This is about inserting a chain, either a new chain or reinstalling the old one, like after cleaning as in my case. The rear derailleur arm is fighting me of course because of spring tension. The chain in my case has a master link now.

Is there a tool, or something I can make, or some trick to hold the RD arm extended while I get the new chain on and the master link clipped?

A third hand would be great but that's a project for the future.


  • 3
    a small piece of wire hanger can be used to hold the links together while you get the master link lined up. They sell similar gadgets but a piece of wire bent in a tight U works just fine. Assuming i understand what your asking. Some derailleurs (Sram) have a clutch mechanism for making this easier as well.
    – Nate W
    Sep 2, 2016 at 20:24
  • @NateWengert That tip about the bent wire is gold, thanks, I used that. The reason I asked this question is more about how to make the derailleur arm be straight (maybe the the clutch has bearing on that if I understand those clutches correctly, from video only). What I want is for the derailleur arm to be straight to make it easier to get the chain back through it. Because spring tension makes the arm contract, and the path through is zigzag, it's tough to get the chain in with slippery fingers.
    – compton
    Sep 3, 2016 at 0:25
  • Yeah, I've always used a piece of wire. Sep 3, 2016 at 2:04
  • Some chain riveting tools do come with such a short twin-hooked steel clip to hold the chain while putting the rivet and the tool in position.
    – Carel
    Sep 5, 2016 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Assuming you've trimmed the chain to the right number of links already...

First, put the gearing in small-small, whatever that is.

Thread the rear first. Use a short length of old spoke through the end of the chain to stop it pulling through.

Then thread the front.

Pull both ends together at the bottom of the chain-path and use a double hook of old spoke to hold them together with a small bulge of slack chain is upwards at the joint.

Stop here, and check that your rear chain-path is correct. The little tongue in the middle of the cage is a common culprit. If not right, rethread.

Do up your master link or pin according to instructions. Then check for a stiff link at the joint.


Take the chain off the chainrings and let it rest on top of the bottom bracket shell or crank spindle, slackening it. Now the RD isn't fighting you and you should be able to easily shorten your chain or connect your master link or push in your Shimano pin or whatever.

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