How To Install A New Bike Chain | NYMBlog

How To Install A New Bike Chain 2

Broken Bike Chain

Broken Bike Chain

Last week, after installing my new rear bike rack, and taking a ride to my friends house, on the ride home my bike chain fell off and left me peddling but getting nowhere. Did I mention I was in the rain? I picked up the chain, put it in my new basket and walked the rest of the way home.

I quickly had to learn to do my first bike chain replacement.
This post is going to be in two short segments:

  • 1. How to replace your bicycle chain
  • 2. How to repair your bicycle chain

How To: Replace Your Bicycle Chain

We’ll start with how to replace your existing bike chain with a new one–you’ll need to make sure you get yourself one of these:

Bike Chain Tool

Bike Chain Tool

Step 1: Getting everything together

I picked up this compact bike chain tool made by Park, and it worked great and was fairly priced. If you use the link above, you can get it from REI for $16, but I just picked it up from my local bike shop for $17.

While you are at the bike shop, you’ll want to pick up a new chain as well(a little bit important, huh?). What you’ll need to know is how many speeds you have on the back of your bike, take this information to the bike shop and they’ll give you the correct chain size to use on your bike.

If you haven’t already removed your old chain, or had it break off like mine did, you’ll want to remove the chain from your bike. To remove the old chain, push out one of the pins using your chain tool.

Step 2: Sizing

New chains will almost all of the time be too large for your bike. You’ll need to resize.

Assuming that your old chain was the correct size, all you’ll need to do to get the correct sizing on your new chain is lay them side by side and compare links. I took them and hung them up next to each other to see how they compared. Any extra links in the new chain in comparison to the old must be removed using the chain tool.

Bike Chain Comparison

Bike Chain Comparison

If you cannot do this, then a good way to figure out the right length is too run the chain around the largest chain ring in the front and back, and measure it to one full link overlap, don’t run it through the derailleur. One full link would be considered two chain pieces, one in and one out create a full link. Anything after the one full link overlap(about 1 inch) can be removed.

Step 3: Remove Unnecessary Links

Removing Bike Chain Links

Removing Bike Chain Links

I had two full chain links that were too long on the new chain. To remove links set the chain into your bike chain tool and turn the top of the tool so that the tools pin moves down to press the pin out of the bike chain. It’s awesomely simple to do.

Step 4: Put The Chain On

Rear Derailleur

Rear Derailleur

When threading the chain through your bike chain links and rear derailleur, I would start with the rear derailleur. Before taking off your old chain, try to take a mental note of how the chain is threaded through so it’s easier to place the new one on. After putting it through through the rear derailleur and over the rear chain rings, bring it to the front rings and pull the two ends together.

Your ends could look like this, with two halves of an outer link which you can simply push together over the pins and pull the chain so they lock closed.

Outer bike chain link ends

Outer bike chain link ends


You’ve not replaced your chain. That was pretty easy!

How to: Repair Your Bicycle Chain

Instead of tossing out my old bike chain I thought I would repair it and keep it around as a back up.

The first thing I did was push the pin out of my old bike chain, removing 2 full links, including the broken one.

Bike Chain Repair

Bike Chain Repair

Push the pin out only far enough so that you can remove the unneeded links, but so that the pin stays in the chain. This is important so that you can add links to the chain later.

Take the chain links that you removed from your new chain and place them together with the old bike chain, and push the pin back in using the bike chain tool. Make sure that you have one end as an inner piece and one outer, push out a pin the same as before, put the pieces together and replace the pin.

Now you have another chain just in case!

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section, I’d be glad to answer them. This was my first chain replacement and repair so I’m still learning as I’m sure you are if you’re reading this.

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  • the drunken cyclist

    Great how-to! Spot on!

    • Ezra

      Thank you sir!

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