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Sunday, August 06, 2006

FIXING A BROKEN BICYCLE CHAIN





Fixing a broken bicycle chain is pretty easy. If you read this blog you probably went out and bought your chaintool. That's all you need. This tool works with every type of chain. In this example we are fixing a BMX bicycle chain. There are two types of chains, chains for bikes that don't have multiple exterior gears like a BMX, 3 or more internal speed hubs and coaster brake bikes(Lowriders, Musclebikes, Beach Cruisers, Choppers, etc...). Then you have your multiple exterior gear bicycle chain for 10 to 24 speeds(which I think is insane, but that's for another article). These chains are found on road racers, mountain bikes, chain store specials and they also come in different sizes. The main concern being the width of the chain. A 15 speed chain will be slightly larger than a 24 speed chain. Tell your local bike shop what you need and they will give you the proper size.

Now back to the task at hand. If you are replacing a chain, the new one will probably be longer than you need. Just install it on the smallest gear at the pedals and the smallest gear at the wheel to determine what length you will need and that the derailler is not tensionned too much. The BMX, Sturmey Archer, Nexus and Coaster brake crowd doens't have to worry about what gear to put it on, just make sure that your rear wheel is installed at the proper place when measuring and be prepared to make some minor adjustements.

Links are removed by pushing out the retaining pin almost completely from the "female" link and rejoined with the "male" link by pushing the pin back in.

Now that you have cut(or "broken") your chain to the proper length, leave it on the wheel gear and remove it from the gear at the pedals(it's called the chainring). Now you have some slack to reconnect your chain. Once you're done, replace the chain on a few top gear teeth of the chainring and pedal forward. Voila! You are done and ready to go.

If you have a broken chain, you can probably get away with removing a link or two. It is easier to get away with this on a derailler chain since the tension is variable, but much harder on a one gear bike like a BMX that as no flex in the chain, the rear wheel will have to be repositionned in order for this to work. The cause might be abuse on your part, a very tired chain or just simple bad luck. If you ride a lot or depend on your bike to work good, spend a few bucks on a new chain.

The only difference between fixing a broken chain and replacing it, is that you remove the broken link and toss it. If the chain is too short and won't fit, you have to add a link. They don't sell those, so you have to get a link from a spare chain or simply buy and install a new one.

Check this post to see the chaintool in action.

Tip of the day: Always keep an old chain or those extra links left over from a new chain replacement, as spares. You'll never now when you'll need them.

Til next time, ride safely.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

The chain of my bike always seems to derail frm its trakes on the gears, do you mind teaching me how to fix it in the field?

Gerry Lauzon said...

From what I can understand from your comment, the chain comes off while you ride. You may need to verify if it's not too long or if the "H" screw on the derailleur is out of adjustement. Simply look if the derailleur goes beyond the last gear when the tension is completly off the cable. That's a sure sign of trouble. I also suggest carrying some basic tools with you when you ride. Hope this helps. If you have more details about your problem, I might be able to help you more.

Erik said...

I haven't read this blog in a little while and I realize I should have. Earlier in the day I (first time for me) shortened my chain after taking my derailleur off after converting to single speed. Skipping to the profound part, I skipped step three and added about a half-an-hour to my garage time (110 degrees F). Next time I start attacking my bike wrenches I will stop by your blog! Great job, by the way!

If you want to see my work it is right here here [flickr.com].

Anonymous said...

Right on bro! This is a kick ass website. Thanks for your efforts.
ted

Gerry Lauzon said...

Comments like these make it all worthwhile. Thank you all for reading my stuff and for your comments. Ride on dudes!

Anonymous said...

Gerry, I found this tutorial in a Google search when I was seeking help to repair my broken bike chain. Other links & sites were not very helpful, and they all felt very confusing, but then I saw your guide.

Thanks to your simple instructions, I got the necessary tools and then I was able to quickly fix my bike chain without too much difficulty!

Thank you so much!

Gerry Lauzon said...

It's always a pleasure to read that people actually find this site useful. I'm very glad that I could help you out. :) Keep on riding.

john armstrong said...

Is there anything i can do if I have pushed the pin out completley with the chain tool? Is there anyway of getting that pin back into the chain??

