How to repair a bicycle chain

How to repair a bicycle chain

In addition to your tires, your bicycle chain is arguably the component that needs to be replaced most frequently. Wait too long and your chain will wear out, reducing the quality of your shifts and shortening the life of the remaining drivetrain components.

Below, we will explain when and how to replace or repair the bicycle chain-whether at home or while riding.

When to replace the bicycle chain

How often should you replace the chain? Before answering this question, it helps to understand the process of chain wear. As the chain ages, the inner bushing of each link will slowly grow longer. In turn, your current longer chain will put more pressure on your flywheel gears and sprocket teeth, causing them to wear faster. This also hinders the quality of transformation.

bicycle chain

2,000 mile rule

To avoid accelerated wear of the flywheel and sprockets, a general rule of thumb is to replace the bicycle chain every 2,000 miles. Please note that this is just a starting point. No two chains wear at exactly the same speed, because no two riders treat the chain in the same way.

If you are the type that turns simple gears, carefully cleans and lubricates the chain after each ride, never rides in the rain and is heavy, your chain’s lifespan may exceed 2,000 miles. However, if you like to push big gears, rain or shine, or even your own shop rags, then taking more than 2,000 miles from the chain may be a pipe dream.

These differences in riding styles are why it is best to use a chain wear measurement tool on a regular basis to determine the condition of the chain. Hold the tool and apply pressure to the pedal to make the top of the chain taut, then put the measuring tool on the chain, as shown in the video above, and read the result. The indicator on the tool will tell you if the chain needs to be replaced.

Ruler test

You can also use a standard ruler to measure chain wear. To do this, you should know that all modern chains have a rivet every half inch, and you will measure from one rivet to another 12 inches apart.

First tighten the chain. Align the end of the 0-inch mark on the ruler with the center of the rivet, and then check where the 12-inch mark on the ruler is aligned. If it is the dead point of the rivet, the chain is in good condition. If the rivet is less than 1/16 inch before the 12-inch mark, the chain shows some wear but still has enough life. If the rivet is more than 1/16 inch higher than the 12-inch mark, it is time to replace the bicycle chain.

bicycle chain

How to repair your chain

Cutting a new bicycle chain to the correct installation length and removing the damaged link for on-track chain repair are basically the same work. Using full-size tools at home makes life easier and saves compact tools for midway repairs.

First, you need to choose the right size chain for your bicycle. We are not talking about the length of the chain here, but about the width. It depends on the number of gears on the tape; 6-speed bicycles use the same width of chain as 8-speed bicycles, but 9-speed bicycles require different things, and so on. The easiest way to ensure you get the correct chain is to buy the same type of chain as your bicycle. If you decide to use a different chain, it is best to buy from the same manufacturer.

Next, if your chain has a main link, you will need a chain breaker tool or chain main link pliers. Align the chain with the smallest rear gear and the largest sprocket (if there are more than one) to make it easier to install the new chain.

If your chain has a main link (which is very common now, so be sure to check), use a pair of main link pliers to compress the link and loosen it. If it is a newer chain, you may be able to do this by hand.

If there is no main chain link, use a chain breaker tool to remove the chain. Withdraw the pin of the tool to make room and install the chain link in the outer groove, and align the pin of the tool with the pin on the chain. Tighten the tool until its pin exerts a slight pressure on the connecting pin of the chain. Shake the handle to ensure that the pin of the tool remains straight. If it twists, stop and realign everything to avoid bending the pins of the tool. If you bend it, most tools have replaceable pins; some even have one in the handle. Then push the pin far enough so that you can remove the extra link.

Remove the chain from the bicycle. Then, considering the main link, measure the length of the new chain to match the length of the old chain. Use the chain breaker tool to remove any excess links from the new chain and install the main link. Thread the new chain onto the freewheel and sprocket of the bicycle, and connect both ends to the main chain link to ensure that the chain link is secure and locked in place.

bicycle chain

Repair the chain anytime, anywhere

If your chain breaks in the middle, please use the chain breaker of the multi-tool to remove the damaged link. If you are not carrying additional link pins, you can use existing pins to reconnect the chain. Just don’t push it out completely (the mushroom end of the pin will round when removed); leave it on the side plate. The connection will be weak and the chain will be shorter, so step on the pedals carefully and replace the damaged chain before the next ride.

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