Tips for How to Measure Chain Size for Bicycle Easily

Bicycle Chains

When you are using a bicycle, it is evident that at some point in time you will end up changing its chain. Since majority of the bike chains wear off with time, one has to look for a second one in the market. There are so many options out there, which can simply confuse an amateur bicyclist. When you are an ardent rider and looking for a bicycle chain, there are only two probable choices you can opt for.

1. Master link chains

Master link chains use removable outer plates to connect the chain. They have a quick release link in order to make the connection and disconnection of the chain highly convenient.

2. Connection rivet chains

These chains use a special rivet to connect the chain. When you want to disconnect your chain, you need to look for that special rivet.

Bicycle Terms

It is extremely important to be familiar with bicycle language. That will help you not only understand the instructions easily but also make it easier for you to communicate about your bicycle problems.

1. Chainrings

Chainrings is a round disk with sharp edges. It helps to move the chain around.

2. Cog

Cog comprises of numerous sprockets that are attached at the center, on the rear wheel. A cog set and a rear derailleur offer different gear ratios to the rider.

3. Derailleur

When you want to change gears, derailleur in a bike assists you in doing so. It helps in the shifting the chain from one socket to the other. Every bike has two derailleurs. One is at the front. Whereas, the other one is on the back.

Cog and Rear Derailleur of a Bike

4. Master link

In the bike chain, master link serves as the link connecting two ends. It helps you to easily connect or disconnect your cycle chain. It serves as providing outer plates to establish a connection with the inner plates.

How to Measure Chain Size​​​​

New replacement chains you buy are always longer than you need. Most of the time when you are purchasing a new chain for your bike, you can simply make sure it has the same number of links as the previous chain. However if you are putting together a bike from the scratch, you will not know the length of chain.

We are going to explain how to get your chain length.

Methods #1

The largest cog and largest chain ring method is one of the highly efficient technique to size chains. Drivetrain manufactures follow this method.

Measure chain size
  1. You should begin by shifting the front derailleur and the rear derailleur on chainring and smallest cog, respectively.
  2. Then you start covering the chain on the largest cog.
  3. The new chain will have one end with the outer plate. It should be directed to the front chainring.
  4. Move the chain end through the front derailleur cage and place it on the largest front chainring
  5. It should be kept in mind that if the chain uses a master link, installing half of the master link. This will provide an extra edge.
  6. From here; after installation the rest of the process is the same, whether it is master link chains or connection rivet chains. Once done with the previous step, start by pulling chain from the bottom making it tight and properly engrossed in the chainring.
  7. The chain should fully cover the largest cog
  8. Now we address the closest rivet .Here we will focus on joining the chain by matching the inner plates the outer plates.
  9. The position nearest to the joining point of the chain is termed as a reference rivet.
  10. From the reference rivet we enhance the chain by putting in two additional rivets.
  11. Cut the chain at this point using a chain cutter or pliers.
  12. Remove the chain from the bike.
  13. Next, thread it through the derailleurs on both ends.
  14. After that, join the chain.
  15.  Finally, you have successfully sized your bicycle chain.

Methods #2

  • First of all, put your bicycle stand, flat on the ground.
  • We are planning to assess your old chain. The old chain will provide us the exact length we need.
  • Check the old chain before removing it to make sure it was the right length for the bicycle.
  • Remove the chain. You can either remove the wheel or go for the chain, as this will makes things really easy.
  • Next, inspect the chain for master link.
  • Use master link pliers to disengage and open the link.
  • Some people opt for using their hands only but this makes the process, really difficult. Investing a few dollars will make the ordeal, tad easy.
  • Take out the chain.
  • Place the chain on the ground and keep the new chain next to it.
  • Always line the chains in a way that the ends with the outer plates are on the front.
  • Then, you should measure them. Conscious effort should be made for clear precision.
  • Carefully cut the chain according to the old chain length using a chain cutter or pliers.
  • After that, add or take out the chains links depends on the chain size you need.
  • Once the chain is sized. Now it’s the time to place the chain on the bike.
  •  At last, thread it through both derailleurs and join the ends.

You can also take a look on the below video on YouTube from to see how to measure chain size and replace the new one.

Necessary tools

Before you begin to size your chain, it is extremely important to get all your tools together. Measuring chain size needs proper attention and precision. Therefore, you should make all the preliminary preparations before you start your work. Some of the tools that will come handy have been listed.

Cut chain using chain cutter

1. Chain cutter

The chain cutter is an extremely important tool needed while adjusting the bicycle chain size.

It costs around about 15 dollars. Always invest in a good cutter to save yourself from grinding on the chain for long.

Chain cutter


2. Master Link Pliers 

Master link pliers for chains are another tool you need if your chain is a master link chain.

It also costs around 15 dollars. To save yourself from the hassle to open the chain yourself, invest in this so that you can avoid all the scrapes and cuts you get from doing all the work by hand.

Master Link Pliers


3. Needle-nose Pliers

These come in handy as they cost very less. In less than ten dollars you get these pliers.

It helps in the easy opening of chains and aids in single handed operations. Getting these will aid in precision cutting of your chain.

Needle-nose Pliers


4. Digital Chain-Checker

KMC Digital Chain-Checker is one of the finest tools being used for bicycles nowadays. It provides the precise size of the chain in a few seconds. A manual is given for proper instructions on how to use it

Digital Chain-Checker



After reading this article, we hope that you could know how to measure chain size and be able to repair your bike by yourselves. It is not so difficult for you to measure the chain and replace the new chain by your own if you already known  how to do and with the support of the useful tools as we mention above. Let try to do it yourselves next time!

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