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View Full Version : broken chain link and jacked up gear shifter?



lauren.kibbe
12-04-2015, 11:25 AM
Hi everyone,

I am new on these forums so forgive me if I am outside of protocol or typical etiquette here. I am also not super bike savvy so I may get my terms mixed up as well. Thanks for bearing with me so farÖ
I ride a homemade road bike. Itís a Specialized, carbon fiber frame (very light and easy to ride around) with a mode-podge of components added to it. My boyfriendís brother made it for me. I ride it 5 days a week to and from work (approx. 6 miles total) Iíve been riding pretty problem free for about a month now.

My issue began this morning on my commute in to work close to 15th and R. I was riding along and tried to shift gears and then BOOM! All of a sudden I could no longer pedal forward or backward. I slowed to a stop at the next intersection and safely dismounted, moved out of the bike lane and onto the sidewalk. Once off my bike I noticed the problem. One of my chain links was completely bent and only connecting the chain on one side. Next, I noticed the bigger issue, the silver gear shifting thing (sorry, Iím not sure what itís called), is totally mis-aligned with the chain and teeth of the gear. Iím not sure how this happened. I have been experiencing some difficulty when shifting gears so I thought maybe that had something to do with it. (Iím attaching pictures here too)

Iím wondering if anyone has any kind of explanation here. And if so is there a way I can fix this without having to take it to a bike shop here in D.C. If not, is there something I was doing that caused this? Is there a way to prevent this from happening again?

Thanks to all!

Best,
Lauren

TwoWheelsDC
12-04-2015, 12:18 PM
Welcome! Sorry to hear about your malfunction. I think best case scenario, you just lost a pin in your chain, which caused it to separate (could be an installation error or just a dud...) and you just need to fix the chain. You can do this by either buying a new chain or buying a link (if the chain is old, it may be worth it to just get a new one...a link is like $4 and the shop can help you figure out exactly what you need). Either way, you will need a chain breaker tool and probably some quick Googling to install everything, although a shop can do it pretty cheap and quick. Regarding your "silver gear shifting thing" (aka, the front derailleur :D), my hope (going back to the best case scenario) is that it looks misaligned because it's half-shifted, and not because it's actually busted. If you toggle a downshift (little lever on your left shifter), it should release the tension and realign.

Worst case is that your front derailleur needs to be fixed, but even that would be a relatively simple job for a shop or a relatively skilled buddy (wouldn't really recommend you doing that one yourself).

Crickey7
12-04-2015, 12:31 PM
I have been experiencing some difficulty when shifting gears.

What kind of difficulties? Like the chain suddenly slipping, or like the gears shifting at random times? I would say in general that chain's probably history, but depending on what the difficulty is, there might be other drivetrain parts needing replacing as well.

baiskeli
12-04-2015, 12:42 PM
Regarding your "silver gear shifting thing" (aka, the front derailleur :D), my hope (going back to the best case scenario) is that it looks misaligned because it's half-shifted, and not because it's actually busted. If you toggle a downshift (little lever on your left shifter), it should release the tension and realign.

It could also be turned out of alignment, e.g. rotated around the downtube (for lauren: the tube it is attached to), so it could need a simple turn and retightening to line it back up. Let's hope it's not busted.

baiskeli
12-04-2015, 12:44 PM
By the way, the technical bike term for what the status of your chain is "toast."

Crickey7
12-04-2015, 12:59 PM
I like the suggestion that the silver shifting thingie rotated or otherwise shifted position, thereby setting the whole train of events into motion. That fits with the observation that the bike was assembled out of parts that the brother had lying around or could get for free.

Steve O
12-04-2015, 01:04 PM
I ride it 5 days a week to and from work

You are assigned to my team in Freezing Saddles (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?9632-Registration-for-Freezing-Saddles-2016-is-now-open!)!

mstone
12-04-2015, 01:11 PM
This is like Car Talk for bikes, right here

bentbike33
12-04-2015, 01:17 PM
This is like Car Talk for bikes, right here

Except with way more chuckling knuckleheads dispensing the (more or less) bo-oh-oh-oh-gus advice.

jrenaut
12-04-2015, 01:21 PM
In the first picture, the front derailleur seems much too low. This could happen if it wasn't installed tightly enough, slipped down, and then the chain got stuck when you tried to shift.

My recommendation is to take it to the Bike Rack (conveniently located at 14th and Q) and have them take a look. It's very likely you need a new chain, but beyond that it's tough to judge from photos.

lauren.kibbe
12-04-2015, 01:21 PM
You are assigned to my team in Freezing Saddles (http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?9632-Registration-for-Freezing-Saddles-2016-is-now-open!)!


I'm in! :)

lauren.kibbe
12-04-2015, 01:31 PM
Thanks to all who have responded! (I'm trying to figure out to respond to you individually but haven't gotten there yet!)

