How-To: Put a Bicycle Chain Back On! (Step-by-Step)

Has your bike chain come loose, and you are wondering how to put it back on? Fortunately, the entire process is pretty easy, and I’m here to guide you through it.

To put a bicycle chain back on, follow these 5 simple steps:

Step 1: Find the slippage–the part where the chain came loose from
Step 2: Try to put it back on the sprocket
Step 3: If the chain is jammed, use the quick-release mechanism
Step 4: Once you’ve put the chain back on the sprocket, start pedaling to let it adjust
Step 5: Perform final checks to see if the chain is back on

In this article, I will give you a step-by-step walkthrough of how you can put your bicycle chain back on.

Ride along with me as I give you a comprehensive guide regarding what to do when your bicycle chain dislodges. I’ll also cover why your bicycle chain gets off in the first place. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

How to Put a Bicycle Chain Back On?

How-To Find the Bicycle Chain Master Link!
Parts of a bicycle, view of pinion and drive system, rear disc brake

Being an avid rider, you should know how you can put the bike chain back on. It is a necessary skill that would be helpful in your biking endeavors.

The entire process is pretty straightforward, and you can easily follow the steps mentioned below:

#1 Find the Slippage 

Usually, what happens is that the chain simply slips off from its path even though it is connected to both the derailleurs from the front and back.

If your chain is loose due to slippage, you do not need to take any special steps and just simply attach the chain back to its sprocket. 

If you think that the chain has come loose due to slippage, you should first get off your bike. Then, you should locate the slippage and find out if the chain is jammed anywhere in its path.

If that is the case, then you will first have to deal with the jammed areas before addressing the slippage. 

#2 Use Quick-release For Jammed Chains

Sometimes, the chain that gets loose due to slippage gets jammed between the rear sprocket and the frame.

In such a case, you should release the rear wheel by the quick-release mechanism and loosen its nut to help the chain come off of it. 

To use the quick-release mechanism, you just need to pull the small lever near the rear wheel. After that, loosen the wheel nut for the chain to come off the wheel easily.

Once the chain has come off, you can now put it back on the sprockets and ride away. 

You should be careful to retighten the wheel nut and the quick release. If it feels harder and tighter to ride again, you can loosen it and adjust it according to your needs.

#3 Pushing the Arm Of the Rear Derailleur

If your bike has a rear derailleur, you must adopt a slightly different technique to fix the chain. First, you need to thread the chain around the front sprocket. 

Now, since your bike has a rear derailleur, it has a spring attached to it that allows it a certain elasticity. You can use that by pushing the arm of the rear derailleur to put slack in the chain. 

After that, you can use this slack to thread the other end of the chain and wrap it around the sprocket. Finally, you can release the rear derailleur and ensure that the chain is tight. 

» Read my blog post: How to Remove Rust from Bike Chain

#4 Turn the Pedals Without a Derailleur

If your bike does not have a derailleur, here is what you need to do. Firstly, elevate the rear wheel of the bike by propping it up on a slightly higher surface. This would make it easier for you to turn the pedals to adjust the chain. 

Now, hook the chain onto the rear sprocket and on the bottom of the front sprocket as much as possible. Then, start turning the pedal backward.

When you continue doing this, the lightly fixed chain eventually catches up and firmly positions and fixes itself. 

This should happen just around when the chain reaches the top of the front sprocket. You should rotate the pedals backward through multiple motions to ensure that the chain is back on. 

#5 Pedal Forward to Put Your Bike In the Right Gear

Now you should mount the bike and start pedaling forward slowly. If your bike has gears, the chain would automatically slip into the gear it was before the slippage occurred.

However, you should still continuously change gears to see if the chain is moving and adapting smoothly. 

If your bike does not have gears, there is a high chance for the chain slippage to recur. If the chain keeps slipping frequently, that may indicate that the chain has gotten loose.

The best solution would be to get a new chain and fix it on your bike.

#6 Perform a Final Inspection

When you have put the slipped chain back on, you would sometimes find slight noise while changing the gears. That noise is just the chain adapting to bike riding again. 

You should continue changing the gears of the bike until the sound eventually fades off and the chain starts moving smoothly.

To perform an even more effective inspection, you should change the gears of both the front and rear derailleurs simultaneously and ride at varying speeds to check if everything is well and good with your bike chain.

» Maybe this also could be of interest to you: How to Remove a Link From a Bike Chain

Why Does Your Bike Chain Fall Off?

A bike chain is made up of durable and flexible steel plates. The bike chain can sometimes fall off your bike and cause you distress.

If your bike chain falls off frequently, there might be different reasons for it that you can look into.

Here are the top 9 reasons that explain why your bike chain might be falling off.

#1 Stretched Chain

One of the biggest reasons for bike chains falling off is that they may be stretched. One significant indicator for a stretched chain is that the chain would slip from the chainring when you pedal hard for long distances. 

Long distances and hard pedaling damage the inner rollers of the chain, reducing its flexibility and consequently stretching it.

As a good rule of thumb, you should replace your chain after using it for 1000 to 2000 miles.

Beyond 2000 miles, the chain gets stretched and will start to cause damage to the cassettes, chainrings, and drivetrain of your bike. 

#2 Loose Component

Your chain has four main inner parts–inner plate, outer plate, rollers, and pins. Any of these components can come loose and cause the chain to slip frequently.

You should check if these components are tight and fixed properly. You can do that by wiggling the chain back and forth. 

If you hear a slight rattle or any other part moving slightly, that may be an indication that the chain components have come loose. In such cases, you will have to tighten up the chain parts. 

It includes loosening the bike nuts and pulling the rear tire backward. This induces the right amount of tension in the chain and, as a result, tightens it.

#3 Worn-out Chains

Your bike chain is an integral part of your bike. When you frequently use your bike for rides, the bike chain gets worn out over time.

Due to frequent usage, the bike chain is bent, damaged, and hit hard, all of which indicate that it may need to be replaced. 

If you continue to put excessive pressure on your worn-out bike chain and don’t replace it, it will keep slipping or, worse, break off from the middle and potentially cause an accident. 

A worn chain is indicated by the presence of one percent growth around 0.5in (12.7mm) pitch. If you find these values, you should get your chain immediately replaced.

#4 Longer Chain

When the bike chain is longer than it should be, it would automatically fall off the sprockets. Long chains are one of the most common reasons for bike chains to slip and fall off. 

Your bike chain should always be sized appropriately and according to its components. It should have looseness or tightness relative to the drivetrain and other important components of the bike such as the rear derailleur. 

When the bike chain is longer, it will cause a loose derailleur position, and it will get stuck in the chainrings whenever you are pedaling. 

#5 Worn Cogs Teeth

If you had a stretched chain before and did not replace it before it got too late, you may have caused some damage to the teeth of the cogs present on the cassettes and chainrings of your bike.

Due to consistent pressure buildup due to the damaged chain, the cog teeth get deformed and eventually get worn out.

This damage is irreversible, hence, even if you get a new chain and try to place it on your bike, it will fall off. 

Since the cog teeth of the cassettes and chainrings were damaged, the chain would slip off from both parts.

Thus, it is a much better idea to replace the chain when the time is right rather than letting permanent damage happen and then eventually replacing the bike. 

» This could also be something for you: Chain vs Belt Drive Bicycles

#6 Bad Derailleur Adjustment

To understand the derailleur adjustment, you should first understand their structure. Your bike has two derailleurs present in the front and rear. 

Both of these derailleurs have limited screws that prevent the chain from falling off on both sides of the cassette. These screws are holding these chains together and if they were misaligned or damaged, it can cause your chain to fall off.

If you forget to adjust these misaligned screws, the chain will fall off and get stuck between the cassette and frame of the bike.

To find out if a misaligned derailleur is the cause of your chain falling off, you should check both the front and rear derailleur for any looseness that may indicate damage.

#7 Derailleur Hanger Alignment

In a lot of modern bikes, there are metal plates performing the function of the screws of the derailleurs that hold the chain together. 

These aluminum metal plates are designed to break during a crack so that the frame of the bike is preserved from damage.

However, when these plates do get damaged, they misalign the vertical cassette cogs and bend them to the inner side. 

This eventually causes bad shifting, and you will hear clicking sounds while pedaling your bike. With this misalignment, when the chain moves to the lower cogs, it can fall off and get stuck between the frame and the derailleur.

#8 Bad Quality Shifters

Your bike chain has seven gears, and you can shift on any of them for variable speed.

If you shift a gear aggressively or try to reach the eighth gear, your bike chain can fall off.  It will indicate that your bike derailleur had to extend itself in order to accommodate your demands. 

Moreover, if the shifters themselves are of bad quality, they can cause your bike chain to fall off. You can change the bike shifters if you find this as the leading cause. 

There can also be a defect in the cable tension of the shifters. You can check that by pulling on the cables and observing the tension against a resistance. 

#9 Hard Bumps

When you are riding your bike, you experience a lot of hard bumps. These hard bumps can be mainly due to rough or hard terrain.

These hard bumps put extensive stress on your bike chain and eventually cause the chain to deform and break down. As a result, the chain gets loosened and falls off the bike. 

Updating your drivetrain system can potentially help with this problem. You can update your rear derailleur, too, if your biking pathway contains hard terrain rather than a smooth one. 

Can You Put a Chain Back On Without a Master Link?

Yes, you can put the chain back together without a master link. If your chain lacks the master link, you can use the chain tool instead. With the help of the chain tool, you can reconnect the chain with the chain pin. 

Remember that even if you are using the existing chain, you should use a new chain pin rather than reusing the older one.

However, you should make sure that the new chain pin is compatible with your bike chain strength and brand. 

» You can also read my post: How to Remove Bike Chain w/o Master Link?

The Bottom Line

Having a bike with a chain that keeps falling off is annoying, uncomfortable, and unsafe to some extent. There can be various reasons for the bike chain to fall off, such as stretched or long chains or misalignments of derailleurs. 

Whatever the reason may be, you should know how to put the bicycle chain back on so that you can easily navigate through such situations.

With the steps mentioned in this guide, you should be easily able to fix the chain back on your bike. 

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