Looking to shorten, lengthen or replace your chain? Whatever your reason, here is a complete how to that is functional for both master-links and conventional pin replacement. So chain up and get busy, the BMX world awaits and the last thing you need is a knee to the stem to finish off your otherwise delightful day.
Basic tools for a task every rider can do at home.
Before you start, understand what your goal is; longer, shorter or to replace the existing chain. Replacement chains are more then long enough, but be sure to hang on to the excess so you will always have spare links in the future if necessary. Also keep in mind chains come in two sizes, 1/2x1/8, found on most bikes or 1/2x3/32, found on most performance race bikes. If your unsure about your chain size, be sure to bring it with you when you hit up your local shop to make sure you replace it with the right size.
Step 1: Loosen your axle nuts, sit back and reflect on a hard days work. Feel free to return and finish the job tomorrow.
Step 2: Hope you’ve returned well rested. If you have chain tensioners, now would be a good time to loosen them up. You will want to be able to remove your chain completely from the sprocket, so loosen accordingly.
Step 3: If your chain has a master-link, your next step will be to locate it. Visually it sticks out like a sore thumb, so if your having trouble finding the one distinctive link in the bunch, try opening your eyes to simplify the task.
Step 4: Using a flat head screwdriver, pop the retaining clip from the outside of the link. Two words of warning here; Don’t force the clip, it should unclip from one pin and slide right off the other and be prepared for it to pop off and disappear into parts unknown, or hit you in the eye. Statistically speaking there is a 100% chance one or the other will happen every time but never will it simply drop to the floor.
Step 5: The master-link should then simply pull apart into three pieces, as seen here.
Step 6: When sizing up your chain on the bike, remember that a master-link will join two inside links, so shorten accordingly.
Step 7: If you are removing the master-link, or assembling a new chain without one, your chains new length should be measured inside link to outside link so the provided replacement pin, or partially removed old pin can be pressed back into place to join the two.
Step 8: When working with a chain tool, there are two keys to ensuring a secure and long lasting fit; never press a pin all the way out and never press a pin too far in. These tricks will help the pin retain its mushroomed ends (we know you cant see them, but trust us, they are there) as well as make reconnecting the chain way easier when the time comes.
Step 9: With your chain loosely set into place, the master-link can be assembled, working from the inside out.
Step 10: Next move is to place the flat link over the pins…
Step 11: …Followed by the clip.
Step 12: The clip can usually be snapped over the other pin by hand, but if you find it to be a tight fit, you can use a flat head screwdriver to push it into place.
Step 13: It’s normal to find your newly replaced pin or master-link to be a little stiff. Give it a drop of lube and flex it lightly side to side and it should move as freely as your other links. If not, make sure that your new pin or master-link are properly centered and repeat.
Step 14: Put your chain back over your sprocket and cog, tighten up your chain tensioners if you’ve got them and tighten your wheel back into the frame.
Step 15: If you shortened or lengthened your chain, you will also need to adjust your brake pads accordingly. Also keep in mind, if you replaced a very old chain, they can stretch considerably, so play it safe and always be sure to double check your brake pad adjustment.