H, I'm pretty new to bike maintenance.

This weekend I tried breaking my chain to clean it. This went well up until I accidentally popped the chain pin out and as a result had to remove a link. This chain came with the bike and AFAIK was well fitted before. It's a near-new hybrid commuter road bike. It still rides OK.

My question is, should I be at all worried that my chain is now about 1.5" shorter? How much leeway would be typical in a new bike? What rules of thumb exist around chain length?

  • See also: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2376/setting-chain-length
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 19:04
  • The first answer on the question that @amcnabb links to has a link to Sheldon Brown's page which will tell you everything that you need to know about chain length. Also, a full link (2 pieces of the chain) is 1 inch. Therefore, it should be impossible to remove 1.5" of chain unless your chain is severely stretched.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 20:10
  • It is technically possible to get the pin back in even if it has been removed completely. I speak from experience.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 17:42
  • @Kibbee - agreed. But like one of those patience/endurance challenges!
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


"Never run with a chain that is too short, except in an emergency." (from Sheldon Brown's Derailleur Adjustment page). If a short chain ends up on the big chainring and big sprocket at the same time, then the derailleur will probably get damaged.

To avoid damage, there should be at least one full link of overlap when the chain is put around the big chainring and big sprocket (with the rear derailleur bypassed). Unless the chain was too long to begin with (which is unlikely), you should get a new chain. You can also by a single link instead of getting a whole new chain, and if you get a replacement master link, it will be easier to disassemble your chain for cleaning in the future.

  • 1
    It may also damage the derailleur hanger which is way more of an issue.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 19:36
  • @WTHarper Good point.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jun 3, 2013 at 19:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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