How to change a bicycle chain: expert steps and tips

change a bicycle chain

Bicycle chains need a special care over the whole, as a careful care of the bicycle chain is crucial for their lifespan. But even if you were always concerned about a good care of the bicycle chain , you will eventually have to change a bicycle chain because of wear. 

When to change a bicycle chain

How do you know that you have to change a chain? The wear of a bicycle chain makes itself felt that the bicycle chain is getting longer. If you can lift the bike chain on the largest chainring about 3 millimeters, the chain is already worn. This wear is caused by abrasion inside the individual chain links. The result is that the distances between the links are also larger and the chain is thus longer. A lack of cleaning the drive can accelerate this wear, because oil and sand, especially in the fast rotary motion like a grinding paste on the chainrings , the cassette and ultimately also affects the bicycle chain. You can not say exactly after how many kilometers you have to change a bicycle chain. As already mentioned, the care provided alone already makes a lot of. 

But another factor is the external circumstances that affected the bicycle chain. A city ​​bike that was driven purely in the city on good, paved roads and at best mostly in good weather, requires a chain change only after about 5,000 km. In a mountain bike , mainly in the outdoor as in the forest and dirt roads and for driving through Mud and used in the rain, you may have to change the chain after 2,000 km. But you also have to change the bicycle chain if it is rusty or too dirty. We want to explain what is needed here.

The following tools are required:

  • Chain
    • Compatible with all chains up to 11x : Shimano TL-CN28
    • Middle class: Lezyne Chain Drive
    • Entry-level class: Mighty Kettenlieter
  • Some chain lubricant
    • Brunox Top-Kett
    • Dynamic Chain Lubricant 2K (test winner)
    • Dynamic F-040
    • For the winter and wet conditions: Dynamic chain oil
  • Matching replacement chain
    • For 6/7/8 shifters we recommend Shimano CN-HG40
    • at 9-fold: Shimano CN-HG53
    • at 10-speed amd 11-speed: Shimano CN-HG54 (MTB) / Shimano CN-6700 (road bike)

Step 1: Remove the bicycle chain

First, we recommend that you remove the chain guard, if any, before removing the chain. Thereby nothing stands in the way of the work and makes the work considerably easier.

The easiest way to expand the bicycle chain, if the bicycle chain has a chain lock . It is a special link in the chain that allows the chain to open.

Otherwise you have to open the chain via a chain tool . With a chain tool, you can loosen a bolt on any link in the chain and the bicycle chain can be opened. If you throw away the bicycle chain anyway, you can calmly push the entire bolt out. Otherwise push out the bolt with the chain rivet only so far that it still sits in the rear outer lug. Newer 9x , 10x and 11x chains require special rivet pins to close the chain smoothly.

Step 2: Reassemble the bicycle chain

  • If you have only cleaned the old bicycle chain completely and want to mount this bicycle chain again, then turn the bicycle chain. The side that was previously on top should now rest down on the chainring. 
  • Close the bicycle chain exactly as you opened it. Either by means of chain lock or over a chain riveter. 
  • Especially with a new bicycle chain, it is important that the bicycle chain is not too long . They may need to remove some links.
  • Once the bicycle chain is closed again, bring the chain on the front of the largest chainring and on the back of the largest pinion. 
  • Do not forget that you are going in the right gear. The position of the rear derailleur (the two small gears through which the chain runs behind) tells you if the chain is too long. 
  • Push the lower gear forward until the upper gear is at the same angle as the hour hand at half past ten. Tighten the chain and determine the number of chain links that are too much. 
  • With a chain tool you can now remove these links. However, always leave one end of the chain with a bolt in the outer strap so that you can easily close the chains again. 
  • Once the bolt is outside, It’s hard to get him back in. When pushing in the bolt, please make sure that the bolt protrudes equally far on both sides of the chain link. Newer chains (9x to 11x) require special rivet pins for resealing. Pushing in the old bolt would irreparably destroy the bicycle chain (at least the affected chain links).

Tip: If you mount a bicycle chain and you work with a chain tool, it can happen that the respective link gets stiff. Do not be afraid to bend and twist this member back and forth with a lot of strength, so that you can loosen the member again.

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