I just bought a vintage Schwinn Suburban 10 speed bicycle but the chain was missing from the bike. I need to know how many links is generally on this bike. I bought a bike chain that says for 5/6/7/8 speed bike chain. for bikes with 5-8 rear cogs. this bike being a 10 speed has 5 rear cogs and 2 front gears. I counted the links and it has 111 total links and 1 connecting link. I need to know if I need to shorten this chain before installing onto bike, or will it fit just as it is?

  • 1
    Yes you need to shorten it. Yes you will need a chain tool to take the links off. You will probably get a quicklink joiner with the chain or a replacement pin - either's fine. The chain needs to be as long as it has to be.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 6:05
  • @Criggie Isn't this basically an exact dupe of the question you link? Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 13:28
  • @Criggie good find, I retracted my close vote. Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 14:37

2 Answers 2


There are two different techniques used to size a chain for a multi-speed, derailleur bike. The specific one to use is based on the number of teeth the largest cog of the freewheel has. One method is used if the large cog has 27 teeth or less, the other method when the large, rear cog has more than 27 teeth. On a bike like you describe, with a five speed freewheel, the largest cog will have 28 teeth or less.

First method for bicycle with a rear cog having >27 teeth: WITHOUT going through the rear derailleur, wrap your new chain around the large front chainwheel and back and around the large rear cog bringing the two ends of the chain together. Essentially you've now wrapped the chain around the large-large combo, eliminating the rear derailleur. The chain ends will come together and you should note an overlap of a few links. The properly sized chain will be +2 links (that would be 1 inner link and 1 outer ink of the chain) past the point where the slackless, wrapped chain comes together.

The second method should be used if you're sizing the chain when the large rear cog's teeth number 27 or less. In this instance, you'll wrap the chain around the larger chainwheel and around the SMALL rear cog. You must thread the chain through both derailleurs so it's necessary to have them (and therefore the shifters) in the correct position (large front: the inner shift cable will be under tension, and small rear, where the rear's inner cable is under little to no tension). With the chain wrapped as described, you will bring the ends of the chain together (note that you'll be pulling one side of the chain against the spring tension of the rear derailleur which will create movement of the derailleur's cage/pulley wheels). Continue to bring the ends together and overlap until the the rear derailleur's cage is straight up and down. More properly stated, the correct chain length is achieved when a line drawn through the center of the upper guide pulley wheel and lower pulley wheel is 90 degrees to horizontal. Please refer to the diagram on page 28 of the following link:

Shimano General Operations. Page 28 deals with chain sizing on road bicycles having two front chainwheels and multiple rear cogs. Keep in mind that your connecting link is an outter link and that you'll eventually join your sized chain where each end is an inner link.


Jeff's answer covers most of it, but I tend to use a visual method.

  • Fit the new chain through the derailleur and on the big/big combo.
  • Use a double-hooked wire to hold the ends under tension against the derailleur spring
  • Then I pull the chain tight so the rear jockey wheel points quite a long way forward. Not tight enough to bind the chain but still tight.
  • Then I trim the chain so the next inner/outer pair reaches each other - IE the next place where the chain finishes correctly
  • Fit the chain joiner master link.
  • Lastly I check in small/small to make sure the chain through the derailleur doesn't touch itself.

This visual solution works for me on doubles and triples. I've never done differently based on the cassette or chainring sizes.

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