How to Shorten a Bicycle Chain

How to Shorten a Bicycle Chain
If you find that your bicycle chain keeps leaping off of your gear clusters or that it's difficult to switch between gears, the problem may be as simple as the length of your bicycle chain. Bicycle chains that are too long can be a constant source of aggravation. But the good news is that they're easy to shorten.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Removing and Shortening a Bicycle Chain

Things You’ll Need:
  • Chain cleaner Rag Flathead screwdriver Pliers Chain tool
  • Chain cleaner
  • Rag
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Chain tool
 
Step 1
To make it easier to remove the chain, mount your bike on a quality bike stand. If you don't have a bike stand or you're doing the work in the field, lean your bike against a sturdy object to keep it from rolling forward or backward. You may want to turn the bike over so that it rests on the top of the handlebars and the seat.
Step 2
If your bicycle chain is dirty or packed with grease, take a moment to clean the chain using a high-quality, biodegradable chain cleaner. It will make it easier to hold the chain and to identify the chain's master link. Turn the pedals so that the master link is midway between the front and rear gears. The master link is identifiable by its unique appearance -- it looks slightly different than the other links and is often a lighter color than the rest of the chain.
Step 3
Using a pair of pliers or the end of a slotted screwdriver, slide the master link until it comes off of the chain and remove the pins. Place the master link in a safe place where it will not get lost.
Step 4
Determine how many links you want to remove from the chain and lay the chain link in a chain tool. Be conservative with the number of links you remove. It's easier to remove more links than it is to add them back onto the chain. Using the chain tool, turn the screw clockwise until it pushes the pins out of the chain link. Save the extra chain links for later repairs.
Step 5
Replace the master link onto the two ends of the chain by sliding it onto the chain. You may need to use a pair of pliers or a screwdriver to slide the master link to its original position.
Step 6
Apply a quality lubricant to the chain.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Eliminate tension from the derailleur by moving it forward, causing slack in the chain. Always clean the chain before you begin to work.
 
Eliminate tension from the derailleur by moving it forward, causing slack in the chain.
 
Always clean the chain before you begin to work.
 
Be careful to store the master link in a safe place while you shorten the chain -- especially if working outdoors. Be conservative when removing the number of links.
 
Be careful to store the master link in a safe place while you shorten the chain -- especially if working outdoors.
 
Be conservative when removing the number of links.

Article Written By Allen Smith

Allen Smith is an award-winning freelance writer living in Vail, Colo. He writes about health, fitness and outdoor sports. Smith has a master's degree in exercise physiology and an exercise specialist certification with the American College of Sports Medicine at San Diego State University.

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