A bike chain breaker is an essential tool that every cyclist should keep in their garage for quick and easy chain repairs, but which ones are the best?
If you want to avoid unnecessary costs at the bike mechanic, having the right tools handy can make all the difference in how much you spend on your annual bike maintenance. One tool that you do not want to overlook is a bike chain breaker. However, you need to make sure that you pick the right one, as bike chain breakers can greatly vary in specs and characteristics.
The best bike chain breakers are:
- Park Tool CT-3.2
- Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker
- PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker
- Shimano TL-CN28
- Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool
- KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter
- Pedro’s Apprentice Chain Tool
- Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute
- Topeak Universal Chain Tool
- Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool
If you are an active cyclist, you can expect to run into the occasional maintenance issue from time to time. Bike chains in particular are notorious for getting worn out, which results in the chain skipping, jamming, or breaking altogether. When you need to make adjustments to your chain or replace it, the tool that you will need for the job is a bike chain breaker. This tool allows you to safely and easily unlink and relink your chain without damaging it. While you may already have a chain breaker on your multi-tool, you should be using a quality chain breaker that was designed for bikes specifically. However, with so many bike chain breakers on the market, it can be quite challenging to find the right one for your tool kit. You need to pick a bike chain breaker that has quality parts and materials so that you can rely on it without the pin breaking on you after just several uses. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at the best bike chain breakers in more detail.
After extensively researching cycling forums, I have been able to gather enough information to determine the best bike chain breakers on the market. My research has indicated that you should ensure that the bike chain breaker you are considering is compatible with your bicycle’s components. Not all tools are universal, and each model may only work with specific parts manufacturers.
Park Tool CT-3.2
This is one of the most popular chain breakers in the world, which is why so many bike mechanics around the globe rely on the Park Tool CT-3.2 for their repairs. At first glance, you might think that the Park Tool CT-3.2 chain breaker is too minimalistic and compact for a shop-grade tool. However, once you see this thing in action, you will understand exactly why this is such a praised product among bike mechanics.
This chain breaker tool has an investment-cast steel body, which is super durable and built to last. The turning thread is very smooth and precise and the metal handle has been dipped in plastic to give you additional grip and comfort while you work.
With that said, one of the features that I like the most about the Park Tool CT-3.2 chain breaker is that the pin is very durable and also replaceable. There are so many chain breaker tools on the market that have the potential to be amazing products but they simply lack a replaceable pin, which means that you have to buy a new product when the components eventually break.
The Park Tool CT-3.2 chain breaker can be used with single-speed chains and 5 to 12-speed chains as well. Bike mechanics, in particular, like having this product in their shop given that you can use it on just about any bike and chain on the market - making it one of the most versatile chain breakers on our list.
However, if your bike has a Compangalo chain, you should stay clear of the Park Tool CT-3.2, as this is one of the few parts manufacturers that this product is not compatible with. Aside from that, you should be able to use this chain breaker on virtually any chain.
If you are working with a stubborn chain or perhaps one that is rusted, you can reliably unlink and relink without worrying about damaging the pin, so long as you use the tool properly. There is a reason why shop mechanics around the world keep this chain breaker handy, it is one of the most versatile, durable, and reliable products that money can buy.
The only real complaint about the Park Tool CT-3.2 is that it can misalign occasionally. While this is not a common occurrence, it is something that cyclists and mechanics should keep in mind when weighing out their options. For an asking price of just $36, this is one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals on our list.
PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker
The PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker is a fantastic tool suitable for avid cyclists and amateur mechanics. This product was designed for universal and dynamic chain breaking so that it can be used with a wide variety of different parts brands.
Unlike a lot of the fancy chain breaker tools that you see being sold these days, the PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker has a straightforward and classic design that is user-friendly and intuitive. The ergonomic handle makes gripping this chain breaker very easy and maneuverability is excellent when disconnecting links in your chain.
To ensure that this tool is compatible with every rider, the manufacturer built this chain breaker with an oversized handle that widens out, so that it has increased leverage and a comfortable grip. While the grip was designed to be large, the actual size of this chain breaker is still quite compact - making it a perfect addition to any garage or tool kit.
When dealing with bike repairs, you want to make sure that your tools are made out of quality parts and materials. The PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker’s body is made out of high-end cast steel and the handle is designed with durable CNC machined aluminum. This chain breaker tool also features a chromium molybdenum steel pin, which can last you a lifetime if you treat it with respect.
I also really like that this tool is compatible with 1 to 12-speed bikes which include 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 speeds. With that said, the PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker is not completely universal as the name implies. You can use this product with a wide variety of different parts manufacturers, but you should always make sure that it will be compatible with your setup - especially if you are using less common brands.
