The humble bike chain is among the the elements cyclists are most likely to change most frequently.

Given you&#8217ll discover on your own buying bike chains once again and again, it&#8217s critical to obtain the sweet spot in the price range in between worth, functionality, and durability.

As an ex-Shimano ambassador with many years of practical experience as a pro bicycle mechanic and ultra-endurance racer, I&#8217ve had a lot more than my fair share of time riding, operating on, and owning bikes with chains throughout a huge array of budgets, from significant-overall performance alternatives costing upwards of $70 to affordable and not so cheerful $10 choices.

From the off, I would argue that the sweet place for most rather major beginner cyclists will lie around the middle of that array, in between all around $25 to $40.

At that value issue, you&#8217ll discover higher-top quality, durable chains from dependable models that won&#8217t make you wince just about every time you have to have to change them.

Even so, that&#8217s a really subjective judgment, and the suitable total to invest on a bike chain will depend on your spending plan, the sort of using you want to do, regardless of whether you intend to race your bicycle in competition, and any particular technological needs you require.

With that in intellect, this information will be covering:

© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

How A lot Ought to I Invest On A Bike Chain?

So, how significantly is a bike chain? Properly, it arrives down to numerous elements. Here’s my assistance if you are wanting for distinct sorts of bike chains. 

Make Confident The Chain Is Suitable With Your Groupset

Assure it is the identical amount of speeds (gears) and what ever model you are using is appropriate with the groupset you have.

I have generally uncovered matching manufacturers is the most effective way to go, but if heading for some thing different, ensure they&#8217re cross-suitable very first.

Overall performance Chains &#8211 Significant Price tag ($40-$60)

If you want a chain for effectiveness and racing, and every single second counts, you&#8217ll want to expend major cash. Chains like Shimano Dura-Ace are mild, astounding under hefty load, and change promptly and easily. They make a variance, but it displays in the selling price tag.

Higher-effectiveness chains can usually dress in out promptly, so it’s fantastic to comprehend that you could possibly not get substantial mileage out of these, especially when you will be going comprehensive fuel most of the time you&#8217re employing them.

Except you&#8217re racing competitively and have to have to extract just about every past percentage of effectiveness, I&#8217d argue that most beginner cyclists are not likely to will need to shell out this type of revenue on a bicycle chain.

General performance And Durability &#8211 Mid Value ($25-$40)

If you want a mix of efficiency but are also hunting for sturdiness, then you may well want to take into account a effectiveness chain but 1 that isn’t racing amount. These are commonly made to be sleek and light, but also really long lasting.

A excellent case in point of a chain like this could be a Shimano 105 chain. It will give a combine of effectiveness and toughness and is substantially less expensive than the superior-overall performance chains. It fees around $25-$40, supplying you some terrific miles.

Like all bike parts, you&#8217ll get diminishing returns as the chain will get more high priced. In other terms, the variation among a $10 chain and a $40 chain will be a great deal, a lot increased than the change among a $40 chain and a $70 chain.

That&#8217s why I&#8217d argue this mid-array is the sweet location exactly where you&#8217re finding optimum benefit for income, and just about every greenback you devote is contributing to a genuine improvement in good quality compared to spending budget solutions.

Durability And Finances &#8211 Reduced Cost ($10-$25)

If you are hunting for a new chain on a bike, you are not also concerned about performance, and you do not use it a great deal, then you may possibly just want to get a cheap chain from a effectively-acknowledged maker.

Some chains in this price tag bracket are heading to be lousy top quality, notably if they&#8217re a pretty affordable knock-off from an unknown brand name (Amazon is full of these) or a counterfeit of a important manufacturer (also surprisingly popular), but there are reputable models that will do a decent funds chain at this price tag.

For example, a fantastic budget chain that is not just going to do the job nicely but delivers terrific longevity and is great on the wallet would be a KMC chain. They come in all different speeds, are pretty sturdy, and fantastic benefit for cash.

White gravel bike with a silver bike chain.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

What&#8217s The Difference Among Low-priced Vs Pricey Bike Chains

Now for the thrilling section. Allow&#8217s talk about what you can count on from cheap and expensive chains. This has all appear from my activities of working with a lot of unique solutions.

Compatibility 

Chains built for bikes that have fewer speeds (cassette gears) have a tendency to be less expensive. You&#8217ll obtain an 8/9/10 velocity bike chain to be as minimal as 30% of the value when compared to 11/12 speed chains.

It&#8217s significant to use the suitable chain for the number of speeds in your groupset, as they are different widths. The additional speeds in the groupset, the narrower the chain desires to be. You couldn’t use an 8-velocity chain on an 11-pace groupset. 

