How To Remove A Bike Chain


An important part of the bike’s drivetrain, the chain wears out as the rider puts miles on it. When you start hearing rattling or noisy sounds from the chain or you start experiencing poor gear shifting, replacing the bike chain might be a good idea. 

If you are a novice rider, removing bike chains can be quite challenging. Understandably, removing bike chains is not the easiest task. However, with the right instructions on how to remove a bike chain, it should be doable at home. 

A Step by Step Guide on How to Remove A Bike Chain

The correct procedure for removing a chain from a mountain bike depends on the type of chain it has. There are 3 main types of chains – regular link chains, split link chains, and master link chains.

If you are not sure of the type of chain on your touring bike, checking all the links might help. If the links are all identical, your road bike has a regular link chain. If one of the links is different from the rest, your chain might have a split link or master link. Below, we have the instructions for the 3 types of chains. 

How to Remove Regular Link Chains 

  • Get A Chain Tool 

This is a small, handheld tool featuring a rotating handle and a metal pin that pushes rivets out of the chain link so that it comes apart. It is possible to find a chain tool at the local bike maintenance shop.

  • Insert One of the Chain Links into Your Chain Tool 

The chain tool will come with two prongs on it that fit around one of the chain links. Simply slide the chain link in between the 2 prongs so that it is held in place securely. The prongs will fit in the gaps on either side of your chain link. 

Parts of a bike chain include the rivets, rollers, inner plates, and outer plates. You will use the chain tool to push the rivet out of its rollers. Avoid inserting your chain tool on other parts of your chain as it can damage it – only insert it on the rivets. 

  • Turn the Chain Tool’s Handle Clockwise 

First, ensure that the metal pin on your chain tool is in contact with the chain-link rivet. Next, turn its handle clockwise to push the metal pin into the chain link. You might feel some resistance, however, be sure to check to confirm that your chain tool has not slipped off the rivet. 

As you are rotating your chain tool handle, the rivet in the center of the bike chain should be pushed out on the other side. Stop rotating your handle when the rivet is almost completely out of the link.

It is worth noting that the chain tool can slide so that it is not directly over the chain-link rivet. Continuing to push – a common mistake made by people learning how to remove a bike chain – you can damage the chain by deforming its outer link. 

  • Pull Your Chain Tool Pin Out of the Link 

After pushing the rivet out of the chain link, turn the chain tool handle counterclockwise – this will pull it out of the chain link. Stop turning the handle once lifting the bike chain out of your chain tool becomes possible. 

  • Wiggle the Link to Pull the Chain Apart 

Since the rivet is almost pushed out of the chain link, the link should separate easily. Grab the commuter bike chain on each side with your fingers and then wiggle it back and forth, until the chain’s link comes apart. Once the chain separates, you can lift it off the college bike.

How to Remove Master Link Chains 

  • Locate the Master Link on Your Chain 

When removing bike chains featuring master links, you will have to locate the master link first. Master links are easy to find because they look different. Look for a link featuring different coloring on its side, or a link featuring pins that are different from the rest. 

  • Squeeze Master Link Together Using the Master Link Pliers 

Designed to fit in the grooves present on a bike chain link, master link pliers are an ideal tool for anyone learning how to remove a bike chain. Position your pliers so that its two jaws are lying on the sides of your master link – the master link should be positioned between the plier’s jaws. 

When your master link is in position, simply squeeze on the plier’s handles to close the jaws. This should push the master link together. 

  • Release the Pliers 

Once you release the pliers, pull its jaws out from the master link’s sides. The master link should come apart. 

Carefully, pull the chain off the sprockets on your hardtail mountain bike. Now that the master link is already separated, the chain should come off easily and quickly. 

How to Remove Split Link Chains 

  • Locate the Split Link 

When removing bike chains featuring the split link, your first goal should be to locate the special link. The split link will look different – look for a link featuring a metal side plate that is cut out in its middle. 

  • Use Needle Nose Pliers to Release the Split Link 

Place one plier jaw on the right side of your split link’s left rivet. Position its other jaw on the left edge of the metal plate featuring a cut-out center. 

