How to Take a Chain Off a Bike?


Chains need to be replaced periodically and you should know how to take a chain off a bike when the time comes that it needs to be replaced. Whether you are new to biking and bike maintenance or have been biking for a while, this is something you should expect to do though not as often as greasing your chain. This is true for different types of bikes whether you own a hybrid bike or a mountain bike.

A chain is considered to be a consumable. Cyclists usually first find out that their chains need to be replaced once their bikes no longer shift smoothly. You may have also experienced slips while pedaling. That’s when you know it’s time to take a chain off a bike. A temporary fix would be to apply some oil or lubricant and cleaning your bike chain, but it can cause problems in the long run when you don’t replace a chain that needs replacing.

Why Do You Need to Replace Your Bike Chain?

There are very good reasons why you would have to take a chain off a bike and replace it. Chains wear out and over time, they stretch. If you compare an old chain to a new one, you will notice that the old worn out chain seems longer. This is because the pins get ground by the grit that they pick up from the road, especially if you bike regularly.

This can be hard to see because the grit that has built up is hidden between the 2 outer chain side plates. The chain also becomes worn out because the inner plates are designed to swivel around the pins as the chain rotates on your bike gear and this repeated motion slowly grinds the pin’s diameter. As the pins’ diameter gets smaller, the entire chain tends to stretch.

Once a chain is stretched, it can cause many problems such as difficulty in switching gears. It can also damage other parts, like the gear teeth so it’s really important to take a chain off a bike when it’s time and replace them. Otherwise, you might end up replacing more parts like the chainrings and some cogs. This can get very expensive and it’s definitely cheaper to just take a chain off a bike and replace them before it does more damage.

How to Take a Chain Off a Bike?

While you can take your bike to a repair shop, it’s a handy skill to learn how to take a chain off a bike, since you would have to do this periodically as you use your bike. Here are the simple steps to take a chain off a bike. You don’t need a lot of special tools and it only requires a bit of time.

  • Tools

    The only tool you would really need is a chain tool. You would use this to push the pin out of the chain so you can take out the links. It’s not very expensive and you can get one in under $14 that is of good quality.

    However, if your bike chain is designed with an easy open link, then you might no longer need a chain tool to take a chain off a bike. But it would still be a handy tool to adjust the length of your new chain.

    You could also use some gloves to protect your hands from the grease.

  • Check How the Chain Runs

    First, make sure to check how the chain runs through the derailer. You need to make a note of it because you have to put it back in the same way once you install the new chain.

  • Align the Pins

    Using your chain tool, position the chain across the slotted jaws of the tool and get a pin from the chain to align with the slot.

  • Screw the Pin Extractor

    Next, you need to screw the pin extractor until the mandrel and the chain pin come in contact. The mandrel is the rod-like part of the chain tool. Make sure that they are perfectly aligned and then you can start pushing the pin out.

  • Push the Pin

    Once they are correctly aligned, start turning the handle of the chain tool to push the pin out. Do not push the pin all the way out of the chain. You would have a difficult time getting it back in. Make sure to stop pushing once the pin is hanging out of the side plate. Go slow and check for the slight increase in resistance when the pin is far enough.

    Repeat this on as many pins as needed until you are able to pull the chain apart.

  • Hang the Chain

    Now that you are able to take a chain off a bike, hang the old chain up. You will need it to adjust the size of the new chain. Hang it up horizontally either from a nail or a hanger along with the new chain so you can measure and count the links if they are the right number. Adjust the new chain so that it’s the right length by comparing it to the old chain but make note of the stretching.

    Using your chain tool again, push the pin that is not all the way out back. This is where you will see why it’s important not to push the pin all the way out.

  • Put the New Chain

    Now you can put the new chain on the bike after you take a chain off a bike. Make sure to oil your new chain before using your bike again.

Tools for Taking a Chain Off a Bike

Here are some chain tools that are readily available that you can use to take a chain off a bike. Also, take note of how many speeds your bike has because different chain tools are suitable for different speeds. Some are specially made for single speed bikes.

ATLIN Bicycle Chain Breaker Splitter Tool for 7, 8, 9, 10 and Single Speed Chains

Oumers Universal Bike Chain Tool with Chain Hook

Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute Chain Tool