How to calculate chain pitch

Written by max eckersley
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How to calculate chain pitch
All bicycle chains have the same chain pitch. (gear image by Gudellaphoto from

Chain pitch is the calculation used to determine the size of a chain. For example, if you need to replace a chain on a farming machine or a chain saw, you must first calculate the chain pitch so that you can find a similar replacement. If you are repairing your bicycle, you do not necessarily have to calculate the chain pitch as all bicycle chains have a pitch of 1.3 cm (1/2 inch). Pitch is calculated by measuring the distance between rivets in a chain.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Ruler

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  1. 1

    Remove your chain from its machine and place it on a flat surface. This makes it easier for you to calculate the pitch.

  2. 2

    Use your ruler to find the distance in centimetres between three consecutive rivets in your chain. A rivet is the pin that holds one link of your chain in place. Make sure the part of the chain you are measuring is straight, as your calculation of the pitch will be more accurate.

  3. 3

    Take the measurement you found in step 2 and divide it by 2 to calculate your chain pitch. For example, if you measured 10 cm (4 inches) between the rivets and divide this by 2, your chain pitch is 5 cm (2 inches).

Tips and warnings

  • If you cannot detach your chain from its machine, find a straight part to measure the pitch more precisely.
  • Ensure any machinery is safely switched off before you remove the chain to prevent any possible accidents.

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