How to Put a Bicycle Chain Back On? A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever been on a leisurely bike ride when suddenly your bicycle chain comes off? It can be frustrating and leave you wondering how to fix it.

Learn the easy steps on how to put a bicycle chain back on with our helpful guide. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a novice this guide will help you get your bike back in action.

Assess the Situation

The first step is to assess the situation. Stop your bike in a safe place and examine the chain. Look for any damaged or twisted links.

If the chain is severely damaged it may need to be replaced. If it’s just off the gears proceed with the following steps.

Gather Your Tools

Before you begin make sure you have the necessary tools.

Tools Needed


The tools you will need

  • Chain Tool: This tool is used to remove damaged or broken links from your bicycle chain. If you have a damaged section of the chain that can’t be fixed you can use the chain tool to take out that part and reconnect the chain.
  • Pliers: Pliers are handy for handling the chain, especially when you need to guide it back onto the gears. They provide a good grip and help you maneuver the chain more easily.
  • Gloves: Gloves are essential to protect your hands while working on the chain. They shield your skin from getting dirty with grease and also guard against any sharp edges on the chain that could cause cuts or scrapes.
  • Rag: A rag is simply a piece of cloth that you can use to wipe off any excess grease. When you’re working on the chain, there might be some grease that gets on your hands or the bike frame. A rag helps keep things clean.
  • Allen Wrench: If your bicycle has a derailleur an Allen wrench may be necessary. The derailleur is a component that helps shift the chain between different gears. Sometimes you might need to adjust its position to ensure the chain runs smoothly through it. The Allen wrench is the tool for this job.

Put on Your Safety Gear

Gloves work yellow dirty

This means that before you start working on your bicycle chain you should wear protective clothing or accessories to keep yourself safe.

In this case it specifically mentions putting on gloves which are like special hand coverings. The reason for wearing gloves is to protect your hands from two things.

  • Grease: When you touch the bicycle chain your hands can get dirty with a thick oily substance called grease. Grease can be messy and hard to wash off so wearing gloves prevents your hands from getting dirty.
  • Potential Cuts: The chain on a bicycle has many small, metal parts that can be sharp. If you accidentally touch or handle the chain roughly, you might get small cuts or scratches on your hands. Gloves act as a barrier, keeping your hands safe from these sharp edges.

Position Your Bike

Position Your Bike

This means arranging your bicycle in a specific way before you start fixing the chain issue. Here’s what it entails.

  • Place your bike on a stable surface: Find a flat and steady area where you can put your bicycle. It’s important that the ground is level and won’t wobble or move around while you’re working. This stability ensures your safety and makes the repair process easier.
  • Ideally with the drive-side facing up: When you’re looking at your bike from the side, you’ll notice that one side has gears and a chain (this is called the drive-side) and the other side doesn’t. The advice here is to position your bike with the side that has gears and the chain facing upward. This makes it simpler to access the chain, inspect it, and make necessary adjustments or repairs.

Chain Tensioner

Chain Tensioner

Most modern bikes have a chain tensioner that keeps the chain tight. Locate it and release the tension by moving it away from the chain.

Thread the bike Chain

Thread the bike Chain

Now, it’s time to put the chain back on the gears. Start by placing the chain on the smallest front gear and the smallest rear gear. This will create slack in the chain, making it easier to thread.

Use Your Hands

Carefully use your hands to guide the chain onto the gears. Ensure that each link engages with the teeth of the gears. Move the pedals slowly to help thread the chain smoothly.

Check for Proper Alignment

Check for Proper bike chain Alignment

This step involves making sure that the bicycle chain is correctly positioned on the gears and is running smoothly. Here’s what it means:

  • Once the chain is on the gears: After you’ve successfully placed the chain back onto the gears in the previous step you need to verify that it’s in the right position.
  • Check for proper alignment: To do this, carefully observe the chain as you turn the pedals. The chain should move smoothly without any problems. Specifically, it should not be twisted or have any kinks (bends or curves) in it.
  • It should run smoothly without any kinks or twists: This means that as you pedal the chain should flow smoothly along the gears without any interruptions or irregularities. It should maintain a straight and even path.
  • If you notice any issues stop and assess the alignment: If you see any problems, such as the chain getting caught or not moving correctly you should stop and carefully examine the chain’s position. Make sure it’s properly seated on the gears and that there are no tangles twists or misalignments.

Reconnect the Chain

Reconnect the bike Chain

If you had to remove any damaged links now is the time to reconnect the chain using your chain tool. Make sure it’s securely fastened.

Adjust the Derailleur

Adjust the bike Derailleur

This step is specific to bicycles that have a component called a derailleur. A derailleur is a part of the bike’s gear system that helps move the chain from one gear to another.

  • If your bike has a derailleur: First you need to check if your bicycle is equipped with a derailleur. Not all bikes have one. You can usually find the derailleur near the rear wheel and it’s responsible for shifting the chain between different gears.
  • Use the Allen wrench to adjust it if necessary: To ensure that the chain moves smoothly through the derailleur you may need to make adjustments. An Allen wrench is a tool that can help you do this. Depending on the bike and the specific issue, you might need to tighten or loosen certain bolts on the derailleur to align it correctly.
  • The chain should run smoothly through the derailleur without rubbing or skipping: After making adjustments, you should check that the chain moves through the derailleur without any problems. It should transition from one gear to another smoothly, without making any grinding or skipping noises. A well-adjusted derailleur ensures that your bike’s gears work correctly and that you can change them effortlessly.

Test Your Gears

Before you hit the road test your gears by pedaling through all the gears. Ensure smooth transitions between gears and proper chain tension.

Lubricate the Chain

To keep your chain in good condition apply bicycle chain lubricant. This will reduce friction and extend the life of your chain.

Clean Up

Wipe off any excess grease from your hands and the bike. Dispose of any damaged chain links properly.

Wipe off any excess grease from your hands and the bike: When you handle the bicycle chain it’s common to get a greasy substance called “grease” on your hands and possibly on the bike’s frame or parts. To clean up you should use a cloth or rag to wipe away this grease from both your hands and the bike. This helps keep things clean and prevents grease from spreading to other surfaces.

Conclusion

Putting a bicycle chain back on may seem daunting, but with the right tools and a systematic approach, it’s a manageable task.
Remember to stay safe take your time, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed. Now, get back on your bike and enjoy the ride!

FAQs

Q: Can I use any lubricant on my bike chain?

It’s best to use bicycle chain lubricant, as it’s specifically designed for this purpose and provides optimal performance.

Q: What if my chain keeps coming off repeatedly?

If your chain keeps derailing, it may be a sign of a more significant issue. Consult a bike mechanic for a thorough inspection.

Q: How often should I lubricate my bike chain?

It depends on your riding conditions, but a general guideline is to lubricate your chain every 100-200 miles or when it appears dry.

Q: Do I need to replace the entire chain if it’s damaged?

Not necessarily. If only a few links are damaged, you can remove and replace them with a chain tool. However, extensive damage may require a new chain.

Q: Is it essential to wear gloves when working on a bike chain?

While not mandatory, wearing gloves can protect your hands from grease and potential injuries, making the job more comfortable and safe.

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