​How To Fix A Bike Chain [The Easy Updated Method]

How To Fix A Bike Chain [The Easy Updated Method]

Bikes are relatively simple machines that if maintained, will last a long time. There are some parts of the bicycle that are made to last indefinitely (i.e. your frame) and then there are those parts that need periodic replacement.

Your bike chain is just one of those replaceable parts. One common question keeps arising and it is “how can I replace a bicycle chain“.  Chains wear out so it is in every rider’s best interest to know how to replace a bicycle chain. Let’s delve into the details on this topic.

It’s All About Bicycle Maintenance

You can and should do all the bicycle maintenance possible to keep your bike chain clean and lubricated. These small efforts will significantly extend the lifespan of your chain, but eventually you will have to replace it; it is just a fact of life. Over time your chain will “stretch” which is more a function of your chain’s connecting pins getting ground down by dirt and grit over time thereby making the chain longer.

The tough part is that visually your worn and stretched chain looks fine. The only way to really determine whether or not it is time to replace it is by measuring the link spacing. There are special tools that will allow you to quickly determine this fact but you can also use the simple method described in the how to replace your bike chain article. The frequency that you need to do this check will depend on the amount of riding that you do, the conditions you ride in (dry versus wet) and the type of riding that you do (leisure versus racing).

Avoid These Problems

Worn chains will eventually lead to many problems like chain skip, slow gear changes and noisy gear changes. Chain rings (the rings driven by your pedals) are designed to match the chain’s link spacing of 1/2 inch. As soon as the spacing increases, the chain becomes `sloppy` on your chain rings and that is where the problems start.

As your chain stretches, it manages to wear away at your chain rings causing them to be worn down as well. The picture below shows just how much a chain can damage your chain rings (note that the silver chain ring on the right is new) if left stretched and unchanged.

Now, not only are you replacing your chain, but you are also replacing your chain rings as well which equates to a lot more expense. If your chain is worn down enough, you may even have to change some of the cogs on your rear cassette. Frequent chain measuring will help you avoid these extra expenses because you will be able to replace your chain before it has a chance to cause any damage.

The How Can I Replace a Bicycle Chain Question Answered – The Easy Process

Replacing your chain is a relatively simple task if you have the right tools. A must for this job is going to be the chain removal tool as pictured below.

The removal process involves taking the old chain off the bike and this requires some knowledge of the type of links that your current chain has.

Some chains have a master link or easy open link (pictured below). These links can be opened using a pair of needle nosed pliers. Others are considered continuous link chains (in other words all pins are the same) and will require a chain removal tool.

Remove the Worn Chain

First step is to remove the old chain from your bike. Remove the easy open link or use your chain removal tool to push out one of the connecting pins (see picture below).

This step requires a bit of caution because you only want to push the pin out enough that the chain separates. Don`t push the pin all the way out or you will have a very tough time trying to get it back into the holes again. The picture below shows a chain that has had its pin pushed out just enough to allow it to separate.

New Chain – Time to Measure

Most new chains will usually come with a few more links than you may need. This is a non issue though since you have your chain removal tool that you can use to remove those excess links. You will have to either measure the length or count the number of links on your old chain and then use that same length calculation on your new one.

There are many ways to “skin the cat“ so to speak; you can use a ruler to measure your old chain’s length by either hanging it up or by laying it on a workbench. Take your new chain and place it alongside the old once and simply mark the proper length on the new one with a piece of chalk. Once marked, simply remove the excess links.

Re-Install the New Chain

Before installing, shift your front derailleur to the small chain ring position and the rear derailleur to the smallest cog of the rear cassette. This will minimize the amount of tension that the chain will be under during installation which will make your life quite a bit easier.

Starting at the rear of the bike, snake your chain over the smallest cog and through both of the derailleur pulleys. You will notice that when tension is removed from the rear derailleur pulleys (i.e. chain is removed) they will go to their fully closed position. You will need to manually unfold them in order to properly re-install the new chain. Once that is complete, you can snake the upper chain through the front derailleur. Now all that is left is to connect both ends of the chain.

​Make the Chain Whole Again

​Using your chain removal tool, simply align the 2 ends of the new chain and re-insert the pin (or in the case of a master link, re-attach both sides of the link). You may find that the linkages are stiff at this joint. No problem, simply bend the linkages manually a few times to loosen them up.

​All that remains now is to give your chain a good lube and you are ready to put it into action. So, hopefully this has answered the question of how can I replace a bicycle chain. With that taken care of, why not take your bike for a spin. Test out your handy work with the comfort that your bike is now ready for many more miles of enjoyment before another change is necessary. Remember that bicycle maintenance will reap you huge dividends in the form of a better riding, more enjoyable bicycle.

Make the Chain Whole Again
Robert Flaherty

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