How to Install/Remove a Bicycle Chain

In this Tech Doc we explore how to service a bicycle chain, useful for when you're riding away from home or looking to swap your old chain for a new one. There's a wide variety of chain options, according to number of gears and types of links. Always check that your chain breaker or chain rivet tool suits your chain, otherwise you might damage the chain or make it more prone to failure while riding.




Part One – Extracting the rivet.

  1. The first step is to partially remove the rivet from the chain link. If you are removing a damaged link in the whole chain – start at this link. Now rest the link in the chain breaker tool’s cradle farthest from the driving pin.

  2. Tighten the handle, making sure the tool-pin aligns properly with the chain-pin. If you want to push the pin out completely then drive the pin through the chain and out of the farthest side plate of the chain. If you intend to re-use the same pin to re-join the chain, make sure that the pin is not pushed all of the way through the outer plate of the chain.

  3. Back out the chain tool pin and lift chain out of the cradle.


Part Two – Separation of the chain

  1. Bend the chain sideways slightly to separate the links. If you have removed the pin you will not need to bend the chain as it will come apart naturally.

  2. If you intend on re-joining the chain with the same pin, it should look like this when separate. 

Part Three – Re-installing the rivet

NOTE - If you are using a joining link supplied by the manufacturer, please follow their instructions to install and re-join the chain.

  1. To use the same pin to rejoin the chain, set the two ends of the chain in the cradle farthest from the rivet driving pin as per the image below. Care needs to be taken that the chain is in the tool straight as otherwise the pin will not guide evenly through the other side of the chain link.

  2. If the pin does not drive through the outer side plate all the way on the first attempt, like on the image below, the pin needs to be pushed further through to be even on both sides.

  3. Once re-joined, the link should pivot freely. If it does not then you will need to loosen the link by setting the chain in the cradle nearest the tool driving pin and tightening the tool-pin against the chain pin. Turn the handle so that the tool-pin is touching the pin of the tight link. Tighten the handle by 1/8 of a turn then back it away and recheck the tightness of the link. If it is still too tight repeat this step.

  4. To finish, go through your gears to make sure the gears run smoothly and the chain is neither too tight nor loose.

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