39. How to Use a Chain Tool To Break a Chain
How a chain tool works, and how to use it to disconnect and reconnect your bike chain.
This week we’ll learn how to break a chain using a chain tool. I’ll cover the quick release method next week.
The first thing to do is check to make sure your chain does not already have a quick release link. Do this by turning your pedals backwards and carefully watching every chain link as it goes by. A quick release link will stand out as they look different from all of the others. If you find one, you can refer to next week’s tutorial for removal and installation instructions.
If you can’t find a quick release link, then your chain probably doesn’t have one. This has traditionally been the most common type of chain, and it requires a chain tool for both removal and installation. Beside this video you’ll find a few links where you can order a good quality one.
Turn the handle of your chain tool counter-clockwise until the pin has backed off enough so you can place one of your chain links on the outermost slot, furthest from the handle. There are two places on chain tools where you can place a chain. The outer slot is for disconnecting and re-connecting the chain, while the inner slot is for loosening chain links.
Now tighten the handle clockwise until the chain tool’s pin connects with the end of your chain pin. Continue tightening the handle and you’ll see the chain pin get pushed into the link and start coming out the other side. The tricky part here is to push the chain pin far enough so that it is gets about halfway through the first of the two outer chain plates. If the chain pin gets pushed all the way out of the chain there is really no way to get it back in, and you’ll be forced to shorten or replace your chain.
One way to prevent this is to pay careful attention to how easy the handle turns as you push the pin through. When you get close to the end, you’ll feel resistance and the handle will become a slight bit harder to turn. As soon as you feel this, stop tightening the handle, and then give it another half a turn. This is usually the perfect spot to disconnect the chain. When you take the chain tool off, you’ll notice the chain is still barely held together, but can be easily disconnected by twisting and pulling the chain.
Notice how a tiny bit of the pin is still poking out of the inner side of the outermost plate. This is perfect, as it will help us re-install the chain. Twist and push the links back together until the chain pin clicks back into the inner link, once again holding the chain together.
Now back off the chain tool’s handle and place the chain back onto the same outer slot of the chain tool. This time position it so the protruding chain pin faces inward toward the chain tool’s pin. Now tighten the handle until the tool pin starts pushing the chain pin back through the link. Continue tightening until a tiny bit of the link pokes through the other side. Now take a look at both sides of the link… the chain pin should stick out roughly the same amount on either side.
The process of re-connecting the chain caused the chain links to compress together, making a stiff link. To fix this, we use the inner slot on the chain tool. Back off the chain tool all of the way so that you can place the freshly connected link into the inner slot. Now tighten the chain tool’s pin until it connects with the chain pin and tighten it just barely, about a quarter of a turn. This usually loosens the chain link plates enough. Remove the chain from the tool and check to make sure the link is loose. If it’s still tight, try loosening it with the chain tool another quarter of a turn.
First post here. I've tried searching, but I don't know what you call this.
I have a vintage Schwinn Passage that I picked up a few months ago. At first it worked well, but recently it's been giving me trouble.
When I shift, the chain pops into the higher (larger) gear, but then sits on top of the chain ring. What ends up happening is that the chainring will keep turning, and eventually the chain will pop into place or pop right off.
<... Read more >>
Over the past few years, I have noticed that basically all the bikes I have owned/sold/ridden have all had chains that do not have a quick release. So, when I need to replace them, I have to get a punch and a hammer to take the chain off. Does anyone know the meaning of this? It has been bugging me for quite some time now because it can take quite a while to punch out one of the pins. Plus, then sometimes the chain is ruined.
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Have an old Sears tote cycle that I'm fixing up. Looks like it was a two or three speed but has no cable or shifter on it. Coaster brake arm has Torpedo Dreigang on it. I'm wanting to get it back to working again.Know nothing about this. I have built motorcycles so I know my way around two wheels. Trying to find out how to hook up a new cable and lever to the rear hub.... Read more >>
Hi, new to the forum, need some tech advice:
1) is it normal for the teeth on the same chainring to have different profiles - some are pointed and others shorter and squarer. This is a new Triple LASCO I am looking at in a shop.
