Imagine going on a trek, simply exploring the new city you have moved to or rushing to do some last minute work on your bicycle but getting trouble at every step riding it. You may face trouble in gear shifting, chain drops or chain getting stuck.
Wondering where it all went wrong? It could very possibly be a low quality chain. You can have a really expensive bike but not getting the perfect chain will not make anything work.
Ever asked what plays the most prominent role in turning your two-wheeler into a beast? The chain. Getting the proper chain for your bike level-up your speed game and enhance durability. On the other hand, picking up the one not suitable for your bike and your needs would be nothing but a useless investment.
If you are new in the game or want an upgrade but do not have sufficient knowledge about bike chains like many of the bikers out there, we got your back. We present you some best bike chains out there and a buying guide to help you get the perfect one.
7 Best Bike Chain
1. KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain
Looking for a performance beast at a reasonable price? Tired of pairing your cycle with the usual silver or black chains? The KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain is at the top of that list for you then. The chain specially made for BMX, or single-speed cycle comes with wonderful features and outstanding durability.
The KMC chain has 112 links in it; however, the black one has 96 of them. Worry no more! This one comes with an impressive color range, including reds, yellows, pinks, greens, and whatnot.Need another reason to choose this one? The ultra-strong outer plate is heat-treated, and as a result, it has a high level of tensile strength, which means it can bear maximum load without being damaged. With the high resilience power, it can recover from any deformation quickly.
The chain is made of beveled plates; that is, the plates are sloped down instead of the squared ones. What is the benefit? It adds some extra stability to your ride and helps to avoid chain drops that reduce the chances of accidents. This bike chain weighs 399 grams. Last but not least, as someone who finds it difficult to put on and take off the chains, the MissingLink feature can be a great help.
- The chain has high tensile strength and resilience power.
- It is available in nine different colors.
- You can reuse the MissingLink system.
- The beveled plates offer extra security.
- The chain may make some sounds.
2. Shimano Unisex’s CNHG95116
Are you looking for a manufacturer who has an excellent reputation all over the world for almost a century? Then, you can blindly trust Shimano. Sneaking at the history, Shimano started their business in 1921 in Japan and eventually gained the trust of people worldwide in manufacturing cycle components. The Shimano Unisex’s CNHG95116 is a 10-speed bike chain. It has 114 links built in.
What makes this bike chain stand out from the crowd is that it is created especially for mountain bikes. To make the path of your trail smoother, the chain can take some heavy abuse and face hurdles. As the chain has mushroom-shaped pins which provide strength to the endplates, it makes your journey extra special,
Want a solution to avoid muds getting into your chain while biking in the mountains? The openly designed inner links are there as a solution. With the help of the Hyper-Glide series of chains, it can go miles smoothly, and the shifting has never been this effortless as well. The unidirectional chain will prevent the chain from stuck while shifting. The Shimano Unisex’s CNHG95116’s long life will amuse you. The 273gms weighted and zinc alloy plated chain is made to be rust-free for years. The length, width, and height of the chain are 3.94, 3.94, and 0.79 inches.
- It makes gear shifting easier.
- It is durable.
- It can take heavy abuse.
- The chain does not make an annoying noise.
- It may be a bit heavy on the pocket.
3. Zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain
Has budget always come between you and the perfect bike chain out there? Well, not this time. The Zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain offers you unique features without crossing your limit.However, the manufacturer did not compromise with the quality of the material to make it affordable.
The forged steel goes a long way than the castings and plate steel. The steel goes through a process of several forging and hardening in an oil bath, followed by a treatment of salt bath. As a result, the 11.99 Ounce-weighted chain gets a tensile load of 950 kgs.
The installation and maintenance have never been easier. When cleaning is needed, you can disassemble the chain, do a quick clean, and put it back in place in just a few minutes. The regular lubing will serve you a smoother ride. The dimension of the chain is 4 x 3.8 x 0.7 inches. The surface is well-polished and will reduce the chances of corrosion. In addition, it provides comparatively lower friction resistance between the metal plates.
