People often accuse us editors of being out of touch–of slavishly reviewing bikes and products that only lawyers and South American drug lords can afford. Readers picture us sitting at massive glass and chrome desks, just sipping Cristal while getting pedicures.
I take umbrage at that notion. I never drink Cristal. That shit makes me gassy. Can't abide by it at all.
KMC Missing Link 10R | $16 (pack of six) | KMCCHAIN.COM
But there's probably a shred of truth about the quantity of pricey stuff we test. Look, we try and test affordable bikes and gear. Dig around this site and you'll find plenty of tires, energy bars, multi-tools and more that won’t leave your wallet with a gaping, bloody hole in it. Trouble is, energy bars and allen wrenches don't catch the eye or sate the greedy, lustful part of your heart the way a new fork or disc brake or wheelset does.
Well, let me suggest that this item here—these lowly slivers of metal—could be the most valuable thing you bring along on a ride. And a pack of six of `em only costs sixteen bucks and change. I don't care who you are; if you own a mountain bike, you can afford KMC's Missing Link.
In a nutshell, the Missing Link 10R is a master link for 10-speed chains. Obviously, it works on KMC chains. Most of you, however, are probably running on Shimano and SRAM chains. So, does it work on them too? Neither Shimano nor SRAM endorses the Missing Link. Shimano would prefer you use their connecting pin. Likewise, SRAM wants you to use their proprietary PowerLock master link.
Both the Shimano and SRAM products work well; they are designed specifically to mate with their respective chains. I can't argue with that logic at all. But I'm also a cheap bastard and part of me loves that I can re-use the KMC link.
It's not as if I'm taking my chain on and off all willy-nilly, but there are times when it's called for: deep cleaning a manky chain, packing up and traveling with a bike, etc. The penny-pinching curmudgeon in me bristles at the prospect of buying a new pin or master link for each of those occasions. More to the point, I haven't had a Missing Link blow apart on me yet, no matter how many times I’ve taken it apart and put it back together.
But mainly, this is why I am a fan of the Missing Link: for $3.50 (what it sells for at my local bike shop) the Missing Link saves me every time I blow a chain apart in some far-flung spot. True, it doesn't happen often, but there's nothing like running and pushing your bike five miles back to the trailhead to make you realize that nothing would have made your ride better—not a carbon wheelset, or some NASCAR-approved suspension technology—more than a few bucks worth of metal.
Pull the Missing Link out of your pack and within two minutes you’re back on the trail, merrily turning circles, happy instead of hobbling, stumbling and hyperventilating. Cheap? Yes. Priceless? Without a doubt.