Fix My Chain, Please!
April 2, 2011 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I need to fix a stiff and twisted bicycle chain. Can you help?

Yesterday my kid's bike chain fell off. He tried to fix it himself and created a mess. Now the chain is stiff and bent. It would like it would be easy to straighten but it is not. know how to get the chain back on. I do not know how to loosen these chain or move them so they will be straight. Here are some pics of the problem:

Thanks so much!
posted by Fairchild to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Response by poster: Wow. These are terrible sentences. Apologies. I was in a hurry.

It would look like it would be easy to straighten, but it is not...

I know how to get the fallen chain back on...
posted by Fairchild at 8:22 AM on April 2, 2011

Do you have a chain tool? Get one if you don't, then turn the chain into a line of links that can be unwrapped from the gears, clean and lube it, and put it back on.

If you haven't used the tool before, there's a risk you may go too far and lose a link, so get one of these as well, just in case.
posted by maudlin at 8:26 AM on April 2, 2011

Best answer: If it is just looped back on itself, that can be solved with patience and a lot of swearing. But if it's actually been bent, it's time for a new chain.
posted by Forktine at 8:29 AM on April 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, just use a chain breaker, or take it to a bike shop and use theirs. Or get a new chain- they have a definite lifespan, and it's an immediately noticeable, rather cheap, but very nice upgrade.

Also, it looks like there was a coaster brake attached at one point that now spins freely. Is that intentional? Might want to get that checked out too.

However it gets fixed, make sure the chain is properly tensioned by sliding the wheel back and forth so it doesn't happen again.
posted by supercres at 8:30 AM on April 2, 2011

Best answer: Like Forktine wrote, if the chain is just looped back on itself, you shouldn't need a tool to straighten it out, just patience. Breaking the chain with a chain tool (just once) will probably make the task easier.

A well-maintained chain should last over a thousand miles, so unless your kid is riding centuries, or the chain hasn't been kept clean and lubricated, there shouldn't be any reason to replace it.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:37 AM on April 2, 2011

Best answer: I bought a homebuilt recumbent for my kid that keeps throwing the chain and had the same problem. Patience and swearing are the answer, but it is possible.

If you do buy a chain tool, just get the good one at the bike shop. The cheap ones have wobble and will drive you crazy.

The chain could be popping off because the back wheel has crept forward.
posted by mecran01 at 8:39 AM on April 2, 2011

Wouldn't it be easier and safer to just buy a new one? You're talking about your time and frustration versus $10.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 8:42 AM on April 2, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you so much! After I posted this question I went out and started patiently fooling with it and it straightened. Yesterday I only spent 15 minutes or so. Today I was determined. Thanks so much everybody!
posted by Fairchild at 9:05 AM on April 2, 2011

Response by poster: Also, it looks like there was a coaster brake attached at one point that now spins freely. Is that intentional? Might want to get that checked out too.

Thanks. I will ask my husband about this and have it checked out.
posted by Fairchild at 9:07 AM on April 2, 2011

Response by poster: I remember what happened to the break. I ran over the handle bars with my car and my husband had to replace with old handle bars that did not have hand breaks. I still feel guilty about that. Thanks again, all!
posted by Fairchild at 9:25 AM on April 2, 2011

Just a late bit of thought. I've had similar problems with my bike ( in my younger days of course) and also my children's. I learned long ago to approach it like it was your kids fishing line tangled like spaghetti. Don't get frustrated or loose patience. Make sure you have lots of time, and either wear gloves ( for the dirty chain oil) or have plenty of paint/grease hand cleaner handy for the cleaning of your hands afterward.
One more thing. Although it may well be that the back wheel has slipped forward, it could also be that the chain has stretched. Yes stretched. They do that after periods of time and/or after being under lots of pressure. It's the small pins holding the chain together that bend. If it is stretched, it'll need replacing. There is a certain number of links per so many inches for bike chains. You should be able to find out exactly how many on the net. Count the links and if it is stretched buy a new one at the cycling shop. The more they are stretched, the more problems you'll run into down the road. No pun intended. If its the back wheel moving forward, you should be able to see where the wheel nut has scratched the paint on the frame. Just readjust it.
Good for him for trying to fix it himself.
posted by Taurid at 9:18 PM on April 2, 2011

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