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Although riding a motorcycle is a lot of fun, it also comes with plenty of responsibilities. What many people don’t understand is that biking is more than just hopping on a motorcycle and riding away.
A big part of biker’s life is also maintenance and looking after certain parts that wear out the most. One such component is your chain.
A great chain is one of the most significant parts of your bike. It’s what connects the motor and the rear wheel, so even the slightest damage might prevent this from functioning normally.
Take a few minutes to read the article below as we review the top options and share some valuable information on how to choose one of them.
8 Top-Rated Motorcycle Chain Reviews
JT Sprockets – Best Lightweight
This is one of the best options for off-road adventures. It’s a heavy-duty motorcycle chain that’s still among the most lightweight options, offering top-rated performance at all times.
It’s designed and manufactured using leading-edge technology. On top of that, the manufacturer used the highest grade of special steel alloys to deliver durability and endurance.
Thanks to its construction and the combination of its specifications, it is suitable for modern motorcycles, off-road and dirt bikes, street bikes, MX, ATV, Enduro, etc. Still, because it’s as lightweight, most people like using it on small to medium bikes.
Its roller diameter is 7.7mm, while its pin length measures some 15.05mm. The plate thickness is 1.6mm, while its overall weight per 100 links is 1.63 pounds. Also, it’s important to note its average tensile strength of 4,189 lb/ft.
Kids ATV Parts – Best for Dirt Bikes
If you’re looking for a quality option for your dirt bike, you might want to consider this one. It’s a 420 chain without O-ring sealing that works for most ATVs and dirt bikes.
When it comes to its overall construction and quality, it’s important to note that this one is made of high-quality alloy steel, providing smooth performance and operation.
It weighs some 2.45 pounds, so it’s not the most lightweight chain available. However, you get durable construction, simple installation, and an overall long-lasting chain, so a bit of weight probably won’t bother its performance.
As we said, it has 102 links, but you can cut it if you need something shorter.
RK Racing Chain – Best Performance
If you’re looking for a reputable brand, RK Racing Chain is definitely one of your best options. The 520-SO-120 is one of the most durable models, delivering top performance and smooth operation.
Most of its parts, including the bushings and solid rollers, are built from heat-treated high carbon steel. Interestingly, this is one of the most used chains of AMA World Superbike and Super-Sport teams.
A part of its durability comes from the fact that it’s pre-stressed and pre-stretched. This improves its longevity and performance, ensuring that it lasts you a long time, even with frequent use.
It features O-ring design and comes with a clip-type master link.
Also, its tensile strength is at an impressive 7,700lbs/ft while the chain sports maximum 400CC for off-road and street bikes.
Volar – Best Durability
Durability is always important, which is why it’s a factor you should never overlook. It’s that much more critical when it comes to custom motorcycles and frequent use.
This Volar Motorsport model is an O-ring type, designed specifically to deliver durability and strength at all times. It’s best suited for custom bikes.
It sports solid rollers and bushings, which add to its overall longevity. This also helps deliver top performance as you’ll notice the very first time you test them out.
The chain is made of alloy steel with reinforced rollers to endure high impact. Also, it’s pre-stretched and shot-peened while its tensile strength is around 9,850 lbs.
Another vital thing to mention is that the master link is included, but you’ll need a riveting tool to install it.
D.I.D. – Best Long Life
This high-quality brand will last much longer than your socket. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but this one is among the most durable and long-lasting X-ring chains out there.
It features a tensile strength of 8,660 pounds, which is enough to endure frequent use and heavy loads you put on your motorcycle. It’s especially useful if you know you’ll carry heavy loads since this one won’t let you down.
This gold chain is designed to last some 31 times longer than most other options. It reduces metal-on-metal friction, improves performance, and gives maximum engine displacement of 750CC.
Another thing worth noting is that this chain is great for humid areas. It’s not prone to corrosion or rust, so you can use it for a long time before it needs replacement.
Renthal – Best Anti-Corrosion
If what you need is an O-ring chain that’s resistant to corrosion, you should check this one. It’s one of the best models to use in humid areas or if you often ride in wet weather conditions.
Its O rings retain special vacuum-injected grease inside the joints, extending its overall life. The grease inside protects against moisture, rain, snow, and even dirt, making this one suitable for frequent use and high loads.
On top of that, it’s also important to mention its high carbon alloy steel bearing pins.
This helps provide more longevity as a whole, ensuring that the chain resistant wear for a long time.
PGN Bearings – Best Value
PGN is one of the best options if you’re looking for that perfect balance of efficiency and price. It’s the best value for your money, not being too expensive or way too cheap.
Its roller diameter measures 0.313 inches, while its pin diameter is 0.156 inches. Also, the pin length is 0.654 inches. The width between inner plates is approximately 0.310 inches in total.
