A bicycle is one of the few inventions in the world that you’ll use for transportation, sport, exercise, and leisure. Almost everyone on earth is in love with the bicycle because of its simple design and ease of handling. Also, every part of the bicycle including the chain and the gear is bare.
The chain is the main power of the bicycle that allows you to move with ease. You may be thinking that all bike chains are the same since they look similar. The fact is they have different designs depending on their usage, which is why you to research before choosing one. Using the Best bike chains can add more fun and success to your rides and we are going to show you how.
There’re chances that you need a new chain but don’t know which to choose. To make your selection easier, we’ve categorized the best chain types into speeds and purpose. This review has information on when to replace your chain and other chain maintenance tips. We hope that you’ll find everything you need when shopping for the best bike chain.
You can define the bicycle chain as a roller that causes the machine to move by transmitting power from the rotating pedals to the wheel. There are about 116 links that hold the rollers in place. The bike moves forward when the gaps on the rollers lock in the teeth of the sprockets. Without the chain, it’s impossible for you to ride the bike. For this reason, it’s important that you buy a good chain.
Many of the bicycle chains on sale are constructed from carbon steel and stainless steel. Yet, some chains are plated with nickel to enhance its appearance and also prevent rust.
Over time, the chain will wear and lose its ability to grip the cassettes and chainring. This will reduce the bike’s performance while the teeth of the sprocket are worn out slowly. Sometimes the stretched chain can take a dangerous turn by snapping. It’s important that you care about your bike’s chain more often to enhance its lifespan and reliability.
How Did We Pick the Best?
All the products on our list have been selected from the 30 products on the market. We started by buying and tested some of these top-rated products we discovered via web search. But we had to get help from volunteers since we couldn’t buy and test all the products ourselves. These daily users (volunteers) provided us with reports depending on their experiences and findings and this helped us to develop some reliable criteria for selecting our top picks. We went further by comparing our test results with the reviews from the volunteers so that we could rate the chains depending on their features, types, ease of installation, usability, etc.
Before compiling the list of our top 10 bicycle chains, we researched the web to see if the feedback from other users is the same with our findings. So, after our exhaustive tests and research, we listed the top 10 best bike chains on the market. This review is to help you get enough information available when choosing a bicycle chain.
What to Consider Before Buying Bike Chains?
Most of the time you can fix a bicycle chain easily but this is often not the case. Sometimes you have to buy a new one. You may experience some difficulties if you don’t have the right information when buying bike chains. To end all doubts, here are the greatest things to know before paying for a bike chain.
All bike chains have designs that enable your bicycle to move. But these chains are of types depending on the purpose and speed of the bike. First, let’s look at the bike speeds and their chain types.
- Single Speed Bike Chain – This chain is for bicycles that are without a gear or speed system. It means the bike can operate in only one speed level. This type of chain has the widest width which is about 7.9mm.
- 6 Speed Bike Chain – This chain’s width measures 7.8mm.
- 7 Speed Bike Chain – The width of the chain is 7.3mm.
- 8 Speed Bike Chain – An 8 speed bike chain has a width of 7.1mm.
- 9 Speed Bike Chain – The chain’s width is between 6.6mm to 6.8mm.
- 10 Speed Bike Chain – The width of a 10 speed bike chain depends on the brand. While most manufacturers choose a chain width of 6.2mm, others are 5.8mm.
- 11 Speed Bike Chain – They have their widths at 5.5mm.
2. Number of Speeds
The width of your bicycles’ chain is dependent on the number of speeds on your bike. It’s important to buy a chain that matches with the number of gears on the bike. This will allow the bike to perform at its best.
3. Material and Durability
The best bike chains are made to withstand friction and serve you for a long time. Most bike chains are from alloy steel while others are nickel plated.
- Alloy steel – This is the most popular material for the construction of bike chains and doesn’t depend on the type or purpose of the bike. They are durable and inexpensive.
- Nickel plated – These are some of the most expensive chains on sale. They’re often for aesthetics purposes and also help to prevent rust. Nickel plated chains come in different colors while the alloy steel chain comes only in gray.
4. Ease of Installation and Use
It is usually easy to install a new chain even though some could be tricky. If you’re not familiar with bike chains replacement, it’s important to buy one that you’ll not need tools when installing. These are the types that come with missing links as they take less time to replace and use.
5. Your Biking Purpose (Mountain, BMX, Road)
Most chains have designs that suit different terrains for both mountain and road biking. Mountain bikes have chains that allow them to withstand grits of the rocks. The chains have special coatings that make their cleaning easier which will prevent the buildup of debris that results in rusts.
