Best Bike Chains| How to Find the Right Chain For Your Bicycle

You can undeniably recognize the bike chain attached on your bicycle, but can you identify its function? The bike chain, properly referred to as a roller chain, is accountable for converting and transmitting the power from your pedals to the freewheel or cassette. Owing to the bike chain, your bike can move forward faster as you pedal harder. Basically, it is an integral part of your bike’s function as it acts as the indispensable link connecting the front and rear components of the drivetrain. As such, it is important to choose the right chain for your bicycle.

Content Summary:

Bike Chains Important Features and Qualities

Bike Chains: Factors to Consider

Best Bike Chains Reviewed:

  1. KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain
  2. Shimano Ultegra/ XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain W/ Quick Link
  3. KMC Z51/ Z8. 1 Bicycle Chain
  4. KMC X8.99/X8 Bicycle Chain
  5. SRAM PC 1130 11-Speed  Bicycle Chain
  6. Zonkie Single-Speed Bike Chain

Final Notes

Bike Chains: Important Features and Qualities

Bike chains are composed of various links joined together by pins. Commonly, bike chains are  manufactured from nickel, carbon, and alloy material providing durability to withstand the strain and pressure from pedalling. These chains also hold the roller pins found inside the links in a manner that they keep lubricated. This grants the chain more resilience and flexibility, providing more power transmission in the drivetrain.

There are some models, however, that feature hollow side plates or high-end alloy components designed to lessen weight. Chain links in high-end models helps in assisting gear shifts.

Bike Chains: Factors To Consider

While it’s true that all bike chains share similar functions, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every chain can fit into any bicycle. At which point, you will need to consider the type of bicycle you will be riding and the range of gears or speeds that you will be availing.

The common first step  upon selecting a bike chain  is through determining the speed of the chain. The reason being the gears highly influences the width of the chain. To know the right type of chain you need, further details will be laid out.

Speed Type

Speed options in bike chains may range from 6 to 11 speeds. The narrower the bike chain’s width, the more speeds/gears your bike should have. Making sure that the speed chain is compatible with the speed of the bike is vital for proper functioning.

  • 6, 7, and 8 Speeds

A bike chain for 6 speeds has a width of about 7.8 mm and is substantially wider than a 7-speed chain at 7.3mm. The 8-speed chain, measuring 7.1 mm, can fit the  6 and 7 speed systems but it can’t work the other way around. Both the 6 and 7 speed chains can not fit well on a 8-speed system.

  • 9 speeds

The 9-speed chain is approximately 6.7 mm. wide. Chain for 9 speeds can fit well regardless of the manufacturer, may it be from SRAM, Shimano, or Campagnolo.

  • 10 speeds

It has a width of 5.88 mm. Just like the 9-speed chain, this speed chain can be used on all brands.

  • 11 speeds

Chains for 11 speeds are also mutually compatible with other brands. Since the chains for 10 and 11 speeds have nearly the same chain and cassette teeth, the 10-speed chain can be attached on a 11-speed system without it having jammed between the sprockets. Be that as it may, it may still not fit perfectly and may cause early sprocket wear. It is best to avoid it.

Bike Type

The type of bike you will be riding is relatively important to decide the type of chain you will need. A variety of chain widths are designed to suit different bike types such as mountain, road, and BMX.

Riders who own a mountain bike may look for a bike chain durable enough to withstand heavy dirt and grime. In this case, chains that have special protective coating and are easy to clean is an option to go for. For road bikes, it is common to keep everything lightweight. If you also take value on the chain’s weight, it is best to choose a bike chain with lighter material like alloy. Most BMX bikes come in single speed so better use a single-speed chain. Just like the road and mountain bike, speed and durability is important in a BMX bike, so opt for a lightweight bike chain with protective coating.

Top 6 Bike Chains in 2020 (Best Picks)

In a hurry? Check the bestseller top Bike Chains from Amazon. Just check the product link, the details and price.

Bike Chains

Best Bike Chains Reviewed

It is a common notion that  bike chains hold a significant value on  bicycles. If you are planning to buy a bike chain yet having limited knowledge about it, this article can get you covered. Here, a comprehensive guide on selected best bike chains are put together.

1. KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain

KMC has long been in the industry  and has proven to deliver trustworthy and high quality chains over the years. In 2011, the brand was recognized as the world’s largest bike chain manufacturer. As proof of their recognition, renowned riders joining the Tour de France are using their products.

