The mountain bike chain is one of the most important parts of the bicycle as it transfers the power from the paddle to the wheels. Since the chain of your mountain bike is handling all the paddling power and pushing the bike forward it wouldn’t come as a surprise that the chain of your mountain bike needs regular care and maintenance.
But most of the riders don’t have enough knowledge about chains in fact the majority of riders think that all chains are the same. But in reality, there are different types of chains available, and all of them have different applications.
What mountain bike chain do you need?
The correct type of chain depends on the type of riding your bike is made for, and the number of gears it has. Chains from most manufacturers should fit, as long as the chain is made from good quality material and matches the number of sprockets in your bike’s rear cassette. Some mountain bikes have 9, 10, 11, and sometimes even 12 sprockets in their rear cassette, and the length of the chain for each of these bikes will be different.
The manufacturer of the chain you pick can also make some difference when it comes to proper fitting and power delivery because cassettes made by some companies such as Campagnolo don’t sit well with chains from other manufacturers.
But Whenever you are getting a chain for your mountain bike, make sure to get a new one instead of buying a used one because chains are often replaced when they have completed their working lifecycle, and if you get a used chain, you might end up with a failed chain or one that is close to failing.
You can find mountain bike chains with different specifications and lengths at a wide price spectrum. Therefore, selecting the correct length for your mountain bike chain can become tricky with so many options available. If you fail to get the correct type of chain that is best suited to your mountain bike it can make the ride rougher, noisier, and less enjoyable.
That is why we are going to explain everything you need to know so you can pick the best kind of chain for your mountain bike.
- How to choose the best chain for your mountain bike?
- What are the main types of mountain bike chains?
- When to replace the mountain bike chain?
- Ways to make your mountain bike’s chain last longer
- Take Home:
- Essential Guide to Choosing a Mountain Bike Chain
- • Types of Mountain Bike Chains
- • Choosing the Right Mountain Bike Chain
- • Recommendations from Our Experience
- • In Conclusion
- Determining Your Bike Chain Size: 1/8 or 3/32?
- Unraveling the Differences in Mountain Bike Chains
- Identifying the Ideal Chain for Your Mountain Bike
- • Understanding Mountain Bike Chains
- • Choosing the Right Chain for Your Mountain Bike
- • Recommended Mountain Bike Chains
- • Conclusion
- Measure and Find the Perfect Chain Size for Your Bike
- Bike Chains and Prices: A Comprehensive Guide
- • The Shimano CH-HG71 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain
- • The SRAM GX Eagle 12 Speed Bike Chain
- • Shimano HG93 Ultegra 9 Speed Bike Chain
- • SRAM PowerLock Link for 12-Speed Chain
- • The Shimano Ultegra 10-speed Bike Chain
- • The SRAM PC-971 9-Speed Chain
- • KMC MissingLink 12 Speed Bike Chainlink
- • Shimano Ultegra 6900 11-Speed Chain
- • SRAM PC-850 8-Speed Bike Chain
- • KMC X12 Bike Chain – 12-Speed, 126 Links, Silver
- • Shimano CN-HG95 10-Speed Mountain Bike Chain
- • SRAM 9 Speed Chainlink
- • Shimano SM-UG51 Quick-Link for 8/7/6 Speed Bike Chains
- • Shimano SM-CN900 11-Speed Chain Quick Link
- • SRAM PC-1 Single Speed Nickel Chain
- • Shimano SLX CN-M7100 12-Speed Bike Chain
- • KMC Master Link for 1/8 Bike Chains
- • KMC X11 – 11 Speed Bike Chain
- • KMC X9.93 9-Speed Bike Chain
- • Giant HP 7/8-Speed Chain
- • KMC Rust Buster Single Speed Chain
- • KMC 11 Speed MissingLink
- • Shimano HG53 116 Link 9 Speed Bike Chain
- • SRAM 8 Speed Chainlink
- Different Types of Mountain Bike Chains
- Bicycle Chain Structure
- • Standard Dimensions of a Bicycle Chain
- • Chain Compatibility
- • Deriving the Correct Chain Length
- • Materials Used: Primarily Steel
- • Regular Maintenance
- • Comprehensive Review of Bike Chains: Brands, Pricing, and Quality
- • Shimano SLX/105 CN-M7100 Chain: A Reliable Option
- • CeramicSpeed UFO Factory Optimized Chain: Worth the Investment?
- • SRAM PC-1051 PowerLock Chain: Value for Money
- • Shimano Tiagra CN-4601 Chain: Excellent Simplicity
- • Bike Chains on Sale: Limited Quantities Available
- • Price Range and Value
- Regular Chain Maintenance: Cleaning and Lubrication
How to choose the best chain for your mountain bike?
Below are some steps that you can follow to find out the best fitting chain for your mountain bike, so make a pen and paper ready to note down all the information you need:
● Finding out the number of gears on your bike
If you don’t know the number of gears your mountain bike has, you can easily find out by looking at your bike’s rear cassette. Pay attention to how many sprockets the rear cassette of your mountain bike has. The number of sprockets in your bike’s rear hub will tell you how many gears your bike has.
The majority of modern mountain bikes come with at least 11 sprockets in the rear cassette which means they have 11 gears. But in older bikes, this number can be as low as 5 or 8.
● Determine the manufacturer of your mountain bike’s drivetrain
As we mentioned earlier not all mountain bikes cassettes are created equal and some brands of cassettes will only work well with a certain type of chain. So to find the manufacturer of your cassette system, take a look at the rear gearing mechanism of the mountain bike, and you should be able to see the name of the manufacturer on it.
Once you have determined the manufacturer of your mountain bike’s gearing system you can write it down or take a picture of the mechanism to help you buy the correct chain for your mountain bike.
● Know the length of your mountain bike chain
The length of the chain of your mountain bike depends on the riding it is designed to handle because mountain bikes are designed for different purposes, and the size of their gears is also different to tackle the specific type of riding.
For example, if you have a downhill mountain bike, its gears will be smaller to allow the rider to paddle faster when going downhill because a smaller gear can spin faster. Similarly, if you have a mountain bike specifically designed for climbing, then the size of its gears will be larger to make the climb easier.