More recent bicycle chains are also made to be ready to handle cross-chaining angles and normally use improved supplies and more recent technology.

Pounds

High priced chains are generally a great deal lighter than less costly chains. Low-priced chains are designed of significantly less innovative resources, with fundamental device strategies, and need to be larger for more basic cassettes.

A substantial-conclusion chain these types of as Shimano Dura-Ace will weigh substantially considerably less than a much more simple chain due to acquiring hollow pins and staying built of more refined materials these as lighter alloys, which are more durable to construct.

Durability 

In normal, much less expensive chains never previous as lengthy as high priced chains. They break down simpler and are created of supplies that weaken swiftly. I have individually experienced low cost chains previous as minor as 500 miles as opposed to pricey types at 2000 miles. 

That isn’t normally the situation. There are times when leading higher-end overall performance chains have really short lives. This is because they are lighter and made for most performance at the cost of sturdiness. Tour de France riders will not be on the same chain for lengthy. 

Prime Idea: Use a chain checker routinely to make sure it hasn&#8217t stretched additional than .75 mm.

Functionality

Then we have overall performance. The performance is extremely distinct if you have a low-cost 11-velocity chain and an expensive 11-pace chain. While they may well protect the exact speeds, it doesn’t mean they will carry out the identical.

A great case in point could be a Shimano Sora and a Dura-Ace chain. Shimano Sora is a additional simple groupset, and Dura-Ace is racing amount. The Dura-Ace chain is lighter, shifts improved, and quieter than the Shimano Sora chain. 

Resistance To Corrosion

Bike chains corrode. It is tricky to steer clear of corrosion when operating with metal factors that are uncovered to the components with a large amount of motion.

You can assistance cut down this by cleansing them regularly and trying to keep them properly lubricated, but there is a huge variance when it will come to affordable and expensive styles. 

Inexpensive chains commonly occur with either poor lubrication or often pretty very little at all. They also scratch and wear additional easily, leaving them open to the factors. Highly-priced chains usually come with much better lubrication and are much more tricky-donning and scratch-resistant. 

Major Suggestion: Make certain your bicycle chain is cleaned and degreased routinely and usually perfectly lubricated to prevent it putting on down because of to corrosion.

Sound

For several years, I very significantly completely utilised Shimano or SRAM chains. Then, when there had been stock problems, I experienced to change to a lesser-recognized brand name, and immediately after changing the chain, I believed that my bike was broken as it was producing a weird sounds when I was pedaling. 

I checked the base bracket for any friction on the drivetrain, wheel bearings, and even the jockey wheels to understand the chain was earning the sound. The chain was low-priced, but I couldn’t very imagine how noisy it was.

Silver bike chain on a bike in a turbo trainer.
© Robbie Ferri/BikeTips

The Styles of Bike Chains You Really should Stay away from

In advance of we go into talking about how substantially you should really expend on a bike chain, it’s very important to know what chains you want to keep away from since some will lead to you challenges.

Bogus Chains

Chains are high priced, specifically higher-functionality chains from a leading groupset. When you come throughout, say, a Dura-Ace chain on non-respected reseller web-sites, which commonly expenditures $50 for much significantly less, these kinds of as $25, then it&#8217s much more than likely counterfeit. 

I have found so lots of pretend Dura-Ace and SRAM chains on reselling internet sites, and they may also have the exact or extremely comparable packaging. There is generally a tell somewhere, this kind of as not obtaining hollow pins on the chain or it currently being a slightly different box colour.

In basic, if the cost for a premium chain appears to be much too great to be true, it likely is!

Unheard Of Brand names

Even though some lesser-regarded brand names make a 50 percent-good chain, in my knowledge, I have located most of them to be noisy, weak, and accomplish badly. They are frequently the identical high-quality as the fakes, and though really low cost, they just never past. 

The manufacturers to go for are the kinds making the groupsets or effectively-identified companies. SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo, and KMC are quite very good. I enjoy some unidentified brands may possibly have remarkable chains, but I have never read of a single currently being far better than branded. 

How Long Ought to A Bike Chain Very last?

One more dilemma I am frequently questioned is “how prolonged need to a bike chain very last?” Well I anticipate 1500 miles on a chain. It can be considerably less if the bicycle is ridden tough or in very poor conditions. It can be far more if the bike is very well seemed following and ridden softly.

The publish How A great deal Must You Spend On A Bicycle Chain? Inexpensive Vs Highly-priced Chains Discussed appeared to start with on BikeTips.