Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
The other day I decided to put a new chain on my
XR600 because there weren’t any more notches on the
chain adjusters. Even though it was the original chain and
the side plates were worn a bit, it was still in good condi-
tion. I don’t have a chain breaker, so I had to use a grinder
to burn off the pins so I could remove a chunk of chain. I
figured that I would run the rear wheel as far up the swing-
arm as possible so that the chain could stretch a lot and
last me years. Then, when I went to put the new master
clip on the chain, the small plate wouldn’t go over those
little pins. I ended up bending it, so I had to use my spare
master link that I carry in my fanny pack. I finally got the
new master link on with the help of some vise-grip pliers.
What good is it to carry a spare master link if you can’t
put it on when you’re riding in the desert? Because you’re
called “Mr. Know-It-All,” I hope you can figure out a way to
make these things go on easier.
Bob, you come off like you’re not sweating out huge
amounts of mental prowess, and I believe that you’d lose
a Jenga match with my dog. The dirt bike chain is one of
the most abused parts on the technical marvel that lets
you pound over rough terrain. But, the driveline keeps you
connected to the heart of the machine, and without it, an
off-roader is like a helpless child stuck in a den of hyenas.
Also, the chain torque and the position of the rear wheel
have a dramatic effect on the machine’s cornering and stability and the feel of the suspension.
First rule: purchase a chain breaker. Motion Pro offers
several, but its $25.99 model will last you years and help
to break a chain without bending or mutilating it in the
process. Second, I use one of the plates that I’ve removed
to lay over the new master link plate and then use vise
grips to squeeze the new plate over the master link pins.
Then, install the clip with the closed end pointed towards
the engine. Why? If the open end of the clip points with
the rotation of the chain, the chainguide can inadvertently
knock it off.
Last, you want to set your rear wheel with the new chain
in the swingarm as far back as possible. I like to set it in the
middle of the adjustable range, which gives it some room
to stretch while still allowing me the ability to adjust it.
Why? Too far forward and it stiffens the feel of the machine
simply because the swingarm has less flex. Also, it affects
the leverage to the shock and the shortened wheelbase,
which can make for less stability, offended traction and a
nervous feel to the machine.
One more note here: I very slightly drill out the side plate
of the master link that I carry in my butt bag. By opening
up the hole just a bit, you can replace a master link on the
trail using your tool-bag pliers to press the new side plate
onto the master link.
You really should have known.
Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
Recently, my buddy and I were trail riding when his
machine started to barf and ended up quitting. We were
well up into the hills, and it was nearly dark. I attempted to
push him with my foot on his muffler, but this only worked
when it was flat and a little downhill. Since we didn’t have
a towrope with us, what is the best way to get your buddy
back to the truck? We had to leave the bike where it was,
and we rode back double.
Lake Pillsbury, CA