Hot Fix: What To Do About a Broken Bike Chain

Active young bikers with safety gears cycling on urban roadYou hear a snap and your bike wheels stop responding. When you pull over to the side of the road, you see the culprit: the chain, dangling down onto the ground, snapped unceremoniously. A broken bike chain is not the end of the world and does not require a professional to fix. Here is our step-by-step guide to fixing your bike chain, at least for long enough to find a replacement.

What you need: a chainbreaker tool, bike grease, degreaser, water, a chain link if possible, a toothbrush

  1. Take a picture of the broken chain with your phone so you know how your chain attaches to your bike.
  2. Shift the bike into the middle gears in both front and back. Note what gears you are on. If your bike only has one set of gears, you’ll need to have a spare chain link, because the method described in this blog will shorten your chain by one link and the fixed chain will not fit on the single gear.
  3. Remove the chain completely and clean it using degreaser and water. A toothbrush can help you get into the links.
  4. Use your chainbreaker to push the pin out of the broken link. Push it about halfway out – do not push it completely through.
  5. Pull the broken link off the pin and trash it.
  6. Thread the chain back onto the bike, using the pic you took in step one as a guide.
  7. Fit the ends of the chain into one another, lining up the holes.
  8. Use the chainbreaker to push the pin back in, completing the link.
  9. Lubricate the chain with bike grease – do not use any substance that is not made for bike chains (WD-40 is great for many things, but not bike chains).
  10. Your bike should be functional now – avoid using the biggest gears, because your chain is now too short and may break again.

This temporary fix should buy you some time to get a new chain or a new link. Stay tuned for more bike repair articles to come.


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