So the chain length for a mountain bike with smaller gears will be shorter than the one with bigger gears.
● Determine the correct material for your mountain bike chain
Again the types of materials you need in your mountain bike’s chain depend on how you plan to use it. When shopping for mountain bike chains you will know that almost all of them are made from steel alloy as a standard.
But some chains have chrome, nickel, and even titanium plating for added durability. The added plating on top of the chain is helpful if you plan to put serious tension on your mountain bike’s chain by riding it in harsh conditions such as steep rocky terrains.
But with added protection comes extra cost and reinforced chains are generally more expensive than standard none plated ones. So unless you plan to do some serious shredding, a steel alloy chain will do just fine.
● Color of the chain
For the style, the look of their mountain bike matter as much as the functionality to some conscious riders. So to give your bike a uniform look, you can even select a specific color for the chain of your mountain bike.
Once you have collected all this information, you can combine all the points to determine which chain fits the above-mentioned requirements perfectly. Selecting a chain perfectly aligned with your riding style and your bike’s transmission will make you want to ride your bike a lot more as it’ll feel smoother.
What are the main types of mountain bike chains?
The basic function of mountain bike chains is to transfer energy from the paddles to the rear wheels to make the bike move. Almost all bike chains consist of steel plates that are connected with the help of rivets. But the major difference lies in what kind of transmission the chain will be used in.
Two major types of chains are; one-speed chains and Derailleur chains. Both can only be used for the type of transmission they are designed for.
● One speed chains:
As the name suggests, one-speed chains are designed to fit a bike with just one gear. One speed bikes contain only one big sprocket in the front that is attached to the paddle and a smaller one attached to the hub of the rear wheel.
The length of a link in a one-speed chain is 9 millimeters from rivet to rivet, and they are 3.3 millimeters in width. But some single-speed chains that have been designed to be used in more extreme conditions can be wider than 3.3 millimeters to reduce the friction that is produced between the chain and the sprockets during rough paddling.
● Derailleur Chains (Multi-gear chains):
Most modern bikes come with Derailleur transmission, which allows the biker to shift from one gear to another according to the requirement of the ride.
But the thing with derailleur chains is that since the chain has to shift from one gear to another, there is very little spacing between the different gears, and the chains for derailleur transmission are narrower than one-speed chains.
Links of a derailleur chain are longer than the links of a single-speed chain, and each link is half an inch or around 12.7 mm in length, and this length is standard in all derailleur chains because a majority of manufacturers make their transmission to fit this standard chain size.
With the increase in the number of gears, the width of the chain reduces significantly, as you can see below:
- 12 gears: A mountain bike with 12 gears will have the narrowest chain of all at 5.3 mm.
- 11 gears: A mountain bike with 11 gears will have a chain width of 5.5 mm.
- 10 gears: A mountain bike with 10 gears will have a chain width of 6 mm.
- 9 gears: A mountain bike with 9 gears will have a chain width of around 7 mm.
- Less than 8 gears: Any bike with less than 8 gears will usually have a 7mm wide chain since there is not a lot of spacing between the gears below the 9-speed transmission.
When choosing the correct width chain for your mountain bike, you should also pay attention to the front sprocket attached to the paddle and the rear cassette.
The chain will also shift from one sprocket to the other in the front crankset when the gears are shifted, so the chain’s width should be according to the spacing between the sprockets at the front crankset to prevent the chain from getting stuck in the space between the sprockets.
Just like the spacing between the rear sprockets in a derailleur drivetrain reduces with the increase in gears, the same happens at the front crankset.
When to replace the mountain bike chain?
Mountain bike chains wear out over time and must be replaced after regular intervals to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the trail.
There is no fixed amount of distance provided by the chain manufacturers, after which you have to change your mountain bike chain, so you have to keep an eye out for the signs of wear and tear on your mountain bike chain to know when it needs replacing.
Below are some telltale signs that will tell you when to buy a new set of chains for your mountain bike.
● Difficulty in shifting gears of the bike and rough paddling
If your mountain bike is skipping gears or getting stuck between gears, this might indicate that your mountain bike’s chain is at the end of its lifespan and needs replacement.
● 2000 mile rule
Although the companies that manufacture mountain bike chains don’t give a rule of thumb for when to replace the chain, replacing the chain of a mountain bike every 2000 miles is a generally accepted rule in the community.
Since mountain bike chains suffer a lot more abuse than regular bikes, a rider who rides in intense muddy conditions and doesn’t lube the chain often might have to change his bike’s chain much earlier. So if your mountain bike has gone over 2000 miles with a chain, it might be a good time to replace it.
● Your mountain bike’s drivetrain components are wearing out quickly
If your bike’s chainring and cassette are wearing out way too fast and show signs of damage, it might be due to a worn-out chain. A worn-out chain will put more strain on your bike’s drivetrain, and it will cause the mechanism to wear out earlier than it should.
Drivetrain components are meant to last much longer than the chain, so regularly replacing the chain can save you some serious bucks in the form of a longer-lasting drivetrain mechanism.
● Your chain has stretched longer than when it was new
The most scientific and accurate way to know if you need to replace your mountain bike chain is by checking if it has “chain stretch” or not. The best way to check whether your mountain bike’s chain has stretched is by measuring it from one rivet to another 12 inches away.
As we mentioned earlier, a new chain’s link is half an inch long, so when you measure the chain with a ruler, the 12-inch marker should be aligned with the rivet 12 inches away from the rivet at 0 inches marker.
If the chain has stretched slightly over 12 inches, it indicates that it will need replacing.
● The sidewalls of your mountain bike’s chain have worn out
Some riders who ride their mountain bike with less torque may stretch their chain from side to side instead of rivet to rivet. This is because a chain is not being pulled by the teeth of the sprocket as much.
It will end up sitting on the sprocket for longer periods, which can wear out the walls of the chain. With the chain getting wider, it is much easier to get stuck while shifting because there isn’t enough room for the chain between the gears to fit a wider chain.
So if you notice that your mountain bike’s chain hasn’t stretched in length, but the shifting is laggy, there is a good chance that your bike’s chain has worn from the sides.
