Step-by-Step: How to Remove Bike Chain w/o Master Link!

Are you worried about removing or changing the bike chain when it doesn’t even have a master link? While it is easier to remove a bike chain with a master link, fortunately, it’s not really difficult to do it even without a master link.

Here’s how to remove a bike chain without a master link:

  1. Clean your bike and disengage the derailleur gears and brakes
  2. Unscrew the rivets with the help of a chain tool
  3. Pull the bike chain at the weak link
  4. Remove the chain from the bike sprockets 

A few minor tweaks here and there, and you’ll find yourself to be done with the job in no time.

Keep reading this comprehensive yet concise guide to understanding how to remove a bike chain without the master link!

What Do You Need to Remove a Link From a Bike Chain Without Master Link?

You require a precise bike chain removal tool to remove a chain without the master link. This chain tool has two parts specific to different functions, i.e., a spinning handle and a metallic pin.

The metallic part fixes to the link and loosens the rivets, whereas the spinning handle unscrews the rivets and undoes the entire chain. 

To remove the conventional master links, we usually use master link pliers or needle nose pliers. However, things are different when it comes to removing a chain without the master link. 

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Do All Chains Have a Master Link?

No, all bike chains do not have a master link. The master link is usually present in BMX bikes, single-speed or three-speed town bikes with internal gears. These bikes have more room on their sprockets to allow a master link chain to operate them. 

If you want to know whether your bike has a master link, you should check all the links and find out if any link looks different from the others.

Usually, the master link has a different color than the other links or it is shinier with an arrow sign on it. 

If you can’t find a link that looks different from the others in your bike chain, it is possible that your bike chain may not have a master link; therefore, you will have to use a chain tool to remove it.

Removing a Link From a Bike Chain Without Master Link

The only tool you require to remove a link from a bike chain without a master link is the chain tool.

You can find the chain tool at a nearby local bike shop. Once you’ve acquired the tool, you can move toward the task at hand. 

#1 Clean and Prepare Your Bike

If you are a frequent biker, you would know that the bike chains wear out over time. They get rusty over time and stretch while in motion, presenting the risk of breaking up while you’re cycling.

Due to the long-term usage of a bike chain, it gets rusty and builds up oil, you need to clean it properly with a degreasing agent before starting the removal process. 

Degreasing the bike chain and smoothening its motion would help you remove the bike chain more easily and efficiently. You can clean the bike with the help of a degreasing agent and an old cloth. 

Once done, you should now position your bike appropriately for chain removal.

The ideal way is to mount or hang your bike while you’re removing the chain, but if that doesn’t work, you can turn the bike upside down and continue with the process.

#2 Disengage the Brakes and Derailleur Gear

To remove the bike chain, you must disengage the brakes and the derailleur gear. 

The derailleur gear and the brakes hold the bike in the frame, and once they are disengaged, you can start removing the chain. 

To disengage the brakes, simply open the quick release and loosen the wheel.

Next, you should select the smallest sprocket (i.e. the one that will allow the chain increased mobility and greater space to move) and move the pedals. This would loosen up the chain and you can then move to more critical steps.

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#3 Use the Chain Tool to Remove the Rivets

Now that your bike is finally ready to start the main process. The first step is fixing the chain link’s chain tool to remove the rivets.

You should be able to locate two metallic prongs on either side of the metallic pin of the chain.

Next, you should find the chain link you want to open and insert these metallic prongs on the sides. These metallic prongs should accurately fix the chain link from the sides and hold it in place. 

Now gently nudge the metallic pin to connect it with the center of the chain link and fix it appropriately. 

#4 Rotate the Chain Tool Clockwise

Remember the other part of the chain tool? It is finally time to use it. The spinning handle mainly loosens the rivet i.e. the main component that holds the chain link together. 

To do this step, you will have to start rotating the spinning handle in a clockwise manner.

Since you are loosening a tightly fixed rivet, you will face resistance while rotating the spinning handle, but you must continue the process.

As you rotate, you would see that the rivet is loosening and moving toward the other side of the link.

You should be careful not to remove the rivet entirely because it would be difficult for you to put it back when you are fixing the chain if you plan to do so. 

#5 Yank the Chain Apart

The bike chain is weak enough to break up. Unscrewing the rivets has finally loosened it and you can break it up by yanking it from both your hands in the opposite directions. 

Please don’t use excessive force to pull the chain apart because that may cause more damage to already rusty and weak parts of the chain.

You should instead wiggle the chain to and fro in a consistent gesture, and it would break up easily. 

#6 Remove the Chain From the Bike Sprockets

You’re almost there! The bike chain has finally broken from the middle, and now you can remove the entire chain from the bike sprockets. 

Once you have removed the bike chain from the bike sprockets, you can move to the next step.

Now you can either replace this old chain entirely, or if you feel like it can still work, you can just remove some chain links and reattach the chain together. 

