3 Easy Steps to Change Your Bike Chain Without a Chain Tool

3 Easy Steps to Change Your Bike Chain Without a Chain Tool

As a bike rider, you must have experienced the pain of a broken chain. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re miles away from home. Perhaps, Are you tired of having to go to a bike shop every time your chain needs to be replaced. Well, we have great news for you!

Changing a bike chain can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a chain tool at your disposal. You may think that fixing a chain requires a chain tool, but did you know that you can change your bike chain without a chain tool? In this article, we’ll show you three easy steps to change your bike chain without a chain tool, saving you both time and money.

This article is a comprehensive guide to changing your bike chain quickly and efficiently as possible. So let’s get started.

Importance of a Chain in the Bicycle

First, let’s start with what a bike chain is and why it’s important. A bike chain is a component that transfers power from the pedals to the rear wheel, allowing the bike to move forward. Over time, the chain can become worn out, stretched, or damaged, leading to a decreased efficiency in power transfer and an increased risk of breakage.

Replacing your bike chain on time is necessary to maintain optimal performance and safety. A worn-out chain can also lead to premature wear and tear of other bike components, such as the cassette, chainrings, and derailleur.

Even though you can replace the bike chain at the bike shop at a given time, there are some times when you may need to do it yourself. If you love riding your bike, It becomes an essential maintenance step that every cyclist should be able to do themselves.

Step 1: Prepare for the Chain Replacement

Before you start replacing the chain, you need to prepare the necessary tools. Even though you don’t need a chain tool, you still need a few items to make the process smoother.

Tools needed for the chain replacement:

  • New chain
  • Chain lubricant
  • Two pairs of pliers
  • Spare quick link or master link
  • Rag or old towel

Identifying the Right Chain Size and Type for Your Bike

It’s important to choose the right chain size and type for your bike. The chain size is based on the number of gears on your bike. You can count the number of gears on the cassette and the chainring to determine the chain size. The chain type is determined by the drivetrain system you have. For example, if you have a Shimano drivetrain, you need a Shimano chain.

Removing the Old Chain

Before removing the old chain, shift the gears to the smallest chainring and the smallest cog. This will loosen the chain, making it easier to remove. Use one pair of pliers to hold the chain in place while you use the other pair to push the pin out. Once the pin is out, remove the chain from the bike.

Step 2: Replacing the Chain

Installing the new chain is the most critical step in this process. You need to be careful to ensure that the chain is the right length and that it’s threaded correctly through the derailleur and cassette.

Measuring the chain

The first step is to measure the length of the new chain you will be installing. To do this, you will need to count the number of links in your old chain. If you don’t have the old chain, you can count the number of teeth on your largest chainring and your largest cassette cog. Then, multiply those two numbers and add one. This will give you the number of links you need for the new chain.

Once you have the number of links, you need to break the new chain to the right length.

Breaking the new chain to the right length

To break the new chain to the right length, you will need to use a chain breaker. If you don’t have a chain breaker, you can use a pair of pliers and a hammer. Place a pin on the chain over the edge of a table or workbench, and then hit the pin with a hammer to push it out of the link. Repeat this process until you have removed the correct number of links from the chain.

Installing the new chain

Now that you have the correct length of the new chain, it’s time to install it. 

Start by placing the chain on the smallest chainring and the smallest cog on the cassette. 

Then, thread the chain through the derailleur and around the cassette.

Next, connect the chain. To do this, thread the chain through the rear derailleur and over the top of the cassette. 

Then, connect the ends of the chain using a master link or a connecting pin. Make sure the connection is secure and that the chain is properly tensioned.

Connecting the chain

Finally, you need to connect the chain. To do this, place the chain on the largest chainring and the largest cog on the cassette. Then, shift through all the gears to make sure the chain is properly aligned and the gears are shifting smoothly. Adjust the tension of the chain if necessary.

Step 3: Checking the New Chain

Ensure the Chain is Working Properly

Ensuring the chain is running smoothly is important for the longevity of your drivetrain. The first thing you need to do after installing a new chain is to ensure that it’s running properly. This is important for a number of reasons. 

The first reason is that the chain might slip abruptly while you are riding the bicycle. If this happens, you will lose the balance of the bike and may cause damage to you. In some cases, you may have a severe injury as well.

Another reason is that, if your bike chain is not connected properly, it may damage other parts of the bicycle as well like the chainring or cassette.

Another important reason from the rider’s perspective is that you will be unable to transfer the power from the pedals to the wheels as efficiently. So that’s why you need to check your bike chain regularly and make sure it’s in tip-top shape.