2) How do I know if any new chainset I buy, will match my existing spindle? The chainset I have currently fitted is an SR SUNTOUR ZR 120, does that mean the square hole is 12mm?
Zak... Read more >>
Brand Brand new to the Forum!
I have a Giant Iguana 640 Bike that has been under the house for a couple of years. Used to ride it quite a bit then life kicked in. Just got re-enthused about riding and decided to break out my bike. I cleaned it up and got the cobwebs off.
I am having a problem and have no idea where to start to diagnose it. Everything looks good but if you pedal, the pedals turn but the the rear sprocket does not engage. I can pedal and pedal but I go nowhere. There is no grinding or unusual sounds.
I would appreciate any advise or guidanc... Read more >>
I am currently running a thread on derailleurs regarding 7 speed blocks. However, another bump has appeared in my road - scarcity of 7 speed chains.
I really wanted Schramm, but can't find one, but Competitviecyclist have just told me that the Shimano 9 speed chain is compatible with 7 speed. I am sceptical so I decided to canvas you guys. Can anyone confirm this? Thanks... Read more >>
My current set up is a standard 2011 Merida Ride 91:
Frame Ride Speed-Single
Fork Road CF-S
Front Derailleur Shimano Sora 34.9 Double
Rear Derailleur Shimano Sora SS
Shifters Shimano Sora
Brake Levers attached
Brakes F/R Shimano Sora
Crankset Shimano Sora 50-34
BB Set attached
Chain Shimano CN-HG53
Hubs F/R Shimano 2200
Rims Alex Race24-White-NC
Freewheel Shimano CS-HG50-9 11-25
Spokes Black stainless
Tyres Maxxis Detonator 25 60
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Please could anyone advise on some issues that I currently have with my MTB drive chain.
I recently replaced my complete drive chain and all was looking good with the fine tuning until I used my MTB today and the problems started.
The issues that seem to be occurring is that the cassette changes with no problems but some of the gears do not seem to operate correctly.
IE they keep popping back off the cassette gears before re-latching and again pop back off the gears. During this the chain seems to be riding on the edge of the gears.
I have an 8-speed mtb (Saracen Raw3) with a cassette sprocket. When I pedal forwards the sprocket free-wheels which means the bike doesn't go anywhere. If I get hold of the sprockets I can turn it both anti-clockwise and clockwise
I changed the cassette about 3 months ago but the bearings haven't been changed or greased since I bought it (2007) (maybe the problem?)
I can ride the bike for a short time before it happens - after a few moments the sprocket will grip again and then stop again and so on...
I've tried bringing the wheel insi... Read more >>
Is there a possibility for a 4th and even larger chainring. in additon to a normal 3 ring setup... Read more >>
Have a pristine '85 Fuji Allegro w/ 12spd gears. Can this bike be converted
to a 18spd by changing the front cog from 2 to 3 gears? Or would the conversion cost more than the bike was worth?
Front cogs=42,52 w/ 170mm chain
Rear spindle= 14,16,19,22,26,30
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Bought a '13 Giant Yukon GT and have in my head that a 10-speed cassette won't fit on this puppy. Read it somewhere but can't remember where. Thinking it said only up to 9-speed will fit this hub. Can anybody enlighten me before I order a new cassette, rear derailer and shifter.... Read more >>
I repair old bikes and donate them to a food pantry. I run into small openings in the cassettes smaller than 20cm. Are there lockring tools that are for sale that I can purchase to remove these older cassettes.
Pete Labita... Read more >>
I have a Mongoose XR-75 that is in very nice shape...except for the FRONT 3-sprocket set (chainwheels?). Some teeth are worn out on the two largest sprockets. Chain looks good. I have replacements (from another bike-same model), and I am ready to swap them out.
While I am a pretty good (auto) mechanic, I haven't done this particular job before, and I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. It appears that the sprockets are held on with hex screws. Right? Looks like a fairly easy process...but is it? Is there a tutorial here at the site that covers this bike?
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Is there a crankset out there that will allow a less than 32 tooth 2nd chainring to be fitted. Any ideas? Thanks. Giant Yukon FX. Has a SR Suntour XCT V2 on it now.... Read more >>