Bike Chains

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Bike Chains

To get the best chain for your bike, you need to know a few things first. The most important thing is how many cogs are on the rear wheel. Single-speed chains are different than multi-speed chains in that they’re wider and have less lateral flex. These are often referred to as 1/8” chains, for their nominal width. Chains for multi-speed bikes are often referred to 3/32” chains, but the actual width matters. It’s best to choose a chain that matches the number of cogs on your cassette. Chains get narrower to shift over more cogs because, while the width of the cog stays nearly the same, the spacers in between the cogs become more narrow.

 

SRAM’s AXS 12-speed system only works with AXS-compatible chains. It has wider-diameter rollers, which mate to deeper gaps between the cassette and chainring teeth. 

 

Best Bike Chains

 

What makes the best bike chain is up for debate. Some believe that matching the brand of chain to the rest of the drivetrain is essential. Others don’t. If replacing a Shimano 11-speed chain, the drivetrain might or might not be improved with an 11-speed chain from Campagnolo, KMC, SRAM, Wippermann, or another Shimano model. Likewise, the master link usually does not have to match the brand of the chain, just the width.

 

There is also the question of whether one should prioritize shifting performance or chain durability. Even with this emphasis, lubricants probably matter as much as surface treatments. There are companies like Ceramic Speed, with their UFO chain, and Silca, that offer pre-treated chains. Their secret is largely wax, something that can also be applied at home.  

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