How to Install a Master Link on a Bike Chain

Master links are special chain connectors that allow you to remove and install bike chains without any special tools. Learning to properly add a master link to your bike chain is a handy skill all cyclists should know.

This step-by-step guide covers choosing the right type of master link and installing it correctly to your bicycle chain.

Master Link Types

There are two main types of master links:

Quick Links – Reusable connector pushed together by hand

Reusable Missing Link – Held by a removable locknut

Ensure compatibility and proper fit with your bike chain.

Removing the Old Chain

Start by removing the worn chain using a master link:

  • Locate the existing master link and release it.
  • Alternatively, use chain tool to push out a link pin.
  • Grip ends and pull chain off front chainring.
  • Run remainder of chain over rear derailleur pulleys.

Freeing the whole chain allows proper sizing.

Sizing the New Chain

Size your new chain to match the old:

  • Lay the new chain along the old worn one.
  • Note which links line up at both ends when overlayed.
  • Alternatively count links on old chain.
  • Use chain tool to remove excess links to match.

Getting the length right is crucial for proper shifting.

Installing New Chain

Once sized, install the new chain:

  • Loop chain through rear derailleur pulleys in a figure eight.
  • Pull around front chainring joining at master link.
  • Ensure no twists in chain and links move freely.

Take care not to twist or kink links when wrapping onto bike.

Connecting Master Link

To connect quick link style master links:

  • Grip both sides of open ends in each hand.
  • Engage the end rivets into recesses fully.
  • Press ends together firmly until they lock in place.

For reusable missing links, connect ends and leave locknut loose for now.

Setting Master Link

To securely set the installed master link:

  • Shift chain onto largest rear cog.
  • Turn pedals forward lightly allowing link ends to settle together.
  • Squeeze and rock chain near link several times to align pins.

This helps properly seat the master link between the chain rollers.

Checking Proper Installation

Verify correct master link function:

  • Shift through all gears while rotating pedals to check smooth shifting.
  • Ensure link does not bind in any gear combinations.
  • Double check rivets fully engaged or tighten locknut if needed.

The master link should move cleanly through the drivetrain when set right.

Troubleshooting Issues

If the installed chain is problematic:

  • Binding or stiff link – Set link again or install new one.
  • Dropped chain – Confirm correct sizing and secure master link.
  • Poor shifting – Check alignment through derailleurs.
  • Bent link plate – Replace damaged section of chain.

Take time to ensure trouble-free master link function.

When to Replace Chains

Replace worn chains to prolong drivetrain life. Signs include:

  • Stiff links that no longer flex easily
  • Chain sucking onto front chainrings
  • Frequent dropping chains
  • Gears skipping under load
  • Measuring over 0.5% elongation with gauge tool

Installing new chains before excessive wear saves your cassettes and chainrings.

With some careful sizing and installation, master links provide easy chain removal and reinstallation. Just be diligent with maintenance for smooth shifting performance.

Let us know if you have any other bike chain master link tips!

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