How to Fix a Bike Chain: A Beginner’s Guide

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Getting stranded on the trail is never fun. It’s a major reason why we always advise our readers to cycle in a pair or groups.

However, learning the basic bike repair tips can go a long way in feeling more confident embarking on solo rides and allow you to become the hero of the day should your partner’s bike break down.

A broken chain is a common issue, especially with mountain bikers, and knowing how to remove and fix a bike chain is an essential skill that every rider ought to have.

The good news is fixing a broken chain no harder than fixing a flat tire on the street, provided you are adequately prepared.

In the section below, we shall highlight everything you need to know how to fix a bike chain, but before then, let’s familiarize ourselves with the tools you’ll need to make the fix a cinch.

Tools Needed for Fixing a Bike Chain

  • Chain Tool- The chain tools is the only tool required. Now, if you’re wondering what a chain tool is, it’s a compact tool that is usually built into many common multi-tools, and it’s possible that you have it built in your tools and not aware.

While it’s possible to fix your broken chai using a hammer and pliers, it’s more involving, and the only viable and convenient option on the street is the chain tool.

Let us now breakdown the steps you will need to follow in case your bicycle chain breaks and require fixing.

A disclaimer though is that you will need to get your hands dirty, and if you’re wearing those nice clothes you care about, it’s probably best to first change to your old dirty jeans. Fixing a bike chain is the dirtiest job there is on a bike. Here’s how you do it:

  • Flip your bike over to allow you to get the chain more easily and prevent the bike from rolling over when working. Turn the bike upside down and allow it to rest on the seat and handlebars. Alternatively, you can use a bike stand, but since a majority of the chain break in the trail, you’re likely not to have access to one. Instead, you can set the front of the wheel over a large horizontal pole, while keeping the bike at least 4 feet off the ground.
  • Inspect the two broken ends of the chain. We strongly recommend that you remove the two segments on your bike chain because the two segments usually alternate, and removing a single segment means you’ll not be able to reattach it successfully.
  • Once you’ve removed the two segments, place the chain in the chain tool at the spot you want to disconnect. You can still use the above steps if you are looking to replace your worn but non-broken chain.
  • Take your chain tool and start turning the screws, and this help to push the pin out of the chain. While turning the screw, it is crucial that you keep the pin on the chain tool in proper alignment with the pin on the chain to avoid slippage.
  • Again, don’t push the pin too much that it gets detached from the chain. Instead, only push it just far enough to allow the chain to separate. Ideally, you should leave a part of the pin in the chain to allow for easy pushing.
  • With the pin out of the chain, it’s time to feed the chain back to their sprockets. It helps if you have a helping hand to hold two end position as you reattach them.
  • Once you have completed feeding the chain to the sprockets, take your chain tool again and push the pin back. A major challenging when pushing the chain back is to ensure that the chain tool in line with the pin. However, if you are putting on a new chain, you are lucky because many of the new chains are sport a special link that will make the first-time installation possible without needing to push any pins in.
  • Once you attach the broken link, you’re likely to notice that it will be stiff. To avoid the stiffness, you can work the chain back and forth, and until you loosen it enough for it to bend.

Hopefully, if you follow the above steps, you can now fix your broken bike chain.

However, while a broken bike chain is inevitable, you can reduce the occurrence of the issues happening by adhering to the below;

Learn to Shift Properly

A common cause of a broken chain is improper shifting. Lack of proper shifting will exert undue pressure on your drivetrain, and your chain will only stretch so far before it breaks or slips.

Remember that a gear shift will move the chain, and cranking it up while on a hill might cause it to miss the next teeth of the next gear.

Here are a few pointers to remember when shifting your gears:

-Always shift before hitting a hill .i.e. don’t wait until you can barely pedal. In any case, your feet should always move at the same speed.

-While shifting use “soft pressure” or rather ease up on your feet on the pedals similar to letting go of the gas.

Adjusting your Limit Screws

If your chain has always been falling out in the same direction, especially when shifting to one of your extreme gears, you can limit the screws, and this will tell the derailleur to stop moving in one direction.

Replace Worn Out Chains

With time chains and cassettes wear down due to friction, and this means the gear teeth cannot effectively lock firmly in place in the chain.

Therefore, it’s essential that you replace your worn chains to limit the chances of chain breakage.


Chains are a vital part of your bike, as they act as the link between the drivetrain and the pedals. Having an issue with your chain will hamper all your efforts, and it’s, therefore, necessary, that you understand how to fix it and how to minimize the risk of breakage.

Related: How To Tighten Bike Chain

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