What bike chain do you need? First, we have to understand what a bike chain is, and its importance.

A few things to know about bike chains before getting started

The chain on a bike is one of the most crucial components required for it to work properly. Chains transform power from the pedals to the wheels, resulting in a propulsion of your bike.

From afar, one would be excused if they thought all bikes used the same kind of chain, but the facts are very different. It is possible for a chain to either be too loose or too tight for the chain ring and cassette.

Therefore, this will directly affect your shifting abilities, since the chain may start skipping over the sprockets. This may result in the falling off from the chain ring, and in some severe cases, even have an annoying sound if ill fitted. A good chain is one that fits the bike and is well cleaned and lubricated.

Some bikes come with a chain guard that prevents dirt from getting on to the chains, thus increasing durability and cutting down on maintenance requirements.  A worn-out chain grinds away at the teeth of your chain ring and sprocket. This means that it should always be checked for maintenance.

Types of bike chains

Bicycle chains are generally categorized into two basic types:

  • single speed chains – designed for bikes with just one chain ring and have a single sprocket on the rear wheel. This is because no shifting of gears is required, while the derailleur chains are meant for those bikes with multiple gearing. One-speed chains also tend to be thicker and shorter for maximum durability. This makes them suitable for use on bikes intended for tricks (e.g. grinding) such as BMX. If you want to see what kinds of bikes are best for pulling off stunts and tricks, check out the best bikes for wheelies.
  • derailleur chains – because derailleur chains are meant to be moved from one sprocket to another, they are made longer and narrower in order to fit the variable sprockets on a geared bike.

How to determine what kind of chain to buy for your bike

1. Number of gears

It is important to know what number of gears you have on your drivetrain when replacing an old chain with a new one. If not sure of how many gears your bike has, just count the number of sprockets on the cassette and there you have it! The size of the gaps between different sprockets on a cassette usually determine the type and length of chain required to fit a certain bike speed.

It is worth keeping in mind that the more the number of sprockets on a cassette, the narrower the chain required (for example a 10-speed bike chain will be far more narrow than the chain required for a 6-speed bike).

2. How the chain has been designed

Another thing to keep track of would be the type of chain you wish to use. Most bike chains these days are made of hardened alloy steel. This is mostly to provide maximum strength, but some have high quality alloy parts and hollow side plates in order to cut down on some weight.

Some chains such as Shimano brand (VIEW PRICES HERE) require highly special and specific rivets to rejoin them once taken apart, while some like SRAM brand (VIEW PRICES HERE) use a Powerlink that can be reattached without the need of a special chain tool.

Taking care of your bicycle’s chain

Chains tend to stretch when they wear out and this makes them be out of sync with the teeth of the cassette and chain ring. This is one of the most clear signals that a new chain is required for the bike including a new cassette and chain ring since the potential damage caused is extensive.

Always keep an eye out for skipping chain, worn out teeth, rust and falling rivets so as to make sure that the chain is well maintained and lubricated, so that it will not bring you or your bike any problems when you ride it. To be on the safe side, check out our recommended affordable helmets by clicking here.

Whenever you’re not sure on what to do when your bike chain degrades, and you’re not at all accustomed to the kind of set up you have, again, make that trip to your local bike shop and don’t mess up your bike even further by trying to fix it all on your own.

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