A lot of bike mechanics who need a reliable and compact chain breaker that is tough enough to push through even the most stubborn chains rely on the PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker. This product packs a punch and it was designed to handle chain links that are particularly tough to separate.
All in all, this is one of the most well-rounded bike chain breaker tools on the market. You can certainly find more advanced products, but what really makes the PRO BIKE TOOL Universal Chain Breaker stand out is how user-friendly and reliable it is for its size and price.
Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool
Many bike mechanics and cycling enthusiasts refer to the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool as the best bike chain breaker that money can buy. This is a unique product that stands out amongst the competition for its sleek aesthetic and creative design, as well as its superior performance and capabilities.
This is a universal chain tool that you can use on just about any bike chain on the market. Birzman designed their latest chain breaking tool to essentially be a one-stop-shop for bike mechanics that need to deal with tricky chain repairs on a daily basis. This implies that any rider will be able to count on the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool through thick and thin.
To start, this chain breaker was built with top-notch materials. The manufacturer built this tool with excellent quality aluminum that is very durable and it has a great weight balance so that the chain breaker is easy to maneuver without compromising leverage.
Adaptability and versatility were key focuses of Birzman when they designed the Damselfly Universal Chain Tool. That is why you can rely on this tool for single-speed chains, as well as modern-day bikes up to 12-speeds.
What tends to win a lot of bike mechanics over on the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool is how precise and intuitive it is. This chain breaker clamps on very firmly and the excellent leverage that you get with the handle makes removing pins so easy. The days of tinkering with stubborn links are over with the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool in your arsenal.
You will need to confirm that this tool is compatible with your specific bike components before you buy it. While the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool is praised for how universal it is, this chain breaker cannot be used with Compangalo parts in particular. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of this Birzman tool given how popular this parts manufacturer is with a lot of competitive cyclists.
Ultimately, this is a high-end bike chain breaker that can be used by professional mechanics and casual cyclists. It’s easy to use and it's built with quality materials - making this a tool that can last you forever. With that said, the Birzman Damselfly Universal Chain Tool is not cheap, as it is currently available for $45. This is considerably more than what most people pay for a chain breaker tool, which is why this may not be the best option for the budget shopper.
Shimano is one of the most recognized and respected names in the world of cycling, as they are a parts manufacturer that specializes in high-end components. Given Shimano’s expertise in bike mechanics and designs, they built a world-class chain breaker tool that is superior to the vast majority of products on the market.
The Shimano TL-CN28 is a chain breaker tool that you can rely on for just about any kind of chain repair that you run into. This product can handle virtually all group sets, which is why mechanics who have to work on a variety of different bikes throughout the day use the Shimano TL-CN28 for their routine repair jobs.
This Shimano chain breaker tool is compatible with 7/8/9 and 10-speed chains, as well as the newest 11-speed chains. Professional mechanics as well as cycling enthusiasts who have multiple different bikes at home truly benefit from having a chain breaker tool that is as reliable and versatile as the Shimano TL-CN28.
Despite this being a professional-grade tool, this chain breaker is very easy to use. The handle fits firmly in your hand and releasing chain links feels smooth and precise. Whether you are a mechanic or a total amateur, using the Shimano TL-CN28 is very intuitive.
Shimano did not design this product to be flashy or complex, which is why it stylistically looks a lot like a classic chain breaker. However, unlike a generic chain breaker, the Shimano TL-CN28 is a top-quality tool that can last you a lifetime. You do want to make sure that you use this tool properly from the very beginning, as it does not have a replaceable pin in case you break it.
This chain breaker is a bit pricey at $48, which is why I would not recommend keeping the Shimano TL-CN28 in your on-the-go cycling tool kit. This is a high-end chain breaker tool that you should take good care of, given that replacing the pin is not an option.
The good thing about this chain breaker is that it’s incredibly durable and was designed with integrity. So long as you take care of it, you will never have to buy another chain breaker again.
Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool
Topeak is a brand that you know you can trust with your bike components and accessories. Their latest All Speeds Chain Tool is considered by many bike mechanics to be one of the best chain breaker tools on the market, as it is versatile, easy to use, and designed for longevity.
A lot of cyclists looking for a reliable chain breaker tool often find themselves on the fence between the Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool and the previous product that we mentioned, the Shimano TL-CN28, given that the design and specs of both are quite similar.
Much like a lot of modern chain breakers, the Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool is primarily built with high-quality aluminum. However, the drive pins and chain cradle are made with hardened steel, which is a key selling point for a lot of mechanics.
The durable materials that Topeak utilized when designing the components of the All Speeds Chain Tool make this a very tough and reliable product that you will never need to replace so long as you do not abuse it.
With that said, the one part of virtually all chain tools that is bound to break is the pin. While Topeak did design the pin of this chain breaker with high-quality steel, you can expect it to give out after prolonged use. That is why the All Speeds Chain Tool was designed with a replaceable pin so that you can easily fix your tool when the pin is past its prime. This will save you a ton of money in the long run, as you will not need to completely replace the tool and just its basic components.
You should be able to use this Topeak chain breaker tool on most bike chains on the market. This includes multi-speed chains that go up to 12-speeds. Splitting and rejoining pins with the Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool is very easy and threaded sections are very precise. The handle is compact but still has the perfect size and weight to give you great leverage on stubborn pins.
The one thing that I did not like about the Topeak All Speeds Chain Tool is that accessing narrow chains did not feel as secure. This is primarily due to the shallow chain cradle, which could be a performance issue for certain bike mechanics. However, all in all, this is a very solid product that was built with quality parts and it has a sophisticated design. This product is a bargain for the budget shopper, as you can currently pick one up for just $25.
Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker
If you have been working on bikes for years, you may prefer a product that has the classic feel and touch of an old-school chain breaker like the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker. This tool does not attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it takes the style and design of a classic chain breaker and simply delivers it with modernized parts and components.
Before we get into the specs and capabilities of the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker, one of the biggest selling points of this product is simply how cool it looks. This is a stylish chain breaker that will fit right into any workshop or mechanic’s tool kit. The ergonomic wooden handle is very pleasing to the touch and it provides excellent grip when dealing with tricky chain links.
Durability is a key characteristic of this tool, which is why the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker features a robust steel body. This is one chain breaker that will not snap under pressure, as it is meant to be a one-stop-shop tool that will last you a lifetime.
In addition to the body, the manufacturer designed this product with a hardened steel pin which is incredibly strong. With that said, much like with pretty much all pins, you can expect even a steel one to break on you over time. That is why the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker was designed with a replaceable pin.
You will find a secondary hardened steel breaker pin inside the handle of the tool. The manufacturer includes this replacement pin for free which you can conveniently have on you at all times when you work with the tool - given that it is stored inside of the handle.
The Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker works on 8/9/10/11/12 speed bicycle chains from most manufacturers. Although this is a very versatile product, this chain breaker is not going to be compatible with Campagnolo 11-speed chains.
This tool is a bit heavier than most of the products on our list given the number of steel components that it has - weighing in at just under 300g. While this may seem like a drawback to some mechanics, it is actually a selling point for others, as the added weight will give you more leverage when unlinking chains. The heavy nature of the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker may not make it the best option for on-the-go bike tool kits.
If you want a classic-looking tool that can outperform the majority of chain breakers on the market, the Lezyne Classic Chain Breaker will be tough to beat. This is a high-end chain breaker, built with excellent quality parts and materials, which is why it is also rather expensive at $50.
KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter
Unfortunately, not every chain malfunction happens when you are near home. There are going to be plenty of situations where you are out riding and your chain gives you issues during your cycling session.
Although there are a lot of bike chain breakers that are too bulky or heavy to carry in a portable tool kit, some products like the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter are perfect for on-the-go repair jobs. This product has a completely different style and design than the other bike chain breakers that we have mentioned so far.
The minimalistic design and compact size make this a very handy tool that you can use for a variety of different chain types. With that said, unlike every other chain breaker that we have covered, the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter is not intended just for bikes. You can use this product on a variety of different chains such as on motorcycles, ATVs, and even go-karts!
The sophisticated design of the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter makes this one of the most adaptable chain breakers on the market - allowing you to work on so many different types of bike chains. While the manufacturer has technically labeled this tool as a universal chain breaker, you should always confirm that it is compatible with your specific bike components.
The primary material used when building the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter is carbon steel, which is incredibly durable but also lightweight compared to standard steel. While carbon steel is a very reliable material for bike repair tools, you do want to make sure that you store it properly and keep it clean. Carbon steel can be prone to corrosion, so look after this tool if you want it to stay in good shape.
You can adjust this chain breaker to fit a variety of different chain sizes. This will enable you to cut through most chains without needing to use any other types of equipment or tools to complete the job. For riders who are on the go, this is one of the best chain tools that you can keep with you in your tool kit.
I also really liked that the manufacturer included an additional pin free of charge when you purchase the product. This is the first component of a chain breaker to give out on you and it is only a matter of time until you need to replace it.
