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How to Count Chain Links

by C. Taylor

Every motorcycle or bicycle chain contains both an inner and an outer link. The outer link clamps over the sides of the inner ones to create a smooth, consistent chain with each link angled in the same direction. When counting the links, you must count both inner and outer links separately. If the chain is still on the motorcycle, you may not be able to clearly see the inner links, but the plates of the outer links will be readily visible.

Prop the motorcycle on its maintenance stand, according to its instruction manual. A bicycle can be propped upside down to access the chain. The goal is to secure the bike and allow the wheel and chain to turn. If the chain is off the bike, you can skip this step.

Mark one of the chains with a grease pen. This will enable you to know when you reach the beginning of your count. If one of the chain links is detached, such that the chain is a single strip rather than a loop, then you simply can start at one end instead of marking a link.

Count each outside link, which is easily identifiable by the large plates on either side of the link. Continue counting until you reach the beginning.

Multiply the count by two to include the inner links. As an example, if you counted 55 outer links, you will know there are 110 total links. Since outer links can only attach to inner links, and vice versa, there are always an even number of links.

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