How To Cut A Dirt Bike Chain? ( 5 different ways)

Chains and sockets can effortlessly draw a bike lover’s attention. Searching for new terrains and routes is a low-key hobby of mine and dirt bikes have helped me with this. I’ve owned a dirt bike since grade-10, and I’m always on the mission to find new ways to improve my dirt for making it better for the next expedition.

Switching the chains, extending it, or reducing it has wrecked my brains in the past too. But I was able to overcome that dilemma just by keeping all sorts of handy tools in my toolkit. No, you don’t need expensive tools to break a dirt bike chain. You just need some patience and to take a quick peek at your toolkit to ensure that you have all the apparatuses to break the chain. Below are 5 different ways to cut/break a dirt bike chain: 

5 Different Ways To Cut A Dirt Bike Chain:

Whether you want to shorten the chain to enhance your dirt bike’s deftness or remove it to attach a new one, doesn’t matter—I’m here to assist you. Make sure you study the pointers given at the very end before jumping into the chain-cutting process.

It’s also necessary to have some sort of adult guidance if you’re underage or simply don’t know how to cut a dirt bike chain. Let’s start with how things would be if you used the original tool to cut the chain.

1. Using A Chain Breaking Tool:

Since you already have the tool, it’ll be really easy for you to cut off the chain. Here’s what you need to do. First of all, search for the exposed plate on the chain or the one that looks distinctive from the rest (i.e. the master link) and line that up with the residing two internal plates. This is to help grasp the weaker point of the link and make it simpler for you to break the chain. 

Found the perfect link? Great. Now grab your tool and clamp it directly in between the chain by lining up one of the pins that you’ll remove to fully break the link. Don’t lose hope if you’re unable to break the pins or at least one pin.

You’ll be able to get the rivets out if you keep firmly pushing down with constant pressure on the chain. There you go, you have the pins expelled and the excess chain discarded too. If you planned to shorten the chain, you now go ahead and weld the extra chain together.

2. Using A Grinder:

There are many types of grinders out there that vary in size, utilization, and durability. In this case, opt for a somewhat bigger grinder (4” wheel grinder works with most chains) if the dirt bike chain that you’re working with is too heavy or enormous to cut with a customary grinder. It’ll seem like a no-sweat simple technique once you get a hold of it. Remember to use eyeglasses when working with grinders, metal or not. 

Follow these steps if you don’t know how to cut a chain on a dirt bike without a chain tool. After finding the link you intend to break, grind the top of the pins until it becomes frail enough to separate it with a screwdriver or something that’s sufficiently sturdy (Hammers will work too but make sure you’re not hitting too hard—you don’t want the chain to abruptly break). You can also use a metal blade grinder if the chain is thick. Let me know if you can get the master link out. 

3. Using Bolt-Cutters:

Bolt cutters can be an easy tool to work with depending on the thickness of your dirt bike’s chain and the hardness of the jaws of the cutters. As most bolt cutters are tipped or made with tungsten carbide, it may be difficult to cut through thick chains. Thus, it’s a must to guarantee that you’re using a large enough cutter (24” or more).

There are two ways you can use a bolt cutter to cut through a chain:

  • Put direct force on the jaws of the bolt cutters and keep hitting the tool with a pound or something to hit hard with. This force is enough to push the rivets out in an instant. The master link will open up on its own too. 
  • Find the weakest point of a link and face it towards you. Take your bolt cutters and apply constant pressure into that weak point. It might take you a couple of attempts to get rid of the link if it’s too thick. Use nails and apply extra pressure if your chain refuses to break. 

4. Punch And Hammer:

You can cut a chain on a dirt bike without bolt cutters using the punch-and-hammer technique. It can be a bit time-consuming since you’ll need some additional materials to break the chain, which I’m sure you’ll find in your toolkit anyway. If you’re going to reassemble or add extra length to the chain after breaking it, make sure you have some extra links and master chain links with you. Here’s what you’ll need-

  • Some nuts
  • The punch (small and big both)
  • Hammer
  • A nail

Position the nuts on the ground with the hole facing each pin. Keep adding them beneath every pin to the point you want to break the chain at. Then, take your punch (the bigger one) and hammer before hitting every pin with the link. Make use of the smaller punch and a nail in case this plan falls flat.

Punch the pins out by placing a nail within the gaps and cut approximately 5 mm above the pin flush and the chain will come apart on its own. If the link is somewhat stuck in between the mess, then you can heat that part of the chain and try the whole method again. 

5. Using Different Saws:

For this method, you can use a variety of saws but then again, it highly depends on the thickness of the chain. Other than the typical hacksaw, you can also use a coping saw or reciprocating saw. Hacksaws work best only because they’re easier to work with and easily cut most chains. Besides, hardened metal or similar chains have heavier pins, keeping the master link aside. Using a saw will cut through those pins too. 

