When To Use a Bike Chain Tool | PedalChef

A bike chain tool is a handy tool that every bike owner should have. In this article, we will take a closer look at when to use a bike chain tool.

Do you need a bike chain tool? When can you use a bike chain tool? How do you use a bike chain tool?

There are two instances when to use a bike chain tool. You will need it to break the chain on your bike, if you are replacing the old one with a new one, in case your bike doesn’t come with a clip-master link. Also, you will need to use a bike chain tool when adjusting the length of a new chain.

In this guide, we will explore various situations that would necessitate the use of a bike chain tool. We will also walk you through the different types of bike chain tools on the market, to help you choose the right tool for your needs.

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If your use your bike almost every day, you can expect to be replacing its chain every couple of months. And when it comes to replacing the chain, you can either do the work yourself or take it to a bike repair shop.

Most people prefer taking the bike to a repair shop because they assume that replacing the chain will be a tedious task. The reality is that, there’s an easier way of replacing a bike’s chain. And this is done by using a bike chain tool.

Also known as a chain breaker, a bike chain tool is designed to simplify your work when replacing or shortening a bike chain. Instead of doing the work manually using a hammer and a rivet, you simply need to rotate the tool’s handle and it will do the rest of the work. With a bike chain tool, the replacement process becomes easier and faster.

How a Chain Tool Works

So, how does a chain tool work? Well, bike chains feature a series of outer and inner plats. These plates are usually held together by a series of metal pins or rivets. The pins are also surrounded by a roller or a washer.

The chain tool will work by pressing the pin outwards by rotating its handle, thus disconnecting the chain. In some instances, you can also use the same chain tool to press the pin inwards, to reconnect the chain.

If you were to use the traditional method, you will have to drive the pin out of the chain by hammering it using a nail or something similar. And as you can see, this work is not only tedious but time-consuming. Besides, it may leave you with blistered hands.

With a chain tool, you can replace a chain, shorten it or undertake other modifications, without spending too much time or effort. Also, you won’t end up with blisters on your hands, which may sometimes be the case if you were to do the work manually.

Types of Bike Chain Tools

You will come across numerous types of chain tools on the market. The different types usually fall under three main categories – use, chain width and size.


When it comes to use, you will have two main types of chain tools to choose from. One of the types is specifically designed for removing the links and a multi-purpose one. If you purchase the former, then you can only use it when removing the pins. In short, it will almost be impossible to use this tool when inserting the pin back into the chain. If you happen to have such a chain tool, you should avoid removing the pin completely if you intend to replace it.

You should only drive it outwards to a point where you can twist and break the chain. From there, you can then drive the pin back easily.

As for the second type, it will feature two slots. The first slot is designed for removing the pin when adjusting its length. You will then use the second to reconnect the chain once you’ve adjusted its length.

If you are looking to buy a chain tool, it will be highly advisable to go for the latter option. With this tool, you can use it for both replacing a chain and adjusting a chain’s length, since you can remove and reconnect a pin using it.

As you may expect, the multi-purpose chain tool will be more expensive than the other one. But, considering the versatility and convenience that it offers, it will be worth the additional cost.

Chain Width

Chain tools come in different sizes. In most cases, the number of sprockets the chain’s cassette has will determine the chain tool that you will need. For instance, an 11-speed chain is wider than a 12-speed chain. So, if you are buying a chain tool, you should make sure you purchase one that corresponds with your bike’s chain speed.

However, there are certain types of bike chain tools, which can accommodate different chain widths. Usually, such tools feature a threaded backing plate or a sliding chain shelf, which will allow you to set up the chain’s stop manually.

It’s important to mention that, while the chain tools with a threaded backing plate tend to be more versatile, they tend to be more complex to use. As a result, they will be slower compared to those featuring a fixed design.

Also, the adjustable chain tool needs to be used with maximum care. If you fail to adjust the threaded part properly against the chain, you may end up damaging the chain the tool or even both.


Different chain tools come with different designs and sizes. For instance, some tools will have a bigger handle than others. Usually, those with a bigger handle will be comfortable in the hand, compared to those with a smaller one. However, you can expect to spend more of your money, if you opt to purchase those with a bigger handle.

Wrapping It Up

If you own a bike, then it will be highly advisable to purchase a bike chain tool. It will come in handy and save you a great deal of time and effort when you are replacing an old chain with a new one or when reducing the length of a new chain for your bike, whenever necessary.