How to Fix a Mountain Bike Chain

Last updated on March 10th, 2022 at 01:16 pm

Learning how to fix a mountain bike chain makes you invincible in the trails. This lets you ride wherever or whenever you like. You don’t have to abort your ride just because you’ve got a slipped chain. Or maybe your chain broke.

Knowing how to fix your chain lets you continue your ride. This allows you to enjoy mountain biking even more without worrying about technical issues!

In this article, we’ll show you the full process of how to fix a mountain bike chain in the best way possible. We’ll also talk about the things you need and give you some tips to fix your chain.

What You Need

  • Chain tool
  • Chain lube
  • Bike stand
  • Cloth

Related: What Mountain Bike Tools Do I Need

Step-by-step Guide on How to Fix a Mountain Bike Chain

Step 1

The first thing to do is to inspect your drivetrain. Look for bent or broken sections on your chainring and cogs. Replace them if you find any. Also, check the derailleur and see if it still shifts properly.

This is a must-do especially if you’ve just crashed on your bike. You don’t just focus on the chain. Instead, you also need to consider the other parts because they’re all connected to your chain’s function.

Step 2

Place your bike on your bike stand workstation. You can also place it upside down on flat ground if you don’t have a stand.

The handlebar and saddle should touch the ground and support the whole bike. This makes it easier to fix the chain because the bike won’t move while you work. flip

This also comes in handy if you’re on the trails because you surely don’t have a stand around. We recommend you do this on a grassy meadow so that your handlebar, grips, and saddle won’t get scratched.

Step 3

Remember what gear your bike is in. You’ll know this by seeing which cog your chain is on. This is important because you must place the chain back later on its original cog and gear.

But before doing this, it’s best that you place it on the center-most gear. This is usually the 5th or 6th gear depending on if you have an 11-speed or 12-speed cog. This makes it easier to remove and put the chain back.

Step 4

Push your rear derailleur’s cage forward to slacken the chain. The cage is the metal arm that hangs beside the cog below the derailleur.

Release and open the clutch mechanism first if you have a Shimano derailleur. But you can just push it forward if you have an SRAM derailleur. Make sure it folds directly towards the bike’s front section so the chain hangs freely.

Step 5

Slide the chain back on the gear you want to ride on. You can do this by hand. Just be sure that the derailleur is open so that your hand won’t get stuck.

Then pick up the chain using 2 or 3 fingers and slowly drape it to the gear you prefer. Bring the opposite side of the chain to the lowermost part of the front gear. Hold it firmly.

Your chain will then be slack enough to manage 10 to 15 teeth on its gear. This is enough to let the cogs into the chain groves.

Slowly release the derailleur after some teeth have settled. You can just use your fingers but be prepared to have it dirty with some grease. You can also use a pen or small stick to guide the chain onto the cogs.

Step 6

Slowly pedal your bike backward. A single full rotation will do. Ding this automatically guides the rest of the chain on top of the cogs and sets them back in place.

Then pedal it forward for around two to three rotations. This lets you see if the chain is already secured in place.

Also, make sure that the pedaling process is in the right direction. The rear wheel should move forward and not backward when you pedal. And you’ve just fixed your mountain bike chain!

Additional Tips on How to Fix a Mountain Bike Chain

Additional Tips on How to Fix a Mountain Bike Chain

Shift properly

This might sound simple, but this is a very important skill every mountain biker should know. Improper shifting strains your drivetrain and can stretch your chain too much.

This can lead to premature wear and tear on your chain and cogs. Time your shifts with each pedal stroke so it won’t crunch too much. Improper timing can make your chain miss the teeth of your gear.

Adjust your limit screws

This is important if your chain always slips when you’re shifting to the biggest or smallest gear. Limit screws stop the derailleur from moving too much in the two opposite directions.

A very wide limit lets the chain move, even if you’re not shifting. Meanwhile, a very narrow limit makes the chains harder to shift.

Replace worn-out chains

Replace your chain if it’s already worn out. Using worn-out chains leads to unnecessary friction, which can also create premature wear on your chainring and cogs.

Use a ruler to see if the length of 24 chain pin measures 12 inches. You need to replace the chain if the link and links length have stretched to over 0.15 cm.


Knowing the correct way on how to fix a mountain bike chain will save you a lot of hassle on the trails. This will also help you save money and time because you can fix it by yourself. You also become less dependent on in-shop mechanics.

Remember that you also need to do proper maintenance on your chain. Clean it every after a ride as much as possible. Use proper chain cleaning soap for best effects and wipe it dry afterward. Then lube it with chain lubricant such as Muc-off’s Dry Lube.

There’s no doubt you’ll be a faster and better mountain biker when you know all these. Till then, keep safe and shred hard.


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