How to Remove Links From a Bike Chain

How to Remove Links From a Bike Chain
For a simple strand of linking metal pieces, a bicycle chain can cause a lot of headaches. A broken chain, for instance, can mean a long walk back to the trail head. Furthermore, a chain that is too long can result in sloppy shifting. Both of those problems can thankfully be fixed by removing the offending bike chain links.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Chain tool
Step 1
Locate a pin on the first link that you wish to remove. Each chain link has pins on the right and left sides that connect to other links.
Step 2
Correctly place the chain tool on the pin. Place the moving part of the tool, which looks like a screw, on the outside of the link, on the pin. Place the stationary back teeth of the tool on the back of the link.
Step 3
Turn the handle of the chain tool clockwise, putting pressure on the pin. The first few cranks could be stiff. Crank it until the chain tool pops the pin out of the inside of the link, but not all the way out. Lennard Zinn, author of "Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance," and the online resource Bicycling Life recommend that you leave some of the pin in the outside link to ease putting links back together.
Step 4
Move from the link you just broke to the last link you wish to remove, then remove a second pin, again leaving some of it in the outside link. If you only want to remove one link, remove the pins on both sides of the link.
Step 5
Remove the unwanted link or links. If the pins are pushed out far enough, the links should easily come apart.
Step 6
Put the remaining links back together. Align the holes of the link without the pin with the link containing the pin. You will only need one pin to put the chain back together. Using the chain tool, screw the pin back into the link until it's flush with the other side.

Tips & Warnings

If your bike chain has a master link, you can simply release the master link first, then remove links and reconnect the master link, allowing you to remove only one pin instead of two.
Bicycling Life ( recommends that you flip your chain over once the pins are pushed out so that the nearly-removed pins face you rather than the bike, making it easier to put the pins back in. To do this, you'll need to remove the chain from the cogs and the derailleur. You'll also need to put the chain back on, so note how the chain is threaded through the derailleur.
Unless you had extra links to begin with, your bike chain will no longer be capable of shifting to all of the gears once you've removed links, but it will get you home.

Article Written By Shane Farver

Shane Farver is a former newspaper reporter looking to immerse himself in freelance writing. Farver's interests lie particularly in writing about the outdoors and recreation, but he has a solid background of writing about politics, crime, and military issues. Being a former college instructor, he also enjoy writing pedagogical articles.

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