremel and cut it off in about 30 seconds. Done and done. Then I just use the tool to put the new one on.

  11. Pretty good. But a few corrections are in order:
    a) front sprocket wears as fast as the chain. Always change it since it is an easy task with the right tools. Rear sprocket can last 3-4 chains and removing the wheel is more involved with spacers falling off and shaft hard to insert back in, especially alone.
    b) the chain breaker pin is the fragile part. Even the cheap models can do everything else, but the pin on the best breaker still has a max size and can break. Buy many spare pins with your order, you want to have a few spare breaker pins on hand during a job, or else you'll need to cut the hard way through.

  12. Of course if you already have the angle grinder you can save yourself some time and just cut the old chain off. Also another thing that saves some effort is finding out the exact length of your chain and simply buying one with the exact number of links. If you are running stock sprocket sizes this info is usually easy to find and most bike specific forums will have data for chain length if you've changed sprocket sizes as well.

  13. another home run video, you should teach classes in making how to videos, Ive been riding since i was 14 which was precisely….well enough about me , Ive been helping a young man with his first bike learn to do some of the maintenance himself , in doing so it occurred to me that some of my methods might be ,…somewhat dated so i was checking out some "look how smart I am " videos when I ran across canyon chasers , if you cant watch these videos and fix your machine pay someone that can. thank you for your great work guys hope to visit your place someday.

  14. This video lead me to success. I do swear my engine and shifts are much better due to a new chain. THe stock grease is OKAY, but adding more lube is better, really quiets new chain break in. Thanks for providing this, I successfully installed a chain because of this video.

  15. Lots of good info, I too am a tool freak and want the best I can buy, but the chain breaker/riveter doesn't have to be the top of the line model from Motion Pro, I bought the entry level model (08-467) because I needed one fast and the motorcycle shop only had that one in stock. I found it performed quite well and it is well built. I'm sure the mid and top models (08-470 and 08-135) are more suited for the day to day use of a motorcycle shop, but for a bike owner who changes a chain once a year or once every two years, the base model will work.

  16. Hello Canyonchaser, your a true professional thank you for your time. I would want my son to learn from some one like you 🙂

  17. 20 to 30k on a aftermarket in other words Chinese shitty chains🤣 I dont think you should be touching bikes not alone giving people the know how on bikes. I came here to learn something not a comedy this one really made me cry in laughter. Sounds like u ride your bike with invisible chain that's the only way you'll see a bike with 30 k miles on it on a single chain I've heard it all now

  18. Thanks for a nice video with good info, but one detail is wrong: in the picture measuring wear there are 16 pins marked, but that means only 15 pitches between them. You want 16 pitches, so with 5/8" pitch the standard length is 10.0" and then 1% extra due to wear gives 10.1" (256.5 mm)

  19. Please clarify the claim you made which sounded like you have personally seen many type clip style failures especially if properly installed. Is this something you have experienced or is this 2nd and 3rd hand reports? Was the failure caused by the clip master link or poor maintenance? I would prefer a properly revited chain with bikes with 100 horsepower. I have run and raced both types with no issues, like I said above 100 horsepower I will go the revit route. I will also say there are more errors from the dealers part doing revits vs clips. I also would not be running a 525 chain on bikes with 100 horsepower or more, I prefer a larger chain.

  20. I just recently change the gearing on by 2007 gsxr 750 I went from stock gearing to -1+2 520 how many links do I have to take off to get a nice fit any tip Would be greatly appreciated thanks

  21. Excellent step by step instructions. Other videos skip the chain riveting tool process and measuring steps. Thank you!

  22. Just did this today using the Stockton kit and man with the Stockton chain break chain rivet kit you need to have a soft touch because the tools to push out the old rivet and install mushroom the new one WILL bend or break if your not 100% accurate and slow. The chain tool he has seems fool proof way more durable looking than the Stockton. $40 kit i bought down the drain.

  23. Thanks for sharing this, it's a great little tutorial

    I have the same tool which I recently bought and had never used.

    Thanks for the tutorial, I followed your lead and it all worked out fine

  24. I bought a brand new chain for $150 and then cut it 1 link too short. I changed the rear sprocket tooth count, so counting links and referencing the manual wasn't going to work.

    Then I bought a new chain and got it on, only to crack the pin when flaring the rivets.

    Feels bad, man.

  25. Great video, very well done… and dammit you're making me spend more $$$ on quality tools 😀

  26. It is clear to me that my master that the inside is flaring out but I’m not getting a change in width on the outside what is going on??

  27. When I was newish to bikes I bought an R1 and didn't observe the chain dying. It did exactly what you described, it didn't straighten out, went around the front sprocket which only has a minimal clearance, and buried itself into the stater casing, locked the rear wheel going 60mph and almost dumped it. Def. keep an eye on your chain!

    Thanks for the how-to, I got 2 bikes I need to replace the chain on and so far I've either sold bikes before I needed to do the chain, or had a shop do it, so this will be interesting. I think my chain tool is one of the cheaper ones you mentioned though, so we'll see how this goes…. Bought it like 3 years ago so too late to return now, lol.

  28. Hi, nice video, I agree about not needing to replace the whole set every time…However, 16 pins = 15 pitches, I think you mean 17 pins = 16 pitches (links) = 10 inches = 254mm so the % limit is 100.98.

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