silver-colored god tags hanging on hooks shallow focus photography

How to Measure a Chain: A Step-by-Step Guide


Whether you need to replace a worn-out chain or want to determine the correct length for a new one, knowing how to measure a chain is an essential skill for any cyclist or mechanic. Properly measuring a chain ensures optimal performance and prevents issues such as skipping gears or chain slippage. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of measuring a chain accurately.

What You Will Need

Before you begin, gather the following tools:

  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Chain checker tool (optional but recommended)

Step 1: Remove the Chain

To measure the chain accurately, it is best to remove it from the bicycle. This will allow you to lay it flat and take precise measurements without any obstructions. Use a chain tool or quick-link pliers to disconnect the chain from the drivetrain.

Step 2: Straighten the Chain

Lay the chain flat on a clean and smooth surface. Straighten out any kinks or twists in the chain by gently pulling it with your hands. Ensure that the chain is fully extended and not tangled.

Step 3: Measure the Chain Length

Using a tape measure or ruler, measure the length of the chain from one end to the other. Start from the outer edge of one chain pin and measure up to the outer edge of the corresponding pin on the opposite end. Make sure to measure the chain at its longest point.

Note: If you have a chain checker tool, you can use it to determine if your chain is worn beyond its usable limit. This tool measures the chain’s elongation and indicates whether it needs to be replaced. If your chain is excessively worn, it is recommended to replace it instead of measuring it for length.

Step 4: Determine the Chain Size

Once you have measured the chain length, it’s time to determine the appropriate chain size. Chains are typically labeled with a specific number, such as 10-speed or 11-speed. This number refers to the number of gears on the rear cassette. Match the chain size to the number of gears on your bike’s drivetrain.

Tip: If you are unsure about the number of gears on your bike, you can count the cogs on the rear cassette. Alternatively, consult your bicycle’s user manual or contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Step 5: Consider Chain Type

In addition to the chain size, you also need to consider the type of chain. Chains come in different widths, which are designed to fit specific drivetrain components. Common chain types include 9-speed, 10-speed, and 11-speed. Ensure that the chain you choose matches the width of your cassette and chainrings.

Step 6: Purchase the Correct Chain

Now that you have determined the chain length, size, and type, you are ready to purchase a new chain. Visit your local bike shop or an online retailer to find a compatible chain that meets your requirements. It is advisable to choose a reputable brand and opt for a high-quality chain to ensure durability and smooth shifting.


Measuring a chain accurately is crucial for maintaining a well-functioning bicycle. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can determine the correct chain length, size, and type for your bike. Remember to always consult your bicycle’s user manual or seek professional assistance if you are unsure about any aspect of the chain measurement process. With the right chain in place, you can enjoy a smoother and more efficient ride.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *