20. How to Loosen a Stiff Chain Link

Stiff chain links cause noise, shifting problems, and even injury. Watch how to fix it by hand!

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Loosen a Stiff Chain Link
DVD Vol. 1 DVD Volume 1
This video is available on DVD

A stiff chain link can cause problems with your shifting, and can even cause injury if it slips while you're pedaling. Here's how to easily diagnose and fix the problem.

Find the Stiff Link

You'll know you have a stiff link if your chain skips every 3 or 4 rotations. If you have several stiff links you'll feel it skip even more often. To find the link, shift down to your smallest rear sprocket and then run the chain backwards through the derailleur by rotating your crank. Keep a close eye on your chain as it rolls over the lower derailleur pulley. When the stiff link passes through you'll see it jump over the pulley. This means the inner and outer plates of one of your chain links are squished together too tight at the pin.

Loosen by Hand

To fix this by hand, simply work the plates loose by twisting the chain up and down the same way it was meant to. Then point the stiff link upward and firmly grab the closest connecting points on either side. Now twist the chain side to side, the way it was not supposed to bend. If all goes well, your stiff link should now be loosened and you can continue riding.

Loosen with a Chain Tool

If this method doesn't work, and the link is still stiff, you'll have to use a chain tool to fix it. Place the stiff link into the chain tool, on the slots closest to the turning handle. Now thread the chain tool's pin gently against the chain pin about 1/8th of a turn, or just enough to slightly loosen the chain plates. That should loosen it enough.

If you still have problems, the chain may actually be bent and need replacing.


Related Links

Discuss this topic in the Chain Forums

09/18 Ultegra 6800 cassette

Does anyone know if Ultegra 6800 cassette will work on Dura Ace 9000 group? If not do you know if Shimano has fixed the issues they had with the 9000 cassettes?

Thanks...

09/14 Chain rides up on sprocket teeth

I removed and replaced the cassette on my bike (making no changes).  Now I find that when the wheel is under load the chain climbs up on the teeth of the smallest sprocket (see photo).[Image: dpy7uc.jpg]
Everything works fine with the other gears or when the wheel spins freely.  This seems to be the *opposite* effect I'd expect if the chain had stretched or the gear teeth were worn.  Instead, the pitch of the chain seems too short, not too long.  Can anyone explain what's happening and how I can fix it?... Read more >>

09/13 Chain wheel broke somehow off

Hi all. i am new here and generally also pretty new to doing anything with my bicycle myself.

I was driving my bicycle today and suddenly noticed that the rear chain ring got completely detached
from the hub and was just free rotating. I never before had a closer look at how it looks like, so I have no idea, what exactly got broken. Now it looks like that:

[img][Imag...					<a href=

08/11 Does anyone know which Tool?

Hi All

Does anyone know the correct tool for this freewheel removal. The Park FR2 is too small.
The freewheel comes from a 1980s Raleigh Record. I've tried two local bike shops with no joy.

It has a Maillard stamp.

Thanks and Regards

[Image: HVfglP.jpg]...

07/27 Getting to the freewheel bearings?

How do I get from this
[Image: DSC05597.jpg]
[Image: freewheel_hub.jpg]


[Image: 275653337.jpg]

The first picture is the model I have sachs LY 94. 8 speed 12-21.  I have the freewheel and cassette off the wheel like in the ... Read more >>

07/19 Chain is loose when not pedaling

Hi, this is my first post to the forum! I have an old Focus MTB, bought it just recently second hand and I am also new to biking so please excuse me for being naive.
The problem started after the first miles with the bicycle, hearing a noise from the back. It was getting louder and louder very quickly and now, when I am pedaling everything is normal but when I stop and keep the pedals still, while on the road, the chain turns really loose and even goes out of the ring. This happens all the time. Tried with some lube and also tried to see if there is an obvious problem with the chain b... Read more >>

07/15 DIY Freewheel Remover for SOLEUS

Removing SOLEUS freewheel DIY without a remover, garage style tip for everyone...