An extremely worn-out chain will start to show its impact on the drivetrain, and the teeth of the sprockets will show signs of damage, and at this point, you will have to replace other drivetrain parts along with the chain.
So if you see any sign of chain wear, it might be a good idea to replace it because replacing a chain is a lot cheaper than replacing the whole shifting mechanism.
Ways to make your mountain bike’s chain last longer
● Keep the chain of your mountain bike clean
Keeping the chain clean is a great way to reduce the wear and tear of the chain as well as your bike’s shifting mechanism.
● Keep the chain of your mountain bike well lubricated
A well-lubricated chain will keep your ride smooth and reduce friction between the chain and the sprockets. So it is a good idea to use any good quality bike chain lube to keep your chain lubricated, and make sure to wipe the excess lube off to avoid collecting dirt on the chain after you are done lubricating.
● Replacing the Cassette and the crankset of the drivetrain regularly
Just like a worn-out chain can damage the drive train components of your mountain bike, a worn-out shifting mechanism can also wear out your bike’s chain quickly.
So if the teeth of your mountain bike’s front or rear sprocket have started to appear less pointy or they have started to look hook-shaped, then it is a sign that you need to replace them.
Paying attention to your mountain bike chain’s condition can save you the trouble of being stranded with a broken or stuck chain. While the type of chain best suited for your mountain bike depends on the type of shifting mechanism and the number of gears your bike has, the indicators of a worn-out chain are usually the same on all mountain bikes.
Essential Guide to Choosing a Mountain Bike Chain
Mountain biking is an adventurous sport that lets you explore the great outdoors and push your limits. To ensure the best experience, having a reliable bike chain is crucial. Your chain significantly impacts your bike’s performance, durability, and riding efficiency.
• Types of Mountain Bike Chains
There are three main types of mountain bike chains: 10-speed, 11-speed, and 12-speed. These numbers refer to the number of sprockets on the bike’s rear cassette. The more sprockets your bike has, the more gears it has, allowing you to fine-tune your pedaling and conquer varying terrains easily.
– 10-Speed Mountain Bike Chains
10-speed chains are suitable for bikes with a 10-speed drivetrain. These chains are widespread in mountain biking due to their compatibility with various groupsets and brands.
– 11-Speed Mountain Bike Chains
An 11-speed chain is designed for bikes with an 11-speed drivetrain. These chains provide a smoother gear transition, increased efficiency, and compatibility with modern bike components.
– 12-Speed Mountain Bike Chains
12-speed chains are the newest and most advanced option, offering even more precise shifting for bikes with 12-speed drivetrains. This chain type provides a greater range of gears, allowing riders to tackle diverse terrains easily.
• Choosing the Right Mountain Bike Chain
To determine the correct mountain bike chain for your needs, consider the following factors:
Ensure that the chain is compatible with your bike’s drivetrain. You cannot use an incorrect chain as it may cause premature wear or damage your drivetrain components. Always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper chain for your specific drivetrain.
– Chain Width
The width of your mountain bike chain is crucial for proper shifting and gear engagement. As a general rule, higher-speed chains are narrower than lower-speed chains. For example, a 10-speed chain typically has a width of 6.1 – 6.2mm, while a 12-speed chain usually measures 5.3 – 5.25mm wide.
Ensure that you choose the right width for your bike’s setup.
– Strength and Durability
Opt for a chain made from high-quality, long-lasting materials. Most mountain bike chains are made from hardened steel to withstand the rigorous demands of off-road riding. Some higher-end chains feature coatings like titanium nitride or other treatments to reduce friction and extend the chain’s lifespan.
– Link Type
Two types of connection links are available: the master link and the pin link. Master links, quick links or power links, are easier to install and remove, making them ideal for those who frequently clean or maintain their chain.
Pin links require a chain tool to remove or join the chain, but they can be more secure and reliable than master links.
Consider your budget when selecting a mountain bike chain. Investing in a quality chain is essential, but you can still find affordable options catering to different budgets. Remember that a well-maintained chain will last longer, so take proper care of it to save money in the long run.
• Recommendations from Our Experience
– 10-Speed Chain: KMC X10.93
The KMC X10.93 is a dependable, affordable 10-speed chain compatible with various brands, including Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo drivetrains. It features a stretch-resistant design and a Double-X durability feature that ensures long-lasting performance.
– 11-Speed Chain: SRAM PC-1110
The SRAM PC-1110 is a reliable 11-speed chain with a solid pin construction and a PowerLock quick link for easy installation. Its chrome-hardened pins deliver longevity and smooth gear transitions. It’s compatible with SRAM 11-speed drivetrains.
– 12-Speed Chain: Shimano CN-M8100 XT
The Shimano CN-M8100 XT is an excellent choice for 12-speed bikes. It’s compatible with Shimano Deore XT and SLX 12-speed drivetrains. The chain features Hyperglide+ technology that enhances shifting efficiency and smoothness, while its extended-life design ensures durability.
• In Conclusion
Choosing the right chain is essential to ensure optimal performance and durability on your mountain biking adventures. Consider factors like compatibility, width, strength, link type, and price to make an informed decision.
Don’t forget to clean and maintain your chain for better longevity regularly.
For further information on mountain bike chains, visit the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s website.
Mountain Bike – Entry Level
Shimano HG40, KMC X8.93
Mountain Bike – Mid Level
Shimano HG53, KMC X9.93, Sram PC951, Sram PC1031
Mountain Bike – High Level
Shimano CN-HG601, KMC X11EL, Sram PC1170, Sram NX Eagle
Determining Your Bike Chain Size: 1/8 or 3/32?
Bike chains come in different sizes and widths, depending on their intended purpose and the type of bike they are designed for. The two most common single-speed and fixed-gear bike chain sizes are 1/8″ and 3/32″.
• What Are 1/8″ vs. 3/32″ Bike Chains?
Before we dive into how to know if your bike chain is 1/8″ or 3/32″, let’s first clarify what these two numbers mean.
1/8″ (0.125″) Bike Chains: These chains are typically thicker and stronger, making them ideal for single-speed and fixed-gear bikes that require more power transfer and durability. They are also known for their compatibility with most track bikes and BMX setups.
