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How to Remove Bike Chain Without Master Link?

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to emove bike chain without master link

Changing the bike chain is one of the major maintenance activities that you would have to do as a bike owner. There will come a time when your bike chain stretches out and becomes rusty, and the only solution is removing and changing it.

With the use of a master link, removing the chain is easy. With minor tools needed and in just a few tweaks, you can attach your new bike chain. However, if the bike lacks the master link, will the job still be as easy as it should be?

Of course, it is still possible. With easy to follow steps including preparing your bike, disengaging brakes and derailleur gear, using a chain tool, and rotating it counterclockwise removing the bike chain link is viable. To find the answer for the question “How to remove bike chain without master link?”, read this guide that we have prepared just for you.

Understanding a Bike Chain Master Link


A master link is a vital part of your bike chain that easily disconnects when breaking the chain. It is a removable link that can readily be distinguished from the rest of the chain.

The master link stands out because it does not have the same color as the entire chain link. It is also shinier compared to the other links. You will instantly notice the master link, especially when you closely examine the chain.

With this important part, you can remove the chain by twisting the link off with pliers. By pressing and twisting, the master link will instantly pop out allowing you to separate the rest of the chain. It makes the job so much easier and faster, without the need of consulting a bike mechanic as well.

However, without it, will the work still be the same?

Of course, the process of breaking the bike chain will not be as easy as it can be. It will take you some time to break the chain, but even without the master link, removing your bike chain is feasible. You just have to follow these quick and effective steps:

  • Clean and prepare your bike and bike chain (Pro tip: use a chain degreaser oil)
  • Disengage brakes and derailleur gear (This gives this chain more slack, which makes chain removal easier)
  • Get a chain tool and insert the pin on one of the chain links (Pro tip: use an excellent and reliable chain tool)
  • Continue pushing the chain tool clockwise into the link
  • Pull the chain tool pin out of the link
  • Wiggle the link to pull the chain apart
  • Remove the chain from the bike

Gathering your supplies

Knowing the process

  • Cleaning and Preparation

Of course, the key to any successful repair and maintenance activity is cleaning and preparation. In this step, you will start by gathering the tools you need for removing the bike chain. You can use a chain tool or chain breaker to help you get the chain off your bike.

With this special tool, you can push out a rivet from your bike and start breaking the chain. Once you have all the tools that you need, you are ready to clean the chain of your bike.

You need to clean all the dust and oil build-up in the bike chain using a cloth or grease removal substance. In this way, your bike chain is easy to handle and can be removed. Then, you can mount or hang your bike to give you a proper angle and position when removing the bike chain.

  • Disengage brakes and derailleur gear

For you to easily remove the chain, you have to open the brake and disengage your bike derailleur gear. These two hold the bike chain unto the frame. Hence, if they are strongly attached to the bike chain, the job will be more challenging.

To do this, select the smallest combination of the ‘sprockets’ and move the pedals while waiting for the chain to loosen up. Once you are certain that the chain is disengaged, you can proceed to more critical steps.

Get a chain tool and insert the pin on one of the chain links

As we have mentioned, a chain tool or chain breaker is a very important device to help you remove the entire bike chain. A chain tool must have two prongs on it that can easily fit around a chain link.

In this step, you need to insert the pin on one of the links into the chain tool. In doing this, slide the link between the two chain tool prongs and ensure that the prongs fit in the gaps on both sides of the link. Then, use the chain tool to push the pin out of the bike chain rollers.

To understand this clearly, you need to know the anatomy of a bike chain. Your bike chain is composed of the following:

  • Outer plates
  • Inner plates
  • Rollers
  • Pins

Among these, we will be dealing more with pins and chain rollers. These two will enable the bike chain to come apart and will greatly deal with the chain tool.

Continue Pushing the Chain Tool Clockwise Into the Link


Once the chain tool prongs are securely in place in between the link, you can turn the handle on the chain tool in a clockwise direction to push the pin further into the link. Continue to do this until you are certain that the pin made contact with the center of the chain link.

During a continuous rotation, you will notice that the rivet is being pushed away from the link. It is an indication that the chain link is ready to be broken up.

(Pro tip: In this step, you need to make sure that the pin does not come all the way out of the link. It will be difficult for you to put the link back together in the process)

Pull the chain tool pin out the link continuously

Pulling the chain tool pin out of the link is one of the easiest steps. You just need to rotate the handle counterclockwise until the handle stops turning. Then, you can lift the chain tool out of your bike chain.

After this, you are ready to proceed to the last two steps.

Wiggle the link to pull the chain apart

Now that you have already undergone the critical steps, these few steps are the simplest. In order to remove the bike chain and pull the link apart, you just need to wiggle and shake the chain link. The link will easily separate indicating that the chain is being broken up.

Remove the chain from the bike

After one of the links has been separated from the entire chain, you can take the chain off the sprockets and completely remove the whole chain. Following this, you are ready to change your bike chain with a new one.

You can also check out this video for help!


Hopefully, after going through our detailed instructions, you are now more confident in repairing and maintaining your bike. We hope that you did not find the steps complicated and that we delivered them in a clear and effective manner. With this guide, we also hope that you did not find removing your bike chain even without a master link next to impossible.

If you have something in mind, we love to hear your thoughts. So, do not hesitate to comment below for additional insights and suggestions. Also, if you find this article helpful, you are very much welcome to like and share.

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