Best minimalist chain tool?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best minimalist chain tool?

    Looking to ride packless as much as possible this year. I am trying to keep things to a bare minimum. Any suggestions for the smallest chain tool that is still functional with 11 speed and Eagle chains? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Iíve carried this one on the bike for a couple years. Itís compact and lays flat so easy to strap to the bike. Works well and has held up well despite getting wet/muddy/dusty etc.

    https://www.lezyne.com/product-shptools-chaindrive.php

    An alternative is the park version:

    https://www.parktool.com/product/min...hain-tool-ct-5


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    I've purchased this Topeak tool as it's well made and about the size of a lighter. Though probably too fiddly to use in the cold.

    Best minimalist chain tool?-topeak.jpg
    What a perfect waste of time

  4. #4
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    Curious - are you thinking about carrying masterlink pliers? I can't get 12 speed Eagle masterlinks apart without them. Never had that problem with 8, 9 or 10 speed chains.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SqueakyWheel73 View Post
    Curious - are you thinking about carrying masterlink pliers? I can't get 12 speed Eagle masterlinks apart without them. Never had that problem with 8, 9 or 10 speed chains.
    It's been a long time since I have broken a chain, but for the truly epic adventures, I was thinking about bringing along a chain tool. I was going to tape a power link onto the cable of each bike (I have 11 and 12 speed SRAM, Shimano and KMC chains). I can't get Eagle power links apart with my fingers either, and while I do have the pliers, I didn't intend to bring them.

    I probably have my head up my ass, and best to learn if I do now, and not 15 miles into the backcountry, but if I snap a chain, I was simply going to break it, and reassemble it using a power link with my fingers.

    Do you foresee any issues with that approach?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samo831 View Post
    Iíve carried this one on the bike for a couple years. Itís compact and lays flat so easy to strap to the bike. Works well and has held up well despite getting wet/muddy/dusty etc.

    https://www.lezyne.com/product-shptools-chaindrive.php

    An alternative is the park version:

    https://www.parktool.com/product/min...hain-tool-ct-5


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    The Lezyne won't work on 12 speeds. The Park Tool will though. I will grab either that or that frikkin sweet looking Topeak.

    Thanks guys.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    It's been a long time since I have broken a chain, but for the truly epic adventures, I was thinking about bringing along a chain tool. I was going to tape a power link onto the cable of each bike (I have 11 and 12 speed SRAM, Shimano and KMC chains). I can't get Eagle power links apart with my fingers either, and while I do have the pliers, I didn't intend to bring them.

    I probably have my head up my ass, and best to learn if I do now, and not 15 miles into the backcountry, but if I snap a chain, I was simply going to break it, and reassemble it using a power link with my fingers.

    Do you foresee any issues with that approach?

    Seems reasonable to me as long as the only reason you would be taking the chain off would be to fix a broken link. Setting the 12 speed master links is also a little trickier, but once you have it set enough that it holds, pedaling should lock it in place - sure you knew that already though.

    I haven't used many chain tools. I've always carried a Park CT-5 - it's not the smallest, but it has always worked well.

  8. #8
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    https://www.wolftoothcomponents.com/...ts/pack-pliers

    I have these. Feather light, a place to hold a couple quick links and they work great. Win win.
    I like turtles

  9. #9
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    I just added this to my Epic:

    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/to...-tool/p/130799

    It will still break a 12 speed chain, and it will hold a quick link (mine has one).

    https://forums.mtbr.com/specialized/...l-1077124.html

    My next bike comes with this:
    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/sw...=232294-157285

    I also carry the Wolftooth pliers rolled up in my tube.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I just added this to my Epic:

    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/to...-tool/p/130799

    It will still break a 12 speed chain, and it will hold a quick link (mine has one).

    https://forums.mtbr.com/specialized/...l-1077124.html

    My next bike comes with this:
    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/sw...=232294-157285

    I also carry the Wolftooth pliers rolled up in my tube.
    I thought that the less expensive top cap tool only did up to 11 speed. That is what the description implies. Have you tried it yet on a 12 speed?

  11. #11
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    I haven't tested it, but no reason it shouldn't. You're just pushing the same diameter pin out. Maybe I'll buy a chain tonight and test it

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I haven't tested it, but no reason it shouldn't. You're just pushing the same diameter pin out. Maybe I'll buy a chain tonight and test it
    Based on my reading (with no real world testing), I actually think the whole 12 speed compatibility thing is a big deal. I could be wrong though.

    For example, it appears that Lezyne designed 2 new multi tools to deal with 12 speed:

    https://www.lezyne.com/products-mult...php#multitools

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SqueakyWheel73 View Post
    Curious - are you thinking about carrying masterlink pliers? I can't get 12 speed Eagle masterlinks apart without them. Never had that problem with 8, 9 or 10 speed chains.
    I have master link pliers, but don't carry them. For a field repair I use the chain breaker on my multitool to push out a pin, than install another quick link. Set the new quick link using the leverage of the cranks. Takes 5 mins.
    Veni vidi velo!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    Looking to ride packless as much as possible this year. I am trying to keep things to a bare minimum. Any suggestions for the smallest chain tool that is still functional with 11 speed and Eagle chains? Thanks.
    While this won't answer the 11/12 speed specifics, for a minimalistic chain tool, I cannibalized a chain breaker from one of the many old multi-tools I have laying around.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    I have master link pliers, but don't carry them. For a field repair I use the chain breaker on my multitool to push out a pin, than install another quick link. Set the new quick link using the leverage of the cranks. Takes 5 mins.
    Yes, for an on-the-trail repair you wouldn't need to take apart a quick-link, you'd only have to drive out a pin and put in a new quick link (leave the pliers at home). I have broken quite a few chains, I carry the small park tool and extra quick links for every ride except cyclocross racing.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    The Lezyne won't work on 12 speeds. The Park Tool will though. I will grab either that or that frikkin sweet looking Topeak.

    Thanks guys.
    If all you need to do is pop out a broken link and then use a quick link, it works on a 12 speed.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    I have master link pliers, but don't carry them. For a field repair I use the chain breaker on my multitool to push out a pin, than install another quick link. Set the new quick link using the leverage of the cranks. Takes 5 mins.
    This is 100% what I was thinking.

  18. #18
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    I have that little Park chain breaker in the second post. It does 12 speed chains.
    I like turtles

  19. #19
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    I picked up one of these recently for my 12spd. Have not had to use it (yet) but seems to have most of what is needed for minor trailside repairs.

    https://www.parktool.com/product/i-b...tabbed-section
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    I have master link pliers, but don't carry them. For a field repair I use the chain breaker on my multitool to push out a pin, than install another quick link. Set the new quick link using the leverage of the cranks. Takes 5 mins.
    Sorry for quoting this twice.

    Does anyone foresee any issues using this approach? This is what I had in mind. I have a set of the Park pliers, but they are massive compared to the WT ones.

    Strangely, I was at my LBS last night (to pick up my new bike - woo hoo!!!) and 2 guys who I respect there both said they carry the WT pliers. I still don't know why and didn't have a chance to get into it with them.

  21. #21
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    When you separate a pin from the link (break the chain) when on a ride do you need a chain tool? On the side that remains connected I've always been able to pull the other pin/link apart by hand or by wedging whatever in there and twisting/pulling it apart without much effort. Maybe practice on an old piece of chain and decide if you really even need one in your kit. My crankbros multi has one but can't remember if I've ever actually needed it.

    Which reminds me I'm going to revamp my tool kit as well. Get rid of some dead weight and make sure I have all my bases covered. Got a new squeezy seat clamp which it T-15 and know I don't have that. Maybe I'll just replace the bolt to an allen instead though.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    When you separate a pin from the link (break the chain) when on a ride do you need a chain tool? On the side that remains connected I've always been able to pull the other pin/link apart by hand or by wedging whatever in there and twisting/pulling it apart without much effort. Maybe practice on an old piece of chain and decide if you really even need one in your kit. My crankbros multi has one but can't remember if I've ever actually needed it.

    Which reminds me I'm going to revamp my tool kit as well. Get rid of some dead weight and make sure I have all my bases covered. Got a new squeezy seat clamp which it T-15 and know I don't have that. Maybe I'll just replace the bolt to an allen instead though.
    I have been unable to get broken links off my chain without a chain tool to break it. I definitely plan to carry a chain tool, but you may be better at that than me. Almost certainly you are. But I don't see the need for pliers under any circumstances on the trail. Getting those Eagle master links apart without one is brutal, but attaching them is a piece of cake.

    What am I missing?

  23. #23
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    8-10 spd. No problem getting quick links off by hand. 11 spd. is next to impossible for me. Never tried 12 spd.
    Veni vidi velo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    Sorry for quoting this twice.

    Does anyone foresee any issues using this approach? This is what I had in mind. I have a set of the Park pliers, but they are massive compared to the WT ones.

    Strangely, I was at my LBS last night (to pick up my new bike - woo hoo!!!) and 2 guys who I respect there both said they carry the WT pliers. I still don't know why and didn't have a chance to get into it with them.
    I have a hardtail where the frame spacing for the rear hub is very tight - as in you have to pull the two chainstays apart from each other to let the hub slide in. It is much easier to do this with the chain off. I can't imagine though that most people have this issue - I don't have it on either of my FS bikes.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    8-10 spd. No problem getting quick links off by hand. 11 spd. is next to impossible for me. Never tried 12 spd.
    I can't do 11 or 12 speed without pliers.

    But trailside, why would you ever need to disconnect quick/power/master links?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    I can't do 11 or 12 speed without pliers.

    But trailside, why would you ever need to disconnect quick/power/master links?
    I have the pliers that came with my OneUp tire plus tool but can't think of a reason I would ever use it. I have been mountain biking over 30 years and have never needed to undo a link on the trail. If I ever do, a shoelace works.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I have the pliers that came with my OneUp tire plus tool but can't think of a reason I would ever use it. I have been mountain biking over 30 years and have never needed to undo a link on the trail. If I ever do, a shoelace works.
    Thanks TB. I only took my pliers with me once. A couple of years ago I disconnected my chain on the trail and blasted down a chunky section to see how the suspension on my Range felt, and whether the insanely huge amount of AS of the linkage design in 2015 was locking up or restricting my shock on the downs. Apart from that, I have never needed them trailside. I just wanted to make sure that there was no real need to carry them. Maybe I have just been lucky.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    I have that little Park chain breaker in the second post.
    I have one as well and it's about as small as I would want to go on a stand-alone chain breaker. The small levers and handle means breaking a strong chain is effort. You really notice the difference compared to larger shop tools.

    Many of the breakers built into multi-tools are actually easier to use as the tool forms a larger handle.

  29. #29
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    Here's what I did. Hope this helps.

    Chain Tools.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by gmats View Post
    Here's what I did. Hope this helps.

    Chain Tools.pdf
    Incredible, but far beyond my skill set.

  31. #31
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    I carry the pliers because they also act as a tire lever and valve core tool.

  32. #32
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    Forgive me for hijacking, but what is so different about a 12 sp chain vs an 11 sp one that the same tool wouldn't work on both?

    FWIW, I have the Crankbros M19 and find the chain breaker too on it very easy to use. It says it is compatible with 8-12 sp chains. This tool is a little heavy but has everything I have ever needed (aside from levers) for any repair that I have ever needed to do and it fits in my pocket easily.

  33. #33
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    Park CT-5 is pretty minimalist and simple to use

    Those Wolf Tooth pliers are intriguing but not really necessary in my pack
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    I once had an awkward moment just to see how it felt

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by mLeier View Post
    Forgive me for hijacking, but what is so different about a 12 sp chain vs an 11 sp one that the same tool wouldn't work on both?...
    Chain tools have a gate that goes into the chain where a sprocket would go. The purpose of this is to locate the chain WRT the pin pusher and support the plates facing you when pushing on the pin. It's not really needed for pushing the pins out. When pushing a pin in, the link can bind without proper support. This is pretty easily rectified after the fact. Park tool makes a chain breaker with a sliding gate, the only purpose of which is to hold the chain in place, and it works for any number of speeds.

    If using a quick link (SRAM, KMC, and now Shimano too) you're never pushing a pin in.
    Do the math.

  35. #35
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    The Clever chain tool is as small as it gets and works well for an on the bike tool. It does take other tools to make work but they're things' you're going to have if you're packing a chain tool.

    https://cleverstandard.com/collectio...r-chain-barrel

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    The Clever chain tool is as small as it gets and works well for an on the bike tool. It does take other tools to make work but they're things' you're going to have if you're packing a chain tool.

    https://cleverstandard.com/collectio...r-chain-barrel
    This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I had in mind with my OP. Except for the various 12 speed warnings scattered throughout...

    *sigh*

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmats View Post
    Here's what I did. Hope this helps.

    Chain Tools.pdf
    I cheated when I made mine:

    WWW.TEAMDICKY.COM

    I get paid 3Ę every time I post on MTBR.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    While this won't answer the 11/12 speed specifics, for a minimalistic chain tool, I cannibalized a chain breaker from one of the many old multi-tools I have laying around.
    Pretty much what I've been doing for years.



    I've twist-tied a quick link AND an inner link to it... just in case.



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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    The Clever chain tool is as small as it gets and works well for an on the bike tool. It does take other tools to make work but they're things' you're going to have if you're packing a chain tool.

    https://cleverstandard.com/collectio...r-chain-barrel
    I emailed these guys to see if their chain tool is compatible with Eagle chains. Thanks again for posting this. Itís exactly what I had in mind.

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