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How to Remove Bike Chain Without Tool

removing a bike chain without tool

Not only is cycling a lot of fun but so is maintaining your bike. There’s nothing like fixing your bike and then going out and enjoying the fruits of your labor. A well maintained bike is not just reliable. It’s faster, quieter, and much more efficient to ride. Learning basic bike maintenance will go a long way to saving you money on repairs and also helping you fix unexpected on the road issues.

Being able to do bike maintenance does require some tools, but if you use them so rarely, it’s not always worth investing in them. This is a common issue when it comes to removing bike chains. A decent chain tool is $25, and if you’re only using it once every couple of years, it’s not worth it. Many cyclists turn to alternative methods to remove their chains, and in this article, we’ll discuss a couple of them.

Why Do You Need to Remove Your Chain?

Reason Why You Need to Remove Your Chain

There are many reasons why you might need to remove your chain. Many people remove the chain to clean it or remove rust, they might want to replace it completely, or even if you are changing your derailleurs, it will have to come off. We’re going to tell you three methods to remove a chain without the proper tool.

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1. Remove It via the Quick Link

Removing Via the Quick Link

The quick link is a unique link in the chain which is removable. Most chains will have this link, but not all chains, so this method might not apply to everyone. Some call it a master link, which can be identified but the larger holes compared to the other links. An easy way of removing your chain is by taking this link out. You have a couple of different options here. What you need to do is compress the link, so the rivets go into the larger holes.

You can grab each side with your hands and slowly bend it back and forth until it comes together, which does risk bending and damaging the master link. Failing that, you can use long nose pliers and compress it yourself, but this can take some force and doesn’t always come easy. Once this is removed, the link will be free, and the chain will fall apart.

2. Hammer the Rivet

Hammer the Rivet

If you don’t have a master link, it can be a bit more challenging but still easy enough to do. This can get a little messy, and you are going to want to be quite careful when doing this as your bike is going to have to lie on the floor. You will require a hammer, a piece of wood or two, and a small punch for this job.

Firstly, you will want to drill or punch a hole in the wood. Then you’re going to need to lie the bike down on a soft surface with the chainset facing upwards. Then under the chain, you will need to drop the piece of wood and put the hole under one of the rivets. Then put the punch onto the rivet and hammer it through.

It might take some hammering, but eventually, it will go through, and the chain will fall apart when it is completely free. Although this is a method to remove the chain, you will not be able to use the rivet again and will need to add a master link after to reconnect it if you plan to use the chain again.

3. Screwdriver Between the Links

Screwdriver Between Links

The final method is very simple but again, using this method, you will need to add a master link later in time. What you will need to do is place your bike up against a wall. Insert a screwdriver between two links and twist it until the chain breaks. This will take some force, and you will require the right size screwdriver, but it is possible.


Although all these methods will work, we highly recommend getting the correct tools for the job. It will make it much easier, and you will have much less chance of damaging anything on your bike. These are the two tools we would recommend, a chain breaker for removing rivets and a master link tool, for removing and replacing a master link.

Chain Breaker

Chain Breaker

Master Link Tool

Master Link Tool


Learning some basic bike maintenance is great for your cycling. It will save you a fortune not taking your bike to your local bike shop and can also be a lot of fun. Chaining a chain is something that you will often need to do, and it’s one of our top recommendations for a bike skill to learn.

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.