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How to use chain quick links

Pro tips for removing and installing a chain with a joining link

Known variously as ‘quick links’, ‘power links’, or ‘missing links’ depending on the brand, these clever widgets take all the faff out of joining a bicycle chain.

In the past, joining a chain was a pretty fiddly and tricky job. It required using a dedicated chain-splitting tool to drive a pin through the centre of a link before securing it within the outer plate on the other side.

This had to be done very accurately because a poorly joined chain would be liable to snap under load. At the same time, it was also tough not to end up with a stiff link.

The beauty of modern quick-joining links is that they take all the guesswork out of connecting a chain. You simply pop them together, and once they’re on, you’ve got a secure joint and a safe chain.

At the same time, they also make removing your chain easy, which is excellent for cleaning, transporting the bike or making quick roadside repairs.

How to use quick links step-by-step

Tools required 

Although there are various styles on the market, almost all quick links work in the same way. Generally, both sides of the quick link have an offset slotted outer plate. A bit like a keyhole, this gap is such that when you pop the riveted side of the link through the end of the chain, you can then push the two sides of the link together.

With a little force applied to the chain, they'll then lock firmly into place. Some links can be reused indefinitely; some are single-use. However, almost all work on this same principle.

How to fit a chain with a quick link

Let’s imagine that we’re fitting a new chain to a bike. Having threaded the chain through the derailleurs and around the chainring and sprockets, you’ll be ready to determine the correct length required. Once you’ve ascertained this, you’ll need to use a chain tool to chop the chain down to size, leaving an inner link at either end that’s ready to accept the quick link.

At this point, you’ll benefit from a tool designed to hold the chain together while it’s being joined. The one we’re using is made by Topeak. Counteracting the tension from the derailleur arm and creating some much needed slack, this will make it far easier to fit the link.

Now is a good time to check if the style of quick link you’re using is directional. Look for an arrow on the side plate that will tell you the necessary direction of movement as the link passes through the drivetrain.

Pop the two parts of the quick link into either side of the chain and locate the pins through the keyhole sections on its partner piece. Give both sides a push to temporarily lock them in place. You can now unhook the tool that was formerly holding the chain together.

The chain should now remain together. However, you’re not finished. You still need to fix the link in place. The best way to do that is to use the drivetrain to help you pull it into place. To achieve this, back-pedal the chain around until the quick link is above the chainstay.

Once the link is in place between the cassette and the chainring, hold the back wheel and push down on the pedal as if to drive the bike forward. This will place tension on the link and pop it into place. Listen out, and you may hear the link click together.

Next, visually check to ensure both sides of the link are correctly slotted together and that the distance between the two pins is the same as on the other links. If they are, you’re good to go.

How to remove a chain using a quick link

Now let’s suppose you want to disconnect your chain. For this, you need a simple tool called a set of joining pliers. Locate the quick link and rotate the drivetrain until it's below the chainstay. The joining link pliers are designed to locate either side of the quick link.

As you compress the link, you’ll see the pins move back into their slots, enabling you to pop that link apart.

Again, be aware that some brands of quick link are only designed to be joined and separated once.

Ready to take on some more complex workshop tasks? Why not watch our guide on how to remove and fit press-fit bottom bracket

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