It happened when I "stepped on it" (on an empty residential street). It left the chain on the road.

What tool(s) and parts should I have had with me, to fix it?

It was replaced (new) two months ago, since when they also had the back wheel off to replace its brake pads.

When I lubed it recently I noticed that one of the links seemed loose, but I didn't want to take the time to take it back to the LBS (which is now on reduced less convenient winter hours).

  • 3
    swear. a lot. (extra chars)
    – Agos
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 21:36
  • 1
    ...and hope your bike has more than a coaster brake. Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 3:23
  • 5
    Riding with abnormal links in the chain while KNOWING ABOUT it is a very efficient way to commit suicide. Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 19:53
  • weep like a baby
    – David
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 3:03
  • Nowadays I'm more cautious when changing gear and don't "step on it" until after it has finished changing smoothly.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 9:14

3 Answers 3


A chain tool (aka "chain breaker") for sure. Many multi-tools include one. Depending on the chain, also a quick link (they come by many names) or special pin.

Basic process is use the chain tool to remove a pin or two so that the mangled chain bits can be removed, then reassemble to a shorter chain. Try to leave a pin still in one outer plate; it's a lot easier. When you reassemble it, do it on the bike threaded through all the derailer bits properly.

I've done this roadside before. Took me 5-10 minutes, some cursing, a little fiddling with the tool, and ended with very greasy hands. A few of those minutes were waiting for a crosswalk signal so I could retrieve the chain.

Make sure to avoid the big/big gear combo or even your big chainring entirely, until you've replaced the chain. And replace the chain right away.

  • 3
    I pack a chain tool when commuting. I've also learned to pack some thin rubber gloves for just such occasions. Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 4:59
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    I find the multi-tool chain breakers a little fiddly for joining but fine for breaking. They work well in combination with something like an SRAM Powerlink.
    – Karl
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 5:35
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    Yeah, best to have a purpose-made breaker, and to have counted out the number of turns it takes (on a piece of old chain) so that you can get it right on the road. (Write down the number of turns and put the paper in a small plastic bag with the tool and some spare links.) Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:34

As a recommendation find an old piece of chain and practic,practice, practice. This assures you understand how your chain tool works and the process will go much smoother while doing it in the rain,while late for work or in the dark.


You need a chain tool and some spare links. I keep a few short pieces of old chains in a plastic bag, and I also (now that I use SRAM chains) keep several old "repair links" in the bag. If you don't have the repair links, when you split the old chain (into 3-5 link bits) drive the pins not quite all the way out on both ends, so that both ends are able to be reconnected with the chain tool.

It's also helpful to have a short piece of wire to hold the ends of the chain together while you join them.

(Rubber gloves are for wusses. ;) )

  • I agree, no need for rubber gloves. In the Summer (at least where I live) there's always grass somewhere nearby to wipe your hands on. In the Winter time snow and whatever clothing I'm wearing works pretty well together for hand cleaning when you get them greasy. Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 11:49
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    I'd recommend this repair as emergency. After returning home or passing by a shop, buy new one ASAP, broken/stretched chain and different types may damage your gears.
    – Crowley
    Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 12:06
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    If done properly, and the replacement pieces are not too badly worn, then there's no reason why the repair shouldn't last until the chain as a whole needs replacement. In fact, you can save the spare links when your chain is replaced, to have replacement pieces, so the replacement piece need not be worn at all. Commented Nov 2, 2011 at 15:32
  • Pack baby wipes, they get the grease off your hands. Rubber gloves always tear when I try to use them to work on a bike. Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 3:25
  • 1
    Yeah, on long rides I carry baby wipes for another reason. Have used them to clean up after chain work, though. Commented Nov 3, 2011 at 11:51

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