Bike Chaining.

During this Sunday’s bike ride the subject of broken/damaged chains was a topic of discussion at the lunch stop.
The subject arose because on a recent Audax ride Louise had a problem when her chain kept jumping off. On examination it was found that a chain link had been bent, presumably when her bike was in transit on the train to her start point. The problem could have been easily resolved if Louise had been in possesion of a chain rivet extactor tool. Without it she had to struggle around a hilly Welsh bike  ride with severe limitations on the use of her gears. But it could have been worse!

During my time in the Anerley Bicycle Club, I had a chain break going up Flower Lane towards Marden Park. Yoshi had a chain break near Henfold Lakes and Jack had a break at Chartwell. On each occasion we would have had a long walk home because none of us had a chain rivet extractor tool. But fortunately John Turnbull did!
 He always carries one as part of a mini-multi tool and I have learned from his example. A small investment in a chain tool will at sometime save you a lot of  hassle and a long walk home.


However, owning and carrying a chain tool is not a lot of use unless you know how to use it!  Whilst working on a chain is very messy, a chain problem is normally very easy to fix.  Further down is a link to show how to use a chain tool, but first a bit more about another chain problem.  Fortunatly rare, but Brian suffered this problem only last week, and his was the third of which I am aware of. So it could happen to you!  



This problem is the loss of a jockey wheel from the rear derailleur.  The jockey wheels are mounted on an axle which is screwed into the derailleur cage. (see photo on left)  The problem occurs when the bolt unscrews and drops out.  Brian was lucky in that searching the road he found both the missing jockey wheel and the axle bolt, so with the appropriate sized Allen Key he was able to screw all the bits back together. On another occasion it was John T whose jockey wheel dropped out when we were returning from a tea stop at High Elms. An extensive search by all the Anerley club members present did not find either the jockey wheel or bolt. Without the jockey wheel  to tension the chain, it was much too loose to ride the bike.  However John’s multi tool resolved the problem.  By shortening the chain it was at least possible to ride home.
To avoid this problem, at least occassionaly check with an Allen key that the axle bolts are tight.  There are 2 jockey wheels and hence 2 bolts to check!   


Fortunately damage to chains,  breakages, or loss of jockey wheels are rare, but when they do occur they are terminal without the little and simple to use tool required to fix the problem. This link will take you to a good video showing how to use a chain tool.
It is followed by photos and a simple instructional guide. In this DIY guide a small multi tool is used which includes the all important chain tool. See photo below, taken from this web site.

2 thoughts on “Bike Chaining.

  • It happens to even the best of us! Stuart’s woes returning from this months century ride to Brighton, in pouring rain, I quote:

    Within a mile my chain decided to break, the link remover not to work or for the three in front to hear my desperate cry …
    Miles from any station, the weather trying to get even wetter and, worst of all, fearing I wouldn’t make my first 100 miler after all that effort.
    I was missed and after what seemed an eternity the Angel that is our Captain re-appeared, huffed, and produced a fearsome tool from the Carradice and made short work of re-engineering my transmission.
    See full ride details at

  • My Item re-printed in CycleChat Forum and a selection from comments rec’d

    From TinyMyNewt. Recently I did a basic bike-maintenance course, and this was the most useful piece of information I gained from it – how to use a chain-splitter. However, we were using nice clean sections of chain in a warm, well-lit workshop, and it didn’t matter if the pin popped right out. Whether I could do the same in the rain by the roadside (and even more whether I’d actually be able to remember how to use the damn thing) is another question … Thanks for link anyway, very useful.

    From fossyant. I do carry a very good multi tool which has a chain tool and a spoke key, mainly as folk of forums made me paraniod , and just in case someone else needed it. I have used the spoke key on one forum ride.
    I’ve only ever once called the team car out and that was for an exploded rim. Bit tricky carrying one of them.

    From 400bhp. I class it as a catastrophe risk. The chance of it happening is very small but the consequence is very large – pretty much renders your bike useless.
    I don’t carry a chain tool on commutes, but do on rides where I will be a long way from home.
    I’ve had a chain snap once, but only one side of the line snapped and so I managed to soldier home (noticed it about 5 miles from home).


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