Friday, June 19, 2009

28 Campagnolo 11 Speed Chain Failure

Now if you don't use the Campy recommended, "200 dollar" chain tool to hook up your 11 speed chain, it will break. If not now, at some point. Because of the smaller tolerances and a special peening procedure involved, your conventional tool will not be able to seat the union bushing into the links properly. It will bend out and take the paper thin link along with it.

Only the mighty Campy tool can properly do the following while crapping in your wallet :

a) Support the left end of the link by clamping it while pushing the union bushing in adequately with a conical pusher.

b) Split the protruding end by a special hole provided in the tool.

c) Lock the bushing in the link ("locking the link"). 

Trust me, this is the Cadillac of chain tools. Your grandpa's tool just won't cut it.

Now I myself thought I could somehow get away without 'following the rules'. Oh no. Didn't work.

The following chain failure happened to me while climbing a long hill. I asked my local bike shop to equip themselves with the right tool and had them fix me a new chain. (I think its the right thing to do for them as now, it is likely that customers increasingly show up at their place with a 11 speed job)

Hey, just check out the width of this chain. This is technology right here.

Now start being amazed and see how a 11 speed chain is installed :


  1. Jesus Christ! 200 dollar tool to install a chain? Its technology alright, but it doesn't come cheap eh? Speaking of which, I'm sure Park Tools or Pedro will come up with something similar for lesser coin. I don't see Campy monopolizing in this for long.

  2. YeP, installing that chain is like performing surgery on a heart patient.

  3. Good God! I'll go without the 11th cog! Just don't make me try to do that properly.

    Just found this site, nice work! I'm gonna go read some older stuff.

  4. As a matter of interest what are the dimensions of the chain? How much have they thinned the side plates? How narrow are the rollers and teeth now?

    I assume that you now have a "scrap" chain that you could fully disassemble and compare to a conventional chain, which would be interesting.

    I am amazed that they didnt specify a torque for the tool for riveting the end over, and that there is no mechanism in the tool for freeing a stiff link (like there is with a conventional tool) and that instead they actually recommend flexing the chain sideways!

  5. $200, Ekkk.
    I don't think I will be upgrading anytime soon if thats the case.

    Mind you I'm sad enough to still prefer 9speed over 10.

  6. This is truly absurd. I am a campy lover but this silly quest for more gears has become dangerous as well as expensive. I am beginning to think Campagnolo is taking marketing lessons from Microsoft. New stuff doesn't work as well as the old stuff, and the old stuff won't work with the new stuff. It's a shame that they are truly exceptional quality "vintage" parts are becoming orphaned. Good thing they're durable and will probably last a lifetime, but when they break, you have to go to eBay.

  7. Anonymous9:34 AM

    I back up Wheels of Justice. I wasn't amazed. Just shocked at the absurdity. This is why I won't be switching to 11. Coincidentally, it is also an unlucky number for me. Can you imagine what'd happen if they released a 13 speed chain? Cross your fingers while you slip into the 13th gear :))

  8. att first, I thought that tool was a some sort of machine gun you see in the movies.

  9. $200 for a tool VS. the free Powerlink that comes with a new SRAM chain...
    I wonder if it's patents or the design of the chain that made them go with what, at a glance, seems to be the most complicated way to install the chain.

  10. Scott Skalski12:28 PM

    Amazing blog!

  11. Anonymous12:22 PM

    The 200 dollar tool is a gift to bike shops. It ensures that every 11 speed chain is installed at a shop with the proper tools and expertise. It ensures that every worn out chain also sells another hundred dollars in accessories and other high margin items. It also seems to wears out less than half as fast as a dura-ace chain. Campy 11 speed is the best of the new-generation of groupos being offered. Stop bitching about it.

  12. Anon : No one is bitching about it. A tool this expensive just to put on a chain has not been seen before in the world of cycling. Its worth a mention. Oh, and the failure too is worth mentioning as I don't want others to have the same issue by NOT using what is recommended.

