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How to Replace a Bike Chain (8 Easy Steps)

In this article, you will learn about bike chains, the tools needed to replace them, and how to replace a bike chain.

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Bike maintenance is essential if you want your bike to last. Unfortunately, the chain is one of the most common bicycle components that must be replaced. But how do you replace a bicycle chain?

In this article, you will learn about bike chains, the tools needed to replace them, and the steps to replace bike chains.

Determine whether your chain is connected with a pin or a quick link. You can technically remove the chain using your hands if you have a fast link. However, remember that when it comes to resizing your chain, you can only do so with the help of a chain tool.

Image of a bike showing its chain and black bicycle wheel. Source: cottonbro pexels
Image of a bike showing its chain and black bicycle wheel. Source: Cottonbro Pexels

What is a bike chain?

A bike chain is a gear that connects a bicycle’s back wheel to the powertrain. It’s usually metal and features a ratchet mechanism that lets you tighten or loosen it. The chain connects the sprocket on the rear wheel to the bike’s gearbox or hub, allowing it to be pedaled.

The Tools You’ll Need for Chain Replacement.

When it comes to chain replacement, there are a few essential tools that you’ll need. A torque wrench, a replacement chain, and a spanner are among them. In addition, a hammer, a screwdriver, and pliers may also be useful during the replacement operation.

When choosing your tools, consider the severity of the chain replacement and your bike’s unique make and model. Some motorcycles, for example, demand higher torque chains than others, so make sure you have the right equipment for the task. Additionally, ensure that your tools are in good working order; if they aren’t, they will likely wear out faster and cost you more in the long run.

Finally, remember to always wear safety gear when working on your bike; not only will this keep you safe, but it will also keep you from destroying valuable goods.

Image of a bicycle chain with other bike parts on a table. Source: tom conway, unsplash
Image of a bicycle chain with other bike parts on a table. Source: Tom Conway, Unsplash

Bike chains can wear out and need to be replaced over time. This guide will explain step-by-step how to replace a bike chain, making the operation as simple and painless as possible.

  1. Remove the front wheel and cassette from your bike

    Remove the screws that hold them in place first. After removing the screws, twist and pull on the front wheel and cassette to remove them. Take care not to lose any screws or parts, as they will be needed later for assembly.

  2. Loosen the bolts that secure the chain to the crankset

    Use a hex wrench to loosen the bolts that secure the chain to the crankset. Hold the hex wrench with one hand and use the other hand to turn the bolt on the chainring in a counterclockwise direction. Keep turning the bolt until it is loose enough to be rotated with your fingers.

  3. Remove the old chain and install the new chain

    First, remove the old chain. You can separate the chain if it has a quick link (a two-piece link that can be pressed together to unfasten it).

    While working on a Shimano chain, you’ll need to use a chain tool to force one pin to split the chain. Then, insert the links between the tool’s teeth and twist until the pin pops out.

  4. Determine the proper length

    Your new chain must be trimmed to size. Next, pull the ends of the chain around the smallest sprocket and chainring so they meet below the chainstay.
    You want to find the greatest length possible while still generating tension on the rear derailleur, so it doesn’t drag. Remember that you must connect an internal link to an external one.

  5. Cut to fit

    Shimano suggests that the open end be oriented backward. Then, after you’ve identified the link that needs to be severed, it’s time to remove the chain tool again.

    Place the link you want to work on between the tool’s jaws. Turn the handle until the pin begins to push the link’s center. To avoid damaging the instrument, ensure that everything is properly aligned.

  6. Put in the pin

    Locate the pointed end of the joining pin with your new chain. Connect the chain ends by slotting them together. Push the pin into the chain, facing the bike from the driving side, to keep it together.

    It should stay in place without your assistance. Pick up the chain tool once more and turn the handle a couple of twists.

  7. Insert the pin

    Insert the chain tool into the link held together by the pin. Screw the handle down to secure the pin. Turning the handle will get easier as the pin becomes practically flat with the outer plate of the link.

    Work slowly because you want the end of the pin to be flush with the plate’s exterior. Remove the chain tool after it’s in place.

  8. Tighten the bolts that secure the chain to the crankset

    Turn the bolts that secure the chain to the crankset clockwise with a wrench until they are snug. Then, use a hex key to tighten them even further if necessary. Finally, ensure the chain is not too tight against the frame or gears; if so, increase the chain tension accordingly.

The basic principles of chain maintenance

A few fundamental rules of chain maintenance should constantly be remembered. These principles include keeping the chain correctly oiled, checking and adjusting derailleur gears as needed, and regularly inspecting the drivetrain to ensure it is in good operating order. Following these tips, you can help maintain your bike’s functioning smoothly and safely.

How much does it cost to replace a chain on a bike?

How much does it cost to replace a bike chain? Entry-level chains can cost around $15.00, with more expensive and higher-performance chains costing between $25.00 and $60.00 or more. More costly chains improve shift quality and last longer as they wear.

Is there a master link in every chain?

These connections are not present on all bikes. They’re most commonly seen on single-speed or three-speed town bikes with internal gears or on BMX bikes. 

The more sprockets on a bicycle’s rear cassette, the narrower the chain must be, leaving less room for this extra-wide master link.

If you want even more tips, watch this video called How to Replace a Chain on a Bike – Sizing & Installation from the Park Tool YouTube Channel.

A video called How to Replace a Chain on a Bike – Sizing & Installation from the Park Tool YouTube Channel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about replacing a bike chain.

What if I break my chain while replacing it?

If you break your chain while replacing it, be sure to take note of the manufacturing date and/or product code on the chain so that you can order a new one from the manufacturer. Also, be sure to file a warranty claim with the retailer where you purchased the chain.

What are some common mistakes people make when replacing their bike chains?

Some common mistakes people make when replacing their bike chains are not following the proper chain replacement procedure, not properly tightening the new chain, and not checking the bike’s derailleur teeth for wear.

How often should I check my bike chain for wear and tear?

As with anything else, it’s important to keep your bike chain in good condition by regularly checking it for wear and tear. A worn chain can affect your bike’s performance and cause problems such as delayed gear changes and noisy utilization of your gear

Conclusion

Replacing a bike chain is an important task that should not be taken lightly. By following the easy steps outlined in this blog, you’ll be able to replace your chain without any trouble. Make sure to read through the entire blog to get a thorough understanding of the chain replacement process. Then, go ahead and put these instructions into practice!

This article covered bike chains, the tools needed to replace them, and the steps to replace bike chains. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • A bike chain is a gear that connects a bicycle’s back wheel to the powertrain.
  • When it comes to chain replacement, there are a few essential tools that you’ll need.
  • Bike chains can wear out and need to be replaced over time.

So, did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on maintaining your bike. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed!

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Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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