How to Take a Chain Off a Bike Without a Tool

A specialized bike chain removal tool is designed to make it easy for you to remove the chain from your bike and do any maintenance necessary. However, it is still possible to remove the chain from your bike with supplies you likely have at your house.

If your chain is rattling and noisy or you experience poor shifting on your bike, it may be time to replace the chain. (Image: Piotr Wytrazek/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

If your chain is rattling and noisy or you experience poor shifting on your bike, it may be time to replace the chain. You can use a needle nose pliers to remove the master link on your chain or a hammer if there is no master link.

Bike Chain Removal

Eventually, your bike chain will stretch out or become rusted and you will need to remove it. Signs that you need to remove and replace your chain include poor shifting and a noisy chain. While a bike chain removal tool is designed specifically for this purpose, it is possible to remove the chain from your bike without any specialized tools. You will need other tools such as needle nose pliers and a hammer to remove the chain.

Some bike chains have a master link. This is a removable link that is not fused like the others. If your chain has a master link, remove the link by twisting it off with a pair of needle nose pliers. Press the nubs through to the other side to fully remove the link. You may need to use a hammer or wrench to tap the link so that it pops out allowing the chain to separate.

If your bike does not have a chain with a master link, the process is slightly more difficult. Position the bike chain so that it is bridged across two solid supports such as blocks of wood or two wrenches. Take a punch tool and place it over one of the rivets in the chain. Use a hammer to push the rivet out and separate the chain to remove it. This method can also be used to shorten a new chain if necessary.

Tip

If you are an avid cycler and plan to do your bicycle maintenance yourself, invest in a bike chain removal tool to make this process easier and faster. Consider carrying it with you as part of a simple repair kit along with a basic first aid kit when you ride, advises the State of Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Maintaining Your Bike Chain

If you regularly ride your bike, the chain may be covered with dirt and grime from the roads and trails. Depending on the climate where you live, the chain may even begin to rust or get dry making shifting speeds challenging and wearing out the chain, notes the University of Kansas.

Keep your bike chain clean and oiled so that it lasts longer and makes for a safer and smoother ride. To clean your bike chain, flip your bike upside down so that it rests on its handlebars. Use a rag to wipe all of the excess grime from your chain. You may need to use a degreaser if your chain is especially dirty, advises Texas A&M University. Select a thin lubricant designed for bikes and spray the entire chain. Wipe off any excess lubricant.

Tip

If you aren't sure what type of lubricant or degreaser to use, consult your local bike shop. They will help you select the best option for your needs.

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