How to Remove a Link from a Bike Chain: A Comprehensive Guide

Maintaining a bike chain in top condition is super important for making sure smooth and efficient shifting. One of the most common maintenance tasks you’ll encounter is removing links from your bike chain. This may be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as fitting a new chain to your bike, replacing a broken link, or cleaning the chain. While it’s a relatively straightforward task, it’s vital to execute it properly to avoid damaging your chain or bike. In this guide, we’ll show you how to remove a link from a bike chain using both a chain tool and pliers, making sure your bike remains in perfect running order.

Why You Might Need to Remove a Link from Your Bike Chain

There are several scenarios where you might need to remove a link from your bike chain:

  1. Chain Adjustment: New chains often require adjustment to fit your bike’s gearing system properly.
  2. Wear and Tear: Over time, chains can stretch or wear out, necessitating the removal of damaged links.
  3. Chain Cleaning: Thorough cleaning sometimes requires removing the chain entirely from the bike.
  4. Chain Repair: Broken or damaged links need to be removed for the chain to function correctly.

Understanding why you need to remove a link will help you approach the task with more precision.

Different Types of Bike Chains

Different Types of Bike Chains

Bike chains come in various designs, each with unique features and removal methods. The most common types include:

  1. Single-Speed Chains: Found on BMX and utility bikes, these are wider and more straightforward to handle.
  2. Multi-Speed Chains: Used in road and mountain bikes, these chains are narrower and more complex, requiring precise handling.
  3. Master Link Chains: Some chains have a master link, which makes removal and installation easier.

Knowing your chain type is super important as it determines the removal technique you’ll use.

Tools You Need to Remove a Link from Your Bike Chain

To remove a link from your bike chain, you’ll need the right tools. The two primary tools are:

  1. Chain Tool: This specialized tool pushes the chain pin out, facilitating easy link removal.
  2. Pliers: While not as efficient as a chain tool, pliers can still be used to remove a link, though with extra care.

Choosing the right tool not only makes the job easier but also prevents potential damage to your chain.

How to Remove a Link from Your Bike Chain Using a Chain Tool

Using a chain tool is the most effective way to remove a link from a bike chain. Follow these steps for a smooth process:

  1. Identify the Link: Locate the link you wish to remove.
  2. Position the Tool: Place the chain tool’s pin on the chain pin of the link.
  3. Apply Pressure: Turn the handle to push the chain pin out. Do this slowly to avoid bending or breaking the chain.
  4. Remove the Link: Once the pin is out, the link will be detached.

Remember, patience and careful handling are key to avoiding damage.

How to Remove a Link from Your Bike Chain Using Pliers

If you don’t have a chain tool, pliers can be used, though the process requires more care:

  1. Locate the Chain Pin: Identify the pin you need to remove.
  2. Grip with Pliers: Firmly grasp the chain pin with the pliers.
  3. Apply Force: Carefully push the pin out. Be mindful not to apply excessive force, which can damage the chain.
  4. Detach the Link: Once the pin is out, you can remove the link.

Using pliers requires a delicate balance of force and precision to avoid damaging the chain.

Tips for Removing a Link from Your Bike Chain

Tips for Removing a Link from Your Bike Chain

Here are some tips to make the link removal process easier and safer:

  • Avoid Over Tightening: When using a chain tool, tighten just enough to push the pin out without straining the chain.
  • Gentle Force: If using pliers, apply gradual pressure to prevent chain damage.
  • Lubrication: Applying a lubricant can help ease the pin out, especially if the chain is old or rusty.
  • Post-Removal Care: After removing the link, clean and lubricate the chain before reattaching it to your bike.

These tips ensure a smoother process and prevent potential damage to your bike chain.


Removing a link from a bike chain is a straightforward task when done correctly. Whether using a chain tool or pliers, the key is to work carefully and patiently. Regular chain maintenance, including link removal, plays a vital role in making sure your bike’s optimal performance. By following the instructions and tips provided, you can confidently maintain your bike chain, boosting your overall cycling experience.

For more bike maintenance tips and cycling insights, visit Refried Cycles, your go-to resource for all things biking.

About Heyden Camden

Heyden Camden is a passionate cyclist and entrepreneur who founded Refried Cycles, a beloved bike shop in San Francisco’s Castro district. He is known for his love of old bikes, his welcoming community, and his expert fixers. Today, he continues to share his passion for cycling through his blog and social media.

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