Decide on a link that you want to cut and mark it with a marker to make sure you don’t lose sight of it. Clamp the chain with a tight clamp or onto a solid block (ex. Vise grips) and face the link towards you. Push all the remaining links to the back just so they won’t bother you when cutting the chain. Begin sawing through the chain-link till both sides of the interface are evenly cut. This is the easiest way to cut a dirt bike chain, trust me!

Tips To Follow While Cutting A Dirt Bike Chain:

You should follow the below tips while cutting a dirt bike chain:

  • Be cautious while shortening the chain as there’s no going back once you’ve cut more than required. 
  • You can easily get the master link clip in if you squeeze the plates of the chain together. This only works if you’re installing an X-ring or O-ring. 
  • It’s way better to clamp the chain first into a vise or a solid surface. This makes it easier to grip the chain while cutting it and reduces the risk of injuries. 
  • Reassembling a chain after breaking it can be truly precarious. It’s better to attach a new one after removing the previous chain. 
  • The weakest point in a chain is the portion where the metal of each interface was welded together.
  • A hardened steel chain can be difficult to break with a bolt cutter. Try using a grinder or a hammer to break the pin flush. 
  • Get eye protection before working machinery. The small residues can get into your eyes as they’ll blow up after cutting the chain.
  • Hydraulic cutter blades are an underrated but recommended choice by many dirt bike proprietors when they need to cut a chain.
  • Portable angle grinders are noisy and usually make a lot of mess. They also create a lot of sparks when working with it. Make sure your surroundings fit the situation you’re in. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

How Do You Shorten A Chain On A Dirt Bike Without A Chain Tool?

You don’t need to spend bucks on a chain tool just to break or shorten a chain. If you plan to just shorten it, you can use a bolt-cutter. The tool will only break the link you want to remove. Or you can use a 4″ grinder if you don’t like much hassle.

Grind the pins till the axle loosens up. Push the pins out if they seem shaky, but if you’re still unable to remove the pins, use your grinder for the second time. Hopefully, the link will break down easily now. Since you wanted to shorten the chain, you can then weld the remaining chain together. 

How Do You Take Links Out Of A Dirt Bike Chain? 

The punch and hammer technique works every time. First of all, you’ll need a punch that is shorter in diameter than the chain pin. Position the punch on top of the link you want to get rid of. Take your hammer and smack slightly hard on each of the pins using the punch.

Take alternative turns to make holes on either pin. Once you’ve created small holes on both the pins, the link should open right up. You can follow this process for any other link you want to break. 

How Do You Break A Bike Chain With Pliers?

If the master link is a bit too heavy to break with the usual tools, you can use pliers, needle nose pliers to be exact. To get a good grip on the chain, you can place one jaw of the pliers on the clip end and the other on top of the chain pin.

This will make the power link secluded at the top. Now take your pliers and mince on both sides of the chain and the chain pins should pop up instantly. You can then go ahead and remove the outer link. What do you think you’re left with? That’s right, the master link. 

How Do You Break A Chain Without Bolt-Cutters? 

Since bolt cutters don’t work for thick chains, you can attempt to use a saw or a metal grinder. Both of these tools come in several sizes. So you can use one that conforms to your chain type.

I’d recommend using hacksaws since not only are they easier to use, they can easily cut through heavy metallic materials. Metal grinders work because machine-operated tools can grind through any tough material within seconds. Decide on a good brand grinder (if not metal) and start cutting through the chain. 

How Do You Break A Bike Chain With A Hammer?

Use a small hammer to tap sharply on the center of the pin that you want to break the chain at. Be careful with the hits though. If you hit a bit too hard then the force can push the pins deep inside and make it even harder to break the chain. 

Anyways, once the pin seems to loosen up, place a nut underneath the chain and start tapping again till the links come apart. This is almost identical to the punch and hammer technique but since you won’t require a punch here, you don’t have to struggle much with this strategy either. 


Dirt bikes are all the rage right now amongst individuals of all ages. It can be a bit challenging to take care of it and improve it. You can add some extra inches to your chain or shorten it to be able to make smooth drifts. You can also attach small sprockets to produce a turbo-geared engine. No matter what you do, make sure you choose the right tool before taking any action. 

Please check this useful article also related to your passion:

How To Clean Dirt Bike Chain? [A Step-by-step Guide]

How To Bleed Dirt Bike Rear Brakes? [A Step-by-step Guide]

Md. Saifur Rahman

Dirt bike riding was a fascination for Saifur since he was a child. Later that fascination turned into a passion and his profession. Apparently, it may seem that tips and tricks are useless for bike riding sometimes, but you may find them really useful after reading his blogs. Saifur is a regular rider.

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