by Gus Breiland
Sometimes my own ineptness amazes even me. This isn’t really a review on the effectiveness of a motorcycle maintenance tool. It is more a review on this tool’s ability to assist this goof-ball in fixing the problem that my lack of maintenance skills caused.
I set out to replace the chain on my KLR. In the old days, you could grind off the chain, and snap on a new chain using a master link and snap link. Effective, yes. Correct, most likely not. Of course now, the crappy chains have the snap link, good chains have a rivet master link, and the better chains require you to remove your swing arm.
If I can’t even remove a chain without screwing it up, do you think I am going to remove my swing arm? I think not. The simple mechanics behind threads, torque and pivot are not lost on me. I understand the “what” and “why”. But as soon as I try the “how” with a socket and box-end wrench, I am thrust into the stripped thread, under/over torque world of many other mechanical invalids before me.
I pushed out the pin of the old master link with a couple of cranks of a 14mm socket and the RK Excel Chain Break. Then, using the new master link I threaded the new chain into place. I had counted my links a couple of times, maybe even 3. Putting in the master link and pressing the outside plate on the pins, I placed the shims in the link to protect the o-rings. With the press inserts on the RK Excel, I pressed the plate over the master links pins.
Before I mushroomed the tips of the pins, I thought I would adjust the chain to make sure I had everything correct. Good thing I didn’t. Something was wrong. Apparently, I had forgotten how to count, too. I recounted the links and “D’oh!”, I hadn’t accounted for the master link. Mechanically invalid Gus strikes again.
Here is where the RK Excel Chain Break and Press saved my butt. I pressed out both of the master links pins and set them to the side. I pressed out my extra link to start over. The problem is, that my master link was in 3 pieces. Fortunately, the RK Excel Chain Break allowed me to repress the 2 pins into the plate. I put the renewed master link into the loose ends of the chain, put my shims in, pressed the second plate over the pins, and mushroomed out the heads. Amazingly, the bike still runs because normally when I touch the chain, the piston blows out the top of the head and wheels go flat.
This chain break is easy to use. The grip allows good control when pushing out pins and the carrying case keeps the frame, press pin, press inserts and mushrooming inserts together, so they don’t get strewn across your shop floor, or lost deep in the bowels of your tool box.
You too can save your own chain with the RK Excel Chain Break and Press Kit from Aerostich. It is made to work with 520-532 chains. Head on over to www.aerostich.com (catalog #2589) or take a quick ride up to Duluth. They can also be reached at 800.222.1994. The RK Excel Chain Break costs $107 plus shipping.