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Chain wound up on outside of frame.

Old 05-07-22, 09:09 PM
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Chain wound up on outside of frame.

I replaced my bottom bracket, and wanted to put a bigger crankset on, so I disconnected the front derailer and then the chain got looped, I got the loop out, but then the chain got all weird and wound up somehow on the outside of the frame by the rear derailer. I cannot for the life of me figure out how this all goes back together. This is extremely frustrating. Please help. Explain to me like im five. Explain to me like I have no idea what im doing with bike repairs, because I don't. I tried to post a photo of the mess, but the forum wont let me until I make 10 posts.
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Old 05-07-22, 09:29 PM
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If it were me, I would buy a chain tool, some grease for the threads of the tool, and watch YouTube videos until I figured it all out.
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Old 05-07-22, 10:03 PM
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YouTube is your friend. Take advantage of it and ditto what SurferRosa said. Pop the chain apart and go from there. Good luck
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Old 05-07-22, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by damnbike
...I cannot for the life of me figure out how this all goes back together...
First off I am so glad you are doing this yourself. Don't be afraid. Just a few more Youtubes and you will have it all together. Latter you will look back and laugh at the whole ordeal...

Don't be too surprised at that chain all curled up like a snake ready to bite... Its what they do...
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Old 05-07-22, 10:56 PM
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Look at another bike.
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Old 05-08-22, 06:08 AM
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The easy way out of this is, like others have said, to break the chain and reroute it properly. If you are an inquisitive sort and want to figure out the cause of the situation, think about doing this:
Have you already replaced your bottom bracket and crank? If so, reverse your work until you get to a point where your chain is ok. I'm not sure what you mean by disconnecting the front derailleur, but if this means that you removed it from the frame, it's likely that that had something to do with it. For larger chainrings, you would have to modify the position of the derailleur; however you don't have to remove it from the frame.
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Old 05-08-22, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by SpedFast
YouTube is your friend. Take advantage of it and ditto what SurferRosa said. Pop the chain apart and go from there. Good luck
I couldn't find a master link in my chain, how do I take it apart?
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Old 05-08-22, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
First off I am so glad you are doing this yourself. Don't be afraid. Just a few more Youtubes and you will have it all together. Latter you will look back and laugh at the whole ordeal...

Don't be too surprised at that chain all curled up like a snake ready to bite... Its what they do...
So far no youtube videos have replicated what situation my bike is in.
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Old 05-08-22, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost
The easy way out of this is, like others have said, to break the chain and reroute it properly. If you are an inquisitive sort and want to figure out the cause of the situation, think about doing this:
Have you already replaced your bottom bracket and crank? If so, reverse your work until you get to a point where your chain is ok. I'm not sure what you mean by disconnecting the front derailleur, but if this means that you removed it from the frame, it's likely that that had something to do with it. For larger chainrings, you would have to modify the position of the derailleur; however you don't have to remove it from the frame.
I haven't put the crank back on yet, I didn't completely remove the deralier from the frame, I just loosened the nut on the collar that holds it to the frame to slide it out of the way to get a bigger crank gear to fit. I don't think I can break my chain as I don't think my chain has a master link.
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Old 05-08-22, 08:25 AM
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Bought a chain tool on amazon, while im waiting for this, reseraching how to remove chain without master link
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Old 05-08-22, 08:26 AM
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First, if the chain is wedged in between the frame and the cogs, wrap a rag around the chai close to where it is wedged (to give you some grip on the chain) and tug it free. Once that is done, just two things should help you figure it out: 1) whether its a YouTube video or a photo on the web or another bike (best idea, already posted above) get an idea of how the chain is supposed to go thru the rear derailleur—it makes an ‘s’ and can be a bit confusing at first. 2) (and from your post it sounds like you’ve already got this bit) the chain can ‘criss-cross’ itself into an odd loop, especially in front where more of it hangs free—kind of like the old spiral telephone cords used to do…if we can go back that far—so you’ll want to clear that up first. You should be pretty close after that. You may want to turn the bike upside down so you can rotate the cranks and back wheel as you jimmy the chain back in place. Good luck! Have dish soap or ‘go-joe’ soap ready—your hands will be full of grease
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Old 05-08-22, 08:42 AM
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How much bigger is the new crank? It is possible that you will need a longer chain for it and have to remove the old one anyway

Last edited by alcjphil; 05-08-22 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 05-08-22, 08:44 AM
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Step back and take a deep breath. This isn't rocket science or watchmaking. Don't panic. You're dealing with one of the simplest machines ever created by man. It won't beat you.

Your chain isn't outside the frame. It's where it always was. Nothing has changed. You should not have to break it, although sometimes that is the easiest or quickest solution. You just need to spend some time to untangle it. Might take some time, but it can be done. If you decide to break it, make sure you understand the process completely. It's probably a more involved endeavor than switching out your bottom bracket. If you goof and pop the rivet all the way out, you will need a new one with a guide. They cost pennies, but make sure you get the right one for your particular chain. Or better yet, buy a quick link or three. I prefer the Wipperman Connex ones myself. Nifty little piece of hardware. The Youtube advice is invaluable. It doesn't matter if the situations as presented aren't exactly like yours. You will still learn something. As alcjphil noted above, you may actually need a new chain anyway.
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Old 05-08-22, 09:51 AM
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It’s not a metal puzzle.
Generally speaking, if you didn’t break the chain during the BB or crank replacement, it has to still be in the same correct place.

The only exception to this being a bike where you disassemble the actual frame.
Example… a frame where the seat stays (goes from rear derailleur to seat post clamp) can be removed on one or both ends. Rare, but do exist.

