Whether you are commuting to work, cross country touring or racing, you want your bike riding to be smooth and effortless. The right chain for your bike can make your rides smoother and give you more control. The best bike chains are designed to transfer pedaling power to your bike’s drive wheel for easy propelling.
Finding an ideal bike chain for your bike type ensures the power transfer is done effectively. Bike chains are also built with improved efficiency which helps to prevent friction during riding to protect both the bike chain and other bike parts.
So choose the perfect model for your bike from the 10 best bike chains below to enjoy smooth riding whilst also saving maintenance and repair costs on other bike parts.
How To Choose A Bike Chain – Buying Guide
When you are choosing a bike chain, you must figure out the chain type you are looking for. Generally, you can group your bike chains according to color and speed. The color doesn’t necessarily affect the functionality of your chain but rather the appearance when mounted on your bike.
Whist you will come across many silver and gold bicycle chains, you will also find other colors such as green, orange, black, brown, and others that match your bike frame color.
The speed is also categorized under bike chain types. Your bike speed must match the bike chain type to guarantee optimal performance. The easiest way to check the compatibility of the chain type and your bike’s speed is by looking at the chain sizes and other obvious qualities.
For example, single-speed bike chains measure at least 7.9mm – the widest size amongst chains. This type of chain is ideally designed for single speed bikes that don’t have gear or speed systems. A good example of such bikes includes BMX and fixie bikes.
Moving on to bikes with gear and speed systems, the chain width lowers as the speed or gear number increases. This is because, for a bike with gear and speed system, a narrow chain facilitates smoother gear changes.
In general, the best mountain bike chain sizes for each bike speed is as follows;
- 6 speed – 7.8mm
- 7 speed – 7.3mm
- 8speed – 7.1mm
- 9 speed – 6.6 to 6.8mm
- 10 speed – 6.6 or 5.8mm
- 11 speed – 5.5mm
The best mountain bike chains should also be made from high quality material. Common bike chain materials include alloy steel, nickel-plated material, and titanium. Alloy steel is the most popularly used material. Alloy steel is favored for its low cost and durable finish.
Nickel plating on any material helps to enhance its durability and its overall look. Nickel plating is also great due to its high corrosion resistance. Many nickel-plated bike chains can also be found in a range of different colors to match your bike frame color; whether you are looking for gold bike chains or pink bike chains.
The strongest bike chains are made from titanium as it is stronger and harder than steel. However, because it’s expensive, titanium bike chains are more expensive, exclusive, and premium.
You also want your bike chain to be durable to enjoy value for your money. Although it’s not easy to determine the durability of your bike chain, you can do so by looking at key factors such as;
- The chain’s material
- Metal or plastic platings such as chrome, nickel, zinc or PTFE
- Manufacturer’s lubrication
- Construction design that prevents friction during bike riding
Reviews on that particular bike chain from legitimate sources are also a great way to understand its fabrication and durability. After reading a few reviews on the bike chain, you will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not it is worth the purchase.
Ease Of Installation
Your bike chain should also be easy to install and use. You want the installation to be quick and secure so you can ride safely. However, at the same time, it’s a good idea to find a bike chain that can also be easily dismounted for easier cleaning and maintenance.
If you are still learning how to install bike chains from the comfort of your home, look for options that don’t require additional tools during installation. Additionally, the ideal bike chains to buy if you are not adept at bike chain installations are those that come with missing links.
In addition to the bike’s gear and speed system, it’s worth considering the bike type when choosing a bike chain. For example, if you have a single-speed bike such as a BMX, your bike chain should be lightweight. This is because a lightweight chain will allow you to navigate rougher and trickier terrains with ease.
If you intend on riding in wet and muddy terrains, you must opt for a bike chain with nickel or chrome coating on their alloy material to prevent corrosion and rust build-up. And if you own an ebike, your bike chain should be built with an added tensile force to withstand torque generated by ebikes.
As mentioned above, the best mountain bike chains are nickel-plated. This is because the nickel plating is excellent at preventing rust even for longer periods. Alloy bike chains on the other end are also good at rust prevention, however, over time, they lose this quality.
Length & Size
The length of your bike chain depends on the bike speed it matches. Typically, the values are 1 to 3, 18, 21, 24, and 27. So the length and width must correspond with the bike speed for optimal performance. For example, a higher speed bike requires a narrower chain to fit its tiny sprocket teeth whilst a kid’s bike chain should be shorter because of the bike’s smaller size.
Q: Are Some Bike Chains Better Than Others?
Yes, some bike chains are better than others because of their design. For example, a nickel-plated bike chain is better than a regular alloy bike chain because it is more durable and its rust resistance will last longer.
Q: Do Bike Chains Make A Difference?
Yes, bike chains make a difference. These tools form an integral part of your bike as they facilitate the transfer of power from the pedals to the drive wheel of your bicycle, thus, making the ride smoother and faster. Typically, the ideal chain for your bike provides smooth shifting and noiseless riding.
Q: How Long Should Bike Chain Last?
The lifespan of your bike chain depends on its construction as well as the usage – so if you ride don't ride your bike regularly, your bike chain will last for years. Typically, a bike chain lasts anywhere from 500 to 5,000 miles.
Q: What Is The Difference Between HG And IG Chains?
The difference between HG and IG chains is their size and use. An HG chain for example is narrower and normally measures 6.6mm wide whilst an IG chain measures 7.1mm wide. An HG chain is used with 8-9 speed drivetrains whilst an IG chain is meant for 6, 7, and 8-speed drive trains.
Q: How Do I Choose A Bike Chain?
You must consider several factors when choosing a bike chain to ensure you pick the right one for your bike. These factors include the material of your bike chain, its weight, its size as well as your bike type and speed.
Globo Surf Overview
A proper chain for your bike goes a long way to ensure your riding is more pleasant. The bike chain reviews prove how the best mountain bike chains help to improve gear shifting and provide noiseless riding. The key is to know how to pick the right bike chain size for your bike.
Ensuring that it is easy to install isn’t a bad idea either as it makes maintenance and cleaning easier to ultimately prolong the chain’s life span. So pick the ideal option for your bike from the 10 best bike chains above and enjoy smooth bike riding.
More Bike Reviews:
- Bike Bell
- Cyclocross Bikes
- MTB Knee Pads
- MTB Brakes
- MTB Gloves
- Cycling Jerseys
- Budget Road Bike
- Turbo Trainer
- Bike Multi Tool
- Ebike Conversion Kit