Biketoworkday is supported by its audience. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

How to Break a Bike Chain? – 4 Easy Methods to Try

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to break a bike chain

Mountain bike and other two-wheelers are a lot of fun to ride. However, chains do go bad, and it’s common for the part that connects them together to separate.

Attempting to break a chain may be difficult at first, but it is not impossible, especially if you know the proper steps.

If you do not want to spend much time looking for the answer, then follow our steps on how to break a bike chain down below.

Different Ways to Break a Chain

Before proceeding, you must identify whether your chain is without master link or not.

There are at least 3 different types of chain: regular, master or quick-release link, and split link. Each type has a different method for how to remove a bike chain.

Method #1: Using Chain Removal Tool For Regular Links


What to prepare

  • Chain
  • Chain Tool

Step # 1: Secure the chain in the chain tool

Place your chain in the middle of the cradle of your bike chain breaker with the rivet aligned directly across the extracting pin. This way, you can push out the rivet easily.

Read more: How to use a chain tool to break a chain.

Step # 2: Push out the rivet

Gently turn the push bolt or extractor bolt until it reaches the chain pin. Once you start turning your bolt, you should see the rivet sliding off as you continue rotating.

If you wish to reconnect your chain later on, we suggest that you do not remove the rivet entirely; just leave enough area so that the master link can still be removed while keeping the rivet attached.

  • Pro Tip: Do not break roller chain via the special connecting rivet. This rivet usually has a special color and an indication such as ‘connecting rivets.’ Choose a link a few segments away from this component to break your chain.

Step #3: Clean Up

Once you are done breaking the chain, you can retract the push bolt and tidy up your place. Whether you are going to use the chain eventually or store it for safekeeping, lubricate your chain to prevent rusting and damage.

Method #2: Using Pliers (For chains with a master link only)


What to prepare

  • Chain
  • Pliers

Step #1: Locate the Master Link of your bike chain

For those who don’t know, a master link — also known as a quick-release link — gives you the ability to attach or detach a chain without a chain breaker.

To determine if you have this chain type, look for a unique-looking link that is a tad bit wider than the others and has one of the side holes elongated or oblong in shape.

Step #2: Position your pliers

With pliers or special quick link pliers, position their tips on the chain so that the master link is enclosed between the two jaws of the pliers. The jaws should be nestled on each side of the master link and between the gaps of the chain.

Step #3: Split A Bike Chain Quick Link

Apply a good amount of force to the pliers. Once done, you should hear a popping sound that indicates your master link has been unlocked. Carefully remove your pliers, and your chain should have been successfully broken.

  • Pro Tip: Some master link chains are for single use only. Always prepare some spare bike chain master link just in case you might need them.

Can I do this for split links?

If you are using a split link chain, you can use needle-nose pliers as a bicycle chain breaker.

Simply position your plier jaws so that one jaw rests on the pin while the other is on the locking faceplate. The locking plate should slide off easily once force is applied on the pliers.

Then, you are free to remove the chain.

Method #3: Using Bolts Cutters


What to prepare

  • Chain
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Marker

Step #1: Adjust your bolt cutter’s tension

To avoid applying too much force and literally breaking the chain, adjust your cutter’s setting to its minimum level.

Check your manufacturer’s manual on how to properly alter the tightness of your bolt cutter.

Step #2: Locate and mark the part you want to cut

This method, unlike the first two above, will literally break your chain and possibly damage the link you’ll cut beyond recovery.

You should mark the spot where you want to break a chain link before proceeding with the cutting step to avoid potential confusion and mistakes.

Step #3: Use your bolt cutters

Bring your chain breaker tool close to the marked spot until the jaws are touching the chain. Grip the handles firmly so they won’t slide off during the process.

Apply a great force until the blades are closed and the chain is cut. Remember that some people cannot do this in one take, especially if they haven’t tried it before.

If your chain is not yet broken, feel free to reposition your bolt cutter at the same exact spot and apply force until you have successfully cut your chain.

Method #4: Using a makeshift chain tool

You can also break a chain even without tool made specifically for breaking it.

What to prepare

  • Chain
  • Screwdriver, nail, or any strong thin stick
  • Hammer or any blunt object
  • Socket or any objects with a hollow middle area

Step #1: Position your chain to your socket

Place your chain on top of the socket. Set it down in a way where the chain is laid face down and the rivet is sitting on top of the hollow area. This setup will make it easier for the rivet to pop out later.

Step #2: Remove the rivet

With your hands, put your screwdriver or any durable stick on top of your rivet. When choosing your tool, check and confirm that its tip is the same or at least smaller than the diameter of your rivet.

Then, drive down the screwdriver with a hammer to push the chain rivet off. You can apply mild continuous force if you don’t want to fully remove the rivet. Otherwise, take a nice swing until this component is detached.

Why Break Bicycle Chain?


When your chain starts to wear, you must break chains and repair or replace them, so they last longer. Proper maintenance will also prevent chain malfunction when you are riding, which can lead to road accidents.

People also break motorcycle chain for the same reason.


A bike chain tool kit is a must-have for cyclists that are always up and running.

But whether you have a chain splitter tool or not, just follow our methods on how to break a bike chain, and you’ll be able to get your bicycle running in just a few minutes!

5/5 - (2 votes)