Changing a Bicycle Chain: Quick Repair in a Few Steps

Changing a Bicycle Chain: Quick Repair in a Few Steps

Frequent cyclists are familiar with this mishap: the bicycle chain snaps during a ride. We’ll show you how to change or repair a bicycle chain.

When Should You Change Your Bicycle Chain?

There are mainly two reasons to change your bike chain. It’s either snapped or so worn that it’s close to breaking. Some cyclists only replace the chain when it breaks and needs repair. Others preemptively change it to avoid this issue.

Regularly changing the chain helps other parts like the sprockets and chainring last longer. A worn chain strains other parts, leading to potential multiple replacements. A new chain doesn’t perform well on a damaged cog, wearing out quickly.

If you wait until the chain breaks, you’ll need a replacement on the spot. Sometimes, a repair suffices if only a chain link needs replacing.

However, this method doesn’t necessarily save costs compared to regular changes, as sprockets and chainrings might need replacing due to wear. Never underestimate the danger of a chain breaking while riding, as a loose chain can quickly lead to a fall if it gets caught in the spokes or derailleur.

How Often Should You Change the Bicycle Chain?

Chain replacement depends on the bike type, weather, and maintenance. For a road or trekking bike used in dry conditions on asphalt, checking every 1,500 kilometers is sufficient. For mountain biking through mud and gravel, it’s advisable to check every 500 kilometers.

Another way to assess chain wear is using a chain wear indicator, which costs around 20 euros. Place it on the chain; if it sinks deeply at both points, the chain is worn. This tool saves unnecessary replacements and repairs due to wear-related issues.

Proper maintenance prolongs the chain’s life. Regular cleaning and oiling save time-consuming repairs and costs. We’ve compiled some tips on how to clean and oil your bicycle chain.

Bicycle Chain Repair

Repairing a Bicycle Chain: Tips for Quick Repair

Despite care and regular checks, chain snaps can still happen. The issue can be resolved fairly easily. You don’t always need a new chain. Often, repairing the old one by removing the damaged link suffices. We’ll show you how to repair a single chain link and the useful tools for it.

If you need to repair the chain while out cycling, you’ll need a chain rivet extractor or chain tensioner and gloves. The repair takes about 30 minutes. Our four-step guide provides easy instructions.

  1. Re-thread the chain, passing it in the direction of travel through the derailleur and pulley
  2. Remove the damaged link with the chain rivet extractor
  3. Use the tool to press and rivet the ends of the chain together
  4. Ensure the link moves smoothly and adjust the riveted spot by bending slightly until the chain runs smoothly

With some know-how, the right tools, and practice, you can resolve such problems effortlessly. Chain snaps happen occasionally during a ride, and often you have to fix it yourself as a workshop might not be nearby. Therefore, a chain rivet extractor or chain tensioner should be in every tool bag.

Also read:

How to Replace a Broken Bicycle Chain

If a simple repair isn’t enough, a chain rivet extractor won’t suffice. You’ll need to replace the chain. Here’s the necessary equipment:

  • Chain rivet extractor
  • Pliers for opening the chain lock
  • Chain lock
  • Gloves

Of course, you also need a new chain, compatible with your cassette. Count the sprockets on your bike, from the smallest to the largest, and choose the appropriate chain from our wide selection.

Here’s how to proceed with a chain replacement.

  1. Set the bike’s front and rear gears to the smallest sprocket.
  2. Open the old chain with the chain lock or extractor and remove it.
  3. Shorten the new chain to match the old one’s length. We’ll explain how to shorten and tension the chain in another article.
  4. Thread the chain over the sprockets and through the derailleur, ensuring correct alignment, especially at the derailleur. With Shimano chains, the labeled side should always face away from the bike.
  5. Finally, close the chain with the chain lock.

Properly Re-threading the Bicycle Chain

Re-threading the chain is a detailed task. We’ll explain this step more clearly. Feed the chain from below behind the lower derailleur pulley, over the upper pulley, and then from the back over the smallest sprocket. Now, pass it through the front derailleur and onto the large chainring, ensuring the chain doesn’t touch the guide pulleys during threading.

After changing the chain, we recommend proper maintenance, ideally with the right chain oil. Then, nothing stands in the way of a test ride. Start gently, especially when shifting gears. If the chain runs smoothly and shifting works well, you’ve installed it correctly.

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