One of the easiest ways to save money on bicycle maintenance is to learn how to install a bicycle chain. Let’s face it; bike mechanics are expensive. So as you’re pulling your old, neglected bicycle out of the garage this season, don’t fret-the chain may be frozen with rust, but you can fix it! If you’re chain is simply worn or falling off, then you may want to take your bicycle to the mechanic as you may also need a new cassette or freewheel.
To install a bicycle chain you will need:
- a new chain (make sure it is the correct chain for your bike)
- chain tool
- wire clothes hangar or bicycle spoke bent at both ends.
- Remove the old chain from the bicycle. Use the chain tool to knock out one of the pins in the links, and it’ll come right off.
- Put the nbew chain on. If your bike doesn’t have gears, just put the new chain on the chain rings with the wheel almost all the way forward in the dropouts and skip to step five. If it does have gears, take out the new chain and, placing it on the two smallest gears, put it through the front derailleur-if you have one, and wind it through the rear derailleur cage-part of the mechanism that changes the gears on the back wheel. The derailleur cage has two cogs in it. Pull the cage down, so that it is perpendicular to the ground, and pass the chain over the right side of the top cog and over the left side of the bottom cog. Now, you can let go of the derailleur cage.
- Grab both ends of the chain and pull them together until the derailleur cage-the part with the two cogs-is parallel to the ground.
- Now, use the bent spoke or piece of hanger, hooking both ends through the chain to hold it in place. The derailleur cage should now remain parallel to the ground without you holding it.
- Find out which links need to be broken for the chain to go together at this length. Use the chain tool to push each pin so that the very end of it will remain in one side of the wide link. It is important that you do not push the pin all the way out, since that pin will have to be pushed through the narrow link you created on the other end of the chain. If you use a master link instead, keep in mind that you will need to make the chain one link shorter to accommodate it, and that both ends will have to have a narrow link. Then skip to step eight.
- Put the narrow link that you left on one end into the wide link that you left on the other end. Use the chain tool to push the pin through both, until just a little more of the pin is sticking out of the side that didn’t have the pin in it before.
- To avoid having a stiff link, flip the chain tool around to the other side of the link. Push that little bit of pin back, so that it sticks out the same amount on both sides.
- If you’re working on a single speed bike, pull the wheel back in the dropouts until the chain is taut. But not so taut that it doesn’t move. If you’re working on a multi-speed bike, you can now remove the piece of hanger or spoke that was holding your chain together. You’re done! Enjoy the new chain.
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