How To Count Bicycle Chain Links?

Chains are an essential part of bicycles and motorcycles. This part connects the wheel to the chainring. Without the chain, the wheel has no energy to move it forward.

The chain is subjected to a lot of stress and suffers wear damage. Changing the chain is inevitable. When replacing the chain, you must install the new chain with the correct number of links to fit your bike.

When it comes to chain links, people often have trouble counting them correctly. Therefore, in this article we’ll show you how to count the chain links for your bike or motorcycle correctly.

Why Do We Need to Count Links on a Chain?

Why do we need to count chain links? So that you can measure the correct length of chain for your bike.

You won’t get the right result if you measure the length of the old chain. The chain is subjected to a lot of stress, which leads to wear damage. The wear damage stretches all the links of the chain. Therefore, they no longer correspond to the original length of the chain. If you take this stretched measurement and install a new chain with this length, the chain will appear too loose.

That’s why we count the links of the chain. This way we’ll get the correct measurement for the chain length. Now let’s see how to calculate the number of chain links.

Related reading: How To Keep Bike Chain From Rusting?

Counting Chain Links for Bicycle

Counting chain links for a bicycle is very easy, even if the chain is installed in the bicycle. Just follow the steps below.

Flip the Bicycle Upside-down or Secure It Any Other Way

First, we need to find a way to secure the bike. Our goal is to keep the bike stable so that the rear wheel and pedals can move freely.

One of the easiest ways is to put the bike upside down. You can also put it in a bike stand to keep it stable.

Mark One Link with a Pen

Next, we need to mark a chain link. It marks the starting point of our count and shows us when we’ve made a complete loop.

You can mark the chain link with a grease pencil or something else. Make sure it doesn’t come off quickly while counting.

Count All Outside Links

To make things easier, you should now count the outside links. The outside links are those link pieces that are exposed to both sides. Count all outer links until you’ve have made a loop.

Multiply the Result by Two

After you’ve counted all the outside links, multiply the result by two. This way you get the total number of all links.

You can do this step alternately, counting the outer and inner links at the same time. Remember that the result should be an even number. Otherwise, you’ll have miscalculated.

Counting Chain Links for Motorcycle

Counting chain links on your motorcycle will be the same as counting chain links on a bicycle. However, it will be more difficult. Motorcycles are heavy. Their machinery components are more complicated. Moreover, the chain of a motorcycle is less exposed. It is accessible from a few points without disassembling the parts.

Here are the steps for counting the chain links of a motorcycle.

Secure the Motorcycle

Just like the bicycle, we need to secure the motorcycle first. Turning it upside-down is not an option. It will make the engine leak oil. So we need to use a bike stand for stabilizing the motorcycle and making its wheel move free.

Mark One Chain with a Marker/Pen

Mark one chain link to identify the beginning. Try to use something more permanent to mark the beginning in this case.

Count All Outside Links

Now count all outside links of the chain.

You can count both inner and outer links together to skip the next step. But keep in mind that if you use this alternate method, the result should end in an even number.

Multiply by Two

If you have just calculated the external links, multiply the result by two.

Counting Chain Links of a Separated/New Chain

Now how do you calculate links for a separated/new chain? If it is a new chain, the number of links should be mentioned in the box. But if it is not mentioned, then no need to worry. Just follow the steps below.

Lie Down the Chain Flat

Take the chain and lie it down flat on the table. The chain should be separated, meaning the master link is not connected to the other end of the chain.

Start counting with the master link

We will start counting with the master link. There is no need to mark it with a marker. Count the master link as 0. Then the following outer link will be one.

Count All Outside Links and Multiply by Two

The immediate outer link after the master link will be one. Then count all the outer links in the correct order. Then multiply the number by two. That will be the total number of links in the chain.

If you count the inner links(the first inner link is 1) from the beginning, then there is no need to multiply the result by two.

This method can be applied to all chains. Be it a bicycle, motorcycle, or ATV bike chain. You can even use it for counting the links in a chainsaw chain. But the chain has to be separated and lie flat on the surface for counting.


You must get the correct chain length for whatever machine you will be using it on. The chain length alters due to wear and tear damage. So the right way of measuring the chain length is to count the chain links. This will give you the correct measurements.

We hope that our guidelines were sufficient to teach you the correct way of doing it.

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