How To Put A Bike Chain Back On
Table of Contents
If you’ve been cycling for any reasonable length of time, you’ll know the frustration that is a loose chain. Getting ready to head out for a cycle only to hear your chain pop out of place is enough of a pain, but it could be a whole lot worse. Having your bike chain come loose while out on a ride can be a nightmare. Your best-case scenario is you might well be walking back home, while your worst-case could well be a nasty injury. Losing control of your bike is never good, but if you’re anywhere near busy traffic lanes, you could be in trouble.
Luckily, putting a bike chain back on isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds. It can take as little as a couple of minutes to get you pedaling again, if you know what you’re doing. In this guide, we intend to make sure that you do, and give you a few tips on how to stop it from happening again.
How to put a bike chain back on with ease
If your bike chain comes loose while you’re out for a ride, it’s generally best to find a good place to stop and assess the damage. You may be able to put a bike chain back on while moving, as we’ll cover later, but it’s a bit cumbersome and won’t always work. Pulling over is erring on the side of caution, which is often the right move.
Once you’ve found a good place to stop, the first thing you should look for is whether your bike chain has gotten caught on something. Usually, this will be the bike’s gears (or cassette) and the frame itself, jamming the chain and stopping it from working normally. If this is the case, you’ll be pleased to know it’s an easy fix; all you have to do is loosen the bolt holding the wheel in place, freeing up the chain, and allowing you to put it back where it should be.
However, loosening the bolt may be more difficult if you have an older bike model. Older models tend to have axle bolts that require tools to fasten and loosen, tools you probably don’t have while out for a cycle on the weekend. There isn’t really much you can do here, save for heading to your nearest garage and asking for a wrench. For newer models, the task is much easier. Most come with an in-built quick-release mechanism, which can be used to quickly fasten or loosen the bolt holding the wheel. With a few turns of the lever and a wiggle of the chain, you should be good to go once again. Just don’t forget to tighten your wheel once you’re done.
Also Read: How To Change a Bike Inner Tube
Moving the derailleur
If your chain has attempted to jump ship, rather than just get stuck between the bike and its gears, you’ll need to do a bit more work, though it shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ll need to put your bike chain back in place, and the derailleur will help you do it.
First off, you’ll want to head to the back of your bike and look for the derailleur, the mechanism that guides the chain to where it needs to go. Next, you’ll need to change gears until your derailleur is over the smallest sprocket. Then, all you need to do is push the derailleur forward. By doing so, you’ll slacken the chain, making it a whole lot easier to work with.
With the derailleur forward, you’ll be able to take the slackened chain and pull it a little, allowing you to reposition it back in place, both on its chainrings and the sprocket. You should start with the chainring first; take the chain and reattach it to the smallest chainring, ensuring each chain link fits properly. You’ll need to keep the derailleur pushed forward while you do this. Once the chain is secure, you can pull the rearmost part of the chain over the smallest sprocket of the cassette. At this point, the chain should be back in place and secure. Release the derailleur and give your bike a push to make sure the chain doesn’t come loose again. If all is well, get back in the saddle and keep on with your ride.
Also Read: How To Remove a Bike Chain
How to put a bike chain back on while moving
Having your bike chain come loose doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop riding immediately. If your chain comes off the front gear set, you might just be able to slip it back on without stopping, if you’re lucky. To do this, you’ll need to shift your front derailleur over the largest chainring of the cassette, which might be enough to force the chain back onto the chainring. Give it a couple of tries, and don’t be afraid to be a little forceful; a sharp push might do the trick. If you don’t have any luck, you’ll need to pull over and use the aforementioned methods of putting a bike chain back on.
What causes a bike chain to fall out of place?
If your bike chain fell out of place, one of the first questions you likely asked yourself is why. There are several common reasons, with the first being pretty simple – an old chain. Like anything else, your bike’s chain will undergo wear and tear. Old chains are much more likely to be stretched and worn out, making it so that they can’t properly fit on the chainrings as they once did. If your chain is old or looks a bit worn, you might consider getting a new one.
Another common reason is that your derailleur isn’t properly guiding your chain. This is typically caused by loose derailleur limit screws, which will make the derailleur off-kilter relative to the gears. This will cause your bike chain to be improperly seated on sprockets, which makes it more likely to come loose. You can fix this by tightening your derailleur screws to leave roughly one millimeter between the chain and the derailleur. This should make sure it stays where it should.
The last reason we’ll cover is a broken derailleur. These mechanisms are notoriously fragile, and can quite easily be bent if knocked around. Similar to the previous point, this will knock the derailleur out of place, causing it to improperly seat your bike chain. This will increase the likelihood that it will come loose, so you should consider purchasing a replacement quickly if you notice your derailleur is damaged.
And there you have it! Putting a bike chain back on isn’t so difficult, once you have the know-how. Most of the time, one fix should be enough to keep your bike chain seated for a good while. However, if you find that your chain is regularly causing you problems, you should make sure all your mechanisms are working properly. As we mentioned, a damaged derailleur is going to be a thorn in your side until you get a replacement. You could also pay a visit to your local bike repair shop to see if they spot anything you don’t – you might save yourself precious time and money. Once you’re all sorted, all that’s left is to get back on the trail!