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Master Chain Link
Retaining clip

By: James R. Davis

The chain used to drive the rear wheel on most motorcycles looks like a pretty simple device. A bunch of links and rollers. Big deal.

They are actually very cleverly made and far more technologically advanced than they appear. But they do suffer most of the same problems over time as their less advanced ancestors did - they bind and they stretch, for example.

I suppose we have all had occasion to notice the master link and probably pulled one apart or put one back together when changing chains. I'd like to draw your attention to one little piece of the master link - its retaining clip. This little piece of spring steel slips across both rollers and secures itself into the slotted ends of those rollers in order to hold the master link together.

That retaining clip is highlighted in this graphic:

The message that I'm working up to is that you must recognize the importance of putting the clip on facing in the right direction! The closed end of the clip MUST be facing in the direction of chain movement. If a rock were to hit the leading edge of that clip while moving and it was the open end instead of the closed end the clip could pop off the master link and soon thereafter the master link would wiggle out of the chain. That means, of course, that the chain would fall apart and probably tangle with the rear wheel which would lock it and down the bike.

It's the little things that can kill you if you don't pay attention to them.

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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