How to Shorten a Bike Chain

How to Shorten a Bike Chain
If your bicycle is sluggish while changing gears, the problem may not be your derailleur. It could be something as simple as your bicycle chain. Bicycle chains age with wear and can even stretch over time. Instead of replacing the chain, try shortening it by removing a link using these simple instructions.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Removing and Shortening the Chain

Things You’ll Need:
  • Flathead screwdriver Pair of pliers Chain tool Adjustable wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Pair of pliers
  • Chain tool
  • Adjustable wrench
 
Step 1
Turn your bicycle over so that it's resting on the top of the handlebars and the top of the seat.
Step 2
Loosen the skewer or nut that secures the rear wheel to the bicycle frame. Remove the wheel from the frame by pulling back on the rear derailleur.
Step 3
Look for the adjustable link on the chain. The adjustable link is easily distinguishable by its unique shape; it looks different from all the others. Most have one open end.
Step 4
Remove the adjustable link by placing the end of a flathead screwdriver into the closed end of the retaining clip. Use your hand or a hammer to tap the adjustable link free from the chain.
Step 5
Place a chain link into a chain tool and line up the plunger with the part of the chain that looks like a small axle. Turn the handle on the chain tool clockwise until the link is free from the rest of the chain. Be careful not to remove too many links. Start with one, removing others only if necessary.

Replacing the Shortened Chain

Step 1
Put both ends of the chain together and slide the removable link shafts into each end of the chain. Slip the retaining clip onto the ends of the removable chain axles and secure by either tapping the end of the link with a hammer or by squeezing it onto the chain using a pair of pliers.
Step 2
Pull back on the rear derailleur and slide the rear wheel onto the bicycle frame.
Step 3
Secure the rear axle of the wheel by pressing down on the quick release skewer or by tightening the nut on the end of the axle using an adjustable wrench. Turn the nut clockwise.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Clean your bicycle chain before you begin. Work in a well-lit garage or workshop. Wear latex gloves to protect your hands from grease.
 
Clean your bicycle chain before you begin.
 
Work in a well-lit garage or workshop.
 
Wear latex gloves to protect your hands from grease.
 
Do not throw away extra links; you may need them later. Avoid removing too many links at one time.
 
Do not throw away extra links; you may need them later.
 
Avoid removing too many links at one time.

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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