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Garage Basics: Replacing the secondary chain

1) Set bike on stand.

If your beer crate is needed elsewhere, use e.g. Becker Minilift, 97-441 so that the rear wheel can be turned freely.

2) DO NOT remove chain.

3) Count the number of chain links.

Look it up in your bike’s manual (manuals are extremely helpful, even if you have done the job before). If your bike is a heavily modified chop, you’ll have to count the number of links anyway though. Mark the chain with a piece of string, wire, or a sharpie to avoid counting errors. Count twice. If you get numbers above 150: stop counting at the mark. Our chains have between 100 and 120 links.

4) Order a new secondary chain.

Decide on type of chain. Normal, o-ring or x-ring chain? If in doubt, call W&W, we'll advise. For less time spent on the phone, send us a close up of your chain and your master link. If you can't find one, you have a riveted chain. 'Cos we want you to get the right chain first time.

5) Shorten chain length. In the case

that the chain can not be ordered to your specific length, you may need to shorten it. Mark chain, double check length. For best results, use Kellermann breaking and riveting tool 91-961. Jump to 10).

6) An alternative, if more rustic method

of shortening a chain is this: Get out your angle grinder. Mark chain (double check length!)

7) Place new chain in vise.

Grind through the marked rivet heads down to the metal.

8) Use punch 88-211 and punch rivets out.

Alternately punch both rivets to avoid jamming.

9) Open rear axle nut and loosen chain tensioners.

10) Open the old (non-riveted) chain.

Use pliers to carefully remove the safety clip, remove link plate, remove link using flat screwdriver. Use chain puller 98-087 to keep the load off the link. If you have a riveted chain, use Kellermann breaking and riveting tool 91-961.

11) Remove the master link.

This works best when master link is positioned on rear sprocket. Connect the new chain to the old chain, using the open master link. Pull out the old chain, the new chain will take its place smoothly. Be sure the new chain rides squarely on both sprockets.

12) Bring both ends of the new chain together

using chain puller 98-087. How’s the chain tension coming along? Too much slack? Check again number of links in old and new chain. If necessary, remove another link. If chain ends can't be joined, open rear axle nut and loosen chain tensioners.

13) Install master link. Install o-rings, if applicable.

If using Kellermann breaking and riveting tool 91-961, use instructions that came with it. If not: Join chain, close with link plate, gently install new safety clip with pliers. Closed end shall point in the direction of travel. Clip must be positively engaged in groove, so take your time here. A badly installed clip may mean major trouble.

14) Adjust chain tension.

Place bike on its own wheels, have a helper sit on the bike. The chain should be movable up and down 1/2" or 12,5 mm to 15 mm in all. Keep an eye on chain alignment. The rear wheel should be parallel to the bike's longitudinal axis. Refasten rear axle nut, using recommended torque setting (see manual).

Bingo. Have a pleasant ride!

One moment, though. From long and painful experience we know, that it is never advisable to use brute force on a Harley. Harleys, though reminiscent of agricultural equipment in many ways, were designed to be treated gently, just like any other mechanical appliance. If excessive force seems to be needed, double check if there is something you overlooked that needs to be loosened or taken out of the way before proceeding.

If you can’t figure it out, give our experts a call.

They have heard everything. Twice. We don’t want you to ruin your weekend cruise. And we all don’t need discussions over broken parts.

Here’s our little collection of recommended tools for successful chain reactions: