I've installed a chain lock to my chain. It looks like this (mine is not KMC):

enter image description here

Now I need to unlink the chain to clean it, but I can't do it: the lock is too tight. I found a special tool on ebay to open such locks:

enter image description here


  1. Is it the correct tool to open the chain lock?
  2. Is it possible to open it using home tools?
  • You can use needlenose pliers, or the trick described by Fred. Jan 6, 2015 at 20:26
  • What chain is it? SRAM 10spd ones are single use and can't be removed
    – Holloway
    Jan 7, 2015 at 16:06
  • You also want the chain to be free of tension.
    – Batman
    Jan 7, 2015 at 18:43
  • @Trengot No idea. Some no name Chinese. If it's a single use, I'll have buy a new multi use link anyway - I need to clean the chain.
    – user4035
    Jan 8, 2015 at 8:33
  • @user4035 What size is the chain? 8/9spd ones should be removable. Make sure they're clean and the hole on the sides are clear.
    – Holloway
    Jan 8, 2015 at 9:01

4 Answers 4

  1. That is the appropriate tool to open KMC (and similar) style missing links.
  2. It is possible to open them with some needle nose pliers but is much easier with a missing link removal tool and you are less likely to damage the chain (or yourself.)

I have yet to find a quicklink that I couldn't separate just using my hands, but it is an acquired skill. I did struggle a bit with the first few attempts.

Step one is to put the chain into a Z formation with the quicklink forming the downward slash of the Z. Then you need to both squeeze and slide. The quicklink won't slide into the removal slot until you squeeze the plates together just a bit. You can squeeze with one hand and use the other hand to pull on the excess chain to create the sliding force.

You don't need a lot of force to accomplish this once you've mastered the trick, but I remember taking more than a few trys to figure it all out. If you have needle nose sized vice grips those can help with the squeezing part while you figure out the slide part.

  • 1
    It's worth noting that SRAM 10speed ones are single use. This works for most others though.
    – Holloway
    Jan 7, 2015 at 16:06
  • Thanks! That worked for my 10-speed KMC. It was so easy as if the lock was designed to be removed this way. The most important recommendation is to squeeze.
    – kelin
    Jul 11, 2018 at 19:26

If you need a special tool, you are probably doing it wrong.

Originally the whole point of using a link is so you can service the chain without a chain tool, and there was no need to carry a chain breaker in the field because you could carry a spare link or two to repair a chain if needed. They could also make more money selling (one time use) links than tools - so it was a win win.

Marketing guys have now worked out they can now make more money by selling special tools for the special links that don't need a special tool.

I would invest in a chain breaker and not use links if you need a tool to undo the link.

As far as getting links undone - they do need to clean and free of grit. Press the plates together with figures, and push the link pins towards each other. It will open easily with virtually no pressure. If you need to apply pressure, wiggle it around, till it pops open. If it won't release in 30 seconds, clean it some more.

Sometimes the link is damaged or faulty, and won't easily open. In this case there various techniques (Pliers, point pliers, loop of wire around link pins and twist till they pop.) which may damage the link, but if you can't open with figures, its stuffed anyway, so go ahead with brute force and replace it.

  • 4
    May not be necessary but chain link tools make a messy and sometimes frustrating job a hell of a lot easier.
    – DWGKNZ
    Jan 6, 2015 at 20:21
  • Interesting, I've never even tried taking one of these links apart by hand, will have to try it. I have had to replace one in the field after it blew apart but never thought about the potential need to actually take an unbroken one apart while out on a ride. Jan 7, 2015 at 19:56

I don't think I've ever disassembled one of these missing links, since they became common. I've always used a chain press. Have you considered using one of those? You need one if you want to shorten or lengthen the chain anyway.

  • 3
    Using a chain tool on a quicklink can easily destroy it. Jan 6, 2015 at 19:31
  • 1
    I've never even tried using a chain press on a quick link, because I figured it would mess it up. I use it on one of the other links, just like everyone did back before there were quick links, and they wanted to take apart a chain to clean or replace it.
    – Eric
    Jan 6, 2015 at 19:49

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