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How to Fix a Broken Bike Chain Without Losing Your Mind

Writen by Gary Johnson

Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to fix a broken bike chain

Bicycle chains can fail and break for many reasons, but having to fix a bike chain is the opposite of fun and games.

Before, your first option may be to go straight to the nearest shop to repair or replace your chain. But this method can be costly, especially if your ride needs maintenance frequently.

If you have been cycling for a while now, it is time you pick up a skill or two.

Let us teach you how to fix a broken bike chain by yourself and save money at the same time.

How to Do a Bike Chain Repair

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When a bicycle chain break, it is best to inspect the problem first, so you can fix it properly.

Listed below are different ways to repair chains by yourself. These methods can be applied to fix mountain bike chain and also regular bicycle chains.

1. How To Repair Tight Chain

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What you will need:

Step #1: Try to lube your chain

Before you start and fix broken chain, wipe off any dirt and grime attached to it with a clean rag.

Then, apply the lubricant slowly on each chain link. Go for a waterproof formula, especially if you ride in rainy weather frequently.

Don’t put too much lube on the chain to prevent wastage, and remove any excess product afterwards.

If lubing doesn’t loosen up your chain, proceed to the next steps.

Tip
  • Choose a bicycle lube that is compatible with gears so you can also use it to lube your cogs and cassette.
  • NEVER use engine or motor oil. This highly viscous lube contains particles that can impact your chain and wear it quickly.
  • Using motorcycle chain lube is also not recommended as it can attract more dirt and lead to corrosion.

Step #2: Loosen the tight chain

Locate the stiff link – which can be seen by backpedaling – and grasp the tight link in between your hands. Hold the chain and flex it sideways to loosen the stiffness.

Alternatively, you can use a chain tool with two cradles to fix a chain on a bike. Place the tight link inside the slot closest to the tool handle, and make ⅛ of a turn.

Step #3: Check the chain

Move the chain up and down until you feel that the motion is smoother than before.

Repeat the process until the chain doesn’t unnaturally pause at cogs whenever you backpedal.

2. Fix A Broken Chain Link With Master Link

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What you will need:

  • Chain tool or Multi-tool with a Chain breaker attachment
  • Spare Master Link Plates

Step #1: Locate and remove the damaged link

Look for a plate or plates with noticeable damage or a bent shape.

Using a chain tool, remove the rivet of the plates to take off the damaged master link plates.

Step #2: Reattach bike chain using a new master link

Replace your removed plates with new ones and reconnect them with your bike chain too. Make sure that the plates follow the correct direction where the chain travels.

Step #3: Snap the master link plate in place

Pedal your bike and place the newly attached master link on the upper row of the chain. Press the rear brake as if you were pausing on a bike, and push the pedal slightly at the same time. At this point, you have a functioning chain again.

The advantage of always carrying a spare master link in case your bike chain is damaged is that you can still have the same length of the chain, allowing you to use your gears on the trail back home.

3. Reusing A Rivet

fix-a-chain-on-a-bike

What you will need:

  • Chain tool or Multi-tool with a Chain breaker attachment

Step #1: Remove the broken segment

Each chain segment has an outer link, inner link, rollers, pins/rivets, and a bushing. A segment is held in place by a metal rivet, which is the cylindrical shaft located at both ends of a master link.

You must push these pins out using your chain tool to remove the flawed segment.

We suggest you do not push out the rivet thoroughly to make the next step easier to do.

Step #2: Reconnect your chain

Reunite the ends of the bicycle chain and push back the rivet using your chain tool. Make sure that you tighten and secure the rivet in place so it would look the same as the other attached rivets.

This method is only a quick fix, and it is not recommended to be left alone, especially if you use gears.

Tip

In case you have to do this as an emergency measure, make sure to avoid shifting gears to the highest setting to avoid damaging your chain and cogs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Can You Fix A Snapped Bike Chain?

The answer is maybe. Depending on the damage, you may be able to save your bike chain.

If your bike chain snapped while you were on the road, do not panic and stop at a safe place first. Inspect the snapped area to see if you can still use your bike chain or not.

If the rest of your chain is still functional, you can use a master link (if you have a spare) or reuse your rivet following the methods above. These are not permanent fixes, but they should enable you to go home safely.

On the other hand, if the damage is severe, you may have to replace your chain with a brand-new one. If there is a nearby bike shop, you can also buy the materials to fix your bike or have the professionals fix it.

How To Fix A Broken Chain Without The Tool

If you don’t have a bike chain tool or any multi-purpose tool, you may want to look for a small flat stick to push the rivet out. Then, remove any damaged chain segment in order to replace it.

A screwdriver or needle nose pliers should do the trick in removing the master link plates.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Broken Bike Chain?

For a DIY chain repair, you have to pay for the chain cost, which may be around $17- $35, and a chain tool (if you don’t have one), which costs $10 – $50. The price may vary depending on the quality and brand.

For professional work, a repair can range from $40 to $60 as people will charge both labor and materials costs.

Can you break a chain and put it back together?

Yes, you can. With the right set of tools, you can break the master links and put them back together or even fix a slipped bike chain in the process.

But remember, you will have to secure the rivet and each segment properly to avoid damage and possible accidents when you ride your bicycle.

Conclusion

A faulty bike necklace that keeps falling off on the road is certainly a downer.

A lot of novice cyclists don’t realize this, but repairing bicycle chains is the most cost-efficient and handy skill that you need to have.

Don’t be that guy who doesn’t know how to fix a broken bike chain!

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