How to fix a bike chain

As much as we care for our bikes, there are times when we can’t prevent the chain from slipping, breaking down after wear and tear, or getting damaged from impact. Since bikes are not exactly cheap, it comes in handy to know how to fix a bike chain. With our guide and a few tools, you should be back on your bike and ready to roll around the neighborhood or brave the next adventure. You may also want to check out our roundup of the best bike locks for theft prevention.

Assess the damage on the chain

First, try realigning the chain by downshifting the bike into the lowest front gear. If that doesn’t make it pull through, turning your bike upside down will give you better access to see where you have to reattach the slipped chain or connect broken links.

Reattaching slipped chains

In this step, it helps to familiarize yourself with your bike’s gears and parts. Derailleurs are where you find the bike’s gears. The front is by the pedals, while the rear looks like a little metal arm. To loosen up the chain, give the rear derailleur a push. Pick up the chain and put it on top of the rear gear, then bring it to the front. About 10 to 15 links must be pinned down on to the gears before releasing the derailleur. You’ve successfully reattached your bike’s chain when you can slowly pedal your bike backward using your hand. It is then advisable to do two or three more rotations, pedaling forward, to be sure the chain has locked securely in place.

The tool for broken chains

Fixing your bike’s chain could be considered a greasy job, but it should be easy with the help of a chain tool, which pushes rivets that connect each of the chain’s plates. It is usually one of the tools you’ll find in a bike multi-tool, but it can also be bought individually. A hammer and plier combo can also be used to repair or adjust the chain, but it will take more time and effort.

Mending links together

While your bike is flipped over, take off one segment from the damaged end and another segment from the end you’re connecting it to. Using the chain tool, push the pin out of the chain, but not all the way through — only push until the chain separates completely. You have the choice to mend it one broken link short or install a new one. Keep in mind that shortening the chain might affect your ability to shift when making sharp turns.

Once you’ve removed the broken links, put the two ends of the chain together and screw the pins back using the chain tool. If you decided to install new or quick links, make sure to get the size that matches your existing chain — it’ll be compatible with your bike’s speed. And again, you can simply test it out by pedaling backward once, then twice more in a forward motion.

Maintenance tips

Bikes are made to be durable, but you can stretch their life span even more with proper cleaning of the drivetrain or its transmission. This is best done with an old rag or toothbrush that is dipped into a bio degreaser, which is a kind of soap that can scrub off the grime efficiently without ruining the chain. You’ll also want to extend the same care for the gears.

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