Tech Tip: The Dos & Don'ts When Purchasing & Fitting A New Drive Chain

Tech Tip: The Dos & Don'ts When Purchasing & Fitting A New Drive Chain

When it comes down to a worn or knackered drive chain there are a couple of points that one must take into consideration before purchasing a replacement

Although replacing a drive chain does appear to be straight forward, today we will cover the dos and don'ts when placing an order for a replacement drive chain

Further below you will also find tips on how to cut your new drive chain to fit your specific application 

The information below can be used here on the Classic British Spares site or perhaps other sites when selecting a new chain..

Lets get started..


Selecting a chain - "The Dos"

Triumph Chain Parts Catalog


In order to obtain the correct chain length and pitch, you will need to take the time to inspect and document what your motorcycle currently has fitted to it 

Spending the extra time doing so will make your chain purchase and installation a more positive experience 

Lets go over a few "Dos" which will help you in the short and long term


  • Obtain your year, make and model of motorcycle that will require a new drive chain

  • Verify how many teeth on the front and rear drive sprockets currently fitted to your machine

  • Verify the chain count along with the correct chain diameter (width)

  • Refer to a parts book or workshop manual to reference the stock chain length assuming that all parts are “correct” for your application

  • Have the proper tools on hand to cut a chain to any given length


Selecting a chain - "The Don'ts"


Triumph Workshop Manual Chain Specs

Now that we know what to "do", lets go over "the don'ts


  • Do not assume which type of chain you need without consulting your motorcycle

  • Do not rely strictly on a parts book to tell you which chain size you need - (parts get changed over the years)

  • Do not blindly purchase a chain "assuming" that it will fit from the start


Cutting chain - quick tips

Assuming that you have followed the steps above and you now have the correct chain in hand, you may find that you need to cut the chain for your specific application

If that happens to be the case, below we will cover how to cut a motorcycle drive chain 

 How To Cut A Final Drive Motorcycle Chain - Steps

 How to cut a chain in 4 easy steps 

Cutting a new drive chain does require the correct tools such as a chain breaker, however if do not have a chain breaker you can use the "bench grinder, hammer and a punch method" as an alternative

The bench grinder method

  1. Mark the desired chain length in which you need to cut
  2. Grind the rivet down 
  3. Take your hammer and punch and apply blunt force over the ground river  (you will be able to see witness marks) and hammer the pin out 
  4. Verify that you have cut the correct link (if done correctly you should have an inner link exposed NOT an outer link - see below photo for details)

Remember, safety first!

 The chain breaker method

Chain Breaker Tool by EMGO


If you have a chain breaker handy this is by far the easiest, cleanest and quickest way to properly size your chain 

Just like steps 1-4 above, a chain breaker tool pushes the river pin out without having to grind or hammer the pin out... easy!

Correct vs Incorrect Cutting Of Drive Chain

 What a chain should and should not look like once the chain has been cut

When cutting drive chains it is vital to cut the correct link of chain, I have seen many mistakes when folks cut the incorrect portion of the chain...

This is where most folks "give up" 

Cut the inside chain link NOT the outside (see the photo above)

On your first try you may make this simple yet confusing mistake, if you study the chain, you will find which rivet to remove or cut to expose the inside link

 If you have cut the wrong link of chain it’s not the end of the world, simply cut the chain back 1 link to where the inner chain link is exposed and use a half-link to make up the difference 


Your chain, your responsibility

Renold Motorcycle Chains

As a parts seller there is only so much we can do to help our customers in selecting a proper chain

We cannot see through the phone nor do we “assume” what you “might” need so it is very important to follow the steps above

Chains come in “pre/cut” generic link sizes (107,110,120,etc) from our manufacture which includes Renold and KMC so be prepared to cut a chain specific for your application

Unfortunately we will not be able to cut or prepare any drive chain other than what is supplied to us from our manufacture but we would be happy to assist you

Learning how to cut a motorcycle chain is a good skill to have


Chains and tools for purchase

 Renold Chain & Chain Breaker Tools


Should you need a new replacement chain or tools we have a large selection for most vintage Triumph, BSA and Norton motorcycles

View the chart below showcasing our current stock  - click on the "click here" text to make a purchase

*All drive chains, masterlinks and half-links both Renold and Taiwan are the "narrow / thin wall" variety as OEM

Part Type Brand Link
Motorcycle Chain (all sizes) Renold (Enlgland) Click Here
Masterlinks & Half-links Renold & KMC Click Here
Chain Breaker EMGO (Taiwan) Click Here


Thanks for reading today


Should you have any questions about today's Tech Tip blog post or you would like to leave us a comment, please join in on the conversation below commenting below

Click here for more Tech Tips blog post like this one 

Thanks for reading, ride safe! 


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  • David Patterson

    Just leave the old chain around the front sprocket. Connect the new chain to it with a master link and pull it through.

  • David Patterson

    My T150 had a worn chain when I bought it. Tough to find a 107 link chain for the 53 tooth rear sprocket and you really don’t wanna use a non-riveted half link. For the price of a good chain breaker I bought a 50 tooth sprocket. 106 links fit fine and it’s a fast bike now.

  • Jar

    What? Nothing on how to feed the chain through the tiny front sprocket cavity? This is what is truly difficult and guaranteed to frustrate every first-timer!

  • hacksaw

    nothing wrong with reviewing even the simplest maintenance data. oring chains etc are not for our bikes. stick with reynolds and one cant go wrong. and remember worn sprockets will make your new chain wear out quick. consider the condition of the sprockets.

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