Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a question about chain "closing" (not sure of the english word, but you get it, right?).

I know how to open a chain with a chain tool, and I know I must not "go too far" as to remove the rivet from the outside hole. And I consider I have gone far enough when the chain can be opened. So it's pretty straightforward.

But when closing a chain, how do I know I went "far enough"?

share|improve this question
The best way to do it, these days, is to use a "repair link" that doesn't require a tool to fasten. There are several good ones on the market, SRAM's Powerlink probably being the best. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 2 '13 at 11:02
Yeah, that is what I ended up doing. I just broke a chain (that already needed replacing). And they were out of Shimano chains so I took a SRAM one that has these quick-release thingies... Let's wait and see how this works. Thanks! – tisek Apr 2 '13 at 12:01
It should also be noted that the bolts of most chains are not designed to be reused. That means a bolt, that has been pushed out to open the chain should not be used to link the chain again. There are special bolts for closing chains which are normally supplied with a new chain or can be bought separately at bike shops for a few cents. Closing a chain with an already used bolt may introduce a predefined breaking point into the chain. – Benedikt Bauer Apr 2 '13 at 12:16
Good to know. That explains the second breakage (my chain broke 3 days ago and I removed a couple of links to keep riding until I would buy a new chain and I indeed re-used a bolt that was there already... which was fine I suppose for a quick repair but not durable, hence today's breakage...) – tisek Apr 2 '13 at 12:27
@BenediktBauer - That's really only true of newer Shimano chains -- their response to SRAM's Powerlinks. (And it's generally called a "pin", not a bolt.) – Daniel R Hicks Apr 2 '13 at 15:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I push the pin to it's 100% correct position (similar to other pins) and 1/10 of a mm more. Assume blue pin on photo.

Then I remove the chain tool and do the following:

  1. with my hands I bend the chain laterally (at the direction where it's not bending) mildly back and forth a couple of times. That is the red arrows on the photo.
  2. I turn the link completelly to one side and to the other (at the direction that the chain is bending) to make sure that the movement is complete and safe. That is the green arrows on the photo.
  3. I apply 2 drops of oil on the link that I've worked on.
  4. redo step 3 once, check again
  5. done

That ensures that the metals on the link (I don't know the exact terminology of the parts) do not remain "packed" together and the link is not stiff. If I don't do this I'm afraid that when it becomes "unstiff" and the metals are unpacked, the pin may not be in the 100% perfect position and this may cause a problem later on when pedaling hard. The worst problem could be that the chain would break while riding.

share|improve this answer
Of course, that's not the "right" way to free a frozen link. You're supposed to use the other anvil and work the tool from the opposite direction a half turn or so. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 2 '13 at 11:03
This lateral bending method works, but the chain tools have the said "second anvil", which is design to unfreeze the link after the chain has been closed. That eluded me for years... :oP – heltonbiker Apr 2 '13 at 16:47
Thanks for the info. Didn't know that. – cherouvim Apr 3 '13 at 4:39
By the way, sheldon brown also suggests the lateral bend method: – cherouvim Jan 27 '14 at 9:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.