How to Replace a Mountain Bike Chain?

replace mtb chain

With each use of the mountain bike, the chain will wear a little. If an MTB chain is worn too much, you should replace it. If you don’t do this, other parts can wear out faster and the chain can even break. And of course we shouldn’t think about that during a mountain bike ride. On this page I tell you everything about replacing the MTB chain.

Why replace the MTB chain?

First, let’s discuss why it is so important to replace the chain in a timely manner. As I just mentioned, a chain can wear out over time. This isn’t just because of the mountain biking itself; Weather conditions and dirt also have a strong influence on the life of a bicycle chain.

Continuing to cycle with a worn mountain bike chain can lead to dangerous situations. For example, the bicycle chain can break more quickly if it is subjected to more pressure. But that’s not the only thing: various mountain bike parts can also wear out faster due to an outdated chain. Consider the following parts:

  • MTB derailleur and wheels
  • MTB cassette

It is therefore important to eventually replace the chain with a new one.

When to replace mountain bike chain?

An important follow-up question is therefore: when should I replace my mountain bike chain? There is no standard rule for this. Although you should generally take into account a replacement every 3,000 kilometers, wear can occur much faster in worsening weather conditions. Fortunately, there are special accessories to find out whether a bicycle chain needs to be replaced.

Tip: use a chain wear gauge

With a chain wear meter, also called a bicycle chain checker tool, you can easily check the degree of wear. The tool works very simply: you put it in the bicycle chain. If the long pin subsequently also falls into the chain, the bicycle chain is badly worn.

bbb chain tool
With this wear gauge you can quickly discover whether your chain needs to be replaced. ©

Chain replacement MTB: step-by-step plan

Is your chain in need of replacement? Then it’s time to buy a new MTB chain first. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of mountain bike tools to replace the chain. The type of tool depends on the type of bicycle chain lock.

For a bicycle chain with a missing link, you must use a missing link pliers. Do you have a bicycle chain without a missing link? Then you need to use a so-called chain tool. Apart from this difference, the steps for replacing the MTB chain are exactly the same.

Follow the steps below to replace the MTB bicycle chain.

  1. Loosen the bicycle chain

    Find the missing link and easily loosen it with the missing link pliers or use the chain tool for an MTB chain without a missing link.replace mtb chain

  2. Place the new chain over the front sprocket

    Do you have multiple front sprockets? Then place it over the smallest front sprocket.

  3. Fit the bicycle chain over the smallest rear sprocket

    Now also place the chain on the smallest rear sprocket on the mountain bike cassette. Try to keep the chain on both sprockets properly.

  4. Place the chain on the top derailleur pulley

    Make sure the bicycle chain rests on the top wheel of the derailleur; lead him over.

  5. Thread the MTB chain through the derailleur cage and place it behind the lower derailleur wheel

    Do you have a derailleur with clutch? Then open the clutch so you can push the derailleur forward for easier access.

  6. Check whether the length of the MTB chain is correct

    Check whether the mountain bike chain is long enough. If it hangs too slack when you have it on both smallest sprockets, you need to shorten it. Use a chain tool for this.

  7. Reattach the chain

    Attach the quick link fastener to fasten the bicycle chain or use a shear pin with a chain tool for a mountain bike chain without a quick link.

If, after replacing the MTB chain, you notice that your mountain bike no longer shifts smoothly, your derailleur may no longer be properly adjusted. See here how to adjust a mountain bike derailleur.

Postpone MTB bicycle chain replacement

You can significantly extend the life of the bicycle chain by regularly cleaning your MTB chain. You can clean a mountain bike chain with a chain cleaner. After cleaning, it is important to lubricate the mountain bike chain so that you can shift gears comfortably.

Frequently asked questions about replacing the MTB chain

Why should a mountain bike chain be cleaned regularly?

By regularly cleaning the chain, you can significantly extend the life of the bicycle chain. The chance of a breaking chain is also less and other parts also wear less quickly.

Do I need tools to replace a bicycle chain?

You need a missing link pliers or a chain tool to remove the chain from your bike.

How often should I replace an MTB chain?

It depends on the number of kilometers and the weather conditions to which the bicycle chain is exposed when you need to replace it. With a chain wear gauge you can see to what extent your chain is worn.

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