Biking is a gear-intensive discipline. While it utilizes the power from your legs to drive energy to the wheels, a bicycle relies on a drivetrain or system of cogs, pedals, and shifters for it to function properly. These go hand-in-hand to keep the bicycle moving forward at a certain speed desired by the user. Most of all, getting the right bike chain is an integral part of making this setup work.
A bike chain is composed of metal links joined by pins. It transfers power by rotating the cogs in, using the power you put in your pedal. Like most bicycle parts, there are some factors to consider in choosing which chain will be perfect for your bike. We will cover all of these points along with a top 10 list of our recommended products to keep you pedaling, so read on!
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Given that the bike chain delivers power to your wheels, it is important to have a good one. It makes your bike safer to use, and it makes your bike rides very efficient. To choose one, you need to consider the bike you have, the components that are in it, and what you want your bike to feel like. Let’s go over the considerations.
There are different drivetrain manufacturers for bicycles, namely, Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo. Due to the different designs employed by each company, some components might not work in conjunction with other company’s parts.
Although SRAM and Shimano might work interchangeably in some of their drivetrain models, it might cause reliability issues in the long run, so only opt for bike chains intended for the drivetrain you have in your bike. Campagnolo, on the other hand, have their chain pulley system and won’t work with the other companies at all.
Bikes are capable of a specific speed made possible by the number of gears or cogs present in the bike. For example, if a bike has 11 gears, we can say that it is an 11-speed bicycle.
Cogs refer to a circular disc lined with metal teeth where a chain can latch onto securely. Each type of cog has a certain thickness and spacing that is compatible with a particular size of bike chain.
Bike chains are available in several sizes and you cannot use a bike chain for a certain speed interchangeably with others. So, it is best to check the package to determine which speed it is meant for.
A bike chain is usually made of carbon steel or alloy steel. But for more efficiency, opt for a bike chain that is also plated in nickel or titanium to improve the rust-proofing of the chain. The plating helps cover the susceptible steel from water, which can rust if left unchecked.
In addition, the plating also makes it easier for the chain links to rotate, leading to a smoother pedaling. Lastly, it provides a hard surface for the chain, which makes it wear-resistant.
Professional cyclists put a lot of emphasis on the weight of their bikes. The lighter it is, the easier it is to pedal. Chains are considered light if they fall below 300 grams. They make this possible by reducing the material used through the design or by using a very light yet strong metal. However, lighter chains are more expensive, so think about it before buying.
Anything more than 280 grams is considered a regular weight chain. If you plan on competing in a cycling event, getting a light bike chain might save you a few weight that can make you a bit faster, at a cost. Recreational bikers need not worry about weight as it is negligible on the daily commute, and the price is hard to justify.
Cleaning a regular bike chain can be difficult as you will need to use a chain pin and chain breaker to reattach the chain. Because of that, having a quick release chain link makes cleaning and maintenance easier. It works by replacing the outer plate with a pair of permanently set pins.
It has a slot that when the chain is pulled, the quick link locks in place, providing a strong connection. To undo the link, just squeeze it using a pair of thin nose pliersー that’s why it’s known as a quick release chain link.
Most of the time, people use bicycles on busy streets where there is a lot of danger around, thus the bike and its parts must not fail while in use. To lessen the chances of accidents, going for a bike chain made by a reputable brand will put your mind at ease.
Brands have years of perfecting and testing their bike chains. They also have good reviews from their customers, which speaks well of the quality they put out. You're assured that the chains will last longer with far fewer defects, which makes your biking a safer affair.
Biking has become a popular mode of transport due to the limited public utility vehicles in the Philippines. However, this popularity also draws opportunists to tricking unsuspecting buyers just to make a quick buck. They do this by selling counterfeit items and masquerading them as the original.
Before buying, check online for some tips on detecting fake bike chains. Check the minute details as counterfeiters often fail to completely imitate original ones in this regard. If the price is too good to be true, it is indicative that the item is fake, so steer away from those.
Looks have no performance benefit, but the mental satisfaction it gives you will be worth something. So get a bike chain that fits your taste. There are chains plated in different colors, such as chrome, black, gold, and oil slick. Choose what fits the overall color scheme of your bike or what makes you feel proud of it.
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9/10/11-Speed Bike Chain
Super Light Chains Built for Speed
11-Speed Chain With Quick Link
A Chain for the Top Tier Shimano Drivetrain
GX/NX/SX/EAGLE 12-Speed Bike Chain
Ride to the Mountains Like You're Flying
Ultralight Hollow 11-Speed Bicycle Chain
Frictionless Plating in a Lightweight Chain
X10EL 10-Speed Ultralight Racing Chains
Angular Plate Design for Shifting Gears Easily
MTB 12-Speed Chain
Better Power Transfer From a Thin Chain
Reliable Shifting Every Time
Titanium-Plated 11-Speed Bicycle Chain
Light Bike Chain Offering Super Smooth Shifting
Reliable Chain Design for Entry-Level Drivetrains
1-Speed Bike Chain
A Good Mix Between Performance and Price
The KMC SL or Super Light chain is the company's premium offering that delivers performance married with quality and durability. The chain is interchangeable with SRAM, Shimano, and Campagnolo components, which is a feat in itself.
The chain features a Double-X Durability and X-Bridge technology that make shifting gears fast and smooth. The plates are hollow, which reduces weight, but also helps shed any grime and dirt as you pedal. It is compatible with mountain bikes because its hollow shape can help remove any mud stuck on the chain.
The material is stretch-resistant, which extends the life of the chain. It is also non-directional, so no more worries whether you put the chain correctly or not. It has 9-, 10-, and 11-speed compatibility, which covers most enthusiasts and professional bikers.
Shimano is well-known for its dominance in the bicycle market. Their components are installed in the majority of bicycles being produced, plus they sponsor a lot of professional cycling teams. This HG701-11 speed chain is the culmination of years of research into a well-rounded package.
The chain is made of corrosion-resistant steel that will battle the elements as you ride out in the world. It has SIL-TEC treatment that makes the roller and plates glide effortlessly, reducing friction and wear in the chain. This extends the life of the chain, making you go for longer.
It has a HyperGlide system that boasts smooth shifting with no clunkiness experienced. It comes with a quick-release link, which makes servicing an easy task. Just take note that this chain is directional, so take care of installing it.
Looking for a mountain bike chain for your SRAM drivetrain? This chain is built for SRAM's Eagle drivetrains, specifically for off-road and mountain riding. This provides a unique combination of features designed to tackle the harsh and unforgiving mountain terrain.
The chain incorporates an Eagle™ PowerLock® chain connector with FLOW LINK™ technology that aims for increased durability and better chain-guiding to avoid misalignment. The metal is also treated specially to resist wear from the dirt and grime accumulated from trail riding.
The plates are designed to catch and release the gears seamlessly, protecting them from chipping while promoting a smoother power transition. It features a solid pin construction that lessens the occurrence of broken chains. You can definitely soar like an eagle as you go down a mountain with this bike chain!
If a lightweight chain is what you are searching for, check the SLA-110 GB. It is built to be extremely lightweight while highly durable to withstand the stresses applied to every pedal. It transfers energy seamlessly due to the frictionless plating and lubrication that comes with the chain.
The plating comes in two colors: black and gold. They give the chain a smooth surface, which makes shifting easier while producing less noise. The shaft and the rollers are treated with chrome plating, which increases its surface hardness, making it wear much slower.
To further improve the efficiency and the smoothness of the chain, it is treated with a Teflon inner film, further reducing the frictional forces in the chain. This leads to a chain that transfers maximum power to the wheels with less wear and tear.
One tier below the Super Light chains is the X-EL or the extra light series. It features the same hollow plate technology but at a more conservative profile. This gives you a chain that is light yet economical at the same time.
You can easily shift gears with its angular plate design. It leads to a smoother action and less clunkiness, even while on the uphill. It is coated with titanium nitride that protects it from corrosion and makes the surface smooth.
The coating resists wear and makes the chain easier to clean, making it look brand new all the time. It is compatible with Shimano, Campagnolo, and SRAM 10-speed systems.
Finding a chain that will work for a 12-speed drivetrain is a tall order. It has to be thin enough to fit between the smaller gearing while strong enough to withstand repetitive forces from pedaling. The VG12 from VG Sports is the right chain for the job.
The plates are reminiscent of KMC and Shimano's design, making them compatible with the Shimano drivetrains. With its shape, shifting will be a breeze with no failure in the chain latching. It is also coated with nickel for rust protection and increased hardness. If you need a 12-speed that is within budget, you won't go wrong with this one.
The pin features a unique KMC "Bulls-Eye" mushrooming technique, which provides a strong connection between the plates- retaining their links for longer. It has a non-directional design, like its lighter counterparts, making installation easy.
The special angular design seen on the outer plates is the X-Bridge technology. The angled plates ease the teeth of the gears into the chain, which makes shifting a fast and smooth affair. The added XSP Treatment to the alloy pins and plates helps reduce the friction.
Rookoor has released this 11-speed chain to cater to Shimano and SRAM drivetrains. It comes in two colors: gold and silver. The plates are hollowed out, leading to a 266.5-gram total weight, making this a light bike chain.
It has the same design as KMC and Shimano for their angled side plate. This makes shifting super smooth and reliable. A quick-release link is included to facilitate faster disassembly and cleaning of the chain. Overall, this is a chain that works as well as the branded ones.
The IG51 is a veteran of the bicycle chains. It utilizes a design that has been reliable for years and is implemented with Shimano's entry-level drivetrains. It features the HyperGlide system that helps for a smoother transition for every shift in gears you perform.
The chains are for 6-,7-, and 8-speed Shimano drivetrains. It is coated to last longer while giving it surface hardness and smoothness for durability. If you sport a vintage bike with Shimano's old drivetrain, getting this chain will bring life to your time capsule of a bike.
For fixed-gear bike users, this BTWIN chain is heaven-sent, especially if you're on a budget. It comes coated and pre-lubed from the box, making the rollers go smoothly while the chain is in use. The plates are thick, which lends durability to the chain for better transfer of energy.
As it only uses one speed, there are no special plating designs for smooth shifting. This drives the cost down and puts emphasis on delivering the maximum energy to the wheel. Furthermore, it comes with a quick link, so cleaning this chain shouldn't be a hassle.
Aside from getting the right bike chain, you will need safety equipment, such as a helmet, to keep you protected from any serious injuries. Meanwhile, the use of gloves and cycling shoes helps with the comfort and power transfer, making you faster and pedaling for longer. Check out the links below to know more about our top 10 picks!
Author: Richard Martin
No. 1：KMC｜9/10/11-Speed Bike Chain ｜for Shimano/SRAM
No. 2：Shimano｜11-Speed Chain With Quick Link｜CN-HG701
No. 3：SRAM ｜GX/NX/SX/EAGLE 12-Speed Bike Chain ｜With Power Lock Quick Link
No. 4：YBN｜Ultralight Hollow 11-Speed Bicycle Chain ｜for MTB and Road Bike (SLA-110)
No. 5：KMC｜X10EL 10-Speed Ultralight Racing Chains
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