You are probably familiar with chain pin pliers and chain breakers—staple tools to repair or replace chains. While these are without a doubt convenient, there will be times when you have to improvise to have your bike up and running.
If going to a repair shop is inconvenient and out of budget, there are plenty of other methods for a simple bike chain repair.
Some of them can even be done without professional tools. How to fix a broken bike chain without bike tool? Read on as we try to detail all the simple fixes even beginners can perform about.
Table of Contents
- What You Will Need for This Tutorial?
- The Bike Chain and Its Importance
- How to Repair a Broken Chain Without Special Tools
What You Will Need for This Tutorial?
- Pliers—Any will do as long as they can get a good grip. Needle-nose pliers are recommended
- A hammer, or blunt object that can withstand a beating
- A thin nail, or anything that can hit the chain pins without getting stuck on the plates
- A smaller nut, piece of wood, or anything that has a hole for the pin to pass through
The Bike Chain and Its Importance
Bikes have been around for quite some time, and their simple yet efficient technology remains one of the most incredible feats of transport engineering to this day. They can turn as much as 90% of the energy we exert in pedaling to kinetic energy, so they are perfect for those exercising and reducing their carbon footprint.
To achieve this however, we must not forget that the chain is integral, especially when you are on the trail. Without it, you could work up quite a sweat spinning the cranks but not get anywhere. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, making sure your bike chain is up to the task is of utmost importance.
How to Repair a Broken Chain Without Special Tools
Master links are innovative components engineered by bike chain manufacturers to increase the ease of chain maintenance for those who neither have special tools, nor time and money to go to repair shops for every misgivings.
If your bike chain has a master link, it is best to start by locating that. If you are a beginner, the “master link” connects two ends of the chain, and is easily spotted because it looks different from other links.
Carefully turn your pedal backward to rotate the chain and inspect each link until you locate it. Do not worry if you can’t find it; some chains do not have a master link. If that is the case, you may skip this step.
Now that you have located the master link, bear in mind that there are usually two pieces with their individual pin or rivet latching on the other part. The place where they clasp together has a wider than usual spot where a pin can go in between.
You can pull to lock the pins in the other area of the slot. Since both parts of the master or main link are similar, both pins will snap into place even with them being on different sides.
Disconnecting the master link without special tools can be tricky. To do this, you can use any substitute to master link pliers as long as it can reach in between the chainplates and pull or squeeze both links until they disconnect.
Check which way the link needs to go in order to be severed, then angle the pliers so you catch only the plates on each side of the master link. Get a good grip and squeeze them until they sever.
As for reconnecting the master link, this can easily be done without any tools. Connect the main or master link on the top side of the drivetrain while the chain is sitting on the chainrings as well as the cassette.
Put the master link in place and connect it completely. Hold the brakes and step on the pedal until the tension created snaps the master link in place.
- Step 1. To take off chain link without breaker tools, put the rivet directly above the hole in a nut or wood piece.
- Step 2. Find a position where you can pull the chain to a flat and sturdy surface, such as the ground.
- Step 3. Pull the chain off the chainrings and cassette.
- Step 4. Place a nail or any similar tool to push the pin out directly on the chain pin. Be careful not to damage the outer chainplate.
- Step 5. Conveniently tap the pin until it exits on the other edge. Do not push it completely and have it remain connected with the outer plate on the opposite side.
- Step 6. Once you have pushed it far enough, wiggle it and remove the bike chain
For the link to properly work again, the chain pin must be in a precise position. Doing this with a hammer can be quite tricky as it is not particularly designed for precision. Fortunately, if you push the pin too far, you can always push it back from the other side until you have achieved the ideal position.
However, modern chains have flush pins that cannot be reused. Flush pins are pins that have a hole in the middle of their ends. Once it is pushed out, a small ring on one of its ends breaks and the chainplate cannot be held anymore. Chains that are reattached this way easily break.
In this case, disconnect it using the aforementioned method, but remove both chain plates between the link you severed and the one next to it. To connect it back, replace it with a master link.
6. To repair or replace bike chain without tools
- Step 1. Pay attention to the direction of the chain to properly place it.
- Step 2. Route back the chain. It must go on the right side of the upper pulley sprocket and the lower pulley’s left side.
- Step 3. Prepare something to hold both chain ends together as the rear derailleur will cause tension on the chain while you attach or connect them. An old spoke cut about 7 inches in length and bent like hooks on its ends will do.
- Step 4. Insert the hooks to hold the chain and connect them carefully.
Specifically designed bike repair equipment are indeed convenient, but there will be unexpected times where you need to repair or replace your bike chain without special tools.
If this article about how to fix a broken bike chain without bike tool has in any way equipped you for these circumstances, let us know in the comments below.
“I ride my bike to work for years, but is that enough? Our carelessness towards our surroundings has taken a toll on the environment. And now, everyone is responsible for changes; even the most minor contribution is counted. With this hope and spirit, I started with my partner to establish Biketoworkday to help more individuals commute to their work sites on their bikes.”