This KMC 7410 bike chain is definitely not separated from this reputation. With its durability and compatibility on multiple drivetrains, this single-speed chain is suitable for BMX, cruisers, fixies, and track bikes.

Color Variety

This bike chain comes with a wide range of color options to boost and suit the personal style of bike owners. It is available in colors black, green, lime green, blue, dark blue, brown, red, pink, gold, white, yellow, purple, and silver.

Steel Construction

Made with stainless steel material, this chain is guaranteed to have corrosion resistance and durability. Further, it has stretch-proof qualities that allows it to withstand wear, damage, and pressure. If handled carefully and maintained well, the chain’s longevity will be indubitable.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: Single-speed

Accessory: Master link

Material: Stainless Steel

Application: For non-derailleur bikes– single-speed BMX, fixies, track bikes, and cruisers

Width: 9.3 mm

Length: 112 links

Weight: 399.0 grams

Item Package Dimensions: 0.9 x 3.7 x 3.9 inches

Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.3 x 0.9 inches

Size: 1/2 x 1/8-inch

Pros

  1. Durable
  2. Easy to install
  3. Solid construction
  4. Wide-ranging color options
  5. Great quality and price ratio
  6. Reliable and smooth shifting performance

Cons

  1. Inconvenient spring clip link
  2. Paint coated exterior

FAQ’s

Q: Is this bike chain available with a chain tool?

A: It comes with a master link, but it is advisable to use/purchase a chain pin tool in order to adjust chain’s length.

Q: Does this work with any type of bike?

A: As long as it’s a single-speed bike, this chain will be compatible.

Q: Is the length of the bike chain suitable for single-speed stretch cruisers?

A: The chain has a total of 112 links. The links can be removed or added if needed. For accurate fitting, check your bike’s specifications or count the links of your existing bike chain.

Customer’s Ratings

4.3/ 5 stars with 1,224 Reviews

Common Customer Responses

There were negative comments regarding the master link. As such, it is advisable to use or buy a chain tool to connect or shorten the chain’s length. Contrary to the negative feedback, there were more positive remarks accounting to the chain’s durability and color options. About 68% of the customers give a high satisfactory rating with 5/5 stars. Most of the customers agreed that it has great value for the quality.

2. Shimano Ultegra/ XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain W/ Quick Link

The Shimano HG701 11-speed chain is a highly narrow and directional chain that can fit perfectly on XT and Ultegra groupsets. It is suitable for Shimano 11-speed drivetrains on mountain and road bikes. Due to its extensive features, it meets the demands of road and off-road riding.

SIL-TEC Coating Treatment

WithShimano’s low friction coating treatment, SIL-TEC, it optimizes smooth shift and overall system performance. Through this advanced plate design, the chain can provide reliability, smoothness, and smooth performance.

Directional

Since this chaincomes with an asymmetrical design, it is important to take into account the direction/orientation of travel upon installing. The plate helps in meshing between the sprocket, resulting in smoother gear responses.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: 11-speed

Accessory: Quick link

Material: Stainless steel

Color: Silver

Application: E-bike, MTB, and road bicycles, or other bike types with 11-speed Shimano drivetrains

Suitable Groupset: STEPS E8000 and E6000, Ultegra 6800, XT M8000

Closure Type: chain pin, pointed end

Pin Type: solid, chromium-plated

Length: 116 links

Weight: 260 grams

Product Dimensions:  9 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches

Pros

  1. Crisp and smooth gear shifting response
  2. Directional  chain
  3. Efficient and silent
  4. Durable and affordable
  5. High-quality components
  6. 11-speed E-bike, MTB, and road bike compatible

Cons

  1. May wear fast if not lubed and maintained properly

FAQ’s

Q: Is this compatible with Ultegra 6800 groupset?

A: Yes, it is compatible.

Q: Can this chain be attached in any direction?

A: Yes, this chain is directional.

Q: What makes this chain different from Ultegra 6800?

A: The HG701 chain is an updated version of 6800 developed through a newer Ultegra 6800 groupset.

Customer’s Ratings

4.8/5 with 172 reviews

Common Customer Responses

Most of the remarks were positive and mainly concentrated on the chain’s smooth shifting performance and durability. This resulted with an 89 percentage high satisfactory rating, garnering a score of 5 stars out of 5. There are some customers that complain about not having long mileage but many rebutted and stated that there is a need for proper maintenance and lubrication for longevity. Most of them remarked they would choose to buy the same chain again if needed.

3.KMC Z51/ Z8. 1 Bicycle Chain

KMC Z51 presents a standard chain that delivers quality performance at an affordable price. If you need a replacement for your bike with 6, 7, or 8 speed drivetrain, this budget chain is ideal for you.

Quick Release Link

The bike comes with a masterlink, acting as the chain’s removable link segment. Unlike the other links, it is not fused permanently. This gives you the freedom to connect or disconnect a chain without the use of a chain tool.

Z Bridge Shape Technology

The Z51 chain has Z Bridge Shape outer link plates through the use of KMC technology. This allows faster and crisp shifting response.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: 6-8 speeds

Accessory: Master link

Material: Steel

Color: Brown

Application: MTB, road bikes, and others with 6-8 speed  drivetrains

Length: 116 links

Weight: approx. 346 grams

Width:  7.1mm

Product Dimensions:  3.4 x 3.4 x 0.6 inches

Size: 0.5 x 0.09 inches

Pros

  1. Easy to install
  2. Smooth gear transitions
  3. Durable
  4. Inexpensive, quality components
  5. Great as replacement or back-up
  6. Low-noise

Cons

  1. Does not fit with some bikes

FAQ’s

Q: What is the difference between this chain and Z50 chain?

A: Both chains have 116 links and have the same inner width. However, they have different pin length. The Z51 chain is about 7.1 mm, narrower than that of the Z50 chain which has 7.3 mm pin length. The links on Z51 have also been optimized for improved shifting.

Q: How long is the chain in inches?

A:  It has 116 links which equates to 58 inches

Q: Do I need a chain tool to install this on my bike?

A: The chain comes with a quick link so no tools needed upon installment. You would need a chain tool, however, if there is a demand to adjust the length of the chain.

Customer’s Ratings

4.5/5 with 461 reviews

Common Customer Responses

Majority of the buyers were satisfied with the performance and quality of the chain. “It is affordable yet works well”, a popular remark among the customers. They also mentioned that if they were to buy a replacement again, they would not hesitate to purchase the same chain. In turn, 73% of the customers give out a 5 star rating.

4.KMC X8.99/X8 Bicycle Chain

This X8.99/X8 chain is another addition in the KMC X-Series chains.It holds optimized and quality components for improved performance. This is a good budget bike chains suitable for bikes with 6-8 speed drivetrains

Bulls-eye pin

With a specially developed KMC bullseye pin, it allows secure retention on its side plates. In turn, the chain will require less maintenance.

Compatibility

One of the features of this KMC bike chain is its compatibility with other systems and drivetrains.  This includes brands like SRAM, Campagnolo, and Shimano with 7-8 speed drivetrains.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: 8-speed

Accessory: Master link

Material: Nickel

Color: Silver

Application: MTB and road bikes with 6,7, and 8 speed drive trains

Compatible Systems: Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo

Width: 7.3 mm

Length: 116 links

Weight: 315.0 grams

Product Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 1 inches

Size: 1/2 x 3/32-Inch

Pros

  1. Entry level price
  2. Comes with reusable missing link
  3. High calibre
  4. Smooth shifts
  5. Zero noise
  6. Compatible with multiple drivetrains

Cons

  1. Wears out quickly

FAQ’s

Q: Is the chain ready to go or is there still a need to lubricate it?

A: It is ready to go. You can run the chain with the factory lube.

Q: Is this available with a chain link or connecting pin?

A: It comes with a Masterlink that can connect double sided.

Q: Will this work on a 9-speed drivetrain?

A: This chain is designed specifically for 8-speed drivetrain, but can also fit those of 6&7-speed. It won’t be effective on a 9-speed system.

Customer’s Ratings

4.5/5 with 432 reviews

Common Customer Responses

There were 78% customers that rated it 5/5 stars and expressed that they are highly satisfied with the chain. Most of the praise is centered around its excellent balance of cost and performance. “Great quality for a budget chain”–the usual remarks of satisfied customers. They mentioned that the chain is worth more than its value.

5.SRAM PC 1130 11-Speed  Bicycle Chain

SRAM has long been known in delivering quality and affordable chains. This PC 1130 11-Speed bike chain is no different. This chain can serve as a great replacement for bikes with 10 or 11- speed drivetrains.

PowerLube Coating

Its chrome-hardened finish provides resistance against corrosion. This helps in extending the longevity of the chain while allowing a smooth and quiet operation.

