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Thread: Chains and the use of "clip style" master links~

  1. #1
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Question Chains and the use of "clip style" master links~

    I was talking motorcycles today and a friend of mine mentioned he went with a rider to get a master link for the riders GSXR-1000- somewhere around 180hp. I mentioned that I had always been cautioned about running master links (non-continuous) chain over 50hp? He said it was done all the time- using all the precautions of a properly installed master link. I checked around a bit...the Hayabusa forum was mixed and mentioned using RTV on the link as some sort of "extra" precaution.
    I've used master links for years and never had a problem with a properly installed master link on anything- mini-bike on up, but never done anything with big horsepower. I suppose at some point I suppose the chain on the F-800GS will need replacing and at over 50hp, planned a "peened" link.
    Perhaps one of the S100RR riders has some "real time" experience.
    BTW, one of the Members put up a DIY in F-Twins about a "permanent" master link that looked as good as the traditional "peening".
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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  2. #2
    Left Coast Rider
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    I've often used a circlip-secured master link on "horsepower endowed" motorcycles but the last time I went to get a new chain I was advised that they are no longer manufactured for streetbike-type chains. I found that hard to believe however further investigation netted me the same info from different sources. With my sportbike putting out 135hp at the wheel, I'd guess the extra security of a riveted master link is a good thing - as compared to the destruction that could happen otherwise.

  3. #3
    Gerard jagarra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Reno, NV
    I just found DID still supplies chain with master links, best price was Summit racing, listed as heavy duty racing chains. There were others brands available I still prefer master links over the riveted units, never had an issue.
    1994 R1100RS-(5/93)-,1974 R90/6 built 9/73,--1964 Triumph T100--1986 Honda XL600R

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Bothell, WA - USA
    The terminology being used in this discussion needs a little help. "Master link" refers to the a two pin "U" shaped link used to connect two ends of a chain. It is rare that a replacement chain comes completely assembled from the factory, and usually needs a master link. Replacement chain comes in some standard sizes (number of total links, and depending on differences in user installed sprocket sizes as well as the desired swing arm length, the user can choose the number of links that fit their specific need.

    There are two types of master links. There are those that use a "clip" on one side to secure the two pins of the master link together, and those that include a side plate that is "peened" (or "riveted" if you will) to the side plate - just like every other link in the chain the manufacturer supplied.

    The clip type is easy to install - just secure the clip with a screwdriver - or push it over the pins. The riveted type needs a special tool to actually create the deformed pin head properly.

    Conventional wisdom has always said that the clip type master link is weaker and shouldn't be used in higher horsepower applications, while the riveted type is generally thought to be safer. I believe in the safer approach, at the same time understanding that a poorly riveted master link can be just as dangerous or even more dangerous than a poorly or improperly installed clip.

    I own 3 chain driven bikes including a S1000RR as well as a DID chain breaker/riveting tool, and always install rivet type master links on all my bikes. I also don't believe that rivet-based master links are on the way out either.

  5. #5
    Gerard jagarra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Reno, NV
    I agree both have their advantages and disadvantages. Looking at the tools used on the "riveted" unit, it looks like the pin is pressed in rather than actually riveted. Is it just the fact that the pin is pressed in the side plate locking the pin in position, is there an actual mushrooming done like normal riveting? This whole process looks like what is used on bicycles that have derailleurs, their chains used the same process as the master link was too thick to get through the roller portion of the derailleur.
    1994 R1100RS-(5/93)-,1974 R90/6 built 9/73,--1964 Triumph T100--1986 Honda XL600R

  6. #6
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Both types use a side bar that slides over the pins. Properly installed a master link has as much strength as any other link. What is different is how that side bar is kept in place. One approach is a slide on clip. The other approach is to peen or enlarge the ends of the cross pins to keep the side bar in place. We use only peened or "rivet" type master links because I have had clips come loose 4 times in my riding history. Once was in the middle of South Africa.
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  7. #7
    Registered User rxcrider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    North Ridgeville OH
    A properly installed clip type master link becomes a maintenance item to be checked like oil level and tire pressure. One of the reasons is that the clip and pins stick out a bit farther than any of the other links. On a dirt bike, I've had mud pack in the chain guide and since the space for the clip and long pins was only being cleared by the master link, it was wearing down quickly. My newly installed master link was destroyed and the clip fell off in 200 miles. I had to replace the entire master link because the pins were too worn to install another clip. I've also had a clip knocked part way off, presumaby from a rock hitting it just right. It does make chain removal and trail side repairs easier. I always carried a spare master link or two in my pack.

    A properly installed rivet type master link is a more reliable solution as it ends up pretty much being just like all the other links. All rivet links are not equal. I helped a guy on a CBR600 who chose a JT chain for budget reasons. The first master link was pitched after the pin spit instead of flaring. The second one had its pins deform nicely. The side plates were also a bear to press on. I haven't had those issues with a D.I.D.

  8. #8
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    In the state of Misery for now.
    Just as chains come in different ratings and constructions, so do master links. If the master link comes with the chain from the MFG, you can assume it is comparable. A universal master link or different brand i would not use. If you have a O or X link chain, the master should also include the O or X rings. I use Moly grease on assembly.


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