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hi John,
Unfortunately, your only option right now is to shorten the chain by one link or replace the link.

◄THIS IS ME said...

Perfect... this was just the info I was looking for. Found it on Google with the words "Chain Tool".

brett said...

i dont have a CHAIN TOOL! now what

Gerry Lauzon said...

Get one! It's one of the "must have" tools for bike maintenance.
Gerry

Michael Alder said...

I was always told that it was bad to re-use a pin that you had half pushed out to break the chain.
When re-joining chains I use a special shimano pin that has a 'leader' on it which you snap off after the join is done. Sounds like you aren't too fussed either way? This is for my 8/9 speed chains.
Recently I have converted a bike to SS for my commute - and loving it...especially hitting 180rpm down a big hill. Must look pretty nuts!

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hello Michael. Thanks for the info, I'll have to look into that since I've never come across it. I've had no problems with my chains ever and I do put a lot of miles on my bikes. The only broken chains I have suffered was from brand new bikes. 180 rpm, man you must be spinning those cranks like mad! My single speed coaster kinda prevents me from doing that. :)

Gerry

Anonymous said...

If you please, I need some assistanace. Recently my daughter's bike chain fell off th egear ( I think that's the right word). I put the chain back on. However, the bike won't pedal. The pedals lock while trying to go forward. Sometimes the pedals will rotate, put the chain skips. Can someone please help me? Thank you, on and all!

Gerry Lauzon said...

A lot of things could be wrong. It's hard to say with the few details that I have. Did you make sure that the rear wheel is bolted straight on the frame? Misaligned gears are often the cause of skipping chains.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

I recently took my bike w/ broken chain to a bike shop, since I needed a tune up anyway I figured they could fix or replace my chain. The guy there recommended that I also replace the gear component that attaches to the rear tire, said it was absolutely necessary or else the chain is likely to skip. Is this true, or have I been taken for a ride??

Gerry Lauzon said...

It all depends on the wear of the drivetrain. A gear cluster doesn't have to be changed every time you change the chain. I replace the chain on my bike every two years now and this prevents excessive wear on the gears. But eventually I'll have to do it. What happens is that the gears get used up and the old chain matches that wear with some stretching. What happens when you put on a brand new chain, it doesn't fit snuggly in those old gears. So you might have some chain slip or clicking noises. If your bike has a lot of miles it might be necessary to do this.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Just the other day I was giving my road bike a "tune up". I decided to take the chain off so that I could better align the rear dérailleur. Well, the pin popped right out. It was hell just putting it back, but I managed with a bit of cardboard used as a spacer/holder. If I had somebody with me, they (or I) could have used needle nose pliers to align the pin for me while I slowly turned the chain tool.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your great blog! Very very helpful for a Mum with 2 sons and many bikes!
Maryann

Gerry Lauzon said...

Maryann, it's always a pleasure to help Super Mums.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

when i am fixing my back tire on my haro the chain gets like these weird loops and there like impossible to get out with out taking off the chain....is there any way to fix this without taking off the chain.
thanks

Pilotbloke said...

Glad I found your blog, really useful, simple to understand advice
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Gerry Lauzon said...

You're welcomed pilotbloke.

Gerry :)

Geoff said...

Gerry,
Came across your site after my chain snapped at the weekend. Instead of dumbly looking at it and wondering what to do, I've now got all the info I need. Ordered the chain tool already!
Great site, Great advice.
Regards,
Geoff UK

Gerry Lauzon said...

Great to hear Geoff. Keep at it and you'll be able to do a lot more.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Daniel (Ireland) said...

Hi, I was trying to convert my bike to a single speed and now the chain keeps breaking. I'm not sure whether it's because when I used the chain breaking tool the pin popped all the way out and I had to use a fair bit of force to get it back in. Any thoughts on why the chain would break like that?

Very helpful website by the way

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hey Daniel,
First, you have all kinds of respect from me for getting that link back in there, not a small task ( I wouldn't even try myself). I suspect however that your problem is with the chain line of your new single speed configuration. Look at the bike from behind and follow the chain from the wheel cog to the chain ring. Is the chain bent on the way to the chain ring? If so it is very possible that it breaks when you apply a lot of pedaling force.

Gerry :)

megan said...

ok so i just got a taboo tiki dyno beach cruiser and eveytime i ride it the chain falls off.....the chain seems a bit rusted is this the problem? should i buy a new chain? and also the thing the chain is around(dont know the name, im justing getting into bike) is a bit rusted help me=(

megan said...

ok so i just got a taboo tiki dyno beach cruiser and eveytime i ride it the chain falls off.....the chain seems a bit rusted is this the problem? should i buy a new chain? and also the thing the chain is around(dont know the name, im justing getting into bike) is a bit rusted help me=(

Gerry Lauzon said...

Hi Megan, it could be that your wheel is not straight in the frame so the chain line is crooked to the chainring (the round thing on the pedals). It could also be that there isn't enough tension in your chain. Unscrew the rear wheel and pull it until the chain is tight, but not too tight.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

thanks alot for this excellent guide!! Mickey

Gerald said...

My pleasure.

Gerry :)

bustabuckt said...

I must be doing something wrong here--I am trying to replace an old, rusty chain from a mountain bike. I bought a new chain and a chain tool, but I can't figure out how to use the chain tool. I am lining up the chain with the guides on the tool, but the pin will simply not budge. I have checked, and double checked to make sure that the tool is aligned with the pin, but nothing happens. Just to verify that it wasn't the rusty chain, I also tried using the chain tool on the new chain, but the pin barely budges. I actually used so much force that the guides on the tool bent.

So, the question is--how much force is needed to remove the pin from the chain links? From your video and others on the web, it looks relatively easy, but when I tried it, it was near impossible. Do I just need to get a higher quality chain tool? (The one I bought was from Wal-Mart for $6...) Or am I doing something totally wrong?

Gerald said...

I've answered your question with this post: http://www.howtofixbikes.ca/2009/07/difference-between-good-chain-tool-and.html

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

My son's Flatland BMX bike's chain keeps breaking, any ideas why

Gerry Lauzon said...

It's either a crooked chain line (between the wheel and the chainring) or an old chain that needs to be replaced or both.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

My chain snapped a week ago and I still havn't replaced got the chain tool and new chain. My problem is when I flip the bike over without the wheel and it seems the derailleur has broken or a spring has gone. Currently when upsaide it doesn't sit on the chain it has flipped another 90 degrees up. Does this sound like a broken derailleur?

Regards

Anonymous said...

hi gerry, i bought my son a new bmx bike.... he has used it a few times but now the pedal are going around and the chain but the wheels dont go around... as if there are not connected... please help

Gerry Lauzon said...

Concerning the derailleur, I'm having a hard time getting to understand the question, can you rephrase?

Concerning the new BMX, if the chain is sitting on the gears on the front and back and it still turns empty, that means the freewheel is broken. Return it and get an exchange or a refund.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I have a regular dirt bike that the chain keeps falling off. I would prefer to fix it rather than just buy another one. What could be wrong? I tried taking off the back wheel, and making sure it was tight, but it still fell off within 5 minutes. Thanks!

Gerry Lauzon said...

If your bike wheel is on straight and chain alignment is not an issue, it could be that your chainring at the pedals is crooked or warped.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I have a broken link in a KMc x9 chain. Can I use any 9 speed chain link replacement.

Thanks

Gerry Lauzon said...

Worst case scenario is that you try it and it doesn't work. It should be fine if the link is the same width as the rest of the chain. Width being the main issue for 6 or more gears.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

u r the man gerry without u i would have sold my mini bike n had to walk all summer u r the man thanx gerry

Gerry Lauzon said...

Dude you just made my day. :)

I also just realized that this post needs a serious revamp. I'll take care of that.

Gerry

Dutchaa aka Sriram said...

I fixed the chain as given in the instructions. But after that when I ride the bike, there is lot of "clicking" sound coming and I am not able to ride it smoothly!! Especially while riding the bike uphill.. What could be the problem?

Gerry Lauzon said...

You might be in need of a new chain.

Gerry

Unknown said...

where do you find the bike tool \???

Unknown said...

where do you find the bike tooLL???

Gerry Lauzon said...

Your local bike shop should have it. If not ask or Google chain tool.

Gerry

dw said...

how can i fix a bmx bike chain that snaped in half and i dont have a chain tool

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard of a SRAM or shimano power link these days ?