All this feedback is so very helpful!..I have new found optimism that this isn't the end for my beloved (and fast!) bike!...I think I'll start with getting a new chain and see if I can "toggle" the "silver gear shift thing" (aka front derailleur) to get it back into place. If it's has in fact slipped though I may need some more experienced hands in which case I'll take it to the shop.

jrenaut, you recommend Bike Rack on 14th and Q?...I'm willing to give it a shot. I've been to several bike shops in D.C. and for the most part they are kind and helpful. I just would rather learn how to do some of this basic maintenance stuff on my own instead of paying to have it done for me. I have some people I know that can help fix it for free, which is nice to have on had, but at the end of the day, I think it will be much more efficient (and cheaper) if I can figure it out...plus I'm curious and want to learn!

lauren.kibbe
12-04-2015, 01:35 PM
I like the suggestion that the silver shifting thingie rotated or otherwise shifted position, thereby setting the whole train of events into motion. That fits with the observation that the bike was assembled out of parts that the brother had lying around or could get for free.

Ah, this makes sense. However, it feels pretty tight on there to me. I can't seem to move it around at all. But maybe these are micro movements?

lauren.kibbe
12-04-2015, 01:38 PM
What kind of difficulties?

It just doesn't shift smoothly. My other bikes have different shifters and I don't feel the shift as much. It's been tough for me to get the hang of the positioning of these shifters on the dropped down handle bars but also, when I shift it can take a few trys before it feels like it actually moves. Does this make sense?

it doesn't feel like that chain is slipping though, is just feels kinda clunkily moving...:confused:

DismalScientist
12-04-2015, 01:39 PM
I had this happen to me a few weeks ago. One link of the chain started to separate from the pin. The chain was catching something on every rotation, probably at the rear derailleur. I GINGERLY biked 3 miles to Phoenix and borrowed their chain breaker to fix it. I broke and reassembled the chain at that link without issue. This means the chain may not be toast yet. You can always just take out the one link that is bent from this incident (which will shorten the chain a bit). If you can get the bike to shift into both the big chainring and rear cog, then the shorter chain is still sufficiently long to work.

I wouldn't replace the chain unless it was too stretched.

The first and fifth pictures suggest that the front derailleur is too low and may have slipped down the seat tube. The third picture suggests this is not true. Because of the angles of the photos, I can't tell whether your front derailleur needs adjustment.

Having the bike not shift smoothly suggests that the chain problem has been slow in developing. If it were a bad shift that caught the front derailleur, my guess is that the chain would make mincemeat out of the derailleur rather than the other way around.

dkel
12-04-2015, 01:43 PM
It just doesn't shift smoothly. My other bikes have different shifters and I don't feel the shift as much. It's been tough for me to get the hang of the positioning of these shifters on the dropped down handle bars but also, when I shift it can take a few trys before it feels like it actually moves. Does this make sense?

it doesn't feel like that chain is slipping though, is just feels kinda clunkily moving...:confused:

This sounds like a derailleur adjustment issue, though in rare cases it could be caused by a frayed cable. If you're at the shop to get a new chain anyway (or have it evaluated), I can't imagine it would cost more than $10 or $20 for labor to get the shifting tuned up; if you do need a new chain, adjusting the shifting may be part of the installation anyway.

TwoWheelsDC
12-04-2015, 01:47 PM
jrenaut, you recommend Bike Rack on 14th and Q?...I'm willing to give it a shot. I've been to several bike shops in D.C. and for the most part they are kind and helpful. I just would rather learn how to do some of this basic maintenance stuff on my own instead of paying to have it done for me. I have some people I know that can help fix it for free, which is nice to have on had, but at the end of the day, I think it will be much more efficient (and cheaper) if I can figure it out...plus I'm curious and want to learn!

If you ask nicely, some shops will let you watch, or walk you through, what they're doing, so you can pick up some good info that way. Also, a lot of shops do clinics on a pretty regular basis (REI definitely does, and I think BicycleSpace).

Crickey7
12-04-2015, 01:52 PM
And there's always the interwebs.


http://www.artscyclery.com/learningcenter/shimanomechroadfrontderailleurs.html

dasgeh
12-04-2015, 02:34 PM
I just would rather learn how to do some of this basic maintenance stuff on my own instead of paying to have it done for me. I have some people I know that can help fix it for free, which is nice to have on had, but at the end of the day, I think it will be much more efficient (and cheaper) if I can figure it out...plus I'm curious and want to learn!

So I'm going to reverse my MO and suggest that you head over to the Facebook Women & Bicycles group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/WomenandBicycles/) (I'm forever telling people there to come here). There are women-focused maintenance classes at various bike shops and coops (Phoenix and Velocity). People there know more details.