#7 Reattach the Bike Chain

If you wish to use the same chain and you have removed the faulty links, it is time to reattach the chain and see how that works out.

To reattach the bike chain, simply pull both ends of the bike chain together. Once done, you can now use the chain removal tool to place the rivet back into the chain link.

You should then tighten it by rotating the spinning handle of the chain tool counterclockwise. 

You would only face difficulty in this step if the ends of the link are misaligned or the chain tool isn’t fixed properly. If you face any problems, try realigning the ends and repeating the process.

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Removing a Link From a Bike Chain With Master Link

The hard part is done. We have learned how we can remove a bike chain without a master link. This part is fairly easy because the master link makes it convenient for you to break off the chain from the middle and remove it entirely.

Let’s get started!

1) Find the Master Link

The master link has a pin on one side that inserts onto a notch on the other side. To identify the master link, you will have to look at it from a sideway view. 

The master link is usually present in the middle of the chain and it is slightly larger than all other chain links.

You will easily locate the master link because it is often in a different color than the other chain links.

If that is not the case, you should be able to find an arrow or a dart on the link, indicating that this is the master link. 

2) Put the Master Pliers to Use

Now that you have identified the master link, you can now break this link to open the chain. You can do that with the help of the master pliers.

Master pliers are a tool that is specifically used to break the master link. They contain two jaws at their end, and you can control the jaws with the handles.

In order to break the master link, you need to place it between the jaws of the pliers. Once done, you should now press the jaws as tightly as you can and start squeezing them. 

Note: You can also do this procedure with the help of needle nose pliers, but master pliers are generally preferred.

3) Break the Master Link

If you squeeze the master link hard enough and pull them off from the sides, you should hear a click. This click indicates that you have broken the master link.

Once the master link is detached, the chain is now finally open. 

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4) Remove the Bike Chain From the Sprocket

Now that you have opened the chain, you can finally remove the chain from the sprockets.

After you have removed the entire chain from the bike sprockets, you can now either replace this chain entirely, or you can remove the rusty links from this chain, reattach the ends, and fix it back on your bike sprocket. 

Some important points that you should be careful about are:

  • Keep the master link in a safe place if you plan to reattach this bike chain and use it
  • If you want to remove any other links, you will have to remove the pin from them in order to do that
  • You can use the pliers to remove the pins from the other chain links

5) Reattach the Bike Chain

Done with removing as many links as you wanted? Here is how you can reattach the ends.

To fix your bike chain, you would have to put back the master rivet in place. You should start off by aligning both the broken ends of the chain. 

Next, you have to push the plate and pin assembly through both ends.

Once done, you should reattach the master plate. This master plate will go on the outside of the master plate assembly. 

You can now use a flat-head screwdriver to push the spring clip into place. Once you place it correctly, you will hear a click and know that the job is done!

How Do You Remove a Bike Chain Without Missing Links?

You can remove a bike chain without missing links in the same manner as you remove a chain without a master link. Missing links are a type of chain lock that makes it easier to open the chain and then replace it at the end of its lifespan or just for simply opening it and removing the links.

How to Remove a Master Link Without Any Special Tools?

Ideally, you should be removing the master link with the master pliers. However, if you cannot arrange the master pliers or they are inaccessible to you, you can use other tools to remove the master link.

Let’s find out more about the tools!

Tools Required

The tools you require to remove the master link are fairly basic, and you can find them easily in your home.

  1. Nut: To provide strong support to the link you’re about to break
  2. Pin: To transmit the force of the hammer to the link
  3. Hammer: To hit the pin and break the link

1) Position the Bike Chain

The first step is to position the bike chain above the nut. You should position the chain link in such a way that the nut hole coincides with the chain pin. 

Placing the nut below is important to provide strong support, allowing the chain pin to move out and loosen the chain link.

2) Remove the Rivet

The next step is placing the sharp pin on top of the chain’s pin. Now apply the hammer force on the sharp edge pin. 

This sharp edge pin would transmit the force to the chain rivet and make it come out through the other side of the plate of the chain.

3) Open the Chain and Remove the Links

Now that the master rivet is removed, the chain is open. You can now remove the chain from the bike sprocket. 

After that, you can remove as many chain links as you want and then move towards replacing the chain or reattaching the ends of the same chain.

4) Reconnect the Chain

To reconnect the master link, you must use the same method described above.

Put the master rivet back in place, push in the pin assembly, attach the master plate, and then finally push the spring clip into place.

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The Takeaway

Repairing or maintaining the bike chain that doesn’t have a master link should not be a hassle for you anymore.

With the correct tools and technique, you can now remove your bike chain without a master link in no time.

Maintaining your bike chain regularly is important to extend its life; some of that maintenance might require removing faulty links.

Thus, every bike should familiarize themselves with this skill so that biking becomes an easier and more pleasurable experience.

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