Fitting your own chain on your bike, as daunting as it may seem, is very simple – with the right tools.
First things first, take your old chain off. If you don’t know how to do that, fear not. I’ve got your back. Click here.
Second, clean the drivetrain; chain rings, cassette and the jockey wheels on the rear derailleur.
Do not skimp on that step! Why get a bunch of old crap stuck in your brand new chain?!
Next, on five or six attached sheets of paper towel, lay the old and new chain next to each other.
Now it gets a little tricky. See, I know how much a chain stretches over time, so laying the two next to each other, I know which link I want. My wife, being my wife, didn’t trust that so she counted the links…
Now you know my wife was right. She took all that time! So was I. Right on the money.
For the next step, I took over. Take a chain breaker and break the chain at the proper link. The following is how the chain goes into the breaker:
Then you just crank it down till the pin falls on the ground (I use a small crescent wrench for leverage 😉).
From there, all you have to do is put the new chain on. Bob is officially your uncle.
As a side note, because my wife made this mistake, be sure to thread the chain through the jockey wheels properly: Don’t loop over the metal tabs, the chain goes “under” them. Give the pedals a good spin. If you’ve looped over a tab, you’ll know by how hard it is to turn the pedals. Incidentally, this is what it should look like:
See that little tab, darn near exactly in the center of the photo? Originally my wife threaded the chain over that tab. That’s bad. Just so you know.
UPDATE: MJ Ray makes a couple of good points in the comments section below. First, what I wrote above makes sense only if you know your chain is the right length to begin with. I know mine are right so I glossed over that little nugget. There are virtually dozens of videos out there that will show you how to properly size your chain to your drivetrain. Google “youtube size bicycle chain” and you should be in business. Second, he recommended a better chain break than the one I used, one that is adjustable to any size chain out there. The one I use is a part of my emergency tool kit that I carry in my back pocket. A real, adjustable Park Tool break is absolutely a good idea.