Best Bike Chain Reviewed 2020

We all know that you won’t get anywhere on a bike without any chains. Whether your chain is wearing out, broken in the middle of the road, or simply doesn’t support a smooth ride and shifting anymore, we are here to help you out. 

We are going to guide you through so you can figure out whether you need a new chain, the things you want in a new chain, and which chain to buy. 

TLDR – Top Pick For Bike Chains

After looking at the top choices, the best bike chain is the KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain.

KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)
KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)

    Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Features You Need To Consider

    A bike chain is a lot more complicated than you would think. Replacing it, or getting a new one might be more challenging than simply getting a new bike.

    But getting a new bike each time your chain acts up is not the way to do it. Let’s discuss the important features you want in a quality bike chain. 

    Is It Time For A New Bike Chain?

    A bike chain is typically made from steel – carbon or stainless. Occasionally, you would find bike chains with nickel to help prevent rust longer. 

    You can also prolong the lifespan of your bike chain by regularly maintaining it or cleaning it out. A worn out chain loses the ability to grip the cassettes and chain ring. It will then reduce the performance of your bike ride and ultimately snap. 

    You really don’t want to wait for the snap. Professionals have claimed that a distance of at least 2000 miles is a good time to replace your chains. Of course, you should always check your chain because it will vary depending on the materials of the chain, and the type of bike you own. 

    You can check the condition of your chain with a measuring device. Anytime a chain is not the proper size, it’s time to be replaced. You can also do it by sight. If the rear derailleur wheel is moving when pulling the chain towards yourself, it’s time to be replaced. 

    If you’re sure that it’s time to get a new chain, then you should get one. 

    Bike Chain Maintenance

    Maintenance is fundamental, it really doesn’t matter whether your bike chain is a higher end or lower end model, it will not survive without proper maintenance. The basics of bike chain maintenance are cleaning and lubrication.

    You want to remove the dirt on your chains. Dirt, overtime will cause tears in the cassettes. Take care of your old bike chain, but if it’s too late, then take care of your new one. 

    Type Of Bike Chain

    Nowadays, most bike chains are compatible with road bikes and mountain bikes alike. It’s more important to make sure that your chain speed is compatible with your bike speed. We will discuss more on this soon. 

    Road Bike

    For road bikes, you want to look at the chain material. Choose a lighter material, eg. Alloy. Road bikes won’t face as much terrain, so the most important thing is to ensure the speeds match. 

    MTB

    Mountain bikes can use the same chains as a road bike. However, mountain bike chains need coating to withstand dirt, rocks, and other debris. A special coating will also make the cleaning process easier. This will protect your bike chains from premature rusting. 

    BMX

    A BMX chain is basically the best of both worlds. Aside from being narrowest, it needs to be light and resistant to dust. You want a chain made of alloy completed with the special anti rust coating. This will directly impact your riding experience. 

    Bike Chain Speed

    Speeds on your bike and your chain has to do with shifting gears. As you shift your gear, the chains either move up or down. Chains vary from 6 speed up to 11 speed. Higher speeds are more narrow in terms of width. You can check out the list below.

    SpeedWidth (mm)
    67.8
    77.3
    87.1
    96.6 – 6.8
    105.8 – 6.2
    115.5

    There is also one extra special chain. A single speed chain. This one is for bicycles without a speed system, without gear. The width on this chain is usually around 7.9 mm.

    A chain can be compatible with both a mountain bike or a road bike, as we mentioned earlier. But choosing the wrong speed will not be a good fit for your bike. 

    Durability

    Aside from usage and maintenance, an important factor to bike chain durability is the material it’s made of. Ponder on this before purchasing your bike chain. 

    Alloy Steel: This is the most common option. The material is considered durable and very affordable. Suitable with almost all bike types. 

    Nickel Plated: This is considered to be more high end. The functionality is to prevent rust, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing. It comes in different colors, very stylish. 

    Titanium: This is the most exclusive bike chain. It is said to be very durable. On the other hand, it is expensive due to it being stronger. 

    Ease Of Installation

    What is defined as “easy” may vary from person to person. But most bike chains are fairly easy to put together. You need to have some basic knowledge of bike chains. It’s a good idea to find more information on the “How To” once you’ve purchased your bike chain. 

    Can You Size A Bike Chain?

    So… are you capable of installing a bike chain? Most bike chains will arrive longer than you need it to be. A quick way to size it is by comparing it with your old chain and go from there.

    If you’re not confident about it yet, you could always look for more tutorials or blog to guide you through the process. 

    Can You Remove The Old Chain?

    Once your new chain is ready to replace the old one. You can do it easily. Start by shifting your chain to the smallest chain ring and cog. The purpose of this is to remove tension from the chain. You can then take it off from the front of your bike or from the rear – but you must remove your rear wheel first.  

    Can You Tighten A Bike Chain?

    Before installing a new bike chain, maybe your chains just need a little tightening. Chains need tightening, even if they are only moving more than an inch. You can easily tighten your chains by moving your back tire – don’t forget to remove the bolts – to create tension. Sometimes, it’s not even your chains, if your bike is equipped with a derailleur, it might be a good idea to replace the derailleur. 

    5 Best Bike Chains Reviewed

    After understanding the basics of bike chains, choosing one is a whole other adventure. Now that you’re certain you need a new bike chain, and confident about the one you want, it’s time to check out the choices. 

    Here are the best bike chains we recommend: 

    1. Zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain 

    Key Features:

    • Easy to install
    • Smooth lubrication
    • Accurate matching
    • Durable
    • Strong rally

    The Zonkie bike chain is available for 6 speed, 7 speed, and 9 speed bikes. It is considerably easy to install. Although there is some challenge when you try to replace individual links. It is durable and resistant to rust and corrosion. When you add regular maintenance, the chain should last a long time. 

    Zonkie aims to provide reliable and high-quality products, always. They treat their chains in a salt bath to achieve 950kg of tensile load with their special steel. They also support a smooth surface, which is what offers better rust protection and lubrication. 

    If you do not experience a smooth ride, it might be because of your gears not matching. What you need to do is confirm the length of your previous chain before installing the Zonkie on your bike. You can then use a magic clasp to connect the chains.

    Pros:

    • Easy to install
    • Smooth surface means less friction
    • A splendid choice for replacement chain
    • Last long with regular maintenance

    Cons:

    • Breaks after mild use
    • It’s hard to replace individual links
    • Does not shift between gears smoothly
    zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain 1/2 x 3/32 Inch 116 Links
    zonkie 6/7/8 Speed Bike Chain 1/2 x 3/32 Inch 116 Links

      Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      2. KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain 

      Key Features:

      • Available in many colors
      • For single speed
      • For all non derailleur bikes
      • Color Series

      The KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain prioritizes color and style above all else. The chain is compatible with single speed needs. It is 9.3 mm wide and weights 399 grams. It has 112 links. KMC itself produces a range of quality bike chains. 

      The chain will serve a great purpose, durable and at a budget price. However, it may be difficult to install. The sole problem comes from the weak master link. If you try to replace it, then you should be good to go. Choose any dashing color you prefer, maybe even match it with your frame. Modify your own bike with this accessory. 

      Even though it prioritizes aesthetics, your chain will be good enough for you to ride with. 

      Pros:

      • Strong
      • Great price for value
      • Durable
      • Colorful (personal preference)
      • A great replacement for old broken chain

      Cons:

      • Does not come with traditional master link
      • Difficult to put on
      • Doesn’t come with instructions
      KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)
      KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)

        Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        3. SRAM PC-951 

        Key Features:

        • Light
        • 9 speed chain
        • Strong 
        • Fast and accurate shifting

        The SRAM PC-951 is a 9 speed chain with 114 link chains. It is strong and precise, great experience shifting gears. It is very budget friendly and with the correct maintenance you can use it for a long time before it finally breaks. 

        Even with correct maintenance, this chain is still prone to breaking. This chain is also considered a more budget friendly choice. So if you want something to be durable and will last through a long and heavy usage, maybe try to look for something else. But if you’re a moderate user and ready to replace chains when they need to, then this will greatly suit you.

        This chain ensures accurate and smooth shifting experience, even though it’s budget friendly you’re really not compromising anything during your ride. 

        Pros:

        • Budget friendly
        • Great for all (except racers)
        • Smooth, quiet and light
        • Easy maintenance

        Cons:

        • Chains may break
        • May arrive damaged
        • Not durable
        Sale
        Sram PC 951 9-Speed Bicycle Chain with PowerLink Chain Connector, Grey Links
        Sram PC 951 9-Speed Bicycle Chain with PowerLink Chain Connector, Grey Links

          Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          4. SHIMANO Ultegra 

          Key Features:

          • 116 links
          • Stable shifting
          • 10 speed
          • 2 years warranty

          The Shimano Ultegra chain comes with a 2 years warranty. This chain is 116 links but is also available in 112, and 114 links. This is a chain for a 10 speed cassette. This particular model has a new shaped inner plate to ensure smoother rear shifting, and an overall stable shifting. 

          This bike chain is budget friendly and performs well even when changing gears aggressively. The bike chain can be durable under the correct maintenance. But better to not expect durability when getting a budget replacement chain. Focus more towards the quality when you’re changing gears. Prioritize your comfort during whatever time the bike chain will last you. 

          Pros:

          • Significantly improve shifting
          • Great price for value
          • Durable with the correct maintenance
          • A great replacement for older chains

          Cons:

          • A challenge to install
          • May break
          • May not fit
          Sale
          SHIMANO Ultegra 6701 10-Speed Chain
          SHIMANO Ultegra 6701 10-Speed Chain

            Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            5. Schwinn Bicycle Chain

            Key Features:

            • Available in 2 sizes
            • Strong structure
            • Ideal for single speed bikes
            • Nickel plated
            • 112 links

            The Schwinn Bicycle chain comes in 2 sizes, ½ inch x ⅛ inch and ½ inch x 3/32 inch. It’s ideal to use for single speed bikes and has 112 links. This one is quite easy to install, if you know how and have the correct tools with you. Once installed it will give you a quality smooth ride for quite a long time. 

            If you ever struggle with sizing or installing a bike chain, you can easily find instructions online. If you still struggle after that, you can always bring it to a bike shop, though it may not be the most ideal choice. This chain does not come with instructions which is the source of the challenge. 

            Pros:

            • Excellent chain once installed properly
            • Durable
            • Easy to adjust length
            • Smooth ride

            Cons:

            • May break
            • Does not work for a mountain bike
            • A challenge to install
            • Requires a chain tool upon installation
            • May be too short
            Schwinn Bike Chain Fits Multi-Speed Bikes, 1/2 inch x 3/32 inch
            Schwinn Bike Chain Fits Multi-Speed Bikes, 1/2 inch x 3/32 inch

              Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              Our Top Pick

              After reviewing the various choices, the best one we would recommend is the KMC Z410 Bicycle chain. If you need a multi speed chain then this is not the one for you. You might be better with another KMC chain, or maybe one with a different brand. But if you do then this multi colored, single speed, durable chain is the way to go.

              All chains can be a challenge to size and install, the most important thing is that you know your limit. Forcing yourself to install something you cannot may break the chain. This applies to all chains. So research online or visit your local bike shop for the best chain installation, if you ever have doubts.

              KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)
              KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain (1-Speed, 1/2 x 1/8-Inch, 112L, White)

                Last update on 2020-12-04 at 16:41 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                Perry
                Perry
                Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.