I was replacing a chain and managed to cut the chain too short. Is it possible to make the chain longer using a simple chain breaker? If so, how?

  • 2
    Well, you need an extra bit of chain. But you just splice a bit of chain to the existing, using the chain tool the same way you'd use it for just joining ends. Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 18:43
  • 1
    @DanielRHicks Put that into an answer and we'll accept it! Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 18:51
  • I use the chain attachment that came with my lumber stretcher. ;-) Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


First off, hope that you properly removed the links before so you can just snap the links back into place, that is easiest.

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Any breaker that is designed properly will push the pin just to the point where you can snap the links out leaving the pin still attached.

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Snap the removed links back onto the chain and place the chain back onto the breaker with the pin facing into the breaker like this:

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Carefully push the pin back into the link making sure the breaker pin and the roller pin are aligned. Misalignment can cause damage to the chain and breaker. Only push the pin through until it is extended past the link as far as the pins in the rest of the chain:

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Now the link will be too tight to bend easily, this is fixed by placing the chain in the middle jig and pushing the pin slightly, just enough to free the link up.

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Test the link to be sure it bends easily. Now go back and remove the proper number of links, making sure the male/female links match up when the chain is looped with or without a master-link, your preference.

  • 2
    And if you didn't do that you can just take a piece of the offcut chain and use two smart-links/fast-links. s. you might want to cut the existing chain a bit short to take a long bit of spare chain so you don't have two removable links togetjer
    – mgb
    Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 20:13
  • Important point: If you need to make the chain longer by one link, don't detach one link from your "bit-o-chain" and try to attach it -- this will be unmanageable. Attach the entire "bit", then re-shorten the chain. Commented Aug 26, 2012 at 20:45
  • Please excuse my ignorance. Can you do this with 10 and 11 spd chains? I don't have personal experience with this, but I've heard anecdotally that some 10 speed chains are too fragile for this and that you should discard the pin and use a master link. Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 4:14
  • I worked in a bike shop and never heard this, but most chains we worked on had master links (and rarely cut them wrong ;-). I learned how to do this on my own bikes before working there, but I always use the strongest chains I can find. I would suggest you post this as a new question, better answers AND boost your stats at the same time!
    – BillyNair
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 5:49

Some narrower chains for 10 or 11 speed systems have pins that are designed for a single use only, and have a part designed to be broken off after insertion.

e.g. http://www.wiggle.co.uk/shimano-pack-of-5-10-speed-chain-pins/

If you have a chain like that, you can't just push an old pin back in, but mostly you can.

  • Pretty much all Shimano chains now use the special tapered pins for reassembly. And I've become a devotee of SRAM master links. But it doesn't hurt to learn how to do a chain repair "the old-fashioned way", in case you're ever stuck on the road with no other option. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 0:47
  • I'm a fan of master links too, but if I'd made a chain too short, I'd put it back with a normal pin. I'm still using chains without tapered pins though. And yes, if you are on the road with a broken chain, a chain tool, no spare master link, and no spare pin, you might have to reuse a pin that isn't designed for it or walk.
    – armb
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 12:18

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