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Chain confusion : pin vs master link

This might seem crazy but in decades of cycling and renewing chains, minus the internet, I never knew about special chain pins to connect up a new chain. I'd used old pins and master links....

Anyway, it turns out I need a cn 6600 chain for my new 10 sp 3x setup. The cn 6701 is 2x only. Another lesson learned. I don't know how I got by! 

But what I can't figure out is if I can use a generic Shimano 10sp master link with this cn 6600. Can I? And how do I determine this other than a forum saying yes, or no. I've ordered pins with it anyway, but I'd much prefer a master link. 

Thoughts, lessons and corrections?

Many thanks. 

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

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IanMSpencer | 9 months ago
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The difference in the chains is that the 6701 is one directional I think, IIRC. So it's to do with the chamfers and shaping on the chain not being designed for the 3 ring setup.

Shimano pins are speed specific but quite hard to tell apart, colour and line markings being the way to tell - but you need them side by side to spot the difference.

You don't reuse the pins, or reuse the hole because removing them, or partly so, takes a chunk of metal out of the plate.

By the way, quick links from Shimano on newer chains are one time use only so you are no better off with a quick link than a pin, though in reality I don't think I've come across anyone having a failure from reopening and closing Shimano quick links.

Dnnnnnn | 9 months ago
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Pretty sure you'll be fine. I think the reason you "got by" in the past is that a lot of the things manufacturers tell you aren't compatible actually work perfectly well in many cases, or are barely perceptibly worse.
It's hard to see why a master link wouldn't work with a 3x vs a 2x chain. Possibility of very slightly larger cross-chaining angles? Well, don't do that for a start (that's why you have a triple!) but I can't see being significant.
Do other manufacturers have separate 2x and 3x chains? That sounds a bit BS to me too (although I'm sure Shimano have scientific evidence to say it's X% better).

Rendel Harris | 9 months ago

Yes, if the chain is Shimano 10sp compatible then a Shimano 10sp quicklink will work just fine, it'll be the same size as all the other links. If it's your first use of a quicklink don't forget to subtract one link from chain length for it!

rileyrg replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago

Yes, as mentioned above, I've used master links. But how do you determine a master link will work? The chain doesn't come with one (or a pin which is bad) There's a difference between cn 6600 and cn 6701 (3x and 2x), so I'd expect a difference in the master link. 

duncanap replied to rileyrg | 9 months ago
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All chains are the same pitch- distance between pins. The difference for the speeds is the width of the chain, as different cassettes have different spacings between the cogs. So a 10 speed chain is slightly wider than an 11 speed, to make space for the extra sprocket without making the drop outs of the frame wider. 

so as long as the master link is the same width as the chain, it should be fine. Make sure you observe direction of travel arrows if marked, and make sure it is positively clicked into place, either by putting link on the top run of the chain and stepping on the pedals to pull the chain tight, or if you have them use chain link pliers to push it to the locked position. If it won't lock, then it could be you have the wrong width, likewise excess lateral play compared to the other normal links would say wrong size. 

Woldsman replied to rileyrg | 9 months ago
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Bottom line options:

1. pair your CN-6600 with a Shimano-compatible (reusable) 10-speed KMC Missing Link (you may find that you need a master link pliers tool).  I've used the same sort of KMC link with a CN-6701 on a 2x10 bike.  See the cutdown purple packaging in the photo below.  


2. make sure your chain tool is designed to push through the Shimano "chain connecting pin" (ie not just push out the chain's existing rivets).  Some chain tools may be described as a "deriveter" and are not designed to reconnect a chain.  

I have two bikes with Shimano (105) 10-speed triple chainsets. These days I fit a CN-6600 chain with the supplied chain connecting pin.  All of my 10-speed Shimano chains have come with one or two connecting pins.  (I carry an emergency KMC Missing Link in my underseat pack.)  

I also use the Park Tool method of pushing through the chain connecting pin from the inside rather than from the outside (5:52)

Good luck.  

rileyrg replied to Woldsman | 9 months ago
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Very informative. Thank you.

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