- The chain is affordable.
- It can be fit for multiple drivetrains.
- Easy to install and maintain.
- Rust and corrosion-proof.
- It may not be suitable to use in bad weather.
4. Bell Links Replacement Bike Chains
If you are struggling to find the perfect fit for your bike chain? This one can be your R first choice. This Bell Links bike chain is suitable for all 10 to 24-speed bicycles. The chain has 112 links that give you an adventurous and peaceful ride.
The chain is made of high-quality materials that keep it rust-free and long-lasting. The chain weighs 0.67 Pounds. It has a dimension of 1/2″ x 3/32″.To make your life easier, you will get a master link included in the package. You can take off the chain when cleaning is required and place it back when done. Another helping hand to set up the chain is that you will get a guide with instructions to install the chain.
Even though the manual gives the disclaimer that you will need chain install manuals, most users claimed that this is not necessary for everyone. You may also use the chain on mountain bikes and get a thrilling experience.
- Master Link and manuals are included.
- Many people can install it without tools.
- The installation may take some time.
5. KMC Z51/ Z8. 1 Bicycle Chain
Looking for a bike chain that is both versatile and affordable? You must consider the KMC Z51/ Z8. 1 Bicycle Chain in that case. You can use this chain in place of any Interactive Glide chain from Shimano. It also works excellent with Sram. Furthermore, this budget-friendly bike comes with versatility. You can make it work in three widely used different speeds of drivetrains.
Still not convinced enough? This bike chain has chamfered edges, which means that the edges have symmetrically sloped edges. The purpose of it? It gives you the experience of an ultimate smooth ride. The edges make changing the gears a child’s play as well.
As if this wasn’t enough for a peaceful ride, the mushroom-ended rivets contribute to level up the endplate strength, and the stretch-proof treatment keeps the chain in the right shape for years. The chain comes in grey and brown colors. However, the weight of the chain may be a drawback. It weighs 12.2 ounces, which may be on the heavy side. The chain has a dimension of 3.4 x 3.4 x 0.6 inches.
- The chain is affordable.
- It suits the speed of different popular drivetrains.
- It ensures a smooth ride.
- The weight may seem a bit heavier.
6. SRAM PC 951 9-Speed Bicycle Chain
Anyone who has done a few minutes of research regarding the top bicycle chain brands must have come across this brand, SRAM. Worldwide known for their excellent ideas and satisfying quality, this brand has made the SRAM PC 951 Bicycle Chain add another feather to the crown. Their top-notch quality doesn’t go heavy on the pockets. The chains are almost half of the price of many good quality other brands out there.
The SRAM 9-Speed Bicycle Chain is the strongest one this brand has ever made. The chain goes through a two-step process to increase the Push Pin Power to deliver the best result. Not only that, to provide extra strength, a chrome-pin treatment is given. These steps make it more durable than most chains you will find in the market.
The 11.85 Ounce-weighted chain goes well for years if taken care of properly. And the maintenance couldn’t get easier. All you have to do is use the PowerLink connector, remove the chain from the drivetrain, and place it back in its place after proper cleaning and lubing. Just when you think that it couldn’t be better, it comes with another surprising feature.
The Power Chain II technology makes shifting front and load gear plain sailing. The chain comes in a dimension of 4.41 x 4.41 x 0.55 inches. The unique design of the inner and outer plate makes gear shifting swifter than you have ever experienced.
- It is budget-friendly.
- Shifts gear swiftly and smoothly.
- Convenient to clean and lube.
- You can use it with Campy and Shimano drivetrains.
- For taller riders, the chain may be a bit short.
7. SHIMANO Ultegra CN-6701 Chain
If you love to go on a long ride and want it to be speedy and smooth, the last one will cover you up. By now, we all know how SHIMANO has made a huge fan base all over the world with its quality products. The SHIMANO Ultegra CN-6701 Chain is said to be the best chain ever made by them. With this chain, SHIMANO has improved even more and brought it closer to perfection. This product comes in silver color and with 116 links.
The 10.4 ounce-weighted chain has an asymmetric and half cutout design for its outer and inner plates. The outer plate has holes pierced to lower the weight. This results in a lesser chance of the chain getting stuck and provides a noise-less experience.
Apart from that, now you can paddle effortlessly with the reshaped inner plates, which reduces drivetrain friction and offers you a smooth bicycling experience. The dimension of the chain is 10 x 3 x 1 inch. This chain improves the sync between the cassette and the crack. This makes the gear shifting smoother even with heavy loads. The chain is user-friendly, even for beginners.
- It gives you the ultimate bicycling experience.
- Easy to install.
- It allows you to explore the hilly tracks like a breeze.
- Smooth rear shifting.
- It is more on the expensive side.
Just like any other investment, before spending your time, money, and effort on a bicycle chain, there are few factors that you have to consider. There are different types of bicycle chains for other bicycles. Whereas some chains fit universally, some may be suitable only for a specific category.
For example, a specially made chain for road bikes may not be a well-fit for your mountain bike. Apart from that, a wrong-sized bike chain will be just a waste of your money and time.
To save you from these unwanted situations, we have a guideline that can help you to get the chain that is worth your money and effort.
Select a budget: Before investing in anything, it is a must to set up a budget on your mind. There are bicycle chains available out there from all ranges, cheap to expensive. Having a mindset will save you time while choosing and help you to short-listen the options. However, we recommend you keep the budget flexible rather than too strict.
Chain size: You have to identify which bike size is the best fit for your bike and serves your purpose. For example, an 11-speed specific chain will work the best for 11-speed drivetrains. However, for a 10-speed cassette, you can easily make the 9-speed chain work well. In terms of 6, 7, and 8-speed drivetrains, they are interchangeable, and you will get even more options for these. Don’t forget to check the chain for the number of gears present.
The compatibility between chain and drivetrains: You have to keep in mind that not every chain can be paired up with every drivetrain. Selecting an incompatible one will be nothing but a waste of money. To make it easier for you, we have done some research. The KMC ones do not make any drivetrain. To make it usable for all, their chain can be set up with any drivetrain by Sram, Shimano, or even FSA gears; in a word, anything. Shimono may go with few drivetrains by SRAM, and vice versa for SRAM chains. Make sure to check well before buying one.
Look for quick links: If you have quick links with your chain, using and taking care of it would be much easier. It will replace the need for a chain splitter. You can easily take the chain off in terms of servicing or maintenance and put it back in minutes. Different companies have different names for the quick links; for example, SRAM introduces PowerLock, Shimano named it Quick Link, and for KMC, it is Missing Link.
Go for easy maintenance: The culprit behind a chain getting the rusts is not taking proper care of it. However, if cleaning and lubing are done the right way, the chains can work well for years. Of course, you have other business to do apart from doing these. Pick up a chain. Apart from being forever-lasting, a well-maintained chain will make gear shifting smooth as butter. On the other hand, a dirty chain will affect your chain rings and cassettes badly.
Is power loss necessary to consider? : Many people will tell you the absolute importance of getting an expensive one to save watts in mechanical drag. However, in reality, the difference between an expensive and a cheap one is only 5 watts out of 250. This is way lesser than the difference between a well-maintained and a neglected chain. We advise you not to go for the fancy ones if they are out of your budget. Instead, take care of the budget-friendly one, and the results will be almost the same. Investing in an expensive chain and then forgetting to clean and lube regularly is way worse than maintaining an ordinary one.
By now, we know what a drastic difference a suitable chain can make in your bicycling experience. This small investment will make your shifting crisp and running smoother. However, not picking up the right one from hundreds available in the market will be nothing but a complete waste of time, money, and effort. So don’t forget to keep our suggested chains in your consideration. We hope following our buying guide will be a big help to choose the suitable bicycle chain for you. Happy cycling!