  13. Anonymous2:21 PM

    i think i can forsee where this is going. people are going to complain that the tool is too big to place in a saddle bag. its going to be made smaller, lighter, maybe adorned with some new alloy, some different colors, some lightening holes...voila..soon you have a 300 dollar tool :)

  14. Anon @ 2:21 : Maybe. I don't know.

    But isn't it interesting to see the vertical integration of products in action? Here Compagnolo makes a pricey next-gen component group for the market. But before that they design it in such a way that only tools made by them will work on them! Its a fantastic little way to make money and keep competitors at bay.

  15. I have riders on bike with several thousand miles on their 11spd chains installed with a 10spd tool and there hasn't been any breakage yet.

    Also, Park Tool will have their version out by September.

  16. This makes me wince. At the risk of sounding like an old guy... wait, I am an old guy... I miss Regina Oro, Campagnolo Record, and the new fangled 6-speed wheels, not to mention down tube friction shift levers. Technology that one could rely on, decade after decade.

  17. "At the risk of sounding like an old guy... wait, I am an old guy..."

    Badger, that was classic. :)

  18. Anonymous12:27 AM

    I wondered about using my 10 speed chain tool if I would go 11 speed. Maybe I need to shop frames first. The wicked web we weave...

  19. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Park makes a tool now. It's $50, if it does the job satisfactorily.

    From what I've read so far: Campy narrowed the links but the rollers are the same width. The links are made out of a fancy steel that's "20% stronger" or some such thing.

    My concern (I'm considering going to 11) is how well you can do on a field repair? Can you mash that thing in well enough to ride 50 miles home and then properly fix your chain? You can't carry that campy chain tool with you...

    I also don't want to spend $200 on the chain tool or have the bike shop swap my chain (I don't like waiting in line).

  20. Thanks Anon. That's good info.

  21. Anonymous6:22 PM

    come on! you pay 200 for some bullshit tool like that? perhaps the only thing that is truly unique is the pressing pin tip. A backing support is simple to acquire and that little clip isn't required if you remove the chain from the chain ring

  22. Anonymous2:43 AM

    I know folks who are succesfully using a KNC 10 speed quick link in their 11 speed chains. seems to work fine and im sure KNC will soon come out with a dedicated 11 speed QL

  23. Anonymous9:28 AM

    I've been using the Campy tool (that cost me $140) for almost two years now. It's easy and I've never had a problem with the chains. Park now makes a pin peening tool for about $40.

  24. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Instead, use as a master link the SRAM 10-sp Powerlock link, $4.99 at Performance. You can push the Campy pins out with a normal pin tool, although Campy pins & holes are ever so slightly smaller than regular chains. A normal chain breaker will ream out the hole to the size of the normal SRAM link. Get a spare link for roadside repairs.

  25. Anonymous12:23 PM

    The 10 speed campag tool works fine on the 11 speed chain, it holds the chain perfectly in place. The only thing it doesnt do is have the little hole in the end to snap the guiding pin off. This is achieved by using a pair of long nose pliers. Having bought the 10 speed tool about 3 years ago to campags credit it is the best chain tool I have ever had it make chain installation a dream.

  26. Anonymous1:09 AM

    Buy a KMC 11 Speed Missing Link that you use only once then replace. they cost 6.99-8.99 and is perfect for a saddle bag in the event of a road failure. and the park peening tool is also a decent option as well.

  27. Anonymous8:08 PM

    Lezine sell a small 11 speed chain tool that you can carry around. You have to use it very carefully to drive the pin without prematurely snapping the guide pin, but with care it does the job - driving, snapping, peening, everything.
    That said the KMC missing link seems like a better bet. You don't have to use the special calibrated joining link on the chain so if you've already bent it you can safely remove it and still join the chain with the KMC link. You can join it anywhere and you don't have to be especially careful.

  28. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Also you must use Campagnolo scissors to open the package and cut the zip tie otherwise it voids your warranty.


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