If your bike chain has come off, don’t worry! This is a relatively easy fix that you can do at home with just a few tools. This article will show you how to fix a bike chain in just a few simple steps.
Getting stranded on the side of the road or miles down a trail is never fun. It is one of the main reasons cyclists avoid riding alone. Learning some basic bike repair tips can help you feel more confident on solo rides and enable you to be the hero should a buddy have a bike issue.
A broken or bent chain on your bike is super common, so knowing how to remove sections of your chain and reinstall it is a necessary skill to have. The following tips will help you repair the broken chain while out on a ride, but first, familiarize yourself with the parts of your chain so fixing it will be a cinch:
- 1 Tools and Chain Parts for Bikes
- 2 How to Examine a Bicycle Chain
- 3 How To Fix A Bike Chain?
- 3.1 Step 1 – Put the bike in the lowest front gear
- 3.2 Step 2 – Get off the bike and lift the rear tire
- 3.3 Step 3 – Push the rear derailleur forward to release tension
- 3.4 Step 4 – Slipped Chains
- 3.5 Step 5 – Remove the chain breaker
- 3.6 Step 6 – Repeat Steps 4-5 to remove a link
- 3.7 Step 7 – Re-fed through the proper pulleys
- 3.8 Step 8 – Align the open ends of the chain
- 3.9 Step 9 – Wiggle the link you just reattached
- 4 The Ways To Take Care of Your Chain – Step By Step
- 5 How to Fix Frequent Chain Issues?
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Conclusion
Tools and Chain Parts for Bikes
Chain wear instrument A common chain wear tool has one end that slips into the gap between two rollers while the other hooks over one roller (or pin) in your chain. The tool’s numbers will show how worn your chain is and whether it needs to be replaced.
Chains have a particular speed range. Therefore, if you have a bike with nine speeds, purchase a nine speeds replacement chain. Higher-end chains have rust-delaying coatings or are constructed of stainless steel rather than normal steel.
Replacement Pin or Master Link: To join the two ends of the chain together, new chains will either come with a new pin or a specialized link known as a master link. Replacement pins or master links can be purchased separately if you’re fixing an existing chain; they should work with the speed and brand of your chain.
Chain tool: If your chain has standard links, you will need a chain tool that is compatible with your chain so that you may quickly break and rejoin your chain by removing the old pin and inserting the new one.
Master link pliers: If your chain has a master link linking it to the rest of the chain, you’ll appreciate these pliers because they make removing and rejoining the master link much easier.
How to Examine a Bicycle Chain
Use a chain-wear tool to inspect your chain for excessive stretching. One end should be positioned over a chain roller (or pin).
The other end can either rest on top of the chain or be inserted into the gap between the two rollers. If it lands in the space between the rollers, your chain is stretched and needs to be changed.
Tools for measuring chain wear feature stamped-in numerals that show how worn your chain is. If the reading is between 0.5 and 0.75, your chain has to be replaced.
If the reading is 0.75 or higher, you should replace your chain as well as inspect the state of your cassette and chainrings to see if the stretched chain has worn these components down excessively.
Measuring the chain with a ruler or tape measure is another approach to looking for chain stretch.
A brand-new chain will have exactly 12 complete links that are 12 inches long (measured from pin to pin). You must replace the chain if the length of the 12 links is 12 1/8 inches or greater.
How To Fix A Bike Chain?
Step 1 – Put the bike in the lowest front gear
Put the bike in the lowest front gear before getting off (using the left shifter).
The largest chainring will support the chain when the front gear is in its lowest position.
Just keep pedaling. By itself, this action might realign the chain.
Step 2 – Get off the bike and lift the rear tire
In the event that Step 1 was unsuccessful, get off the bike and lift the rear tire while manually spinning the pedals.
Step 3 – Push the rear derailleur forward to release tension
Push the rear derailleur forward to loosen the tension on the chain if Step 2 is insufficient.
Reposition the chain on the chain ring by lifting it.
Lift the back wheel and use your hand to turn the pedals to adjust the chain (as in Step 2).
Your hands will become filthy since bike chains are highly oily. If latex gloves aren’t readily accessible, try a twig or leaf instead.
