It used to be pretty simple to buy the best bicycle chain with
maybe only two choices to pick from, but today like everything
else, it has become increasingly more complex, so here's a list
of some of the features of the very best bike chains on the
Remember not every feature is essential or even important to
every rider. Spending eightly dollars to buy a super light KMC
chain may be totally a waste of money if you never run challenging
trails, where that 30 gram weight savings will never be noticed.
Likewise buying specially coated rust-proof chains if you never
go out riding in the rain or through the bogs may be another
waste of money.
Select and pay only for the features that will be important
to your riding style
bike chains have been approximately 350 grams for a typical
116 link chain. Today companies like KMC are making top of the
line 10 speed chains (their X10-SL) UNDER 240 grams.
They, like Shimano, SRAM and the Wippermann chain have achieved
this predominately by using hollow rivets and slotted outer plates
to remove metal and thus reduce weight. For racing this might
be significant for fast starts and maximum peddling efficiency.
My experience might suggest though that this comes at a price.
The last $80.SRAM super light weight chain that I purchased
broke three times in the last month, but then I ride pretty
More expensive chains are made of sophisticated alloys that benefit
from various forms of heat treatment. This is true for the inner
and outer plates and the rollers. They are heat treated to create
a tough surface to resist physical wear caused by road grit penetrating
the rivet-bushing-roller inferface.
Some of the very best bicycle chains are coated with titanium
nitride to create a chain with a much smoother surface for less
friction between the chain and the derailleurs. These chains
are less prone to attracking muck build up on the outer surfaces,
stay cleaner and thus have a longer life.
Titanium nitride does leaves the bicycle chains with an indentifiable
gold surface colour, in fact that is the easiest way to identify
this special treatment.
Like titanium Nitride this is a coating applied to the surface
of the bicycle chain to control rust development. Although definitely
not one hundred percent effective, it certainly extends the
life of your chain. If you're kind of lazy when it comes to
chain maintenance this is a great option.
Shape of inner and outer plates:
On the best bicycle chains the inner faces of the inner and
outer plates are machined with a slight bevel to allow the chain
to climb gears more easily. They can also reduce the build up
of muck between the chainrings and the chain.
Heavy Duty Cycle:
A number of bicyle chain manufacturers, contrary to making the
lightest chain have instead created a chain that is strong enough
to withstand BMX trick riding and the stress and strains of
downhill biking. Yes, you have forfeited weight, but usually
that is less of an issue than strength.
Now this isn't really a performance issue unless of course you
are batching in some of the gold chains that have gained their
colour form the high tech coating. There are companies like
Spooky Tooth that make bike chains in blue and red that are
kind of funky. They are under $10 so hard to imagine that performance
was on the top of the agenda but for fun they're great.
Bicycle Chains: Reviews, What's Best?, Features?