How to Break a Chain Without a Chain Breaker? – Detailed Guide

Cycling is one of those fun and good habits that not only help you release stress but also help you stay in shape. As a dedicated bike owner, it’s a good idea to at least be able to remove the chain yourself.

A chain tool, also known as a chain breaker or a river puller, is helpful for DIY chain removal.

So, can you break a chain link without a tool?

Fortunately, several solutions allow you to remove the chain without this tool. First, it is essential to determine if your bike has a master link. If your bike chain has a master link, you need to use pliers to remove your main link.

If your chain doesn’t have a master link, you’ll need a little more effort. Here are two methods to consider:

  • Using a nail and hammer
  • Using saw or steel cutter

So, without further ado, let’s find out how to break a chain without a chain breaker!

Things You Need to Know Before Breaking the Chain

1. Prepare Your Bicycle

Placing the bike on a bike stand correctly allows you to handle your chain easier. Alternatively, you can turn your bike upside down so it rests on the saddle and handlebars.

Then, you should clean your bike chain by removing all the debris and dust attached to it. What’s more, you can use a high-quality chain cleaner to reduce grease and lubricants.

2. Locating the Master Link

After cleaning your bike chain, you can locate the master link, which allows you to disassemble the chain quickly.

The master link looks different from the rest of the chain link. It can be lighter or darker. It is easy to spot the quick link, but you have to check your bike chain carefully to find it.

How to Break a Chain With Master Link


Step 1: Prepare the necessary tools

A pair of pliers (Master-link pliers are the best)

Step 2: Press the Quick Link Using Master-Link Pliers

Once you have found the quick link, it is time to use a pair of pliers to compress it. This link is sometimes stiff, so you cannot remove it with your bare hands unless you are the Hulk. But with the help of master link pliers, you can remove this link easy as a breeze.

You will need to mount the pliers into the master link and the link should be between the pliers’ jaws. Squeeze its handle and the pin will be unlocked.

Step 3: Release the Pliers to Separate The Quick Link

Pull your pliers out from the quick link. Voila! The quick link has been removed.

Later, if you want to reattach the chain, you have to attach the rivets at the end of your chain. Then, use your master-link pliers to secure the quick link in its proper place.

If you want a visual of what could happen, check out the following video:

How to Break a Chain Without Master Link


Using a Nail and Hammer

Step 1: Prepare the necessary tools

Since you have to break chain without tool, you will need:

  • Nut
  • Hammer
  • Narrow screwdriver, nail punch, or anything similar

Step 2: Position the bike chain

Put your link in place so that t and the pin should get into the nut hole.

If you don’t have a nut, you will need something like that. You will need a drill bit and a piece of wood. Then, drill a small hole in the wood. You must make sure this hole is wide enough for the pin to pass through.

Step 3: Push the Pin

Then, place your nail punch/narrow screwdriver in the pin’s center. After that, use your hammer to hit it until the pin comes out.

You should do this carefully. Otherwise, you can deform the bike chain, making it impossible to reattach it.

Check out this video for a better look at our guide.

Using Bolt Cutters

Step 1: Prepare the necessary tools

Bolt Cutters

Using bolt cutters is also a viable way to break a chain without a tool. You just need to prepare bolt cutters, which you will most likely find in your tool kit.

We do not recommend this solution because bolt cutters can deform your chain. So, prioritize solutions that allow you to break a chain without bolt cutters.

Step 2: Adjust Your Bolt Cutters

The bulk of bolt cutters has a bolt, allowing you to adjust the tension on the blades. So, you can utilize this bolt to set the proper tension for the chain hardness.

However, chances are you’ll not need to adjust your bolt cutter to break your bike chain. The weakest setting will work well.

Step 3: Mark the position where you want to cut

Before cutting, it is wise to mark where you want to cut with a paint, sharp blade, or marker.

Step 4: Position your bolt cutters over your mark

Open the cutters’ blades and move your cutter head so the mark is between the cutters’ blades.

Step 5: Apply force to close the blades

Apply force to close the blades on your chain until the chain breaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is It Worth Buying Master Link Pliers?

Absolutely, yes!

In our opinion, master link pliers are a great tool to have if you are new to working on the bike.

2. Is a Chain Breaker Tool Worth It?

Sure. It allows you to take off the bike chain easy as a breeze. Moreover, reattaching the chain without this tool is too complex.

3. Can I Put Two Quick Links on My Chain?

Sure, you can. Yet, you need to place these links far aside.

4. How to determine if the bicycle chain needs to be shortened?

It is best to use a chain wear tool to check your bike chain. It is easy to get one at your local bike shop. You need to attach one end into one pin in the bike chain, and its other end should be attached on the top of your chain or into the gap between the two rollers.

The chain wear tool has indicators. For example, if your reading is between 0.5 and 0.75, you need to consider shortening your chain. If the reading you get is higher than 0,75, besides changing the chain, it is essential to check out the cassette and chainrings.

5. Do all bicycle chains have a quick link?

Not all bike chains come with master links. So, if your bicycle has derailleurs, chances are your bike’s chain will be packed with a master link.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, by now, you should know how to break bicycle chain without tool. However, whether you use pliers, hammers, or bolt cutters, we recommend wearing thick gloves to protect your hands. Better safe than sorry, right?

Thank you for reading. Please share this article on how to break a chain without a chain breaker with other bike owners!

Finally, if you have something on your mind, we’d love to hear what you think. Hence, don’t hesitate to comment below to let us know.