How to Shorten a Bike Chain Without a Chain Tool?

Cycling is one of the most enjoyable hobbies one can have. Not only will it help you stay healthy, but it can also take you places you’ve never been. However, since it’s a fun and exciting activity, it requires technical skill for endurance cycling. That is, you must determine if your bike’s wheels are running well, the chain is not loose, and the gear changes are smooth. Of course, one of the problems you face is the bicycle chain problem. The chains are often worn and loose. You are also required to shorten the chain so that your bike can deliver great performance. Therefore, we will give you this guide on how to shorten a bicycle chain without a chain tool. It consists of removing the chain, shortening the chain, and assembling the chain anew.

Know the process

How-do-you-remove-a-chain-link-without-a-toolBefore you proceed with the step-by-step process, it is important to gather all the things you need for this tutorial. These are the following:

  • Bicycle rack
  • Chain cleaning machine
  • hammer
  • Pliers
  • Thin nails
  • Lubricant

Then you’re ready to shorten your bike chain without a chain tool. Shortening a bicycle chain without a chain tool is a complicated process. This is one of the most tedious repair operations you will ever need to do to your bike. You will have to go through three main steps to be able to shorten the bike chain properly, including removing the bike chain, shortening the chain, and re-installing the chain. These steps are divided into sub-steps including:Remove string

  • Determine if the bike chain needs replacing
  • Position the bike on the rack
  • Chain cleaning
  • Locating the main link
  • Rotate the pedal
  • Open the main link

Shorten the string

  • Measure the number of broken links
  • Next link clamp
  • Push the latch
  • Repeat the process to remove additional links
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Reassemble the line

  • Place the main link on both sides of the chain
  • Reconnect the chain
  • Loosen the chain
  • Apply high quality lubricant or oil
  • Final check of your bike

Step by step process

How-can-I-make-my-bike-chain-shorterRemove string

  • Know if your bike needs a replacement

The purpose of shortening your bike chain is to ensure that the bike runs optimally. Most of the time, you’ll be checking your chain to see if it needs replacing. You should count the links from the first pin to the last, you must make sure that the distance between the pins corresponds to 12 inches. If it’s longer than 12 inches, it’s time to replace your bike chain or shorten the chain. If you count the links correctly, you can simply loosen the rear wheel by pulling it backwards. Doing this can quickly fix your string problems.

  • Position the bike on the bike rack

Once you determine that the leash needs to be shortened, then you must prep your bike by mounting it in the bike rack. If you don’t need a bike rack, you can lean your bike upside down against a wall. This will give you a better view of the bike chain. You can use a high-quality chain cleaner that can help remove grease and lubricant from the chain. You can then dry knock the chain, if needed. Now that you have a cleaner bike chain, you should be able to easily identify the main link. The main link allows you to disassemble the chain easily. The link looks different from the rest of the chain link, it can be darker or lighter so you can locate it immediately.

  • Turn the pedal and open the master link
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Once you’re sure you’ve identified the correct master link, you can rotate the pedal until you can access the master link. If your bike lacks a main link, you can choose any link where you can break the chain and eventually shorten it. To shorten the bike chain, you need to open the main link first. It will give you access to the rest of the chain links that you want to remove.Shorten the string

  • Determine the number of links to remove

Now that you have access to the rest of the chain links, you should now determine how many links you want to make. You must be careful when performing this step, as this will greatly depend on the vehicle’s speed afterwards. The link does not have a chain tool, you need an alternative tool such as a hammer, pliers or thin nail. They will assist you to push the latch easily. You can position the chain on the socket and hit it with a hammer. Then you can now pass all the pegs through the openings.

  • Repeat the process until you have removed the links to be removed

After pushing the first pin, you can now repeat the process for the other pins. Remember, you just need to put the pin in the socket and hit it with a nail and hammer. Remove the link one by one until you reach the desired chain length.Reassemble the line

  • Link the end of the chain together with a master link

Identify both ends of the chain where you can put the main link back. In this step, you have to get a screwdriver to push the links together. You’ll hear a clicking sound once you’ve placed the master link at both ends of the chain. Make sure you reconnect the thread. Then, keep the chain stable by using a screwdriver to push more pressure to the main path.

  • Reattach the chain to the bike
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After you have connected the ends, you can now put the entire chain back on the bike. Make sure that the chain is not too tight to avoid discomfort while riding. If the chain feels too tight, you need to loosen it a bit, after the chain is completely in the car, you can oil and lubricate to increase smoothness and operation. Using a lubricant can prolong the life of the chain and improve its performance. You must not underestimate this important step as it makes gear changes easier.


Shortening a bicycle chain without a chain tool is a lengthy and complex process. You need to follow the steps thoroughly to improve your bike’s performance. A chain tool can make this process easier, but you can use alternatives like pliers, a hammer, and a thin nail. You have to keep in mind the three main steps – remove, shorten, and reassemble. Then, follow each sub-step properly to get your chain back to optimal performance. So don’t hesitate to comment below for more insights and suggestions. Also, if you found this article useful, please like and share.

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Posts “How to Shorten a Bike Chain Without a Chain Tool?” posted by on 2021-08-14 00:25:52. Thank you for reading the article at

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