3/32″ (0.09375″) Bike Chains: These chains are thinner and lighter compared to 1/8″ chains, making them ideal for bicycles with multiple gears or derailleurs, such as mountain and road bikes. They provide improved shifting performance and are more flexible, allowing smoother gear changes.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the differences between these two chain types let’s discuss how to identify which one your bike has and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
• Identifying Your Bike Chain Size
To accurately determine your bike chain’s size, you can measure and visually inspect it. Here are step-by-step instructions for each method:
– Measuring Your Chain
- Use a caliper or a reliable ruler to measure the width of the chain links. Be sure to measure just the width of the plates, as including the rollers may result in an inaccurate measurement.
- If the measurement is close to 0.125″ (3.175mm), you have a 1/8″ chain. If the width is closer to 0.09375″ (2.38125mm), you have a 3/32″ chain.
– Visually Inspecting Your Chain
- Compare your chain with samples of 1/8″ and 3/32″ chains. A visual difference, albeit slight, may be noticeable.
- Additionally, you may inspect the compatibility of your chain with different components on your bike. For instance, 1/8″ chains usually fit on single-gear cogs better than their 3/32″ counterparts.
• Benefits and Drawbacks of 1/8″ and 3/32″ Bike Chains
Each chain width has its advantages and disadvantages. These factors can guide you when selecting the most appropriate chain size for your bike.
– 1/8″ Bike Chains
Benefits: – More durable and able to handle higher tension – Suitable for single-speed and fixed-gear bikes – Compatible with most track bikes and BMX setups
Drawbacks: – Heavier than 3/32″ chains – More friction due to a larger contact area with chainrings and cogs – Incompatible with derailleur-equipped bikes
– 3/32″ Bike Chains
Benefits: – Lighter than 1/8″ chains – More flexible, allowing for smoother gear changes – Suitable for bikes with derailleurs and multiple gears
Drawbacks: – Less durable and less capable of handling high tension – Incompatible with track bikes and some BMX setups
I recommend opting for a 1/8″ chain if you ride a single-speed or fixed-gear bicycle, while a 3/32″ chain would work best for bikes with derailleurs or multiple gears.
• Final Thoughts
Determining whether your bike chain is 1/8″ or 3/32″ is crucial for selecting the appropriate replacement chain and ensuring optimal compatibility with your bike’s components. By measuring the width of the chain links or visually inspecting them, you can easily identify which size your bike has.
Remember that 1/8″ chains are usually better for single-speed and fixed-gear bikes, while 3/32″ chains are more suited for bicycles with multiple gears and derailleurs. Knowing this information can help you make informed decisions when maintaining or upgrading your bike’s drivetrain.
Unraveling the Differences in Mountain Bike Chains
Mountain biking is a popular sport that links outdoor enthusiasts to the adrenaline rush of racing on rugged terrain. One critical component of a mountain biker’s ride is the bike chain, which transfers power from the pedals to the wheels. But are all mountain bike chains the same?
The answer is no. They come in various sizes, materials, and designs, which can make or break your ride.
• Size and Speed Compatibility
Mountain bike chains come in different sizes, primarily determined by the number of gears, or sprockets, on your bike. Each chain size corresponds to the range of gears on the bike’s cassette, making it essential to choose the correct size for your bike.
Below are the different chain sizes and their corresponding gear ranges:
- 8-speed chains: Suitable for bikes with 8-speed cassettes
- 9-speed chains: Suitable for bikes with 9-speed cassettes
- 10-speed chains: Suitable for bikes with 10-speed cassettes
- 11-speed chains: Suitable for bikes with 11-speed cassettes
- 12-speed chains: Suitable for bikes with 12-speed cassettes
Choosing a chain that matches your bike’s gear range is essential, as mismatched chains can lead to gear slipping, reduced performance, and increased wear on your bike’s drivetrain components.
• Chain Material
Another difference between mountain bike chains is the material used in their construction. The most common materials are steel and alloy, with alloy chains being lighter but less durable than steel chains. When choosing a mountain bike chain, consider the following attributes:
- Steel Chains: These chains are heavier but offer excellent durability and strength. They are more resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for beginners or riders who put their bikes through constant abuse. Most mid-range bikes come with steel chains as standard.
- Alloy Chains: Typically made from a combination of aluminum and other metals, these chains provide increased weight savings without sacrificing too much strength. However, they tend to wear faster, making them more suitable for experienced riders who need a lighter, more responsive chain.
Although alloy chains are lighter, it’s important to weigh the trade-offs between durability and weight, as replacing a worn-out chain can be costly over time.
• Chain Design
Mountain bike chains come in various designs, each with advantages and disadvantages. While some chains use traditional external plates and rivets, newer designs employ different methods to reduce weight and friction. Here are some chain design types to consider:
- Traditional Chains: These chains use standard plates and rivets and are the most common type. They suit almost any rider and perform well in most conditions. However, due to the bulkier design, they may be slightly heavier than other chain types.
- Hollow Pin Chains: These chains utilize hollow pins to reduce weight without compromising strength. They are typically used on high-end bikes and provide a smoother, quieter ride than traditional chains.
- Chains with Special Plate Designs: Some chains have specially designed plates that reduce friction and boost shifting performance. These designs can include unique shapes or coatings that minimize chain noise and improve durability.
When selecting a chain design, consider your riding style and frequency. If you require a smooth and quiet ride, opting for a hollow pin chain or one with special plate designs might serve you better, although they might come at a higher price point.
• Recommendations from Personal Experience
Based on my experience, I recommend trying various chain types to find the best one for your riding style and preferences. High-quality chains from reputable manufacturers, such as SRAM, Shimano, and KMC, can provide excellent performance and durability.
To improve the lifespan of your mountain bike chain and avoid premature wear, ensure that you regularly clean and lubricate it. A well-maintained chain can significantly impact your overall riding experience and the longevity of your bike’s drivetrain components.
For further guidance on choosing the right mountain bike chain, visit Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Technical Information, a site that provides in-depth information on various aspects of bicycles, including chains.
Mountain bike chains are not all the same. They differ in size, material, and design, significantly affecting their performance and durability. When selecting a chain for your bike, consider the number of gears, materials, and designs to ensure you have the best riding experience possible.
By understanding the differences between mountain bike chains, you will be better equipped to make the right choice for your specific riding needs.
Identifying the Ideal Chain for Your Mountain Bike
When it comes to mountain biking, every component of your bike plays a crucial role in your performance on the trail. And among these components, the bicycle chain is vital to ensure a smooth and efficient power transfer from your legs to the wheels.
• Understanding Mountain Bike Chains
The chain transmits power from the crankset to the rear wheel through the cassette, allowing you to pedal and propel your bike forward.
While all bike chains serve the same basic purpose, mountain bike chains must be more durable and long-lasting, as they often face harsher conditions and more frequent gear shifts than their road bike counterparts.
– Chain Dimensions: Width and Length
The most crucial factor to consider while selecting a mountain bike chain is the chain’s width. The width primarily depends on the number of gears or sprockets on the rear cassette.
Here’s a quick rundown of the commonly used mountain bike chain widths:
- 7 and 8-speed: These chains are typically 7.1mm wide and are built for older bikes with 7 or 8-speed cassettes.
- 9-speed: These chains have a width of around 6.6mm, compatible with 9-speed cassettes.
- 10-speed: With a width of approximately 5.9mm, these chains are designed for bikes with 10-speed cassettes.
- 11-speed: Slightly narrower than their predecessors, 11-speed chains have a width of around 5.5mm.
- 12-speed: The latest in mountain biking drivetrains, 12-speed chains have a width of around 5.3mm.
Besides the width, you will also need to consider the chain’s length. Selecting the right chain length is crucial to ensure compatibility with your bike’s drivetrain. Usually, it would help if you opted for a chain with 112 to 114 links and then shortened it, if necessary, to match your bike’s gear setup.
Every mountain biker should learn how to size a bike chain to avoid issues while riding correctly.
– Material and Construction
While most bike chains are made of steel, the quality of steel and the coating applied to the links can significantly affect durability and performance. High-quality chains feature hardened steel, which lasts longer and resists wear better than cheaper, softer steel.
Some chains also come with coatings like nickel or titanium nitride, further enhancing their wear and corrosion resistance.
Additionally, many mountain bike chains feature specific design elements that make them more suitable for off-road use. For example, chamfered outer plates can help with quicker and smoother shifting, while shaped inner plates can improve chain retention and reduce the chance of dropping a chain.
• Choosing the Right Chain for Your Mountain Bike
You should consider various factors when selecting a chain for your mountain bike.
– Compatibility with Your Drivetrain
The first step is to ensure that your chosen chain is compatible with your mountain bike’s drivetrain. As mentioned earlier, the chain’s width should correspond to the number of gears on your cassette.
– Durability and Reliability
Given mountain bikes’ challenging conditions, opting for a durable chain that can withstand the wear and tear of off-road riding is essential. Look for chains made of hardened steel and, if possible, with coatings that enhance their corrosion resistance.
– Performance Enhancements
Certain mountain bike chains have specific features that can enhance your bike’s performance, like chamfered outer and shaped inner plates. If you are an avid mountain biker or participate in racing events, spending extra on a high-performance chain will be well worth it.
– Budget Considerations
Last but not least, you’ll need to factor in your budget. While pricier chains may offer better performance and durability, you don’t necessarily have to break the bank to find a decent chain. Many mid-range options provide a good balance of quality and affordability.
• Recommended Mountain Bike Chains
To help you narrow down your options, here are some mountain bike chains that I recommend based on their compatibility, performance, and value for money:
- For 9-speed drivetrains, the SRAM PC-971 is a sturdy and budget-friendly option that offers reliable performance.
- The Shimano XT CN-HG95 is an excellent choice for 10-speed mountain bikes, featuring durable construction and Shimano’s patented SIL-TEC surface treatment for improved wear resistance.
- If you have an 11-speed drivetrain, consider the SRAM PC-X1, known for its smooth and reliable shifting performance.
- For the latest 12-speed systems, I’d recommend the Shimano CN-M9100, which is part of their flagship XTR groupset and boasts exceptional durability and shifting performance.
Choosing the right chain for your mountain bike is no trivial matter, as it can impact your bike’s performance, durability, and overall riding experience.
By understanding the differences between various types of chains, considering factors such as compatibility, material, and construction, and exploring some of the recommended options, you should be well-equipped to make an informed decision and find the perfect chain for your mountain bike.
What type of chain does a mountain bike use?
A mountain bike typically uses a 9, 10, 11, or 12-speed chain, depending on the number of gears in the bike’s drivetrain.
Measure and Find the Perfect Chain Size for Your Bike
As a seasoned cyclist, I understand that maintaining and replacing your bike chain is essential to keeping your bike in optimal condition. Choosing the correct chain size for your bike is crucial as it directly affects performance, ride quality, and longevity.
• Understanding Bike Chain Size Terminology
We must become familiar with basic chain terminology to comprehend chain sizing fully. There are three fundamental measurements for bike chains:
- Pitch: The distance between two adjacent chain pins, measured from the center of one pin to the center of the next pin. The standard pitch size for most bikes is 1/2 inch.
- Inner Width: The internal width of the chain, usually measured between the inner plates. The inner width determines the compatibility with the bike’s drivetrain (cogs and chainrings).
- Length: The number of links (inner and outer plates combined) in a chain determines its length. This is usually expressed as the total number of links or half-links.
These measurements play a critical role in determining the appropriate chain size for various types of bicycles.
• Types Of Bike Chains
Different bikes require different chains depending on the drivetrain and the number of gears. In general, bike chains fall into three categories:
– Single-Speed Chains
Ideal for bikes with one gear, such as fixed-gear bicycles, cruisers, and BMX bikes. These chains have an inner width of 1/8 inch.
– Multi-Speed Chains
These chains are designed for bikes with multiple gears, ranging from 5 to 12 speeds. The inner width for multi-speed chains is typically 3/32 inches. Matching the number of speeds in the corresponding chain before purchasing is important.
– Derailleur & Non-Derailleur Chains
Derailleur chains are for bikes with a rear derailleur, while non-derailleur chains are for bikes with an internally geared hub. Each type of chain is built to accommodate specific shifting mechanisms.
• Measuring Chain Length For Replacement
There are several methods to determine the appropriate chain length for a new or replacement chain. Here are the two most common methods:
– Method 1: Copy The Old Chain
If the previous chain was correctly sized and functional, lay it on a flat surface and measure its length. Match the new chain to this length by removing the excess links. This method is the quickest and easiest way to determine your bike’s chain length.
– Method 2: Largest Cog-Largest Chainring Method
For a more precise measurement without using the old chain, follow these steps:
- Shift the bike to the largest front chainring and the largest rear cog.
- Wrap the new chain around the largest chainring and cog, ensuring it engages the teeth.
- Pull the chain tight, ensuring the derailleur is in its lowest position.
- Determine the closest rivet where the chain overlaps, and add one full link (two half-links) to this point before breaking the chain.
- Install the chain on the bike, ensuring it runs smoothly through the derailleur.
It’s worth noting that some modern bikes, especially those with a single chainring (1x drivetrains), require different chain length calculation methods. It is best to consult the bike or component manufacturer’s guidelines for proper chain sizing in these cases.
• Additional Tips And Recommendations
- Always use a compatible chain designed for your bike’s drivetrain, as mismatched chains can lead to poor performance, premature wear, or even damage to your components.
- Regularly inspect your chain for wear and tear. A worn chain can cause chain slips or excessive wear on the cogs and chainrings. One popular tool for this task is the Park Tool Chain Checker.
- Clean and lubricate your chain at routine intervals to prolong its life and ensure smooth operation. Always use a high-quality chain lubricant designed for your riding conditions.
- It is always a good idea to carry a spare chain and chain tool on long rides, especially in remote areas, to avoid being stranded by an unexpected chain break.
In conclusion, understanding the intricacies of bike chain sizing is pivotal in ensuring optimal performance and longevity of your bike’s drivetrain components. Take the time to measure and select the appropriate chain size and type for your bicycle, and always adhere to proper maintenance practices. Following these guidelines will ensure an enjoyable and trouble-free cycling experience.
For additional resources and information on bike chain maintenance and sizing, visit the Sheldon Brown website, an authoritative and reputable source for all things bicycle-related.
Bike Chains and Prices: A Comprehensive Guide
• The Shimano CH-HG71 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain
At $29.99, this chain Shimano CH-HG71 boasts high durability and performance for your 6, 7, or 8-speed bicycle. With Shimano’s reputation for quality, it is a wise and cost-effective choice.
• The SRAM GX Eagle 12 Speed Bike Chain
The SRAM GX Eagle 12 Speed Chain is perfect for the high-tier cyclist, priced at $36.99. SRAM’s long-standing reliability and cutting-edge 12-speed technology further elevate its appeal.
• Shimano HG93 Ultegra 9 Speed Bike Chain
The HG93 Ultegra from Shimano also promises top-notch performance. At $34.99, this 9-speed chain meets stringent quality standards and is value for money.
• SRAM PowerLock Link for 12-Speed Chain
A must-have accessory, the SRAM PowerLock Link is perfect for securing your 12-speed chain. It’s priced at an affordable $4.99.
• The Shimano Ultegra 10-speed Bike Chain
The Ultegra 10-speed, priced at $40.99, is another excellent product from Shimano worth considering based on its superior power transfer and performance.
• The SRAM PC-971 9-Speed Chain
SRAM’s PC-971 9-Speed Chain, priced at $29.99, ensures efficient power transfer and delivers smooth gear shifts on your bike.
The KMC MissingLink is an essential accessory for securing your 12-speed bike chain. It fetches a price of $9.99.
• Shimano Ultegra 6900 11-Speed Chain
This Ultegra 6900 11-speed is priced at $39.99 on sale, down from its regular price of $49.99. This superior 11-speed chain is a deal from Shimano that isn’t to be missed.
• SRAM PC-850 8-Speed Bike Chain
SRAM’s PC-850 Bike Chain is reliable and affordable at $24.99. Ideal for your 8-speed bike, it’s a superb investment for everyday cyclists.
• KMC X12 Bike Chain – 12-Speed, 126 Links, Silver
The KMC X12, a versatile and robust chain, has 126 links, offering smooth, efficient riding. Priced at $50.99, it’s perfect for your 12-speed cycling needs.
• Shimano CN-HG95 10-Speed Mountain Bike Chain
Shimano’s CN-HG95, priced at $43.99, is the ultimate chain for your 10-speed mountain bike. Known for its ride smoothness and durability, it’s highly recommended.
SRAMs 9 Speed Chainlink is a great accessory for securing your bike chain. This affordable item is priced at $6.99.
• Shimano SM-UG51 Quick-Link for 8/7/6 Speed Bike Chains
Shimanos SM-UG51 Quick-Link is a useful accessory for 8, 7, or 6-speed bike chains. Priced at just $5.99, it’s a steal.
• Shimano SM-CN900 11-Speed Chain Quick Link
Shimanos SM-CN900 Quick Link, designed for 11-speed chains, priced at $7.99, delivers the security and durability you need for your bike chain.
• SRAM PC-1 Single Speed Nickel Chain
SRAMs PC-1 Single Speed Nickel Chain is reasonably priced at $19.99. Perfect for single-speed bikes, it offers great value for money.
• Shimano SLX CN-M7100 12-Speed Bike Chain
Shimanos SLX CN-M7100 12-speed bike chain, with a regular price of $39.99, is ideal for efficient, smooth cycling experiences.
• KMC Master Link for 1/8 Bike Chains
KMCs Master Link for 1/8 bike chains, with an extremely affordable price tag of $1.99, is an efficient, cost-effective solution.
• KMC X11 – 11 Speed Bike Chain
The KMC X11 11-speed bike chain, with 118 links, promises robust performance. It has a regular price tag of $39.99.
• KMC X9.93 9-Speed Bike Chain
At just $26.00, the KMC X9.93 9-speed bike chain is a popular choice for riders who value durability and smooth shifts.
• Giant HP 7/8-Speed Chain
The Giant HP 7/8-speed chain, priced at $16.00, is a robust, performance-oriented option for 7 or 8-speed bikes.
• KMC Rust Buster Single Speed Chain
The Rust Buster single-speed chain from KMC offers optimal performance, even in challenging conditions. It’s fairly priced at $14.99.
• KMC 11 Speed MissingLink
KMCs 11 Speed MissingLink, priced at $9.99, is a vital accessory for securing your bike chain.
• Shimano HG53 116 Link 9 Speed Bike Chain
Shimanos HG53 116 Link Bike Chain, priced at $29.99, offers impressive technology for a smooth 9-speed ride.
SRAMs 8 Speed Chainlink, priced at a reasonable $6.99, is a high-quality accessory to secure your 8-speed bike chain. It contributes to your bike’s smooth performance and reliability.
In conclusion, whether you’re a professional cyclist or an everyday rider, having a high-quality, durable bike chain ensures a smooth ride. A visit to various bike chain manufacturers such as Shimano, SRAM, or KMC allows you to choose the perfect bike chain that suits your needs and budget.
Different Types of Mountain Bike Chains
There’s a wide variety of mountain bike chains available for specific applications and drivetrains. These range from standard chains suitable for most bikes to more specialized options designed for high-performance or severe-duty use.
The type of chain you need will primarily be determined by your mountain bike’s drivetrain setup.
For example, a bike equipped with a single-speed drivetrain will require a different chain than a bike with a multi-speed drivetrain. High-performance mountain bikes often feature unique drivetrains, and these usually require specific chains to function correctly.
In a nutshell, selecting the appropriate chain for your mountain bike is all about knowing your drivetrain and understanding what it needs to function at its best.
• Importance of Chain Length
The length of the chain is another important factor. It largely depends on the bike’s gearing, specifically the size of the front and rear cogs (referred to as “chainrings”). It’s also influenced by the bike’s purpose.
For instance, a downhill mountain bike may have a longer chain than a typical trail bike due to its greater suspension travel.
It’s important to note here that it’s far better to start with a chain that’s too long rather than one that’s too short. A chain that’s too long can be reduced in size, but a chain that’s too short cannot be lengthened without adding links, which can negatively impact its performance.
• Chain Compatibility
Compatibility between the chain and the drivetrain is crucial. Mixing components from different manufacturers isn’t always a problem; however, it’s generally recommended to match branding. This way, you can ensure the best possible performance and longevity.
For example, if your mountain bike has a Shimano drivetrain, it’s advisable to choose a Shimano chain. This chain will likely have been engineered to work optimally with the accompanying Shimano drivetrain.
Compatibility issues may not manifest straight away but could lead to poor shifting performance and premature wear over time.
• E-Bike-Specific Chains
Electric bikes, commonly known as e-bikes, need chains that can handle higher power loads from the assisted pedaling system. This makes e-bike-specific chains an essential component.
Compared to regular bike chains, e-bike chains are typically more robust and durable to accommodate extra power. However, these chains do tend to be heavier, which could affect the overall weight of the bike.
• Tools for Chain Installation and Removal
When it comes to the installation and removal of a mountain bike chain, certain tools can be particularly helpful. One example is a chain splitter, also known as a chain breaker. This tool is used to push out the chain pin so you can either shorten the chain or break it for removal.
Quick links, also known as power links, make the process of chain removal and installation considerably easier. Many mountain bike chains are sold with a quick link included. This tool enables you to quickly and easily separate and connect the chain without the need to remove a chain pin.
• Chain Maintenance is Key
The lifespan of your chain is highly dependent on proper maintenance. Regular cleaning and lubrication are critical for ensuring optimal performance and longevity. After any ride, especially in muddy or wet conditions, your chain should be cleaned to remove any dirt or grime.
Then, apply a bicycle-specific lubricant to the chain to help reduce friction and protect against rust (or any other forms of corrosion). This step is critical as it can have a dramatic impact on the performance and life of your chain.
The frequency of cleaning and lubrication varies depending on riding conditions and how often you ride. Park Tool, an expert in bike tools, provides a detailed guide on how to maintain your chain for the best performance.
Remember, bike chains aren’t meant to last forever. Even with perfect maintenance habits, you’ll still need to replace your chain from time to time. In such cases, having a thorough understanding of your bike’s needs will inform your choice for the best possible replacement chain.
Bicycle Chain Structure
The fabric of a bicycle chain is ingeniously straightforward, marked by an alternating pattern of wide and narrow links. What brings together these links are side plates. These side plates are held in place by rivets, providing a secure and strong connection.
To explain it further, the rivets might look small, but they carry the responsibility of maintaining the chain’s integrity. Sheldon Brown, a renowned cycling expert, provides insightful information on the mechanical aspects of bikes, including the integral structures of chains, in his articles.
• Standard Dimensions of a Bicycle Chain
When purchasing, replacing, or maintaining your bicycle chain, you should take into consideration the dimensions. The pitch and width are the most integral aspects. The pitch is the distance from one pin center to another.
Generally, the pitch happens to be an inch for most bicycles. The width, on the other hand, can greatly vary due to the number of speeds on the drivetrain. It is crucial to ensure that the width can accommodate the drivetrains requirements suitably.
• Chain Compatibility
As can be inferred from the above, chain compatibility is certainly of major concern. Especially with the recent developments, modern chains have shown a trend towards specificity.
They are more frequently designed to fit specifically with certain drivetrain components. It is critical to note that a mismatched chain and drivetrain could result in system failures or reduced efficiency.
• Deriving the Correct Chain Length
Just like the pitch and width, getting the correct chain length makes a world of difference, both in performance and safety. To do this seamlessly, the ideal way is to reference the length of your old chain.
This is advisable unless there is a change in the drivetrain or cassette range. Using a chain that is too long or too short affects the efficiency of the bicycle and could also pose safety threats.
• Materials Used: Primarily Steel
With an intense strength-to-weight ratio requirement, steel boasts of qualities that make it the perfect fit for making chains. Plenty of bicycle chains that you see are thus made of steel.
However, there are chains for the upper echelon bikes that employ various surface treatments intending to improve durability and reduce friction. Interestingly, there are also titanium chains available. They are more expensive but weigh much less compared to steel chains.
• Regular Maintenance
As with any mechanical system, regular upkeep is what keeps the bicycle chain performing optimally. This typically involves cleaning and lubrication. A clean chain, free from dust and grime, operates smoothly, minimizes wear and tear, and prolongs its lifespan.
Also, it’s important to lubricate the chains as it lessens friction and prevents rusting. An informative read on chain maintenance, including when and how often to do it, is provided by Bike League.
In summary, treating your bicycle chain with care and regular attention can go a long way. Each component of a bike chain has a purpose and understanding that can help you maintain your bike better.
Remember to check the chain for wear and replace it when necessary to avoid costly repairs. Day-to-day maintenance is key to having a smooth and efficient ride.
• Comprehensive Review of Bike Chains: Brands, Pricing, and Quality
When it comes to maintaining the performance of your bike and ensuring a smooth ride, the quality, and durability of your bike chain is crucial. Various brands offer high-quality bike chains that can range in price from affordable to high-end.
• Shimano SLX/105 CN-M7100 Chain: A Reliable Option
One impressive specimen within the abundance of 119 bike chains available on the market is the Shimano SLX/105 CN-M7100 Chain. Designed with a 12-speed drive for optimal gear changing and equipped with 126 links, this chain perfectly encapsulates the synergy of strength, speed, and smoothness.
Interestingly, the chain’s sleek design does not compromise on affordability, as it is priced at a reasonable $32.99 – a steal for any cycling enthusiast.
• CeramicSpeed UFO Factory Optimized Chain: Worth the Investment?
For those willing to invest in the premium range for enhanced performance, the CeramicSpeed UFO Factory Optimized Chain is a luxurious silver chain worth considering. This bike chain falls within a price range of $185.00 to $199.00.
While the chain’s average rating of 3 might seem discouraging, the quality of the product speaks for its pricing. However, it might cater to more professional cyclists rather than everyday riders considering the price point.
• SRAM PC-1051 PowerLock Chain: Value for Money
Another phenomenal product that marries superior functionality with affordability is the SRAM PC-1051 PowerLock Chain. This chain exhibits a 10-speed drive and is equipped with 114 links, perfect for optimal performance.
Priced at just $24.99, it offers excellent value for money, making it an ideal choice for cycling enthusiasts on a budget.
• Shimano Tiagra CN-4601 Chain: Excellent Simplicity
Yet another exceptional chain hailing from the Shimano brand is the Tiagra CN-4601 Chain. This 10-speed chain, equipped with 116 links, offers a seamless balance between performance and simplicity. Identically priced to the SRAM PC-1051 at $24.99, this bike chain is another excellent budget-friendly option.
• Bike Chains on Sale: Limited Quantities Available
A notable mention in our review is the available sales on various bike chains. These limited-quantity discounts present an excellent opportunity for cyclists looking to get their hands on high-quality chains at more affordable prices. However, the nature of these sales means that time is of the essence – the quicker, the better.
• Price Range and Value
The market offers an extensive range of bike chains that appeal to different sets of cyclists, from everyday riders to professional competitors.
Prices for these essential bike parts range from as low as $18.79 to as high as $199.00. This considerable variety allows cyclists to select chains that suit both their budget and their riding requirements.
For further information on bike chain maintenance and care, the League of American Bicyclists provides insightful advice. Despite not carrying commercial intent, this .org site is a treasure trove of information that can help you extend the life of your bike chain and improve your riding experience.
In summary, whether you opt for the Shimano, SRAM, or CeramicSpeed bike chains, understanding your unique cycling needs and aligning them with your budget is vital. Regardless of the price point, prioritizing the quality and durability of your bike chain will ensure a smooth and enjoyable biking adventure.
Regular Chain Maintenance: Cleaning and Lubrication
Cycling enthusiasts acknowledge that regular chain maintenance is pivotal for optimal bike performance. This typically involves a routine of cleaning and lubrication. Cleaning helps remove grit and grime, preventing harm to the chain and other components during cycling.
– Choice of Lubricants Based on Trail Conditions
The choice of lubricant is contingent on the trail conditions. For instance, if you are cycling through arid terrain with dusty trails, a dry lubricant is more suitable.
On the other hand, if you are faced with muddy and slippery trails, opt for wet lubes. You can find numerous recommendations on BikeRadar, a well-known resource in the biking community.
– Proper Lubrication Technique
Correct lubrication involves applying lubricant at every chain link – precisely, at the junction of each side plate/roller interface. A common mistake many make is excessive application, which attracts dust and grime. Avoid this by wiping off any excess lubricant.
• Replacing Chains Amidst Wear and Tear
Over time and with frequent use, chains invariably wear out and become stretched. This can be detrimental to the overall performance of the bike and may cause significant damage to the cassette. It is recommended to replace chains regularly before they show signs of excessive wear and tear.
– Measuring Chains for Wear
Chains can be evaluated for wear using a chain-checker device. If unavailable, a ruler serves the purpose too. Typically, 12 inches of a new chain cater to 12 full links. If it measures more on a used chain, replacement is required.
• Getting the Right Chain for Your Bike
When purchasing a replacement, ensure the chain matches the number of gears on the cassette. This is a vital point often overlooked by many, but it ensures compatibility and optimal bike performance.
– Correct Chain Length and Considerations
Chains must also be cut to the correct length. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for this. For full-suspension bikes, you have to consider suspension compression when calculating the chain length.
• Essentials: Chain Tool and Quick Links
Every biker’s toolkit should be equipped with a chain tool and quick links. These are crucial in addressing a broken chain during a ride and can be a real lifesaver in challenging circumstances.
– Addressing Broken Chains
When connecting a broken chain, it is crucial to adjust the low-limit screw. This helps avert subsequent shifting issues that can affect your cycling experience.
Regular chain maintenance is essential for any serious cyclist. It’s an integral part of your bike’s longevity and will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride. By counting these aspects into your bike care routine, you’re setting yourself up for more than a leisurely neighborhood ride but a long-term cycling commitment.
Learning how to care for your bike chain properly is one of the best ways to get the most out of your bike. For a more in-depth look at this subject, you might find this page on ParkTool very helpful.