Gently squeeze the plier’s handle so that the jaws come together. As the jaws come together, you will hear a click and also see the metal plate shifting to the right. 

When trying to release the metal plate, avoid using too much force, as you may trigger its spring-loaded clip, making it shoot out and off your bike. If this happens, and you need to reuse the chain, you may have to replace the spring-loaded clip. 

  • Remove the Metal Plate from the Link 

After releasing it with your pliers, sliding the metal plate off the rivets in the link should be easy. If you are having issues, use the pliers to help you slide it off. Set this metal plate somewhere safe – this will help you avoid losing it. 

  • Take Off the Second Metal Plate 

To separate the chain, you will need to take off the second metal plate on the chain link’s front. This will be the solid plate that was just below the plate you removed in step 3 above. 

Simply use your fingers to slide the metal plate off the rivets present on the split link. Place this plate with the other metal plate to avoid losing it. Once the second plate is off, the bike chain should split apart. Simply pull it off the sprocket, lift it, and pull it away from your bike’s drivetrain. 

Installing a Bike Chain 

Chances are, you wanted to know how to remove a bike chain so that you can replace it before getting on the bikepacking trail. Follow the steps below to replace the bike chain and get on your biking trip

1. Check the Length 

Before placing a new chain on your bike, you must check to make sure it is the same length as the one you have just removed – lay the new chain next to the old chain and doublecheck by counting the links. 

In most cases, a new chain out of a box will be too long for the drivetrain. If the chain is longer, you can shorten it by removing a couple of links using the chain tool.

2. Thread the Chain on the Pulley Wheels 

Before connecting the chain, you will have to thread it through the pulley wheels, chainring, and the rear derailleur. When doing this, take all the necessary precautions to ensure everything is done correctly. 

3. Connect the Chain 

As noted earlier, chains feature 3 different connections. Here is how to work with them when reconnecting the beginner mountain bike chain: 

  • Using a Chain Pin – If the chain has a regular chain link, use your chain tool to reconnect the chain. Use the chain pin that came with the new chain.
  • Using a master link – When using the master link, you will need to insert half of your master link onto each end of your chain. Next, pull the ends together, assemble your master link, and then use a master link tool to snap your link in place. 
  • Using a split link – When using a split link, you will need to use the links 2 metal plates to reattach your chain. 



Q: How Do You Take Off A Bike Chain Without the Tool?


With the following steps, removing a chain from your bike without a chain tool should be possible: 

  1. Position your bike chain so it is bridged across 2 solid supports – for example, 2 wrenches or wood blocks. 
  2. Take a punch tool and place it over one of the rivets on your chain. 
  3. Use a hammer to push the rivet out, separating the link. 
  4. Now you can take the chain off the budget road bike

Q: Do All Bike Chains Have A Master Link?


Not all bikes have a master link. The master link is, however, pretty common with modern, multispeed bicycles. Some chains will have a regular chain link while others come with a split chain link.

Q: How Do You Shorten A Bike Chain Without A Chain Tool?


To shorten a chain without a chain tool, you will need a punch tool and a hammer. Place the chain in a way that it is bridged across 2 good supports – these can be strong blocks of wood or wrenches. Place your punch tool over one of the rivets on your chain. Use the hammer to push the rivet out and remove the part of the chain you do not need. Next, simply reconnect the chain on the kid’s bike.

Q: How Do I Remove A Master Link Without A Tool?


To remove the master link without a tool, you will simply need a pair of needle-nose pliers. Press the nubs through the other side of the master link to remove it fully and open up the chain. 

Q:  How Do I Remove A Master Link?


To remove the master link, you will need to use special master link pliers. Position these pliers so that its 2 jaws are on the sides of the master link – the master link will be between the jaws. Next, squeeze the plier’s handles to push the master link together. Finally, release the plier’s handles, and pull the jaws from the master link’s sides. The master link should come apart.

Globo Surf Overview 

Removing bike chains is not very complicated. With the right tools and instructions, you should be able to remove a chain from any bike in just a few minutes. In this article, we have shown you how to remove a bike chain, irrespective of the type of link on it. To repair any serious drivetrain issues, always consider working with a professional bike mechanic.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!