The weight of the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter is just 70g, which is astronomically lighter than most chain breakers that you will find. Given that this is such a lightweight tool, it is very convenient and practical to transport, but you may find that it does not have quite as much leverage as some of the other products on our list.
With all this in mind, the KZNANZN Detacher Breaker Cutter is not going to be the best chain-cutter tool for professional mechanics. Instead, this is a fantastic product for casual cyclists that need an affordable and reliable chain breaker in their tool kit, as well as for cyclists that have a repair kit with them when they go out riding. For a very reasonable price of just $14, this chain breaker is a great bargain and an excellent option for the budget shopper.
Pedro’s Apprentice Chain Tool
The chain tool from Pedro’s Apprentice is a crowd favorite among amateur and professional bike mechanics, as this is a product that was built with integrity. At first glance, it looks like a relatively simple and basic chain breaker tool but once you start using it, you will see that this is a highly-versatile product that you can rely on for the bulk of your chain repairs.
To start, the Pedro’s Apprentice Chain Tool can be used on chains of all speeds. This means that you can rely on a single chain tool for pretty much all of your repairs, which is a major selling point if you are a mechanic or a rider with more than one bicycle.
Much like all products from Pedro’s Apprentice, this chain tool was designed to be reliable and comfortable. The handle gives you an excellent and sturdy grip for dealing with stubborn chain links. It also has a deep cradle, which makes linking and unlinking pins feel very secure.
However, it is worth mentioning that the cradle of Pedro’s Apprentice Chain Tool is fixed. This can make fitting wider chains a bit more challenging, which is something that mechanics should keep in mind when considering this product.
The Pedro’s Apprentice Chain Tool weighs in at 213g, which is a bit lighter than most of the products on our list. Depending on how you like to work, this may or may not be a drawback for you, as extra weight can make unlinking tough chains a whole lot easier. With that said, despite this chain breaker weighing less, it still has very solid leverage overall.
While this is a chain breaker that can be used with a lot of different chain types, you should note that it is not compatible with Compangalo components. If this is a feature that you are looking for in a chain breaker, Pedro’s Apprentice does offer a ‘Pro’ version of the tool that does work with Compangalo chains, but it does cost extra.
Pedro’s Apprentice designed this chain breaker to have a replaceable pin when it inevitably breaks. Unfortunately, the extra pin as well as any other spare parts are not included when you purchase this tool. Although this is not something that you should always expect when buying a chain breaker, I felt like the $40 price tag of this product warranted a freebie.
Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute
If you want a chain tool that is reliable, durable, and can fit in the palm of your hand, few products that can compete with the Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute. Park Tool has built a very solid reputation with bike mechanics around the globe, as virtually every tool that they release is top-notch.
The Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute is a fantastic bike chain breaker that is perfect for cyclists who need a great product that can fit inside their mobile mechanic tool kit - especially given that it weighs just 76g. At the end of the day, you have to consider that you may experience an issue with your chain when you are on the go, which can be problematic if you are commuting or cross-country cycling.
Having the right chain breaker with you in this situation is going to be essential, which is why Park Tool invented the CT-5 Mini Chain Brute. With this chain breaker in your tool kit, you can link and unlink pins on all 5-to-12-speed derailleur chains. This includes components from high-end manufacturers like SRAM - making this a very versatile chain breaker for its size.
I also really liked that Park Tool designed the CT-5 Mini Chain Brute with a replaceable pin so that you are not left with a useless product when it eventually breaks. Although you will not get a replaceable pin out of the box, Park Tool uses the same pin type as it does for some of its other products like the CT-3.2 - making it very easy to find a new pin when you have to. With that said, most mechanics and bike owners that use this tool properly have found that pins very seldomly break on them.
The Park Tool CT-5 Mini Chain Brute is not a bike chain breaker that you want to rely on in a professional shop. Instead, this is the perfect chain breaker for a casual cyclist’s garage or a rider’s mobile mechanic tool kit.
The only downside of this tool is that it does not offer a lot of leverage, which can make dealing with stubborn chains a bit tedious. However, for a product of this size and weight, this is to be expected. For a versatile and reliable chain breaker tool made out of hardened steel, Park Tool has this product available for a bargain deal of just $20.
Topeak Universal Chain Tool
Topeak set out to build a lightweight, portable, and affordable chain breaker when designing the Universal Chain Tool. This is hands down one of the best chain breakers on the market for its size and price, which is why so many avid cyclists and even professional mechanics swear by it.
The Topeak Universal Chain Tool is an all-arounder chain tool that you can rely on for the majority of your chain repairs. This product weighs just 96g, so you can easily bring it with you on cycling trips and store it in your mobile tool kit. Topeak’s sophisticated design allows you to unscrew the handle of this chain breaker so that it barely takes up any space at all, which is great for cross-country riders who need to be calculated with their gear.
This product has excellent durability and it is made primarily out of heat-treated Chromoly - a high-quality aluminum. Although tool manufacturers rarely deliver on the universal tile that their products boast, the Topeak Universal Chain Tool is compatible with a lot of different chains, including Shimano HG, UG & IG.
With the material of this product in mind, you will be able to break through some of the toughest chains that you encounter. However, given how light this chain breaker is, you may find that you do not get as much leverage, as you would with some of the other products on our list.
All in all, this is not going to be the right chain breaker for a professional mechanic that needs to use a chain tool several times per day. What the Topeak Universal Chain Tool is perfect for is casual riders and cyclists who are on the go and need a reliable chain tool when they are out and about.
With that said, my only real complaint about the Topeak Universal Chain Tool is that it does not have a replaceable pin. This is a major downside for any rider that wants a chain breaker tool that they can use indefinitely. While this product was built to last, if the pin breaks on you (which it most likely will at some point), you have no way to fix your tool.
That is why the Topeak Universal Chain Tool is much better kept for emergency repairs and not as a go-to chain breaker. For the very low price of just $15, this is still a very solid deal.
Factors to Consider When Buying Bike Chain Breakers
There are a lot of great bike chain breakers on the market, but finding the right one for your bike and repair needs can be tricky with the number of options that you have.
Each product has specific qualities and characteristics, which is why you need to reflect on exactly how you want to use your chain tool before you buy one. Are you a professional bike mechanic that needs to work on various types of bikes throughout the day? Or are you a casual cyclist and amateur bike mechanic that runs into the occasional chain repair job from time to time?
To help you pick the right tool for your needs, we are going to take you through the key factors that you should consider when weighing out the specs of bike chain breakers.
As you evaluate bike chain breakers on the market, you will often see the term universal used quite a lot. While there are universal bike chain tools out there, the majority of them come with certain limitations and will not be compatible with all chain types.
Compatibility should be the first thing that you consider as you weigh out your options. Each chain tool can be used with specific parts manufacturers and you need to confirm that the product you buy is suitable for your bike.
This is a particularly common issue for riders who have Campagnolo components in their bike. In addition, chain tool brands will also list whether their product can be used on 12-speed or 11-speed chains (or both). This is something that you must also consider when checking to see if a chain breaker is compatible with your bike.
The first thing to go on virtually every chain breaker is the pin. This is a part of the tool that is susceptible to the most wear and tear, which is why they tend to break the fastest.
Naturally, you should always use your chain breaker properly so that you can maximize the lifespan of your pin. However, it is equally as important that you buy a tool that has a quality pin that was built to last in the first place. Even the best quality chain breakers will get a broken pin after years of use - especially if the tool is being used by an amateur or inexperienced mechanic.
With that said, a characteristic that you should always watch out for is that your chain breaker has a replaceable pin. If your tool does not have this feature, you will be left with a useless product once the pin is broken.
In addition to confirming the material of the pin and that it can be replaced, you should also check to see how difficult it is to find a spare when needed. Reputable brands will make spare parts available to their customers - whereas smaller companies may not be as accessible. If you are lucky, you can find a chain breaker tool that offers a spare pin for free with the setup.
How much your chain breaker weighs is a subjective quality, but ultimately, the heavier your tool is, the more leverage you will get when working with chain links. This will make attaching and detaching chains a lot easier - particularly when dealing with stubborn or rusted components.
This may not be the most important quality for a casual cyclist, as you likely do not need to handle too many chain repairs. However, if you are a bike mechanic that has to unlink multiple chains in your daily routine, the extra leverage that you get with some chain breakers is going to be a monumental selling point.
With that said, the added leverage that you get from a heavier tool is not going to be good for someone who wants a chain breaker for travel and mobile repairs. If you are cross-country cycling and want to keep your weight low, you are much better off going for a lighter product.
Durability equates to longevity. When you buy a tool, you should ideally be trying to find a product that is going to last you as long as possible - potentially even a lifetime. Quality chain breakers that are designed with the right parts and components should be able to last indefinitely, especially if you treat the tool with respect.
The durability of your chain breaker can be gauged by the materials that were used to build the tool. In general, steel or high-end aluminum is what the body of the chain breaker should be made out of. However, you can also find great products that use alternative materials such as carbon steel.
One of the most delicate components of your chain breaker is going to be the pin. If the pin is not replaceable, then it very important for it to be made out of a durable material that is not going to break on you under pressure.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson