As a cyclist and especially as a mountain biker there are certain tools that are considered must haves for your tool kit. A good Chain Tool is one of the key elements to your tool box. Here we look at the Good, The Bad and the Ugly tools that are on the Market today.
What is a chain tool
A chain tool is a hand driven machine which works on a hand screw. You clamp your chain in to the tool after lining up the rivet head with the pin. You then turn the handle to drive the pin out which in turn pushes the rivet out of the chain so that you can then remove the chain from the bike. Most of the time this is used to adjust the length of new bike chains or to remove links when gearing is changed.
Originally I tried to save some money on this tool and I went for an over the counter tool from my local superstore, unfortunately this did not even last for 1 job as the teeth on the chain mount just snapped and the pin squashed as I tightened it against my chain. My next adventure was to purchase a reasonably priced tool kit consisting of around 40 elements including the cheap chain tool. This again only lasted for 1 job before breaking.
It would seem that this is an area where it is not always wise to save money. If you are planning on carrying out your own maintenance, it is probably worth spending a little more to get a quality tool.
There is a very wide spectrum of pricing on these tools and that is for a good reason. The different build quality shows when using them.
I am not choosing these tools based upon style or gimmick, I am looking at tools that work.
1/ Park Tool CT-4.3 Master Chain Tool
If money is not an object and you simply want a great tool that won’t let you down then Park has the answer for you. The CT-4.3 is a pro level chain tool which works with the latest generations of chains including the Shimano and Campagnolo 11 – speed chains. As you can see from the image, this is a very robust tool that has big chunky handles. Believe me when I say this is a bonus as these tools can be painful to use. This is a problem you will not have with the contoured cushioned handles. This unit also has a replaceable rotating pin.
2/ BBB Proficonnect BTL – 55
The Proficonnect from BBB is their professional level chain tool for every kind of chain up to 12 speed with, a special peening blockage to be compatible with 11 speed Campagnolo 11 speed chains. This unit has integrated chain hooks to hold the links during assembly as well as nice firm comfortable rubber handles, a removable pin and actually comes supplied with a spare.
3/ Park Tool CT-3.3 Chain Tool
With everything from park the CT 3.3 is a quality tool. If you compare it with its more expensive big brother, you will immediately see the difference. The Unit itself is much less bulky but it does not have the nice comfortable handles that the CT – 4.3 has. This is still a professionally rated tool that works on everything from 5 -12 speed chains. The floating shelf design means this tool will take most styles and sizes of chain. It is also a comfortable tool to hold and features a replaceable driving pin.
4/ LifeLine X-Tools Pro Chain Rivet Extractor
This feels and looks like a nice quality tool. It is constructed from heavy-duty steel with strong rubber grip which give it a good feel and protect your hands in use. Designed to work with most sizes of chain from 5 to 11 speed making it a very versatile machine for the money. Again like many of the others it comes with a spare pin.
5/ KMC Chain Tool De-Rivetter
As we move further down the ranges the chain tools become a little less robust. However, the KMC tool still feels like a strong quality item. The unit has a removable pin and feels very comfortable in the hand due to its contoured handle. It is compatible with single speed to 11 speed chains. The unit also comes with a spare pin.
Like me you have probably looked online and seen the cheaper units which claim to be of the same standard. I would honestly say that it is not worth throwing your money away on a very cheap tools. You will see lots on EBay for around £2 – £4 but I would suggest keeping clear. If, you want to take the risk then be my guest. As you can see the units tend to be of low quality, constructed from soft metal with skinny handles that can hurt when they are being used. You may be lucky enough to find a semi useful tool but, in my experience they tend to be pretty bad.
The other way that the cheap companies make these tools is to make them look as if they are quality items although on close inspection they tend to be made from plastic or low grade metal. Rest assured they are not built to last.
On first look this unit looks like it could be a good tool but, when you look closer you will see the poor quality plastic handle and shinny soft metal head. I would not trust this tool with my bike chain.
At the end of the day it is your decision and I am just giving you my honest opinion based upon years of experience working on bikes. I have fallen for the same traps as many people have before and I am now trying to help you avoid the pitfalls. If you are investing a lot of money in your bike then you should be willing to spend on its maintenance. Go out and get yourself some decent tools and even a bike workshop stand. This will help give you many years of happy cycling.
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