Getting Rid Of ‘Stiff Link’ Syndrome

If you’re experiencing pedaling irregularity, eat some prunes your bike may be suffering from ‘stiff link syndrome’.  Just to clarify…pedaling irregularity would be when your pedaling stroke isn’t smooth.  You know, there’s a mini-pause and a mini-acceleration in your chain speed.

Navigating a rear derailleur strikes fear in the heart of any chain.

If all of the links in your chain aren’t supple (really wanted to work that word in) they won’t all make it through the tightest of twists and turns in the chain journey without a pause and ‘jump’.

And the tightest turn is through the rear derailleur.

So how do you locate the stiff link?

If you don’t have a bike stand, you can turn your bike upside down and shift into the large chain ring on the front and the smallest sprocket on the back.

Now you’re forcing the chain through the tightest angles it’ll have to navigate on the rear derailleur, which is the smallest sprocket of the rear derailleur.  You’ve chosen the largest front chain ring so that you don’t complicate your diagnostics with cross chaining.

The stiff culprit will be the one that jumps and/or resists going through the derailleur.

What to do about it…

Work the offending link back and forth to get rid of the stiffness.

Sometimes all it takes is getting out the penetrating oil to work the link loose.  Or maybe you haven’t oiled your chain since high school, and a little oil would work magic.

But if common sense oiling doesn’t work, you can grab the offending link and work it back and forth side to side like in the picture.  This will free up most problems.  But if it doesn’t, you can move on to the chain tool.

What’s a chain tool?

Chain tool= miniature press!

Pretty simple… a chain tool is a little press that’s used to press out the pins that hold the chain together.

Here’s how you’ll use it to free up a stiff link-

  1. find the offending link (duh)
  2. on each of the pins, use the chain tool to press the pin a third of the way into the roller and then a third of the way back the other way.  You’ll have to remove the chain tool and switch it to the other side to get this done.
  3. use the chain tool to press the pin back to center.
  4. if this doesn’t get the job done… don’t be a cheapskate, consider getting a new chain.  It’s OK to spend a buck or two on your two wheeled steed now and then.

Intolerate chain stiffness

If you’re like me, you may be getting increasingly irritated with all of the intolerance of intolerance.  Why can’t a guy just enjoy some intolerance now and then?

I have to tolerate my renter who is hoarding her welfare check, buying lot’s of smokes, and not paying her rent.

I have to tolerate nudists in San Francisco.

I have to tolerate a whole lot of things in our free-for-all country.

But, I don’t have to tolerate ‘chain stiffness’.  Bike chains haven’t organized themselves into advocacy groups yet, so I direct my intolerant scorn at them…and I feel surprisingly good about it.

Give it a try.

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