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"?

  • 1
    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. Apr 2, 2013 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!
    – ptpdlc
    Apr 2, 2013 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. Apr 2, 2013 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...)
    – ptpdlc
    Apr 2, 2013 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.) Apr 2, 2013 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 4
    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. Apr 2, 2013 at 11:03
  • 2
    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 Apr 2, 2013 at 16:47
  • By the way, sheldon brown also suggests the lateral bend method: sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html#stifflink
    – cherouvim
    Jan 27, 2014 at 9:29

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