Fixing a bike chain on the street is no harder than fixing a flat tire if you are prepared. Read on...
This article is sponsored by Momentum Magazine
. An edited version of the article appears in Momentum issue 50
Step 1: What you need
To fix a broken chain all you need is a chain tool. These are compact and built into many common multi-tools like the one shown. You may even have one on your multi-tool that you never even knew what it was for!
At home in your garage its possible to repair a chain with just a hammer and pliers, but a chain tool is easier, and really the only option on the street.
Step 2: How do chains break?
The most common way is by pedaling full force at the same moment that you are shifting your front derailleur. Other breaks I've seen were caused by an assortment of seemingly one-in-a-million occurrences, yet i've seen enough of those cases that i guess if you ride long enough one-in-a-million still happens. Things like a nail getting thrown up by my front wheel and lodging in the chain, then getting cranked across the sprocket. who'd a thunk?
Step 3: How do chains work?
Each link of a chain is held together by a steel pin / peg. With the chain tool (or a hammer) you can push out and push in the pins, allowing you to remove or attach links. Fixing a broken chain amounts to removing the broken link and re-attaching the remaining ends. On bikes with derailleurs there's enough extra links that you can remove a couple without a problem. On a single-speed bike you probably won't have enough slack in the chain to remove a link, you'll need to borrow some links from an old chain or else buy a new one.
Step 4: Your chain just broke, now what?
Are you wearing nice clothes that you care about? Probably best to lock your bike and take the bus home. Come back later with your old jeans and we'll fix it then. Fixing a chain is the dirtiest job there is on a bike.