How to Split Bicycle Chains

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Regular lubrication and cleaning procedures go more easily if you can split your bike chain with a quick-release link, commonly featured on BMX and mountain bikes. A specialized chain tool can also work if your bicycle does not have a quick-release link.

Quick-Release Method

Fasten the seat tube of your BMX or single-speed bicycle into the clamp of a repair stand for easy access to the chain. Rotate your pedals forward while examining the bicycle chain. Locate the quick-release mechanism, which will look a bit chunkier than the surrounding links.

Clamp the jaws of the pliers around one chain pin and the open end of the fastening clip. Squeeze the handle of the pliers to disconnect the fastening clip. Lift the outer plate from the quick-release link. Remove the surrounding links from the chain pins of the quick-release plate to complete the splitting process.

Check your multispeed road bike for a quick-release link found on the chain. Examine the quick-release link to identify the two plates. Fasten the jaws of the pliers around the opposing ends of the quick-release plates. Squeeze the handles of the pliers to loosen the plates. Slide out the plates to complete the chain split.

Manual Split

Make sure your chain does not feature a quick-release link before starting a manual split. Rotate the handle of the chain tool in a counterclockwise direction. Align one of the chain links onto the outer slot of the chain tool.

Turn the handle clockwise to insert the pin of the tool into the pin of the chain. Continue turning to push the chain pin halfway through the corresponding plates. Back out the handle of the chain tool by turning it counterclockwise.

Remove the chain link from the slot of the chain tool. Twisting the chain to pull it apart and complete the manual splitting procedure.