How To Shorten A Bike Chain?

Mountain biking has grown in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons with one of those reasons is that mountain biking keeps people fit and healthy plus its outdoors. At some stage, there will be issues with the chain whether it is too long and needs to be shortened. Wondering how to shorten a bike chain?

Firstly the problem with a bike chain that is too long is that the chain will keep slipping off. Also, this will affect changing the gears as the dérailleur does not have enough capacity to pick up the extra length of the chain as it is too loose.

In this post, we will go through how to shorten a bike chain. Let’s get started!

Read more on common questions asked

What Happens If Bike Chain is Too Long?

If your bike chain is too long it will cause the chain to constantly slip off as well as when changing gears the derailleur can’t pick up the extra chain length. While on the other hand if the chain is too short it can bind and do a lot of damage if you shift into a chainring and cog.

There are a number of reasons why your chain might be loose. These are as follows.

  • Got a new chain and it’s the wrong size.
  • Your crank tooth needs to be replaced.
  • Your front and rear derailleur are not properly aligned.
  • The chainring, derailleur, or the chainring are damaged.
bike chain
Patrick Hendry Bike Chain

Tools and Materials Required

There are a couple of tools and materials needed to tighten your bike chain. These are as follows.

Other tools you may need for further bike maintenance.

Alley Keys

  • 11-Piece Set (0.05" to 1/4")

  • 2.24 ounces Item Weight

  • Product Dimensions
    6 x 4 x 1 inches

Bike Stand

  • Light, strong and portable 

  • 360 degree head rotation and quick release

  • Quick release height adjustable from 1 m (39") to 1.5 m (59").

WD-40 For Bike Chain 

  • Apply this lubricant to your bike chain for high-performing lubrication for dry, wet, or varying conditions.

 Bike Crank Extractor

  • Fit for any brand type bottom bracket.

  • Bike Bottom Bracket Remover can be used with either a 24mm socket, wrench or an adjustable spanner

Cassette Removal Tool

  • This Kit comes with a chain whip, upgrade freewheel/lockring remover wrench and and auxiliary wrench.

Bike Repair Kit

  • 17 Piece bike repair kit 

  • All the tools needed for bike maintence.

How To Shorten A Bike Chain?

Before you start to shorten your bike chain you need to check if you need to replace your chain completely. And make sure that there no damage to your bike chain or any of the derailleurs.

Let’s get started shorten a bike chain.

Getting Setup

  • Starting off you need to place your bike on a bike stand as this will make sure that it does not move. You need to verify that it is the correct length should be.
  • Alternatively, if you do not have a bike stand you can flip your bike upside down on its saddle and handlebars. You can put a cloth on the ground to protect the saddle and handlebars.
Master Link
Criggie Master Link

Locate The Master Link And Center Between Gears

  • The master link is relatively easy to spot as it looks different than the other links. It is usually slightly darker than the other links on the chain. Not all chains have a master link.
  • You will need a chain tool to break the chain if it is the case your chain does not have a master link.
  • Now you need to move the chain by the pedals until the master link is between the front and back gears.

Open The Master Link And Shortening The Chain

  • Now you can open the master link and slide it off. If the case is your chain does not use a master link, use the chain tool with any link on the chain. You need to decide on how many links you need to remove.
  • It is safer to take off too few links at first than to take off too many. Once you have decided on the number of links to remove. You can push the pins out by using the chain tool by slowly turning the handle clockwise.

Reassembling The Chain

  • Now you need to place the master link onto both ends of the chain. And now push the 2 links together until you feel the pins click into place.
  • For the chains with no master link, you need to reattach the chains together with the chain tool. Using the chain tool turn the handle counterclockwise till you feel the pins click into place.
bike inspections
Chain Inspection

Finish Up

  • Finally, apply lubricant to the chain. This that everything is working. If the testing results are negative, don’t hesitate to repeat the previous steps until you have been the chain working properly.
  • Double-check that your chain is working properly before you go out biking.

How To Prevent Chain From Becoming Loose?

Naturally, overtime bike chains will lengthen over time as they wear down. The one problem with worn bike chains is that they will wear out the cogs in the front and rear cassette. To help to extend the life span on the chain, the following tips will help.

  • Check that the chain is not clogged with dirt and grime and if so clean the chain.
  • Ensure that the chain is well lubricated.
  • Regularly check the front and rear derailleur.

Wrapping Up

Finally, the problem with a bike chain that is too long is that the chain will keep slipping off. This is one of the signs is you may need to shorten your chain if it keeps slipping off. Plus this will affect changing the gears cause the dérailleur does not have enough capacity to pick up the slack with the chain been too long loose.

And that’s it for now! I’d love it if this post on how to shorten a bike chain was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Shorten A Bike Chain

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