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I have a toddler bike that has lost one of the side plates to a chain link.

https://imgur.com/a/NZsE84b

Should I replace the whole chain or can I just get a new side plate for the missing link?

If I should replace, the whole chain is only 58 links (1/8" wide). Most of the chains I see on Amazon are 116 links or so. Can I just buy one of those and split it in half?

Thanks!

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    Replacement bike chains are usually longer than the chain being replaced. You should use a chain tool to "break" the chain at the appropriate length. You can't usually buy replacement side plates, but a friend may have some spares, or you might talk a bike shop into giving you one. Apr 25, 2023 at 16:27
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    Is the link with the missing side plate half of a master link? From the picture it looks like none of the other links are a master link.
    – P. Barney
    Apr 25, 2023 at 22:35
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    @P.Barney there probably isn't a master link. The cheap chains used on kids' bikes often lack them, and they're les common on single speed (and low sprocket count derailleur systems) than on modern drivetrains. If out one end of the plate had come off I'd say it had been joined poorly, perhaps by reusing the old pin. It's possible that happened first, then the other end pinged off
    – Chris H
    Apr 26, 2023 at 6:08
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    ... though I may be wrong in this case
    – Chris H
    Apr 26, 2023 at 8:47
  • We bought this used and it failed after just 2 rides. Since I didn't inspect the chain before it broke, I don't know if it has a master link or not. Looks like I'll either be buying a new chain + chain tool or taking it to a bike shop.
    – buggaby
    Apr 26, 2023 at 14:07

3 Answers 3

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You can't only get the side plate and even if you could, trying to fix the link that way would be very hard and would not be sturdy.

There are a few things you could do:

  1. If the chain had some slack, you could just remove the broken outer link and an adjacent inner link and reattach the chain. Other questions exist here that cover how to properly size a chain if you are interested.

  2. Missing link exists for single-speed chains that could directly replace your broken link (e.g. KMC CL368).

  3. Bike shops cut lots of chains in a week and they could have left over sections that they could probably give you to fix your chain.

  4. You could also buy a new chain and trim it to your original chain length.

To break/reattach a chain, you would need a chain tool compatible with 1/8" chains such as the Park Tool CT-3.2. Other less expensive brands are also available.

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    "missing link" are also called "quick link", usually used to join two ends of a chain.
    – Puck
    Apr 26, 2023 at 6:24
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    In addition to #3: If you have a bike-savvy friend/collegue, you could ask them -- I probably have 10 chain leftovers in the garage just from fixing my own bikes.
    – arne
    Apr 26, 2023 at 6:25
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I regard fixing a broken chain as a way to get home amd then replace it. Most causes of chain damage will stress more than one link, and patching the chain leaves other weakened links vulnerable.

A few new links in a stretched chain can turn confuse future measurements of chain wear.

Now in a little kid's bike, chain wear is unlikely to be significant - they just don't ride far enough. But the forces are also too low to stress a chain very much so it's rather odd that the plate fell off (from both ends) in the first place

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    I think its a two-piece master link - the sort with a flat plate and a separate U shaped plate (as opposed to the type where any-two click together to make a whole outer link)
    – Criggie
    Apr 26, 2023 at 6:51
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    @Criggie I'm inclined to agree after zooming in - or at least it's possible - and apply the same rule anyway. Best case is it's not been fitted properly, worst case the chain has been bent in some strange way.
    – Chris H
    Apr 26, 2023 at 8:46
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How did you get the chain off? If it's loose enough to just push it off track, it's probably too loose and could stand to lose a link. But I don't ride toddler bikes so I don't have a lot of experience with those and the overall chain length may be too short. A mechanic will want all the pieces in the same place, or they risk multiple visits. A mechanic will also have a bunch of spare links around that have like zero monetary value but come in really handy sometimes.

Find a GOOD bike shop. Not just a big one, or the one with the most expensive bikes in the window (run away), but one that sells used bikes and probably has some hippies working there. Bring the whole toddler bike in and explain the situation to the mechanic. They can probably fix in in 5 minutes. If they are nice enough, they might even do it for free. (but even hippies gotta eat, so they might still charge you. don't be offended)

Alternatively you can purchase a new bike chain, a bike chain tool (make sure and get one that's the right size for the chain), and watch some youtube videos and spend probably an hour of your own time trying to make it right. Working with bike chains takes a little bit of experience, and a little bit of voodoo. You might not get it right on the first try. Or the second try. And if you don't know how to do it correctly, you'll just keep messing up forever. So don't have too much hubris.

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