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Exercise: The Bicycle Chain

Trish Blain December 16, 2020

The Bicycle Chain

The bicycle chain is often used as both an icebreaker and a community builder at the beginning of a gathering. At its most basic, it is a way for each person to spend a some time with, and get to know a little bit about, every other person in the group.


  1. Create a list of questions that you will ask during each round. You should have the same number of questions as people in the group. Choose questions that relate to the topic of the event.
  2. Chairs or mats for each person.


The group is asked to form two lines, with each person facing another person. You can do this with chairs, pillows, mats or standing (though standing can be difficult with a moderate sized group). Each person will have 2 – 3 minutes (at the discretion of the facilitator) with each other person, listening to and answering questions, and then move one space to the left. In order for the chain to work effectively, there must always be one stationary position, which will be occupied either by the facilitator or a mirror. For an even numbered group, the facilitator will be in the stationary position at any one of the four corners. For an odd number, a mirror is used at one end of the lines, and each person will have time by him/herself with the mirror.


Once everyone is settled in opposite someone else, (or a mirror), the group is first instructed to reach out and touch the shoulder of the person on their left. This is the person they will follow throughout the entire process. (With an even-numbered group, the person across from the facilitator will be instructed to follow the person on the facilitator’s left; with an odd number, each person will simply follow the person on their left, always moving one space to the left, including the mirror space.) The group is told that a question will be asked, and they will have two (or three) minutes with each other person, during which time they will take turns both answering the question, and listening to the other’s response (no timer at the switchover).

The facilitator may want to invite the participants to notice whether or not they tend to do more of the talking, or more of the listening and practice doing the opposite. A timer (or bell) will sound at the end of the designated time and each person will then move one position to the left, to be with a new person and answer a new question. The facilitator has prepared as many questions as there are people in the group and the process continues until each person has had time with every other person.


  • Can be done in a circle, which is often called a “heart wheel”.
  • Can be done with activities instead of questions. Examples: Everyone Eye gazing, breathing together with each person, connecting practices, massaging hands, touching back to back, shoulder rub, tell your partner a joke.


Questions we used during our call: