19 Best Bike Chains 2021 Review

The bike chain is one component that is often overlooked despite its impact on overall performance. It is one of the bike’s hardest working parts, so it assumes a crucial role in your cycling experience. It has plates, links, and rollers, transferring power from the pedals to the drive-wheel. It is what propels movement.

When it is working, we seldom notice the bike chain. However, once it is problematic and requires a replacement, it is only then that we realize its importance. Looking for the best bike chains is overwhelming! You might assume that they are all the same, but they are not! From chain size to compatibility, there are a lot of things to consider.

If you are looking for the best bicycle chain, we got you covered! Keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll share in this buying guide.

Best Bike Chains Review

SHIMANO Ultegra CN-6701 Chain

The brand name alone is already more than enough reason to consider this over others. Shimano has made a solid global reputation, so you can be confident that this chain for mountain bike will not disappoint.

Among others, we love this because of its asymmetric design, which is one thing that Shimano bike chains are popular for. It has redesigned inner and outer plates. The latter prevents chain suck and enhances the point of contact with the sprocket. In turn, you can enjoy a smoother shifting experience without the noise. This makes it easier to concentrate on a comfortable ride.

More so, the redesigned outer plate has a perforation that reduces its overall weight. Meanwhile, with the new design of the inner plate, friction is significantly minimized.

The enhanced press-fit construction is another good reason to choose the Shimano Ultegra chain. The latter makes it more stable, which also contributes to better shifting, even when you are on rough terrains.

It comes with a reinforced connecting pin, promising incredible durability. Even through the years, the pin will offer great connecting strength. This means that the chain will not easily ask for a replacement even if it is often used in harsh environments. This way, you can expect the best value for every dollar!

Before buying this chain, take note that it is directional. This impacts its installation, and also one of the reasons whys some people find the assembly to be quite tricky. With a bit of patience, however, you can install it by yourself.

Pros:

  • Made by a reputable brand
  • Long-lasting bike chain
  • Promotes smoother shifting

Cons:

  • Installation is quite tricky

KMC X8.99/X8 Bicycle Chain

Do not be confused by what’s in its name. The manufacturer confirms that the X8.99 and X8 are the same models, so you can expect the same exceptional performance in this chain for bike. It is made by a company with over three decades of experience in creating premium bike chains, so we are confident that it is hard to match.

One thing that we would like to highlight in this KMC review is the double X- bridge shape. This is a distinct design feature that allows super-fast and smooth shifting. This means that it is more responsive to your commands. It gives you better control of the shifter knowing that the bike will easily follow your maneuver.

The stretch-proof treatment is another thing that makes it an exceptional pick for the best mountain bike chains. Over time, as a result of regular use, bike chains stretch. The more a chain stretches, the more the structural integrity is compromised. It becomes longer than the original size and the sprockets widen. This specific product is designed to be stretch-proof, which contributes to its durability.

It is also notable because of its inner plate chamfering. Located below the pin, the new chamfer design minimizes surface contact with the cog. This increases the durability of the chain while also making your biking experience smoother as it eliminates unnecessary friction.

Lastly, it is nickel-plated. It improves wear resistance, corrosion protection, diffusion barrier, and surface hardness, among other things. Despite this, there are some reports about how surface rust is easily evident. To prevent the latter, pay attention to the proper maintenance of the chain, including regular cleaning and lubrication.

Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Treated to prevent the chain from stretching
  • High-responsive shifting

Cons:

  • Quick formation of surface rust

KMC X10SL DLC Bicycle Chain

The price of this black and red bike chain may set some people off. However, if you look closer, you will realize that the price is worth it. It delivers exceptional value for every dollar. From its style to functionality, this is one of our favorites!

Among others, we love this bike chain because of its diamond-like coating technology. This does not only give the chain a distinct appeal, but it also protects against external elements that can speed up wear, including rust and corrosion. It reduces abrasive wear while increasing surface hardness, ensuring its functionality even after many years.

We also commend this chain because of its mud-shedding design, which is up to 27% better compared to its previous version. This makes it easy for the chain to get rid of mud, reducing the likelihood that it gets stuck in the holes. When it hardens, it affects the movements of the chain and performance of the bike.

Additionally, it has slotted plates and hollow pins. They increase the grip of the chain. Even if you are biking aggressively, it is easier to make sure that the chain stays in place.

Weighing only 236 grams, it is extremely lightweight. This does not add a significant weight to your bike. Despite being lightweight, it is built to be tough.

Have you ever installed a bike chain only to end up frustrated and unable to complete the assembly? That is not one thing that you can experience with this product. It was praised in many KMC chains reviews for being user-friendly, and one of the reasons for such is its non-directional design. This means that it does not require a specific direction during its installation.

Pros:

  • Incredibly long life
  • Performs well in different types of bikes
  • Non-directional for easy installation

Cons:

  • Expensive

Shimano Unisex’s CNHG95116 Bike Parts

When talking about bike components, it is almost impossible not to mention Shimano. Unsurprisingly, the company is one of the leaders in the market for the strongest bicycle chain.

The best thing about this product is its price. While it is from one of the most trusted manufacturers, it is affordable. It is an ideal option for people on a budget who are unwilling to compromise performance.
With this Shimano bicycle chain, installation is effortless. You don’t need to be an experienced mechanic to assemble the chain on a bike. With a little time to spare, it won’t take long before the job is done. If it is too long for your desired size, then you can use a chain breaker to take out the excess link. Even a pair of pliers will be enough to break the connector pin.

Once installed, it delivers a pleasant biking experience. It is reflective of the best quality as it promotes smooth and quiet shifting. We have tried several chains in the past, and many of them produce noticeable friction, especially when new. That is never the case with this product

The construction of this 10-speed bike chain is impressive. It has Silk-tec surface treatment technology, one thing that you will commonly find in top-rated Shimano components. More so, there is also zinc-alloy plating to resist corrosion. Not to mention, it has been through chromizing treatment, which hardens the plates, rollers, and pins. It also sheds mud so that it won’t harden and limit the chain’s movements. Even in the most demanding environments, the chain can keep up. With regular cleaning, it is easy to ensure its peak performance.

Pros:

  • Available at a bargain price
  • Easy installation
  • Shifts smoothly and quietly

Cons:

  • Pin is not installed properly

Zonkie 1/2 x 3/32 Inch 116 Links

In your search for a cheap bike chain, this is another product that deserves your attention. It may not be from a popular brand, but that does not mean that the quality is inferior. Despite its low price, we are happy to find out that the performance is top-notch.

The polished surface is another highlight of this chain. At a glance, it is almost impossible to tell that this is an affordable product given its looks. The polishing in the metal is a good thing as it improves the chain’s corrosion resistance. Even with constant exposure to harsh elements, the chain is not easily prone to damages. Plus, the polishing improves the lubrication of the chain. In turn, friction is minimized for smoother action. To add, the manufacturer also performs internal oiling in the chain, which lubricates the inner components for smoother shifting while also resisting dirt and mud that could get through the holes.

If you are looking for a bike chain that offers a high tensile load, then you have another good reason to have this product on your radar! Forged and hardened in an oil bath, it is made using special steel that supports a tensile load of up to 950 kilograms. This speaks of its unrivaled durability!

While there are many good things about this road bike chain, one of its best features is its ease of use. It does not matter even if it is your first time to replace a chain as things are easy. You don’t need tools for fitting the chain. You are done in an instant and ready to take your bike out on a roll.

Pros:

  • Economical
  • Easy fitting without requiring any tool
  • Generates minimal friction

Cons:

  • Master chain can be prone to snapping

SRAM GX Eagle Chain w/ PowerLock

This SRAM bicycle chain is another top-notch product worth adding to your list! More than being made by a trusted company, it features some of the most remarkable innovations you will find in bike chains. Among others, one of its most notable features is PowerLock technology. It allows tool-free chain connections to simplify its assembly on 10 to 11-speed drivetrains.

It also has Eagle technology, which is lighter and simpler compared to the previous versions of the chain. It offers a significant weight advantage. By keeping the weight at a minimum, it is easier for you to maneuver the bike and unleash its full performance.

More so, with FlowLink, it has ultra-smooth inner plates. It is designed without square edges, so you can expect lesser friction. The latter also reduces the potential wear while also eliminating noise. Plus, it results in a narrower profile, and in turn, it makes chain riveting more consistent while also improving the chain’s structural integrity.

The construction of the chain is also worth highlighting. Like many of the top picks for a bicycle chain, it is made of hardened metal that guarantees longevity. Plus, the outer link has a nickel finish while the inner link has a black oxide finish. They protect against harsh environmental elements that can damage the chain over time. You can expect the 126 links to stay durable even with constant use.

Pros:

  • Improved chain guiding
  • Ultra-smooth inner plates
  • Incredible wear resistance

Cons:

  • Can have skipping issues

KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain

As you look for cheap bike chains, make sure that you do not ignore this product. It is affordable but that does not mean that the quality is inferior. It has great features that are comparable to many of its higher-end counterparts.

This option for the best single speed chain is known for its simplicity. If you are new to biking and you are changing chains for the first time, don’t worry! The assembly of the chain is pretty much straightforward. It is nothing too complicated even for a novice!

The anti-drop design is another reason why this chain makes it to our list. We have used a lot of chains before that hardly stay put, which can be frustrating. Especially when traversing challenging terrains, it is possible that the chain will drop, and you have to fix it before you can continue your ride. Good thing, this chain is designed to enhance its holding power so that it won’t drop unexpectedly.

Another nice feature of this non-derailleur chain is its availability in different colors. From brown to yellow, there is a wide color selection available. This makes it easy to customize the look of your bike to match your personality. Although, some people noted that the color can easily fade, which is quite a disappointment.

Pros:

  • Anti-drop design for better stability
  • Excellent rust resistance
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Color can easily fade

KMC X9.93 9-Speed Bike Chain

Looking for an affordable but remarkable 9-speed chain? This is one product that you might find impressive. It is easy on the wallet but big in performance, especially if you are concerned about the shifting experience. With the double-x bridge design, it is optimized to deliver unmatched responsiveness. This means that you can effortlessly control the bike. Once the shifters are engaged, the bike will respond in an instant.

Tons of features will allow this chain to deliver durability. For instance, it comes with mushroom rivets for better structural integrity. It is also stretch-proof. Even after many years of use, the chain retains its original shape and size. This is unlike cheaper chains that are prone to elongation as a consequence of heavy use. As it does not expand, it stays put on your bike and will not drop.

It is also worth mentioning that it requires minimal maintenance. For bike owners like us who are too lazy, you will love how it is not demanding in terms of cleaning. Nonetheless, we recommend that you wash and lubricate the chain regularly for maintaining its peak functionality.

Based on the product designation, it is a 9-speed chain. Nonetheless, the good thing is that it is compatible with both a road and mountain bike. Regardless of the type of bike that you have, this chain ensures optimal performance in every ride.

Pros:

  • Allows super-fast shifting
  • Treated to resist stretching
  • Mushroomed rivets for reinforcement

Cons:

  • Possible color discrepancy

KMC X8.93 8-Speed Bike Chain

This is almost the same as the product mentioned above, but there is one main difference – it is an 8-speed bike chain. While their inner widths are the same, this specific model is a bit thicker.

Among others, one thing that we love about this product is how it glides smoothly over the sprockets. The double-x bridge shape is one of the reasons for this. It is designed in a way that you can shift quickly. This allows better control of the bike, making it easier to optimize its performance amidst a variety of terrain conditions. Additionally, there is an outer plate chamfering. It reduces tooth interference, allowing the chain to move without limitations.

As it is common with other KMC bike chains, the longevity of this product is unquestionable. It has mushroom rivets. It reinforces the construction of the chain to increase its structural integrity. It is also stretch-proof. Plus, the chain has nickel plating. Nickel is a good coating material as it helps the chain to combat rust and corrosion so that it will look as good as new, even after years of use.

While it is smooth most of the time, some people noted that there is a distinct stickiness. The best way to deal with this problem is to properly lubricate. This will eliminate friction and make the chain smoother as it moves.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Nickel plating for better durability
  • Delivers significant improvements in shifting

Cons:

  • Can be a bit sticky

Zonkie Bike Chain Single-Speed 116 Links

Professional but affordable – that is one of the best ways to describe this option for the best mountain bike chain. Some might be instantly put off that this is a Chinese-made chain, but that should not be an issue. Honestly, this is far from being the best, but for those who are on a tight budget, this is an impressive choice.

Ease of installation is one of the things that we love about this product. Whether you are a novice or experienced biker, the assembly of this chain is pretty straightforward. It has 116 links. Removing the excess to customize its length depending on your needs is also easy with the right tool.

More so, we love how it comes with a high-tensile load, which is also indicative of its incredible strength. Based on the tests conducted by the manufacturer, it supports a tensile load of up to 850 grams, which is quite surprising given how economical it is.

Like the other Zonkie chains, it comes with a polished surface. It provides the chain a distinct gloss while also creating a protective cover against harsh elements. From rust to corrosion, it resists damages.

When you receive the chain, it is already well-lubricated. This makes it smooth and quiet when you are biking. Nonetheless, throughout its use, dirt and dust will accumulate, creating friction. It is recommended that you add the right lubricant as needed.

Pros:

  • Generously lubricated for smooth performance
  • Accurate spacing
  • Resists rust and corrosion

Cons:

  • Poor connection link

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

This Ultegra 11-speed chain is quite expensive, but the price should not be an issue. Especially because it is made by Shimano, you can be confident that the quality is second to none! It has 116 links, which are easy to customize depending on the length that your bike requires. Some have noted that clicking the quick link is a bit tricky. You just need to exert a bit more effort or use the right tools to make it easier.

One of the most amazing things about this chain is Sil-Tec surface treatment. The inner and outer plates have been through a unique procedure that ensures minimal friction. As a result, biking is smoother and quieter. Not to mention, as it minimizes the point of contact, it also reduces wear. Plus, it allows the core material to resist external damages. There is also a zinc alloy plating for better ability to handle rust and corrosion.

We also love the asymmetrical design of the chain. This is one thing that is common in Shimano bikes. The optimized shape improves its overall performance.

Lastly, it is designed to meet the needs of both mountain bike and road drivetrains, making it a versatile option. If your bike has other Shimano components, this chain is sure to be a great addition to your set-up.

Pros:

  • Works well with other Shimano components
  • Easy to cut based on the desired length
  • Asymmetrical design for better responsiveness

Cons:

  • Quick link is difficult to click

Schwinn Bicycle Chain

Looking for a new bike chain is overwhelming because there are tons of options available. A good starting point is to choose based on the brand name. With that, you can’t go wrong with this chain as it is from one of the most trusted names in the market. Despite being made by Schwinn, we love how affordable it is. This chain is one of the cheapest of the products on our list, yet we are confident that the quality is superior.

This cheap bicycle chain is also user-friendly. Many of its users were shocked that the assembly is pretty easy. Even if it is your first time changing a bike chain, you won’t be overwhelmed. You don’t need the help of a mechanic to install this chain on your bike.

Like many of the chains on our list, we have no complaints about shifting. It is smooth, eliminating friction. We are confident that you will have the same overall experience. After all, Schwinn has been a favorite of bikers for years, so it is almost impossible that it will disappoint.

Before buying this bike chain, take note that it does not come with the chain tool. The latter is important for the assembly of the chain and to customize its size depending on your needs. Luckily, you can find this online at low prices!

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Made by a reputable brand
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Requires a chain tool for installation

KMC X11SL 11 Speed 116L Bike Chain

This KMC 11-speed chain is another top-notch product that should be on your list. As expected from the brand, it allows smooth shifting. Gone were the days when the chain and the rider need to exert a lot of effort. Maneuvering the bike is easier.

More so, this bike chain comes with Super Light Technology, an innovative feature developed by KMC to differentiate their products. It significantly minimizes the weight of the chain so that it does not add a burden to the rest of your bike set-up. Despite being lightweight, we love how sturdy it is even after years of use.

It is also worth noting that it does not stretch, which makes it more durable. It has been through a hardening process that prevents the chain from elongating as a result of wear. The more a bike chain stretches, the less durable it is. This also increases the possibility that the chain will drop off the bike.

The nickel plating in the chain is also a plus. It creates an exceptional layer of protection to prevent rust and corrosion. Even with constant exposure to outdoor elements, the chain remains functional.

Lastly, this is a versatile chain as it works with different models of mountain and road bikes. with 116 links, it is long enough for most applications.

Pros:

  • Shifts smoothly
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Does not stretch

Cons:

  • Poor corrosion protection

KMC, Z7, Chain, Speed: 6/7/8

As it is obvious by now in this bike chain review, KMC is one of our favorite brands. Ask any bike enthusiast and they will agree with us that the manufacturer is one of the best in the global market. Unsurprisingly, this chain makes it to our list. It supports 6, 7, and 8-speed bikes. It has 117 links, which you can easily customize depending on the preferred length. Whether you have a commuter, mountain, road, or any type of bike, this chain will work.

There are many notable features in this bike chain, but one of our favorites is inner plate chamfering. This is a common technology that you will find in KMC bike chains. The latter is the one responsible for expeditious shifting. The result is that the overall biking experience is smoother, requiring minimal effort while providing full control of every ride.

The high pin power is also notable. This is one more reason why the longevity of the chain is unquestionable. Plus, it is wider and thicker than other chains.

We also love how it comes with an anti-drop design. This secures the position of the chain in the ring even in the most aggressive rides. This is unlike others with inferior quality that can easily drop, especially when you are riding on bumpy terrains. This is a great way to minimize frustrations in every ride.

Pros:

  • Holds up great even after years of use
  • Smooth and quiet shifting
  • Excellent lubrication

Cons:

  • Potential problems with the quick-connect master link

KMC Z8.1 X 116L, GY/GY

This 116-link chain is from one of the top brands in the global market, and that alone is already a compelling reason to choose it over others.

One thing that we love in this chain is the inner plate chamfering. It helps improve shifting, making the overall experience smoother. The chamfering in the inner plate reduces friction. Aside from smooth shifting, it also minimizes wear, increasing the longevity of the bike chain even with regular and aggressive use.

Right out of the box, the lubrication of this cycle chain is impressive. Nonetheless, this isn’t sustainable in the long run. As a part of regular upkeep, you must lubricate the chain when needed. This will minimize friction and noise, resulting in a smoother biking experience. It also helps increase the longevity of the bike chain.

The master link that comes with the chain is also a plus. They call it the missing link, but it serves the same purpose as the master link. It allows convenient connection and disconnection even without using a chain tool.

Like most of the chains for bike on our list, ease of installation is another advantage of this product. The assembly is free of complications! Within minutes, you are ready to test the chain and take your bike out for a ride.

Pros:

  • Comes with a user-friendly master link
  • Inner plate chamfering minimizes friction
  • Effortless installation even for newbies

Cons:

  • Possible discrepancy with the stated and actual size

SRAM 9-Speed Bicycle Chain

This SRAM bike chain is another top pick if you are on a budget. Despite being affordable, it packs plenty of features, making it a great pick for your 9-speed bike. From its construction to performance, there’s no doubt that it is an impressive product.

With 114 links, this option for the best MTB chain has a chrome-hardened pin. It has been through a special treatment, resulting in incredible durability. There is also nickel plating. It reduces friction and prevents corrosion, making the chain longer-lasting. It looks nicer compared to zinc plating. It gives the chain a wear-resistant finish even after many years of use.

When you purchase this chain, it comes with Power Link. It is a chain connector exclusively designed by SRAM. This allows you to connect and disconnect the chain without any tool. This simplifies the assembly.

It also has Power Chain II, which is known for its precision and strength. The latter improves the front and load shifting performance. While doing this, you can be confident that the precision in rear shifting is not compromised.

More so, the chain also has Step 2 riveting. This is another innovation that increases the durability of the chain. It is unlike other cheap bike chains that will quickly ask for a replacement. Even when you are often on aggressive terrains, this chain is not easily damaged.

Pros:

  • Tool-free assembly
  • Nickel-plated side plates
  • Long-lasting finish

Cons:

  • Does not come with installation instructions

SRAM PC-Red 22 Chain

When looking for the best 11-speed chain, this is another option that you should not miss. After all, it is made by SRAM, so that alone can already make you confident that the quality is second to none. It can be quite expensive, but the price should not be an issue given its notable features.

Among others, we included this on our list because of its heavy-duty construction. The chamfered outer plates improve their ability to withstand external elements that can speed up the damage. Plus, it also improves shifting and eliminates noise.

This lightweight bike chain won’t add significant burden to your bike. By keeping the weight low, it is easier to control. Despite the weight savings of this chain, you will be happy to know that it does not sacrifice structural integrity.

Another innovative feature that you will find in this bike is its Hollow Pin. It improves the efficiency of the front and rear shifting while also improving the chain’s structural integrity.

Like many of the bike chains on our list, it is also nickel-plated. The coating is not as shiny as zinc, but it is equally impressive, especially in terms of its protective properties. Nickel helps manage rust and corrosion.

When you purchase this bike chain, it is already inclusive of a Power Lock connector. Developed exclusively by SRAM, this is a one-time use link that lets you easily assemble the chain on your bike. With this feature, you can enjoy a tool-free installation.

Pros:

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Makes front and rear shifting more efficient
  • Allows tool-free installation

Cons:

  • Hollow pin can be flimsy

ZHIQIU FSC F410 1-Speed Bicycle Chain

From BMX to cruisers, this is a versatile option for new bike chains. It is built specifically for single-speed bikes. It has 104 links, which makes it quite shorter than most of the chains on our list, but that is understandable since it is a single-speed chain.

The affordability of this chain is one of its best assets. It is one of the most economical on our list, but there’s a reason for such – it is from a brand that many of you may not recognize. If you are brand-conscious, then this isn’t for you. We had doubts about the manufacturer, but the quality is pretty decent. It is far from being phenomenal, but at its price point, it would suffice for some people.

With a tensile strength of 820 kilograms, it can support a lot of weight. This will prevent the links from stretching or separating.

Based on the reviews about this product, however, many people questioned its durability. To make the chain longer-lasting, we recommend that you pay attention to its regular care and maintenance. Clean it often, especially when you are riding on muddy terrains. Also, it is best to use this chain only if you often bike on less aggressive terrains.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Good tensile strength
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Durability can be an issue

SRAM PC 1130 11-Speed Solid Pin Bicycle Chain with PowerLock Chain Connector

Even seasoned bikers will agree that SRAM chains are amongst the best in the market, so it is hard to go wrong with this product. With its reasonable price and exceptional quality, this is another product that deserves to be on your radar.

Corrosion is a common problem in chains. They are exposed to outdoor elements, such as rain and heat. The good thing is that this SRAM bike chain is nickel-plated. By now, you are most probably aware of how nickel is a great coating as it shields the chain from potential damage.

Like other SRAM chains on our list, it also has Power Lock. The latter is an exclusive connector that simplifies its installation. You don’t need to use any tool for connecting the chain. However, take note that each connector is designed only for a single application.

Power Lube is another notable feature, which you can find in other chains from SRAM. It is coated with a high-quality lubricant inside out, resulting in exceptional protection and maximum smoothness. Friction is not going to be a problem. This means that your ride is smoother and quieter!

Lastly, despite being durable, this is a lightweight chain. It does not add a burden to the cassette, which will ensure efficient and smooth drivetrain performance even in the most challenging biking environments.

Pros:

  • Strong but lightweight
  • High-quality chain connector
  • Excellent corrosion resistance

Cons:

  • Width can be inconsistent

How to Choose the Best Bike Chains

There are plenty of choices for a good bicycle chain, each with its own promise. To help you narrow down the possibilities, below are some of the most important considerations.

Types of Bike Chain

This is crucial because it dictates the compatibility of the chain for bikes. The best starting point is to consider the bike that you have, and from here, you will choose which one is most suitable for your needs. Below, we’ll take a quick look at some of the options available.

Single-Speed Chain

It is the widest of all the chains you will find. This is also the cheapest. This type of chain is designed for a bike that comes with one sprocket on the crankset and another on the wheel. If you have a single-speed bike, then it goes without saying that it is paired with a single-speed chain. Although, depending on the width of the chain, 6 to 8-speed chains can also be compatible.

Derailleur Chain

Built to move from sprocket to sprocket, this is a wide category of bike chains that include those that are built for handling different speeds. The number of cogs in the set determines the number that corresponds to the chain. When the number of cogs increases, space is minimized.

5, 6, 7, and 8-speed chains are 7.1mm in width. 9-speed chains, on the other hand, are 6.7 mm in width. Meanwhile, for a 10-speed chain, the width is 5.88mm, 5.62mm for an 11-speed chain, and 5.25mm for a 12-speed chain. However, these numbers are only general guidelines. Some manufacturers have variations in their chains, so you must check them to be sure that you are buying a chain compatible with your bike’s set-up or needs.

It should also be noted that multi-speed chains can be further classified into two. First, there are chains with a master link. It has two removable outer plates to link the chain. Second, there are chains with connecting rivets.

Material

Like any other part of your bike, the material is important because it is indicative of the overall quality, performance, durability, and price. If budget permits, go for high-end materials, and it is hard to go wrong. Nonetheless, for those looking for more affordable alternatives, there are also good materials available.

In almost all bike chains, steel is the main material that is used, which is known for its durability. It is affordable and not easily prone to breakage, even if you are always using your bike on aggressive rides.

There are also nickel-plated chains, which are known for their rust and corrosion resistance. More than the material, it is important that you look at the coating that is used in the chain as this is indicative of its ability to resist external elements that can speed up wear.

Length

Sizing a chain is critical when finding the perfect replacement, making sure that it is suitable for your bike. All that you need to do is to take off the old chain from the bike, measure, and you will know the right length of the new chain that you must buy. Before you remove the chain, set the bike in a stable position, and shift to the biggest chainring.

If you want an easier way to determine the length of the chain, you can also go online and look for a chain length calculator. Or, you can always bring the old chain to a bike shop and ask for one of the same length.

Thickness and Width

While determining the length of the bike chain is a bit straightforward, it is a different story when it comes to measuring the thickness and width. The more gears your bike has, the smaller is the space between the sprockets, hence, you will need a narrower chain.

When it comes to internal width sizes, there are generally two options. On a single-speed bike, the internal width is 1/8-inch. On multi-speed bikes, on the other hand, the internal space is 3/32-inch. Internal space refers to the distance between the sides of the inside plates. The manufacturers will have different design variations, so these measurements can vary, making it tricky to pick the right chain.

Serviceability

We recommend choosing a chain that is easy to service. The installation should be a snap. With a little online research, you can install the chain on your own. It can be quite intimidating at first, but it won’t take long before you understand how to do it right. Care and maintenance of the chain must also be effortless. It is good if it is rust and corrosion-resistant so that it won’t require too much on your end when it comes to cleaning.

Conclusion

A lot of cyclists think that all bike chains are the same. If you have the same thought, you are mistaken! Many things make them different, and as a responsible buyer, you should be diligent enough to do your research.

To help you make the right choice, consider our recommendations above for the best bike chains. From their material to design, they are some of the top products that can deliver the best performance!