How to Use a Chain Tool to Break a Chain
How a chain tool works, and how to use it to disconnect and reconnect your bike chain.
This week we’ll learn how to break a chain using a chain tool. I’ll cover the quick release method next week.
Quick Release Links
The first thing to do is check to make sure your chain does not already have a quick release link. Do this by turning your pedals backwards and carefully watching every chain link as it goes by. A quick release link will stand out as they look different from all of the others. If you find one, you can refer to next week’s tutorial for removal and installation instructions.
The Chain Tool
If you can’t find a quick release link, then your chain probably doesn’t have one. This has traditionally been the most common type of chain, and it requires a chain tool for both removal and installation. Beside this video you’ll find a few links where you can order a good quality one.
Turn the handle of your chain tool counter-clockwise until the pin has backed off enough so you can place one of your chain links on the outermost slot, furthest from the handle. There are two places on chain tools where you can place a chain. The outer slot is for disconnecting and re-connecting the chain, while the inner slot is for loosening chain links.
Disconnect the Chain
Now tighten the handle clockwise until the chain tool’s pin connects with the end of your chain pin. Continue tightening the handle and you’ll see the chain pin get pushed into the link and start coming out the other side. The tricky part here is to push the chain pin far enough so that it is gets about halfway through the first of the two outer chain plates. If the chain pin gets pushed all the way out of the chain there is really no way to get it back in, and you’ll be forced to shorten or replace your chain.
One way to prevent this is to pay careful attention to how easy the handle turns as you push the pin through. When you get close to the end, you’ll feel resistance and the handle will become a slight bit harder to turn. As soon as you feel this, stop tightening the handle, and then give it another half a turn. This is usually the perfect spot to disconnect the chain. When you take the chain tool off, you’ll notice the chain is still barely held together, but can be easily disconnected by twisting and pulling the chain.
Reconnect the Chain
Notice how a tiny bit of the pin is still poking out of the inner side of the outermost plate. This is perfect, as it will help us re-install the chain. Twist and push the links back together until the chain pin clicks back into the inner link, once again holding the chain together.
Now back off the chain tool’s handle and place the chain back onto the same outer slot of the chain tool. This time position it so the protruding chain pin faces inward toward the chain tool’s pin. Now tighten the handle until the tool pin starts pushing the chain pin back through the link. Continue tightening until a tiny bit of the link pokes through the other side. Now take a look at both sides of the link… the chain pin should stick out roughly the same amount on either side.
Loosen the Chain Link
The process of re-connecting the chain caused the chain links to compress together, making a stiff link. To fix this, we use the inner slot on the chain tool. Back off the chain tool all of the way so that you can place the freshly connected link into the inner slot. Now tighten the chain tool’s pin until it connects with the chain pin and tighten it just barely, about a quarter of a turn. This usually loosens the chain link plates enough. Remove the chain from the tool and check to make sure the link is loose. If it’s still tight, try loosening it with the chain tool another quarter of a turn.
Discuss this topic in the Chain Forums
Would there be any issues with one less tooth on the high gear as regards shifting or otherwise?...Read more
Just bought a new bike. It has a KMC H700 8speed chain and I am would like to know if, when the time comes and the chain must be replaced, I could replace it with a Sram PC 850 8 speed chain that I have on hand....Read more
The chain is slipping on my MTB when I'm on the middle chainring and smallest sprocket on the back, but only when I put a lot of force on the pedals. I replaced the chain last year along with the 7 speed freewheel and the middle 32T chainring. I've probably cycled only 1000 to 1500 miles since and tried to only oil the chain when it was clean, so I'm not sure whether it is excessively worn (have...Read more
Hi, All! I recently got a broken bike from one of my friends, and want to fix it as a fun project. Seemingly its chain is off from the rail and completely distorted like a helix, so it needs to be replaced. Also, rear derailleur is shattered into two parts, each has a gear, not sure if it can be repaired as I'm a total newbie, so I decided to buy a new part for it as well. However, I don't know ...Read more
Hi, my chain on a 2016 Specialized fatboy keeps getting sucked into the tire and comes off when I am in the top gear coasting. I have had multiple bike shops look at it and they say that those bike are not made to be in the top gear which sound ridiculous to me. It also been suggested that I change the front sprocket from a 28 to a 32. Also the chain measured fine. Any suggestions?...Read more
I fitted a black 105 5800 compact chainring set (50/33) when I built my new bike. I prefer the 50 chainring cos, on our flat terrain, I can push it, but I can't push a 52 0r 53. However, I would like to change the 33 inner ring for a 42. I have found some rings with the same PCD, but they all seem to have some qualifications which I don't entirely follow. Is there a straight forward way to ...Read more
Hi, I have the following issue on my bike (see video): https://youtu.be/XtuR7BI_7SU When stopped at traffic lights I need various attempts at putting the pedal at the correct hight to set off. Is this to do with play in bottom bracket or another issue? I have this play in bottom bracket: https://youtu.be/ikX9hNyDs6g It's an old bike so do not want to spend much money on it. I can live with th...Read more
I'm having an issue on my CX bike. Which is shimano with 38/48. On the last 2 rides when I'm in the lowest gear on the cassette my chain drops off the small chain ring. It doesn't happen on the 2nd from lowest gear on the cassette. I decided that maybe my rear mech was limited enough so perhaps was pulling the chain off at an angle. Therefore I played with the Lo limiter screw and indexing ...Read more
I have an older frame with an ultra-6 freewheel. When the rear wheel is removed the stays measure 122.78 (hub is a 120 for the ultra-6). I can cold bend it out to 126, I'm sure, but do I need to if I just put a regular 6-speed freewheel on? I'm not sure how tight that would be as far as the chain scraping the frame. has anybody tried it? Has anybody bent a 120 out to 126 or 130 without p...Read more
I recently picked up a Park CC-3.2 to put in my portable bike tool-bag (12 inch ruler won't fit). With it one of my chains that measures fine with the ruler, fails, even at the .75 side. Reading on the subject states that the CC-3.2 doesn't take into account roller wear, which the Shimano TL-CN41 does. So, I took a popsicle stick (perfect thickness) and shaped it to press the roller nearest th...Read more
Hi all. 1st time post. I am unablr to remove the cassette from my rear tyre. I followed the easy tutorial on bikeradar but havent managed to get any success. See link to pics of my cassette and the lockring i bought. http://s1067.photobucket.com/user/Nexus62/library/Mobile%20Uploads I think i know where i went wrong. The lockring i purchased didnt fit properly, so i just used a spanner to remove...Read more
i've recently started riding my bike for exercise. was going well for a couple weeks, but a few days ago the chain on my bike has been slipping off of what i think is the gear shifter. it is very annoying and i haven't been able to ride my bike because of it. Edit More info: i have a Schwinn Ranger 10 speed. the gear only slips like that in high gear. it does not slip while in low gear. i have...Read more
Hey Guys, Have a BMX bike that the single speed freewheel is worn out on. The problem is that the freewheel was installed backwards. So, the notches that the freewheel tool would grab on to the freewheel to remove, are on the inside of the wheel next to the spokes. There are two small holes that are 180 degrees apart from each other on the outside of the freewheel. Is there a tool to use th...Read more
I have an older(vintage) bicycle, it,s a 7 speed using suntour radius parts. I want to change out my chain ring. Some say compatible with 9 or 10 speed, does it really matter? If I buy the same rings as 52/42 with the right BCD....Read more
I have a Bianchi with SRAM Red components. The cassette is a 11-28 10 speed. The crank is 53-39. I recently put on a new SRAM 10 speed chain and the chain skipped while riding when I was applying heavy pressure to the pedals. I then put the old chain back on and the problem went away. It feels as if the skipping is coming from the cassette rather than the crank. I tried it again with y...Read more