Master links are great. But you need to get the right one for your chain.

Up next I’ll share a story of when I did not concern myself with using the correct master link…

The Incident

I was getting ready for a mountain bike race and guess what?

My fairly new Wipperman chain was cracking at each pin! Almost every side plate was cracked.

Luckily I was able to swipe the chain off my road bike and use that (this was back when everything was 9 speed) but that just created another problem…

It was a Shimano chain. Did I have the special Shimano replacement pins? Nope. But I did it anyway and the chain held up for the race.


But the chain was toast the day after. The link I had messed with was falling apart. Still not wanting to try to find a Shimano pin, I grabbed a C-clamp…

I clamped that around the offending link and tightened it down just a little. It didn’t take much before the link just snapped back into place! “Safe to ride!”

So I took the bike out and started my ride nice and easy. There were no problems as I pedaled easily during my warm-up, but things changed when I encountered the first hill.

Immediately the shifting worsened and the chain was just jumping from ring to ring no matter what I tried.

Then next think I know, I hit the ground. Once I got to my feet I saw my chain hanging off the rear derailleur. And there was the link I had decided to repair without the special pin – mangled and snapped!

So that was a fun day – 10 minutes of riding followed by 20 minutes walking home!

The moral of the story: Never buy a Shimano chain!

Well, no. The true moral would be: If you use a Shimano chain, get the proper pin to put it together.

Caution: Rant coming up!

My rant!

Seriously, Shimano? I have to buy special, single-use pins for every single time I disassemble my chain?

I see no reason to spend your hard-earned money on an inferior chain. And it’s stupid to have to buy a special pin for every time you remove the chain! Ever heard of a reusable master link?

And what happens if the rider doesn’t know you need a special pin for Shimano chains? They could put the chain together and have it break while they’re out in the middle of nowhere! Not to mention where they could land when the cranks suddenly spin at 120 rpm!

If you haven’t picked up on my opinion yet, here it is:

Shimano chains are more trouble than they are worth.

Ok, that’s out of the way…

Wipperman chains suck too!

Well, sort of. I had a problem with one Wipperman chain’s durability (or lack thereof).

From all the other rave reviews, I figured I had a lemon. So just call the company, right?

Wrong. (I’ll explain later, but first…)

Here’s an important lesson:

Important lesson: customer service

When you’re buying something (not just bike parts) consider how easy it is to contact the company and how good their customer service is. Warranties don’t matter if you can’t contact the company. (Unless it’s serious and you’re suing…)

Back to Wipperman. I figured I could get more info on their website. Well I couldn’t find one. Nowhere I looked gave me any contact info on the company. Being based in Germany and not yet having widespread appeal in the US, I was out of luck.

So after this ordeal I’m sticking with SRAM chains. I’ve always had good luck with them and their master link is just as good, if not better, than Wipperman’s.

I have this one SRAM chain I put on my old beater bike about 3 years ago. The bike is about 7 years old, never replaced the cogs or anything, just the chain that one time. I use it for commuting in bad weather, winter training, etc. And I keep it in the basement.

Last time I checked the chain was extra rusty and covered in mold… but turned perfectly!

It was as smooth as a brand new Shimano chain. Which aren’t even that smooth with a whole new drive train.

The point of the entire story: SRAM chains are the best! There is no reason to go with any other.

But it’s worth buying the special pins right?

Yes, I see the irony. I write about the value of chain lube and then I go and try to save a few dollars on master links.

My bad. This was back when I was young and careless.

MasterLinks for Shimano Chains

Shimano chains and their special pins are annoying, so a lot of people run SRAM, Wippermann, and KMC master links on Shimano chains without a problem.

The real solution though is this: Get a SRAM or KMC chain. Simply DO NOT use Shimano chains. It’s such a simple solution.

I don’t like Wipperman chains, so even though they have a cool masterlink, I don’t recommend their chains.

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