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Old 05-08-22, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by damnbike
Bought a chain tool on amazon, while im waiting for this, reseraching how to remove chain without master link
There are better ways, but as a kid I used to use a hammer, a chunk of wood to support the chain, and a nail punch. That was 70 years ago. Wait for the chain breaking tool to arrive. And like others have stated, maybe you won't have to break the chain if you can free it from between the cog and frame. Wearing gloves helps when trying to pull it free. Just keep at it and don't give up. t/his is a great learning experience. Good luck
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Old 05-09-22, 01:11 PM
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Any 'knot' that a chain can put itself in can be un-knotted, but it might take some time and thought. The only chain problem that sometimes requires dis- and re-assembly is when the chain gets badly jammed into somewhere it should not be - between the crank and the frame, or maybe between the cassette and spokes. 'Knots' found in a chain that has not been broken or removed are (almost?) always in pairs of loops, and bringing the two loops together will cancel them out and restore the chain to one big loop as it should be.
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Old 05-09-22, 01:53 PM
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Old 05-09-22, 02:06 PM
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Ok, so the bike is upside-down.
Rear wheel and crank has been removed.

Did you also mess with the rear derailleur?

Your rear wheel is sitting on the wrong part of the chain.

It is pretty easy to remove the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur (which I do from time to time to clean and oil them).

I think your chain is flipped upside-down, and fed through the rear derailleur wrong.

Anyway, what I'd do:

Remove rear wheel.
Remove the rear Jockey wheels. Keep track that the larger one is on the bottom.

Flip the chain around so the part hanging down (photo bottom) is lifted up.

Now install your new crank.

Routing of the chain should be (if the bike was right side up).[indent=20px]
  • Rear-end through front derailleur.
  • Across the top of the crank, then around the crank and out the bottom.
  • Straight back to the lower derailleur pulley (the big one in your photo).
  • Around the bottom of the lower pulley to the back side.
  • Now forward through the derailleur cage, and around the front side of the upper derailleur pulley.
  • Now the chain wraps around the back side of the freewheel, out the top of the freewheel, and back to the front derailleur.

If you didn't take the chain apart to get into this mess, then you don't need to take it apart to put it back together.


Last edited by CliffordK; 05-09-22 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 05-09-22, 02:10 PM
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Hard to see from the photo, but it looks like he at least took the front derailleur apart--looks like the screw connecting the cage sides is missing.
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Old 05-09-22, 02:16 PM
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Ok, so I'm looking at the derailleur wrong.

The upper jockey wheel is the big one.

The lower pulley is somehow sprung completely around and essentially reversed.

So the rear derailleur wasn't necessarily rerouted.

But, your chain is still flipped. So, you'd have to remove the rear wheel and see if you could pull the rear derailleur cage around to the correct hanging down position, and see if you can flip the chain as it goes through the cage.

It should be possible to do it with the jockey wheels on the bike, but it may be easier to just remove them.
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Old 05-09-22, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK


Ok, so I'm looking at the derailleur wrong.

The upper jockey wheel is the big one.

The lower pulley is somehow sprung completely around and essentially reversed.

So the rear derailleur wasn't necessarily rerouted.

But, your chain is still flipped. So, you'd have to remove the rear wheel and see if you could pull the rear derailleur cage around to the correct hanging down position, and see if you can flip the chain as it goes through the cage.

It should be possible to do it with the jockey wheels on the bike, but it may be easier to just remove them.
I think you're got it--it's just had to see and visualize with it all upside down!
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Old 05-09-22, 02:56 PM
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LOL…does this help? 😊
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Old 05-09-22, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Ok, so the bike is upside-down.
Rear wheel and crank has been removed.
Did you also mess with the rear derailleur?
Your rear wheel is sitting on the wrong part of the chain.
It is pretty easy to remove the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur (which I do from time to time to clean and oil them).
I think your chain is flipped upside-down, and fed through the rear derailleur wrong.
Anyway, what I'd do:
Remove rear wheel.
Remove the rear Jockey wheels. Keep track that the larger one is on the bottom.
Flip the chain around so the part hanging down (photo bottom) is lifted up.
Now install your new crank.
Routing of the chain should be (if the bike was right side up).
  • Rear-end through front derailleur.
  • Across the top of the crank, then around the crank and out the bottom.
  • Straight back to the lower derailleur pulley (the big one in your photo).
  • Around the bottom of the lower pulley to the back side.
  • Now forward through the derailleur cage, and around the front side of the upper derailleur pulley.
  • Now the chain wraps around the back side of the freewheel, out the top of the freewheel, and back to the front derailleur.

If you didn't take the chain apart to get into this mess, then you don't need to take it apart to put it back together.





You have the patience of a saint. I was going to try to explain some of this, but gave up. Well done.
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Old 05-09-22, 03:47 PM
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Of course the bike is upside down, how else am I supposed to get both wheels off the floor? I don't have one of those things that you can mount the frame on to work on the bike like the bike shops have. what position should the bike be in when I work on it?
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Old 05-09-22, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK


Ok, so I'm looking at the derailleur wrong.

The upper jockey wheel is the big one.

The lower pulley is somehow sprung completely around and essentially reversed.

So the rear derailleur wasn't necessarily rerouted.

But, your chain is still flipped. So, you'd have to remove the rear wheel and see if you could pull the rear derailleur cage around to the correct hanging down position, and see if you can flip the chain as it goes through the cage.

It should be possible to do it with the jockey wheels on the bike, but it may be easier to just remove them.
I loosened the nut on the front deralier, didn't do anything to the rear derailer, but how do I get the rear derailer back to the way it is supposed to be? What position should the bike be in when I'm doing this? What parts should be on the bike when I'm doing this?
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