How to Use a SRAM Powerlink to fix a bike chain

Learn how to use a SRAM Powerlink or Powerlock to fix a bike chain with this simple step-by-step guide. A chain hook like the one pictured at left can make this task easier.

To complete this task you’ll need a chain breaker or mountain bike multi-tool with chain breaker:
– I use the Crank Brother Multi 19 or the Topeak Alien II. I have both.
– a Shimano XT and XTR chain plus the included connecting pin
– and a SRAM Connecting Link. (optional – instead of the chain pin)

A Bike Stand also comes in very handy to do this and many other bike maintenance tasks. I waited years to get a bike stand, then wondered why I waited so long for this great convenience. If you’re hard on tools, here’s an even more durable Bike Stand.

Step 1 – Reduce the tension and position the chain

  • if you’ve already removed the chain, still change to the smallest cog and ring, then go to step 3.
  • shift to the smallest chain ring at the front and the smallest gear at the back.  A loose chain makes the task so much easier!
  • cycle the damaged section of chain to the bottom run
  • move the chain to the bottom run by hand if it’s too damaged to be cycled into place
  • if your chain is wrapped around parts of the bike, just access the damaged section with the chain tool any way you can

Step 2 – Hold the rear derailleur arm forward to loosen the chain fully

  • Get a friend to hold the derailleur arm forward against it’s spring (or carefully use a stick or seatpost through the spokes)
  • Keep the chain from sitting in the dirt.

Step 3 – Locate the first chain pin to be removed

  • Remember – one Powerlink or Powerlock takes the place of one full section of outer link
  • Looking along the chain to the left of the damaged section, locate the first undamaged inner chain link.
  • Each inner chain link section has two pins, a left and a right pin, that goes through each end and secures the inner link between outer link plates.
  • Once you’ve decided which is the nearest undamaged inner link, locate the right side pin through that inner link.  That’s the first pin you need to remove.

Step 4 – Push the first pin out

  • If you have a chain hook, hook it either side of the damaged section so that the chain is slack and has room for the chain breaker
  • Position your chain tool onto the chain from underneath, lining up the chain tool plunging pin onto the head of the pin you want to remove.
  • Ensure that the chain fits snugly into the tool between the guide teeth.
  • Wind the chain tool handle or allen key to push the pin out.  Hold the chain steady on the tool with your other thumb if you need to.
  • Once you’re done wind the chain tool back out.  Separate the chain and keep the good end out of the dirt.

Step 5 – Locate the second pin to be removed

  • Holding the damaged section in your hand, look along the chain to the right of that damaged section and locate the first undamaged inner chain link.
  • Locate the left side pin through that inner link.  That’s the second pin you need to remove.

Step 6 – Remove the second pin

  • Repeat step 4 to remove the second pin.  Keep the damaged section of chain in your Camelbak for the day you need to fit a new chain.
  • Why?  Because you’ll need it to count how many links your original chain started so that your new chain starts at the right length.

Step 7 – Install the SRAM Powerlink

You should now have a split chain that ends with inner links at both ends.

  1. Insert the pin of one half of the SRAM Powerlink into the pin hole on the left end of your chain.
  2. Next, insert the pin of the second half of Powerlink into the pin hole on the other end of the chain.
  3. Join the SRAM Powerlink halves together.  Fit the Powerlink halves together by slotting the exposed Powerlink pins into each other’s link plate hole.
  4. Powerlinks can be secured by squeezing the links together between your thumb and fore-finger and sliding the plates in opposite directions.
  5. Powerlocks (10 and 11 speed): gently cycle the link to the top chain run.  Apply the rear brake, then push down on the pedal till you hear a click.
  6. Lubricate your chain

Powerlink and Powerlock Top Tips

  • Powerlinks make removing your chain to wash it or removing your chain for bike transport dead easy.  (Powerlocks are non-removable)
  • Keep two links in your camelbak so you can repair your chain on the trail

Where to next:

  • How to remove a SRAM Powerlink in Seconds
  • (1m:42s minute video)

  • How to remove a SRAM Powerlink in Seconds
  • (2 minute video)

  • The Best 3 Minute Bike Wash and Lube
  • (3 minute video)

  • How to Fix a Squeaky Bike Seat or Seatpost
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