How To: Replace a bicycle chain

Understanding these basic concepts could save you a long walk home

How To Parts
A chain tool should be in every cyclist's tool box.

A chain tool should be in every cyclist’s tool box.

Whether you bust it on the road or trail, or if it simply wears out and needs to be replaced, knowing how to change a chain is an important skill every cyclist should have. In this video the gang from the Global Cycling Network walks us through the process of replacing your old chain with a new one, including the critical step of determining proper chain length. These same basic concepts are applicable when fixing a broken chain as well. Have a look.

About the author: RoadBikeReview is an online community of cyclists who share a passion for the sport. Visitors of the site regularly purchase gear to upgrade their bikes, share inspiring photos of rides, and keep up to date with the latest industry and technology news. Which products perform best? Where to buy them? Where to ride? How to ride better? Cyclists come to for the answers.

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  • William Bush says:

    Unfortunately your video on “how to replace a chain” contains an important safety error. Please see Shimano chain installation instructions at:
    Note the conspicuous graphics shown on the instructions labeled “Correct” and “Incorrect”. Your video demonstrates the method Shimano designates as “Incorrect”. The point is that the force on the link pin should always be exerted by the inside/narrow part of the link. I gather that the opposite installation (the one you’ve shown) my be more prone to breaking at the link pin under heavy loads.

    • Robert Grover says:

      I don’t think the pin insertion is incorrect in the video. Shimano instructions say to insert the pin in the “leading hole, outer link,” which is what we see in the video. What’s confusing is that Shimano’s instructions show the direction of chain travel as right to left, although assuming you’re working from the drive side of your bike, the direction of chain travel is left to right. Why Shimano’s diagram is reversed is the mystery, unless I’m somehow reading it totally bass ackwards.

  • William Bush says:

    Hey Robert,
    Good discussion. My take is that the “leading hole in the direction of travel” is the hole that comes by first. If I’m thinking correctly, facing the drive side, with the chain rings to your right and the back sprockets to your left the bottom, of the chain travels from right to left as shown in Shimano’s instructions. The video shows using the “trailing” hole (again trailing in the direction of travel – from right to left) of the outer link. I don’t think the Shimano diagram is reversed – logic would say we should be pulling on the center of the pin (with the inner link) and not on the outside edges (with the outer link).

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