[Image: image1.JPG?dl=0]

I was trying to clean and grease my wheel bearings, looks like removing the free wheel is a must do type of thing on my bike. I found that a regular old school Chevy GM craiger style lug nut fit in there perfectly. I think its ... Read more >>

07/14 FSA Tempo, 34/50

I have. 2015 Defy 5. It has a FSA Tempo, 34/50 crankset.
Is this compatible with the Shimano 5800 group set? I currently have this setup with my Defy 5. She shifts a little rough on the front dérailleur. I guess what I am wondering is if I need to upgrade the crankset to the 5800? The bike came with a Claris setup. What I do not know is if there is an issue with 'spacing'. My current setup has 5800 shifters, FD, RD, chain and cassette (16 tooth removed and no indexing issues).... Read more >>

07/14 Replacement for RM40-7 hub and cassette

I'm new to bike repair. I use an old bike to ride around my neighborhood with my kids so I'm not a serious rider. My bike has a Shimano FH-RM40 7-speed hub and cassette. It's been difficult finding direct replacements for those components. Is there anything else that will fit without having to change out the entire wheel? I don't mind upgrading if the cost isn't too high. What are my options?

Thanks......

06/25 SunRun vs Shimano vs Epoch Freewheels

I need some advice. I bought a used, "as-is", 2015 Fuji Nevada 1.9 Mountain Bike with 3 x 7 gears from a LBS. I ride it a lot, 10-20 miles 3-7 times a week. The spin-on freewheel was a factory issued SunRun 14-34 and it literally fell apart in 2 months. (Yes, SunRun, not Sunrace) I purchased and replaced the old SunRun with a new SunRun 14-34 and after 3 weeks it is wobbling. I had another LBS check it out, they are scratching their heads. I am wanting a better quality freewheel than the Fuji factory issue of the P.O.S. SunRun Brand. The Shimano Tourney 14-34 makes sense but is there a better ... Read more >>

06/23 chain one link too short

The chain on my exercise bike became too long over time and started "slipping".  So I took the chain off and took off one section (2 links - a female and male) and replaced the pin to complete the repair.  Now the chain is too short to put back on the bike - what I needed was a way to make it one link shorter (not one section=2 links).  Is there now a way to make the chain just one link longer?  Some sort of male to female single extension link? Thanks.... Read more >>

04/26 Rattle help!

Complete carbon fiber (frame) road bike less than one year old - 105  10 speed.  Built it myself and it has been fantastic up to now.  About a month ago I started getting a loud rattling noise everytime a rode over slightly rough ground (chip and seal). on smooth road it is silent.  It is obviously coming from the rear part of the drive.  I always ride on the big ring on the 4th cog from the top - flatland.  Here's what I have checked :  Chain is a good length but I have tried two links shorter and two links longer.  Tried a brand new chain. checked that all bolts are tight, pulleys, ... Read more >>

04/07 How do I open this cassette?

I have a new project on my hands and am trying to service a cassette of a bike I recently purchase second-hand. The bike I have is a MTB- Shockwave XT950. Can you please let me know how to open this cassette. I have tried various videos however I am unable to find a video for a similar cassette.

Hx...

04/06 Chain comes off the rear small sprocket on back peddling?

The chain comes off my rear small sprocket on back peddling. The bike rides good other wise.
I have noticed other riders on the side of the road with the same problem. Without a wheel wrench it is quite hard to free up and put back onto the gear cluster. What causes this malfunction?... Read more >>

03/13 12" rule for chain wear?

Being new to this hobby I ran across the 12" rule for chain wear. You pull the chain tight, right on the bike, measure 12 links, the distance between 25 pins, and if it measures 12" the chain is like new. If it measures 12 1/8" you throw the chain away and replace it.
 Something new to check out now. i imagine a worn chain causes shifting problems as well as drive train inefficiency. Do others here you use this method for determining chain wear??... Read more >>

New Thread
How to Loosen a Stiff Chain Link
Repair Guide / Help Forums

Free Email Updates: