Splitting the chain

A couple of discoveries

Following up on yesterday’s crankset replacement, I knew that I had to remove some chain links before going any further. In the process, I made a couple of discoveries.

Pulleys can't take up the slack
Pulleys can’t take up the slack

Because the new chainrings are four teeth smaller than the ones they replaced, that means the chain had four extra links. This showed in the rear derailleur, which wasn’t able to take up the extra slack when it was on the smallest cogs. In fact, the chain was rubbing against the wrong side of the pulleys. I was aware of the need to shorten the chain as part of the process, so I had the necessary tool and connecting pin on hand to shorten the chain.

Breaking and then connecting the chain
Breaking and then connecting the chain

First I had to push out two pins, removing four links. Then I used the same tool from the opposite direction to press in the new connecting link. Finally, with the jaws of the tool I snapped off the pilot portion of the connecting link. And that’s all there was to it.

Derailleur is happy with a shorter chain
Derailleur is happy with a shorter chain

Discovery No. 1: loose wheel

In order to get clearance for the chain tool, I had to remove the rear wheel. And that’s when I discovered it was already loose. That would account for what I thought was a brake centering problem. I’m not sure when or how this would have happened — the last time I had the wheel off was on the return from Kyoto – Nara – Osaka, and I’ve ridden the bike a lot since then with no sign the wheel was loose. I’m wondering now if someone has been monkeying with my bike in the garage of the condo, so it’s something that bears watching.

In any event, when I put the wheel back on I made sure the thruaxle was screwed in tightly, and then I readjusted the brake caliper (probably putting it back where it had been to start with). The wheel is now spinning freely with no drag or squeaking.

Discovery No. 2: protruding screw

Protruding screw vs chain
Protruding screw vs chain

With the chain sized correctly (and the wheel snugly in place), the shifting behaved more surely and quietly — at least at first. But once I got the chain up on the smallest cog in back, it wouldn’t come back down. Visual inspection quickly pointed out the culprit: the mounting screw for the pannier rack (installed yesterday) protrudes too far past the frame eyelet and gets in the way of the chain. I’m going to have to file or grind off the end of the screw, but for the moment I’ve just backed it out to provide clearance.

And with that, the job is mostly done. The front derailleur still needs some fine tuning, but it’s shifting better than it was when I finished up yesterday. And there’s more follow-up to do with grinding down a couple of screws, and cleaning and oiling the chain again. (And while I’m at it, Kuroko could use another bath … )

Finally, before I forget (again), here’s a screenshot from one of the videos about changing the bottom bracket bearings that was making me fear the worst:

Part of your soul dying
Part of your soul dying

Of course, he’s a got a carbon fiber frame there and Kuroko is steel, but still it wasn’t all that bad in the end.

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