Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Spring Clip Or Peened Rivet

Blog Date 13 February 2023

We've oft heard a certain Mr Soady tell us of how the o-ring chain on his Triumph covered 40,000 miles and never once needed adjustment. The chain on my CB500X is the original and with 38,000 miles upon it, it has been adjusted a handful of times and is now close to the end of it's serviceable life. 

38,000 miles is damn good for me. I think I know why this chain has lasted so well. I'm not using the bike anywhere near as much as the bikes I've owned in the past, particularly through winter. I used to use my bikes for commuting in all and any weathers. Nowadays since working from home initially due to COVID now due to the way my current job works - I don't need to commute. 

In the evenings and weekends I'll still ride in all and any weathers but it tends to be the case that if the rain is siling down then no-one else is playing out and my excursions are shorter. During the dry weather more is happening and more miles are covered. While the bike still gets wet and salty it gets less wet and less salty than it would have done 5 years ago. I believe this reduced level of inclement weather mileage is the reason my chain has lasted longer.

4 different chains from Ren's past
I wonder just how much chain I have consumed over the years.

I'll also mention - this is not science this is gut feeling - some chains (same make and model) just seem to last longer than others. I've put several 428 standard DID chains on the 125, sometimes I'd get 12,000 miles, other times 20,000. Logically I might have enjoyed worse weather with one, I might have oiled another more often, but my gut seems to think some chains are good, some are bad, despite the brand and model. Remember folks - anecdotal evidence is notoriously unreliable.

I've wandered off topic haven't I. In preparation I have purchased a shiny new chain. This time I have an, errr... "JT X1R3" chain. This is from the same people who bring you JT sprockets, I have used their chains before and they are definitely chains. The quality is about the same as the rest of them, the chains are probably made in the same factory as the rest of them. This one does feature it's own JT stamped branding on each and every link though so it must be posh I'm sure.

The chain comes with 2 types of connecting link (aka master link). There's the "rivet" type as the little sheet calls it and of course the spring clip aka split link type.

The split link options that come with the JT chain
The chain comes with 2 ways of completing the loop.

JT's little enclosed sheet informs me quite clearly that for road use the chain MUST be rivetted, the spring clip link is only for offroad use. The thing is - I like spring clip links because they're much easier to install and I've never had a problem with spring clips links... so far. 

I have the proper tool to rivet the link. I know how to operate the tool and ensure the rivet link is installed correctly. But it's fiddly, it takes time and - you know - oddly I always worry that I've not peened it sufficiently or I've over peened it and weakened the metal. I don't know if you've noticed but I do worry, too much, far too much. 

So just use the spring clip? They have a definite "click" when fitted. It is very easy to visually check it is fitted properly, that the clip is in the slots, and the clip is all the way home. Yes, use the spring clip. But but but - the little sheet says I've got to peen them if I'm using this chain on the road. If the clip falls off and I die horribly I can see the coroner holding the little sheet and tut-tutting to themself.

JT's little information sheet showing the link fitting choices
JT's "Little sheet"

Oh woe is me! What to do? First world problems.

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Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Firstly Ed, if it kills you, you won't hear what the Coroner says.
Secondly, the advice is a bit rubbish, int'it. So for off road where the chain will get a much worse time of it fit the weakest link. That way the rider behind will be garroted. Result, pffffffftttttt.
Thirdly, fit the damn spring link.
14/02/2024 09:31:09 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Well I always fit spring links to my bikes (except the mighty Triumph referred to above). The last time I had a chain break was in the 1970s - and it wasn't the link, just a massively worn out chain which laid itself neatly out behind the bike on the road. I seem to remember "fixing" it with some fence wire although memory may be failing at this distance...

Like you although I have the kit for riveting, I feel that without a proper jig to do it with I will either peen it too much leaving it stiff or noot enough risking it popping apart. But I do fit a new spring link if for any reason I've removed the old one. And of course obey the rule that the little fish must swim upstream......
14/02/2024 11:46:16 UTC
nab301 said :-
I've had 2 "O" Ring chains break in the last 26 yrs , the first in 1998 was a bike ( F650) that had been dealer serviced ( I had no service details/ manual for it at the time) , the OE chain on the F650 is continuous and requires dropping the swingarm , needless to say I was charged the OE chain price and the labour for dismantling it to fit the cheaper chain .. but there was a spring link fitted.
Strangely the clip was fine and still attached to the remaining pin , (one of the pins broke)
See photo, the other chain was a Honda Vigor purchased secondhand with a new unmarked O ring chain fitted by previous owner , I had inspected the chain routinely the previous week and and all looked good , chain broke in an urban setting commuting to work , my diagnosis was that some road debris had got trapped between sprocket and chain , looking at the damage to sprocket .
In both cases the chain luckily just rolled off the sprockets.

An elderly friend of mine currently has an F650 and an even tighter wallet than Ren , a few years ago he replaced the chain with the cheapest one he could find (possibly non o ring) and headed off to Scotland (from Dublin) on a road trip , he went via Northern Ireland , all was good , on the return trip near Slane Castle not too far from home the rear wheel locked and he did well to stay upright , the recovery driver complimented him on the length of the tyre mark on the road , the tyre was completely flat spotted. You've guessed it, the chain broke and jammed the wheel, If it had happened on a busy motorway....
I've always fitted rivet links to bigger bikes , but the ones I use are generally the soft type , hollow at the edge , the tool just expands the pin , Some chains have solid pins which I've never been able to peen but I have seen bike shops using a hammer...

My CB125F has a 428 non O ring chain , currently 25 k km's , barely 16k miles , I've previously replaced the OE chain and already it's looking a little secondhand .

Posted Image
14/02/2024 17:10:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Thanks folks. Basically use the split link spring clip thingy and if it all goes wrong you won't need to hear me waffling on about it any more.
15/02/2024 08:46:52 UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I refuse to get drawn in to this highly contentious subject Ren. You'll be asking us what oil to use next!
15/02/2024 18:37:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
But CrazyFrog - what oil should I use?
16/02/2024 12:56:37 UTC

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