Removing and Replacing Chains

There are certain times when you will want to change the chain on your bicycle, sometimes because it has worn out and needs a new one or when it snaps off and needs to be put back together or simply to give it a thorough wash which will be the case in this tutorial.

It is advisable to get the bicycle to a trained technician, but if you would like to do it yourself, it is not that hard.


Removing the chain

It is easier to remove the chain when it offers minimum tension. Put the chain on the smallest ring in the front or the smallest cog on the back or slip the chain out all the way at the chain rings. Carefully check the chain to see if you have a quick link or a what is called a missing link. In that case this guide won’t be of sufficient use and staying tuned to our work bay watch section’s future editions should get you going.


If you use a chain without a quick link, you can use any chain tool and go ahead with removing and/or replacing the chain yourself. Find a comfortable spot on the chain to hold onto it. Then insert the chain tool onto any link and turn the handle clockwise pushing against a link pin. This will push the pin out the other side and your chain is now broken out of its loop. The recommended manner is to use a new joining pin each time. As joining pins have a tapered tip to ease the insertion. Carefully slide the chain out of the bicycle without twisting it around the RD (rear derailleur)

Use degreaser or soak the chain in soap, then brush out the gaps in between the links with either a chain cleaning brush or even an old toothbrush. Before you start reattaching the chain, make sure it is thoroughly dry.


Joining the chain

Shift the gears into the smallest ring at the rear derailleur and at the front just like you did when removing the chain. Slide the chain over the smallest ring on the cassette or freewheel at the wheel, run it over the top most pulley wheel of the RD, over and above the guiding pin and around the outside of the lower pulley of the RD. Loop the chain onto the smallest chain ring starting from under it and bringing it over, run it through the eye of the front derailleur and connect it to the start point of the chain.


Use a new joining pin and push the tapered tip first into the links. Use a chain tool and turn the handle clockwise to push the pin all the way through the links. The tapered edge will appear on the other end of the chain and can be cut off with a pair of pliers or some chain tools will have a depression in them into which you insert the excess length of the pin and simply twist it to break it off at the groove.

You are now ready to go riding with your spick and span chain. If you are replacing a chain, the removal and joining part is the same as this guide, but choosing the right chain and adjusting it’s length is crucial and will be covered in episodes to come.

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