SRAM’s PowerLock Technology

With the PowerLock connector, adding and removing links is simple and  tool-free. This presents a consistent means to connect chains.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: 11-speed

Accessory: PowerLock chain connector

Material: Aluminum

Application: Bikes with SRAM 11-speed system

Width: 7.3 mm

Length: 114 links

Weight: 332 grams

Item Package Dimensions: 0.5 x 4.4 x 4.5 inches

Product Dimensions: 17.91 x 13.39 x 10.43 inches

Pros

  1. Smooth and fast shifting performance
  2. Low cost; great quality
  3. Easy to install
  4. Doesn’t snap or break
  5. Durable

Cons

  1. Doesn’t last long; may stretch out after a year

FAQ’s

Q: Can this chain fit a 10-speed drivetrain?

A: Yes, you can use it on a 10-speed system.

Q: Is the PowerLock connector good for multiple use or one time only?

A: Due to the tight tolerance of this 11-speed chain, the PowerLock connector is only for a one-time application.

Q: Does this require a chain tool to remove links?

A:  Since this chain comes with a PowerLock link, there is no need for a tool to remove and install. However, it can help in getting the job done easier.

Customer’s Ratings

4.7/5 with 271 reviews

Common Customer Responses

Given with 5/5 star rating from 82% of the customers, this chain is considered to be satisfactory. Many of them agreed that it is an affordable and quality chain replacement. One of the popular remarks was “the chain has a great price point and has excellent performance”. The only existing downside is its low mileage. As such, it is advisable to have it correctly lubricated to minimise wear.

6. Zonkie Single-Speed Bike Chain

Zonkie is considered as one the established chain brands which offers affordable and quality products. If you are on a budget and are looking for a single-speed chain, this Zonkie bike chain is right for you. It highlights pre-polished and pre-grease surfaces to make it suitable for immediate use after first install. This is also compatible with multiple systems including the Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM.

Polished Surface

Having a polished surface, it provides better lubrication and corrosion protection. This allows lower friction resistance among the metal links and smoother transmission. A well lubricated chain will wear out quickly, ensuring longevity.

Easy Installation

The chain links can be connected easily and removed quickly. Added with its simple design, it is easier to install the chain on your bike. This makes it ideal for beginners and alike.

Technical Details and Specifications

Gearing: Single-speed

Accessory: Quick release link

Material: Steel

Application: For non-derailleur bikes– single-speed BMX, fixies, track bikes, and cruisers

Compatible Systems: Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo

Length: 116 links

Package Weight: approx. 386 grams

Item Package Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.1 x 4.5 inches

Size: 1/2 x 1/8-inch

Pros

  1. Pre-polished for rust and corrosion resistance
  2. Easy to install and disassemble
  3. Solid-built; doesn’t snap easily
  4. Inexpensive
  5. Smooth lubrication
  6. Less maintenance
  7. Runs high mileage

Cons

  1. May have defective or unusable connection link

FAQ’s

Q: Will this chain fit a 3-speed 27″ bicycle?

A: No, this chain is only for single speed or non-derailleur bikes.

Q: This chain is too long for my bike, can I shorten it?

A: Yes, you can remove and reduce links through using a chain tool.

Q: Is it pre-greased and ready to go?

A: Yes, it is.

Customer’s Ratings

4.2/5 with 212 reviews

Common Customer Responses

Thereare about 69% of 5 star ratings. This shows how customers are well pleased with the chain’s quality, price, and performance. The fact that it doesn’t  snap easily and doesn’t wear out quickly are  aspects that the customers have commended. Some considered this chain ideal for E-bikes. In addition, the majority of them agreed that it is a great and quality chain replacement.

How to clean your bike chain and drivetrain like a pro

FINAL NOTES

It is important for cyclists and bike owners, regardless of experience level, to have a broad insight of how their bike operates and to have access with the best bike parts. Thus, this article serves as your  guide to the top 6 finest chains on the market. If you are still having trouble in selecting the right chain for your bike, you can ask a  professional mechanic for recommendations.

Whatever the type of chain you   decided to have, chain maintenance is also another factor to consider. Bike chains can stretch and wear over time. A worn chain can cause damage on your sprocket of chainrings. Thus, it’s essential to have your chain lubricated and cleaned properly to minimize wear. You might as well check the chain’s length regularly so you can have it replaced when necessary.

Leave a Comment

shares