This section is for on-trail or temporary repair of a broken chain. In
general, we recommend replacing your damaged chain with a new one as soon as
possible. Test the chain for wear described in the Chain
Care section. It's also possible that the force that broke your chain has
twisted another link, or has splayed the outer side plates near the break. (Only
a matter of time until it breaks again, usually at the worst moment...) To
install a new chain, see the section on installing a new chain.
Inspect the broken chain. Usually, the link right at the break is warped
and should be removed. Plan to "break the chain" where you'll have outer side plates on one
end, and an inner side plate link facing it.
Using a chain-breaking tool, push the pin
out of the bushing. Check the position of the pin frequently. Stop turning when the pin is
just on the edge of the bushing, before it begins to move through the outer side plate.
(This is about 6 complete turns of the chain tool.) Now back the chain tool out of the
Removing the damaged link.
||Wiggling the chain slightly side-to-side, extract the end of the chain
containing the inner side plates, roller, and bushing from the outer side plates. The pin
should still have a whisker of shaft visible on the inner side of the outer side plate.
Position of the pin after removal of link.
||Now route the chain. To keep tension at a minimum, lay the chain on the
bottom bracket at the front (just off the small chain ring to the inside), and route it
over the smallest cog at the rear (move the derailleur over so it matches). Pass the chain
on TOP of, then in FRONT of the upper pulley, then straight down to the bottom pulley. The
chain passes BEHIND the bottom pulley, then forward UNDER it. (Remember FOUR sides of TWO
pulleys.) If you have a chain retaining tool, hook it to the chain to keep the tension
off. Otherwise, have someone hold the chain in position for you.
the chain through the pulleys.
||Align the chain end with the inner side plates so it fits inside the end
containing the pin and outer side plates. Using the chain tool, push the pin inward until
it's evenly spaced within the outer side plates.
pin into the joint.
||The newly joined link will be stiff. Work the repaired link up and down,
and slightly side-to-side until it bends freely.
If you had to remove a damaged link for the repair, the shorter chain
may not allow you to use "extreme" gearing combinations, such as
your big chainring plus your biggest cog. (You shouldn't be using this
chain to remove stiffness.
|Tip #1: Retaining Clip
It's much easier to to fix the chain with a "retaining
clip." This is piece of springy wire that holds the ends of the chain
while you work with it.
The clip in the picture is just a piece of a wire clothes hanger, bent
to shape. I keep this in my toolbox.
|With the clip in place, you're free to work on the chain
without the tugging of the spring on the idler pulley of the rear
|And once you've split the chain, it remains in place, instead
of falling around the chainrings or through the rear derailleur.
This makes it easy to put the chain back together.
||Tip #2: Quick Link
Many of us carry a connecting link. This link joins two inner plates
together with less stiffness (you'll still need a chain tool to remove the old outer side
plates). You need to have the right size (7-speed and 8-speed rear cogs use
the same size chain, but a 9-speed uses a thinner chain).
It's dirt cheap, and makes it easy to take the chain apart again.
Another option: A "Quick Link" connects the chain
after removal of damaged outer link.
|To insert the quick-link, replace the side plates (the two
metal parts of the wider link) with the two halves of the quick-link.
After pushing the pins through, so they're visible sticking through the
hole, pull hard on the chain. As the link lengthens, the pins snap into
place in the narrower end of the hole.
To remove a quick-link from your chain, squeeze inward on the link -- push
the side plates towards each other. Then while holding that inward
squeeze, compress the chain lengthwise so the end of the pin slides back
into the larger side of the oblong hole. You can then pull the link apart.
|Tip #3: Breakaway Pin
Connecting pins are available that have a tapered guide. You insert the
guide into the link, then use the chain tool to push the pin into
position. Then you break off the guide by twisting it with a plier. This
gives a solid repair, and may allow you to make a repair without losing
length. (Shove the old pin out at the break, then reassemble with the
breakaway pin.) If you're buying a set of pins, be sure to order the
correct size -- 8-speed (same as 7-speed) vs. 9-speed.
|After the repair: Make plans to get a new chain
soon. A repaired chain may have subtle damage that can wear your
chainrings. Or it may break again at an inconvenient time.
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