Not so much a missing link, as a fat link

I retired from work last year and got a new touring bike, a Thorn Raven, with which I am very pleased. At the same time, I got a carbon fibre Ridley Orion racing bike. My daughter Lizzie, who's the family tyrant and a triathlete, insisted on this so she had to be obeyed. This was equipped with a compact chainset (52/14) rather than a triple, which I would've liked, as it wasn't available in this model, the Ridley Orion.
From the word go, I had drivetrain problems. The chain skipped unpredictably. I could not fix it. I'm a very experienced bike mechanic and the gear-tuning looked perfect, the sprockets were pristine and there was nothing wrong with the chain. At one point, one of the links began to widen after it got jammed and I took a link out. The bike was driving me mad, on the odd occasions that I rode it.

I took it back to the shop one day and they had a look at it and shrugged their shoulders. They could not see anything wrong with it.
At this stage I'd ridden about 600 miles with it, and done the Ring of Kerry with the usual one chain-skip every minute or so. Maddening. I'd never seen it skip as if you keep looking at the chain, you'll hit a wall.
Took it home and said to myself.. There's something wrong with the chain.
I looked at it and thought that the joining link looked a little fat. I said so to Mick Lehane, my main cycling friend and he said to clean it and it would say what speed it was for. I'd never noticed that before as I almost never used such chains.
I did. It was a nine-speed link on a 10-speed chain.
I went into the bike shop with fire in my eye and got a new chain. Problem solved. Nary a skip since. I've been onto the bike manufacturers to warn them about this. Apparently they fitted it. They're investigating the matter. This was the most difficult thing I've had to diagnose in a bike.

This is the fourth time that I've had a dangerous problem in a new bike.
I got a new Dawes Galaxy 13 years ago and the first time I pulled the front brake on a steep hill, the brake wire popped out of its socket in the brake lever, leaving me with no front brake. It'd been incorrectly assembled.
I got a Kirk Mountain bike (the worst bike ever made) with a rusty gear cable which had not been checked, and it jammed the chain, causing me to go over the handlebars while standing up, climbing.
I also got a Peugeot Mountain bike with inadequate rim tape which caused the tube in the front tyre to explode while going down a steep hill.

6 comments on “Not so much a missing link, as a fat link”

  1. Chris wrote:

    You shouldn't have the grief of trouble-shooting mechanical problems on a new bike, especially one so expensive. But it does seem inevitable now and again. My Coventry Eagle Touristique had to have a new headset before I'd even bought it. I took it out of the shop for a test ride and tried riding it non-handed (just like Richard Ballantyne – of Richard's Bicycle Book – recommended, if I remember correctly). Anyway, it swooped off to one side immediately I took my hands of the bars.

    There's a bike shop near me that has really helpful blokes working in it. But my dad won't give them any more custom after they sold him a bike for my nephew with the forks on the wrong way round – quite a common mistake on children's bikes, apparently.

  2. Garry Lee wrote:

    I suppose he told 'em to fork off! :)

  3. Mick F wrote:

    I have a similar problem with a "fat link", except it's the correct one!

    I run a Campagnolo Chorus Triple 10sp with a Chorus 10sp chain. So far, so good.

    In order to clean a chain successfully, it MUST be removed from the bike, and Campag – in their wisdom – state that you must not remove a pin unless it it replaced with a special set of links and pins. I don't agree and buy a KMC Missing Link. They do these for 10sp Shimano and Campagnolo. I obviously fit the correct one.

    The thing is, every few pedal revs in the low ratios, perhaps every chain rev, there's a very quiet "clunk" accompanied with a sort of "feeling" through the drivetrain. It's obviously the Missing Link going through the rear mech and cassette, as it must be just a tad too wide.

    I'm going to do nothing about it, as the ability to remove the chain easily and regularly is paramount.

    It's still annoying though!

  4. Garry Lee wrote:

    Have you considered changing the make of your chain??
    Shimano make similar recommendations, but I've ignored their strictures once or twice without dying, though their special pins are really nice to use.
    You have to be in a particular state of mind to blank out all irregularities resulting from your drivetrain. If you're tired or depressed, they'll drive you bonkers!

  5. Hilary wrote:

    Glad you managed to sort it out. It does seem wrong that there should be problems with a new bike in any price bracket. Its the sort of thing that could really dent the enthusiasm of a novice cyclist.
    When I bought my first derailleur geared bike in the late 70s the gear cables went slack after a couple of days so that hardly any gears were working. I returned it to the well respected lbs where I bought it and they retightened them while muttering darkly 'Has your dad been fiddling about with it?' A couple of days later same problem. Fortunately a friend spotted that the band-on shifters hadn't been tightened properly and were sliding down the frame!
    It really shouldn't happen.

  6. Patrick wrote:

    Well, when one of my sons bought a Specialized road bike last year and we went to collect it, we waited ages while the Leisure Lakes mechanic set it up. We could see him working on the bike through a window. It was taking so long I went to the desk and complained. He just took his time and got it right. I was wrong!

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