Steve O
12-04-2015, 02:48 PM
It just doesn't shift smoothly. My other bikes have different shifters and I don't feel the shift as much. It's been tough for me to get the hang of the positioning of these shifters on the dropped down handle bars but also, when I shift it can take a few trys before it feels like it actually moves. Does this make sense?

it doesn't feel like that chain is slipping though, is just feels kinda clunkily moving...:confused:

I can't imagine it would cost more than $10 or $20 for labor to get the shifting tuned up; if you do need a new chain, adjusting the shifting may be part of the installation anyway.

I have been riding bikes and doing most of my basic maintenance since way back in the last century. But with the advent of index shifting (to the eternal chagrin of dismal) I have struggled to get my shifting adjusted just right when I do it myself. I can do it usually, but it takes me a lot of trial and error. OTOH, my mechanic gets it done in just a couple of minutes.

When you talk about your shifting being skitchy, I'm thinking you are talking about the rear derailleur*, not the front (that is, you experience the problem when you shift the right-side shifter). It is quite possible that is entirely unrelated to your chain and front derailleur problem. I'm hypothesizing that your rear derailleur just needs some adjusting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that whatever you end up doing with the chain and front derailleur, I highly recommend you have the shop adjust your shifting for you. They'll get it right for either free or close to free.


*rear derailleur - the thing that hangs down on the right side of the bike by the rear wheel and the chain wraps itself through two little wheelie things

Vicegrip
12-04-2015, 02:56 PM
My guess. The chain link plate came off the roll pin. Open plate end caught the front "shiftier thingy" AKA front derailleur cage and bent it. This is the lock up that was experienced.

New chain or punch the bad link and replace with a master and unbend and tune the front derailleur. Hour labor and $3 for a master or $25 for a chain for the fix. Full mid level clean/tune up and a new chain for the long game.

Emm
12-04-2015, 03:11 PM
I just would rather learn how to do some of this basic maintenance stuff on my own instead of paying to have it done for me. I have some people I know that can help fix it for free, which is nice to have on had, but at the end of the day, I think it will be much more efficient (and cheaper) if I can figure it out...plus I'm curious and want to learn!

If you go in for help when a shop isn't too busy, they'll often show you how to fix it while they're doing the repair. This is how I learned how to fix a flat, how to get the wheel off my internally-geared-hub/disc brake bike, how to line my wheels up for the disc brakes properly, how to play with normal brakes and chains and cables, how to raise or lower my handlebars, etc. Key thing is to find a friendly shop on a slow day. As long as you're paying them one way or the other, they're often happy to discuss what they're doing and why. Or they'll just show you for free when they're in a happy mood.

Or go to Velocity Coop in Del Ray Alexandria, donate $15 and they'll teach you! (http://velocitycoop.org/)

jrenaut
12-04-2015, 03:25 PM
jrenaut, you recommend Bike Rack on 14th and Q?...I'm willing to give it a shot. I've been to several bike shops in D.C. and for the most part they are kind and helpful. I just would rather learn how to do some of this basic maintenance stuff on my own instead of paying to have it done for me. I have some people I know that can help fix it for free, which is nice to have on had, but at the end of the day, I think it will be much more efficient (and cheaper) if I can figure it out...plus I'm curious and want to learn!
I do recommend Bike Rack. They're good people. They're also open at 8am so it's super convenient if you find yourself with a problem on the way to work.

If you want to learn how to fix stuff yourself, you have a couple options. Many people on this forum are happy to teach you all sorts of things, most of them work for beer. The Bike Rack does maintenance classes, check their website for a schedule. I think they fill up quickly. And Annie's Ace Hardware at 13th and Upshur hosts the Bike House Saturdays 12-3 (although I think not over the winter). You can just take your bike there and they'll help you out (donations encouraged).

baiskeli
12-04-2015, 05:20 PM
It's normal for a chain and gears to wear out, so if you need to replace them, that's okay. Chains stretch and gear teeth wear down.

Did you manage to get it fixed and get home on your bike?

brendan
12-04-2015, 06:36 PM
So I'm going to reverse my MO and suggest that you head over to the Facebook Women & Bicycles group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/WomenandBicycles/) (I'm forever telling people there to come here). There are women-focused maintenance classes at various bike shops and coops (Phoenix and Velocity). People there know more details.

I second the recommendation of the Facebook Women & Bicycles group. They are very informative and supportive (or so I have heard).

Also: I routinely ride out of the city on longer rides (commuting and recreation), so in addition to riding with a chain breaker tool, I generally keep a couple of the KMC Missing Links with me (see here: http://kmcchain.us/connectors-list/page/2/ ). Popping a pin out of a cranky/broken chain is pretty easy. Seating a pin back in just right is rather hard, especially away from home.

Having these quick and easy links on hand for both home installations as well as field repairs makes me a lot less stressed (and a lot more likely to make it home on my bike). Just make sure you get the right ones for your chain/cassette (9, 10 or 11-speed are different links). They're on amazon and available at many shops.

Brendan