Chains of BMX bicycles are different from those of road or mountain bikes. Most of BMX bike chains have widths that are 1.8mm narrower than others chain types. Another important factor to consider when shopping for a BMX bike chain is speed because many of them have single gears.
It’s also important to look out for a lightweight chain for your BMX bike because you’ll be able to navigate the rough terrain with ease. Your chain should be made from alloys and should have special coatings that make them resistant to rust.
The most popular biking purpose is road tracks and if you want your bike to feel light on the road, then consider buying alloy bike chains. Besides, the chain must match with the speed of the bike.
6. Rust Prevention Ability
One of the major advantages of nickel plated chains is their ability to withstand corrosion. Alloy chains may rust with time but nickel plated chains are more durable. It’s important to consider buying the models with rust-resistant coatings.
7. Length and Size
The length of the chain you’ll need depends on the number of speeds on the bike. The widths of the chain are designed to suit the type of bike your riding whether BMX or mountain. If you’re using a 9 speed bike, the width of the chain must be thin enough to fit into the small sprocket teeth.
If you’re yet to know the type of chain to buy for your bicycle, check our bike chain reviews below.
Our Top 10 Product List
Here is our selection of the best bike chains available. We have grouped them by the number of speeds and purpose. We believe that this list will help you to locate your ideal product.
When Your Bike Chain Needs to Be Replaced?
It’s often a frustrating experience whenever your bike chain breaks on the road especially at odd locations where you have no tools on sight. So, to avoid this ugly situation, you’ll need to replace the chain at the right time.
Most professional bike repairers recommend you to get a new chain after covering a distance of at least 2000 miles. This may not always be the case because each of the models differs by material and durability. So, it’s necessary to replace once you start noticing some signs.
As the chain starts to wear, it’s going to stretch and then will have difficulties meshing around the teeth of the sprocket when riding. Once you observe this, the next thing is to get a chain replacement. If you ignore this sign and continuing to use a worn-out chain, the cassette will wear out making you replace it too.
Using a chain measuring device is another important way to know when you need a new chain. This device will inform you once the ideal features like width, length, and dimensions change.
Another practical method to identify a stretched chain is to inspect by sight. In this method, you’ll position the bike by leaning it against a wall with the drive side outwards. Then shift the chain onto the front chainring and the smallest gear sprocket at the back.
Hold the chain with your fingers and draw it to yourself. Now, if you see any movement in the rear derailleur wheel, then it’s time for a chain replacement. And if you can sight all the tooth when pulling the chain, then it’s time for a new sprocket.
If you’re not comfortable with the previous methods, you may decide to measure the length of the chain. Note that a new chain with 12 links is 12 inches long and if your existing chain measures 12 -1/8 inches, then you need a new chain. But, if the length is more than 12-1/8 inches, then you need a cassette replacement.
Care and Maintenance Tips
It does not matter whether you bought a cheap or expensive bicycle chain, the issue is you’ll need to care for it. The best way to keep it in good condition is to clean and lubricate regularly. Cleaning off the dirt may not always be easy but it’s good if you can get on with it. A dirty chain will increase the rate of tear on the cassette.
You can wipe the chain with a clean rag after returning from each ride as this will prevent dirt from accumulating. But if the dirt is much, it best to take out the chain then clean it with brush and soap water. You should dip the chain in grease to remove any leftover debris.
After you’re satisfied with the cleaning, wipe off the moisture and apply a lubricant. The type of lube to use is mostly dependent on the weather condition. So, if the weather is bad, you’ll need a wet lube and a dry lube on a good day.
Since wet lubes are oily, they attract dirt but are less likely to be removed by water which is why it’s used in the rain. We recommend dry lubes when the weather is nice because they are like wax and doesn’t attract dirt but stays glued on the chain.
In conclusion, it’s important to choose a chain that fits your bike. The products on this buying guide are rated as some of the best bike chains due to their dependability, affordability, and durability. Yet, they all need regular cleaning for longevity and replacement once they wear out.
It’s often necessary to pay attention to warning signs while riding your bike as this will provide you with cues on how soon they need a replacement. Once you’re ready to change the chain, you should know how to size it and also know if it’s compatible with your bike speed. Sometimes, the chain that is delivered to you will be longer than you need, in that case, you only need to remove some the links.
So, now that you have enough information on the different bike chains, speeds, installation, and maintenance tips, you’re free to choose any of our top picks that suit your preference.