Checking the Chain Tension

Checking the chain tension is the first step in making sure the chain runs smoothly.

A new chain may stretch after the first few rides, so it’s important to re-check the tension regularly.

To do this, push down the chain between the front and rear sprockets. The chain should move approximately 1 inch up and down. If it’s too loose, adjust the tension by moving the rear wheel forward or tightening the quick-release lever. If it’s too tight, loosen the rear wheel or quick-release lever.

Lubricating the new chain

Lubricating the new chain is the final step in ensuring it runs smoothly. Apply a liberal amount of chain lube to the entire chain and let it soak in for a few minutes. Wipe off any excess lube with a clean rag. It’s important to use a specific bike chain lubricant as it’s designed to withstand the high pressure and friction of cycling.

Benefits of Replacing Your Bike Chain Regularly

Replacing your bike chain regularly has many benefits. Firstly, it will improve your bike’s performance. A new chain will ensure that your bike shifts smoothly and efficiently. Secondly, it will prolong the life of your bike’s cassette and chainrings. A worn chain will wear down these parts quickly, resulting in costly repairs.

Finally, replacing your bike chain regularly will improve your safety. A worn chain can break while you are cycling, causing an accident. Therefore, it is essential to replace your bike chain regularly.

Get Started on the Chain Replacement Process

While the chain replacement process may seem daunting, it is essential for the longevity and safety of your bike. By following the steps outlined above, you can easily change your bike chain without a chain tool. We encourage you to get started on the chain replacement process today. Your bike and your safety will thank you.


Changing your bike chain without a chain tool is easier than you might think. By following these 3 easy steps, you’ll be able to change your bike chain quickly and efficiently. Remember to check the chain tension regularly and lubricate the chain after every ride for optimal performance and longevity of your drivetrain.

In conclusion, changing your bike chain without a chain tool is possible with the right knowledge and tools. If you love what we are doing, consider sharing this article with your rider friends. If you have further questions, refer to our FAQs section. Happy cycling!


Can I change my bike chain by myself if I’m not mechanically inclined?

Yes, you can change your bike chain even if you’re not mechanically inclined. It’s a straightforward process, and you just need some basic tools and a new bike chain.

What causes a bike chain to wear out quickly?

Several factors can cause a bike chain to wear out quickly, including:

  • Lack of lubrication
  • Riding in dirty or dusty conditions
  • Using gears that are too high or low for the terrain
  • Riding with a loose chain
  • Riding with a damaged chainring or cassette
  • Infrequent cleaning and maintenance

How do I check the tension of my bike chain?

To check the tension of your bike chain, you can use a chain checker tool or a ruler. Here’s how to do it:

  • Shift your bike into the smallest chainring and the smallest rear cog.
  • Pull the bottom of the chain down and measure the distance between the chain and the center of the chain. The distance should be between 0.5 and 0.75 inches (12 and 19 millimeters).
  • If the distance is too short, the chain is too tight and needs to be loosened. If the distance is too long, the chain is too loose and needs to be tightened.

Can I use vegetable oil to lubricate my bike chain?

It’s not recommended to use vegetable oil to lubricate your bike chain. Vegetable oil can attract dirt and debris, leading to a dirty and noisy chain. Instead, use a dedicated bike chain lubricant, which is designed to repel dirt and reduce friction between the chain and the gears.

What happens if I don’t replace my bike chain on time?

If you don’t replace your bike chain on time, it can lead to decreased performance and safety risks. A worn-out chain can also cause premature wear and tear of other bike components.

How do I know if my bike chain needs to be replaced?

A good way to check if your bike chain needs to be replaced is to use a chain wear indicator tool. If the chain wear indicator shows a wear of 0.5% or more, it’s time to replace the chain.

What are the signs of a worn-out bike chain?

Some signs of a worn-out bike chain include chain skipping, noisy gear changes, and difficulty shifting gears.

Can I use any chain to replace my bike chain?

No, you should use a chain that is compatible with your bike’s drivetrain. Check the specifications of your bike and the chain before making a purchase.

How often should I replace my bike chain?

You should replace your bike chain every 1,000 to 2,000 miles or if it shows signs of wear, such as stretching or rust.

Can a bike chain be repaired?

Yes, a bike chain can be repaired if it has a broken link. You can use a chain tool to remove the broken link and then reconnect the chain with a master link or a connecting pin.

How Long Does it Take to Replace a Bike Chain?

Replacing a bike chain typically takes around 20-30 minutes.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Bike Chain?

The cost of replacing a bike chain can vary depending on the type of chain you choose. A basic chain can cost as little as $10, while a more advanced chain can cost up to $50.

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