It could take a few tries for this step to succeed, but it will.
Step 4 – Slipped Chains
If your chains frequently slip, your chain may be too lengthy. You’ll need to utilize a chain breaker in this situation.
Place the chain on the chain breaker’s outer chain guide.
To partially remove the chain pin, turn the chain breaker’s handle.
If the pin seems stuck, use as much force as you can without worrying that you’ll break something.
Step 5 – Remove the chain breaker
By pulling the driving pin back, you can remove the chain breaker. The chain must be separated.
To remove a link, repeat steps 4-5 again: One link is made up of two components (one is narrow, and one is wide). Both must be taken out in order for the chain to reassemble.
Step 7 – Re-fed through the proper pulleys
Refeeding the chain through the appropriate pulleys is necessary if it comes off the rear derailleur.
The chain should be fed through the guide pulley (the highest of the two pulleys).
Between the tension and guide pulleys within the derailleur cage, thread the chain.
In front of the tab, thread the chain.
Afterward, pass the chain through the tension pulley.
Step 8 – Align the open ends of the chain
Align the chain’s free ends to form a new chain. With the pin towards the driving pin, place the chain on the chain breaker’s outer guide.
Once the driving pin is evenly spaced between the face plates like all the other links, turn the pin.
Reattach the link and wiggle it. Move on to the following section if it’s too stiff.
Put the chain on the chain breaker’s internal guide and slightly turn the driving pin. As you go, check to make sure the right looseness is being attained.
As before, don’t completely remove the pin.
The Ways To Take Care of Your Chain – Step By Step
1. Chain slips can be prevented by taking care of your drivetrain. Your bike’s transmission is called the drivetrain. It includes all parts that move your back wheel:
- Chainrings (giant gears near your pedals)
- A cassette
- A rear derailleur (metal arms on the back wheel)
- The drivetrain itself
- Dirt, grit, and grime build up on your drivetrain and cause it to wear down.
Regular cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of your bike’s drivetrain. 
To work on the drivetrain, you will need to turn the bike upside-down or place it in a rack.
2. To scrub your chain, use an old rag with a degreaser. Biodegreaser is sometimes known as a biodegradable solvent. It cuts through dirt and won’t damage your chain. It is sold in most bike shops alongside the chain lube. You can also use isopropyl alcohol if you don’t own any. Use a small amount to coat a damp rag.
Then, clamp the rag lightly on the chain using one hand. You can pedal the bike with your other hand, running the chain through the rag for about 2-3 cycles.
- You will need to go through 2-3 cycles of putting pressure at the top and bottom, followed by a few more putting pressure at the sides.
- If you see any grease or grime, use your rag to scrub them off lightly.
3. To clean your gears, use a toothbrush or a bicycle brush. Like human teeth, you should floss your gears from time to time. Use one hand to pedal the other hand while the meeting is soaked in the biodegradable solvent. If your chains get too big, this will remove any grease clumps.
- To remove difficult-to-reach or small areas, use a screwdriver. A screwdriver is an excellent tool for removing any dirt from the pulleys at the rear derailleur.
4. Cleanse any grime from the chainrings and derailleur. You should remove any dirt or grime from the derailleur and chainrings. You can clean your bike with a damp rag, a brush, and a degreaser. You can let the cycle do all the work while spinning the pedals. These are the most critical areas to concentrate on:
- Both the jockey pulley and idler pulley wheels are on each side. These small cogs are located on the derailleur arm.
- The chainrings are on the back (closest to your bike)
- The frame, joints, and hinges of the cycle.
5. For incredibly grimy chains, you will need a chain cleaner. A chain cleaner is required for those not clean enough chains with a toothbrush and a rag. These tiny boxes are designed to clamp onto your chain.
Add degreaser to the tool and pedal the bike backward. The device will automatically brush and scrub your chain links. These tools are inexpensive at $20-30 and often come with a brush and degreaser.
6. Lube your bike chain after cleaning it. Chain lubricant should be purchased to protect the chain from dirt and moisture. Slowly turn the pedals after cleaning the chain and drying it with a rag.
Use a drop of lubricant on every 2 to 4 links. This is the area where each link joins. Once you have gone through the entire chain, shift through your gears to apply another 10-12 drops.
