How To Count Links in a Chain: A Guide to Art of Accurate Counting

One of the essential parts of a bicycle or a motorbike is a chain, as it connects the wheels to the chaining to give the smoothest riding experience. The chain of a bike is more likely to be damaged during routine riding because it remains under constant stress. So, it’s important to replace it with the correct number of links. 

Counting links in a chain is an important skill for anyone involved in the maintenance, repair, or replacement of chains. Whether you are a cyclist, a mechanic, or simply interested in understanding the inner workings of chains, accurately counting links is essential.

Therefore, in this comprehensive guide, we will show you detailed instructions on how to count links in a chain, ensuring maximum authenticity and accuracy.

Let’s see how you can do it easily!

This is one of the common questions that needs to be answered clearly by all bikers. Generally speaking, counting the links in a chain helps measure the accurate length of the chain of your vehicle.

Why Do We Need to Count Links In A Chain 

The actual problem lies when you count the links of the damaged chain. A damaged chain has stretches in the links which don’t correspond to the original length of the chain. And ultimately, when you install the chain, it becomes too loose. 

So, which method could help you in getting accurate measurements of the chain links? If you’re seeking the information, then scroll ahead!

Steps to Count the Links In A Chain

If you’re worried after reading the above explanation, then you don’t need to panic because it’s not like that. Basically, counting the chain links is super easy, even if you are counting a pre-installed chain. Let’s follow the instructions in the steps below!

Step 1: Secure the Bike

Flip your bike upside down, choose a stable place and secure your bike at that particular place. Our goal is to make the bike stable so that the pedals and rear wheels can be moved freely during the counting process. 

If you have a bike stand, then you can easily secure your bike. 

Step 2: Understand the Chain Anatomy

Before counting the links, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the basic structure of a chain. A standard chain is composed of a series of inner and outer plates joined together by connecting pins. Each link consists of an inner plate, an outer plate, and a connecting pin in between them.

Step 3: Establish A Reference Point

To accurately count the links, you need to identify the reference points. Start by locating one end of the chain and choose a reference point, such as the first inner plate or outer plate. For more accurate counting, you can mark that specific point. You can use a grease pen for marking. 

With the reference point established, start counting by moving in one direction (usually towards the opposite end of the chain). Each complete link consists of one inner plate, one outer plate, and the connecting pin between them.

Start Counting Links

Ensure that you count each complete set of inner and outer plates, including the connecting pins, which means all three components of the chain.

In some cases, especially with bicycles or specialized chains, you may encounter half-links. These are unique chain links that allow for more precise chain length adjustments.

Half-links appear as half the length of a regular link, having only either an inner or an outer plate. When counting half-links, ensure to include them as half a link, i.e., 0.5 in your total count.

Step 6: Double-Check Your Count

To ensure accuracy, it is advisable to count the links twice independently. This double-checking process helps eliminate any errors or discrepancies that may arise during the initial count. Consistency in your counts is crucial for accurate chain measurements.

Once you have reliably counted the links in the chain, record the number for your reference. This count can serve various purposes, including chain replacement, sizing, or ongoing maintenance.

Record the Link Count

All done!

If you have a separate chain or a new chain, you can count its links as well. Usually, if you want to get a new chain installed in your vehicle, then the number of links will be mentioned on the box, but if you don’t see the number, then it’s okay because it happens sometimes. 

Counting the Chain Links of a New Chain 

Here, you have to follow these steps!

Step 1: Lie Down the Chain 

Take a table or use the floor to lay down the chain flat. Make sure that the master link of the chain is not connected with the other end of the chain. 

The master link should be counted first. Start with counting the master link, and don’t mark the master link. Just count it as 0. 

The outer link, which comes after the master link, is considered as 1. Start counting all the outer links one by one, and don’t forget the order.

After counting all, multiply the total number by 2. If you are counting the inner links from the start, then there is no need to multiply the total by 2. 

You can apply this method to all kinds of chains, either a bicycle, bike or an ATV chain. No matter what type of chain it is, just make sure it is lying flat on a smooth and level surface. 


Counting links in a chain is an essential skill for anyone working with chains, whether for maintenance, repair, or replacement purposes. By following the step-by-step process in this comprehensive guide, you can accurately count links and gain a better understanding of chain structure. 

Remember to establish reference points, count each complete link, and be mindful of half-links. Double-checking your count promotes accuracy and reliability. With these techniques, you can confidently navigate chain-related tasks while ensuring optimal performance and functionality. Adieu!

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