- You can wipe any excess lube off the chain with a clean cloth after you’re done. Extra lube can trap dirt and lead to grime.
- The goal is to apply a thin lube coating to the entire chain.
- It would help if you used lube whenever you ride in the rain or hear the chain squeaking.
- You can feel the chain between your fingers. If it feels dry, you may need to apply more lubricant.
How to Fix Frequent Chain Issues?
1. To keep your chain steady on climbs, learn how to shift correctly. Your drivetrain can be put under strain by improper shifting. The chain will only go so far before it strays or breaks. Shifting is what moves the chain. If you push the pedals uphill, it can cause the chain to lose the teeth of its next gear. So many helpful tips for safe shifting include:
- Shift before you reach a hill. Do not wait until your feet are numb to shift. It would help if you kept going until your feet moved at the same speed.
- When shifting, use “soft pressure”. As you move, relax your feet and let go of the gas. You don’t need to stop pedaling; you want the pedals to be lighter. This can be done by synchronizing your shift, and then you can resume normal pedaling.
2. If the chain falls in the same direction, adjust your limit screws. This is common if the chain is always falling in the same order when you shift to an “extreme” gear on either side of the kits. The limit screws tell the derailleur that it must stop moving in one direction.
If the limit is too large, the chain will continue moving while you shift, even though there is no rear gear to catch. The limit screws on the front and back derailleur are tiny and labeled “H”, “L” for “High” or “Low” limits.
- To stop the chain from moving too far right away from the bike, turn the “H” screws counterclockwise.
- To stop the chain from moving too far to your left and into your wheel in the back, turn the “L” screws clockwise.
- You will notice the derailleur moving when you adjust the screws if you are in the furthest gear. It should be aligned in the middle of your equipment.
3. Wear outworn chains and replace broken or bent links. Both cassettes and chains will become less durable over time due to friction. This means that the gear teeth won’t lock in place within the chain. Use a ruler to measure the distance between the 24 chains’ pins.
When you view the chain sideways, the pins are the small circular shapes in the middle of each link. A new chain is required if the 12th pin is more extended than 1/16 inches (0.16 cm) or the 1 foot (0.30m) mark.
- It is better to replace a broken chain or stuck link in a chain than to try to replace each link. A single link in a chain can be replaced, but the rest will not have the same wear. This could pose a danger. If you have to replace a link in your broken bicycle chain, ensure it is of the same brand and suitable for the same single speed bike.
- It is good to buy a new chain if your chain is rusty or the links are having trouble moving.
- Chains are generally more durable than cassettes, and they are also much less expensive to replace. 
4. You need to determine if you have a defective cassette. Although cassettes are more challenging to diagnose than a chain, you will likely need a new one if you feel you have a problem.
A new cassette is required if your chain constantly shifts between gears, sliding off or skipping as you pedal. Bring your bike in for an appraisal if you have any questions.
- Take a look at the gears after cleaning the cassette. Are any of the gears more worn than others? There may be a discrepancy.
If you have trouble with bike pedals, see this guide: How To Remove Bike Pedals.
How do you put a bike chain back on?
The chain should first be wrapped around the tiny gear on the bike’s rear axle.
How to fix a slipped bike chain without gears?
How to fix a bike chain without tools? Turning your bike upside down will make it much simpler to reattach the chain if you need to fix a slipped bike chain.
Look at the derailleurs, which are the tiny devices on the front and rear gears that move the chain once your bike is turned over. To put the chain back in the proper location, make a note of what gear these are on.
How to fix a dropped chain?
It is frequently a simple matter of changing the limit screws on your rear derailleur to fix a chain that is coming off at the back. Put the chain onto the smaller chainring (at the front) and the largest sprocket if it is coming off the inside of the cassette (at the rear).
How to fix a bike chain that is stuck?
Turning your bike upside down will make it much simpler to reattach the chain if you need to fix a slipped bike chain.
Putting your bike chain back on takes just a few steps. You can do it by yourself, although it’s much easier with help from someone else. Even if you can’t fix your bike chain yourself, at least you know how to put it back on, and you’re not missing out on riding your bike! BSXInsight hopes you found this helpful guide!