The chain sports tensile strength of 3,250 pounds, which isn’t the highest, although it should be enough for small to medium bikes. Keep in mind that it might not handle heavy loadings.
The entire chain weighs some 0.417 lb/ft, and it’s made of carbon steel that’s among the strongest material choices.
Unibear – Best Strong Resistance
This durable chain is ideal for people who aren’t that good with maintenance. It’s pre-greased to last a longer time, which is why it requires no additional maintenance on your part.
It’s a high-quality, 10ft chain suitable for different motorcycles. It’s not the most heavy-duty, but it’s sure to last a long time even with frequent use. One thing you should keep in mind is its tensile strength that’s approximately 3,900 lbs.
It’s a bulk chain with a connecting link and a roller diameter of 0.360 inches. Its pin diameter is 0.156 inches.
Overall, this one is strong, resistant, and durable.
The manufacturer applied the advanced heat-treatment process so that the chain can endure impact and some heavy loading. It’s made of alloy steel and pre-stretched for longevity.
Buying Considerations for Motorbike Chain
Pre-stretched chains were put under tension as a part of rigorous testing. This simulates actual riding conditions, allowing the manufacturer to see how the it would behave. Overall, this helps increase longevity.
The size usually refers to its length. This is something you should consider before buying any particular chain because it might not fit your bike. Length is typically determined by the number of links.
X-ring chains are far more popular as opposed to O-rings. These offer somewhat the same benefits of minimal maintenance and durability, but they don’t have speed reduction issues. X-rings usually also don’t have as much drag because their surface area is much smaller.
In most cases, this type is a bit more expensive than O-rings and non-sealed chains, but it’s also the most durable and long-lasting. It’s a good solution for people who ride frequently and with heavy loads.
Pitch is a distance between the pins in the chain. Keep in mind that this varies, and there are many different pitches available, but the best-selling ones are 520, 525, and 530.
This is something you should be careful with because the wrong pitch won’t fit well.
You’ve probably noticed we mentioned this a few times already. It stands for the load weight a chain can take before it stretches. The higher the number, the more force it can endure in different conditions.
You should always aim for high tensile strength if you know you’ll ride with heavy loading.
This is the link that connects one end of your chain to the other. There are many different styles of master links, although the most popular are clip and rivet.
Clip links are easier to install, but you’ll notice that they’re not as durable and enduring. In most cases, they’ll come with a master link included but don’t be surprised if you come across those that don’t. Luckily, you can buy it separately at any time.
Number of Rings
You should first know how many rings you’ll need so that you can choose accordingly. This is easy to determine by disassembling your old chain and seeing how many rings it has.
If you get an option with more rings than you need, you’ll most likely need a chain-breaking device to shorten it.
Easy to Install
Installation shouldn’t be a problem for most people. This is something you probably won’t struggle with even if you don’t have much experience.
Still, you should opt for a chain that’s easy to install so that you save yourself some time and effort.
Additional Factors in Choosing Motorcycle Chains
Your best pick is the most durable and strong chain that’s also long-lasting. Keep in mind that most require regular maintenance, which is an essential factor that impacts its overall durability.
Some models come pre-lubricated so that you don’t have to spend too much time hassling with maintenance.
Most people usually go for strong options that offer quality and performance at an affordable price. Cheap models aren’t always bad for you, just as how the most expensive ones aren’t always the best ones.
Make sure to consider all the pros and cons of the chain of your choice while also comparing its price to other similar models.
The brand name behind your product doesn’t always determine its quality. However, most often than not, the most popular brands are those that are the most reliable.
Look for a manufacturer with some experience and customer reviews that vouch for its quality. You should consider the big names because they’re usually big for a reason.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give a chance to a less popular manufacturer, especially if you like the chain and think it will fit your bike perfectly.
All About The Motorcycle Chain
What is a Motorbike Chain?
This is a metal chain that transmits power from the engine to the rear wheel. Every kind wears with time, and it starts to stretch the more you use it. It then becomes loose, which can really mess up your performance and even wear down the sprocket teeth.
A motorbike chain is quite important, which is why you shouldn’t neglect care and maintenance. If it becomes too loose, it can snap. And, that can be quite dangerous if it happens while on the road.
As we mentioned, X-rings are the most popular due to their durability and ease of maintenance. These don’t have as much speed reduction issues and can significantly reduce drag. However, they’re also the most expensive option out there, although some affordable models are available.
These chains have an O-ring in every link. The O-ring is added to ensure that the pin between each plate is lubricated enough to provide optimal performance.
This protects the chain from dirt, dust, grime, and other debris. In most cases, they are pre-lubricated by the manufacturer, so it requires little maintenance.
Still, it requires regular inspection and cleaning so that it doesn’t get too dirty. It’s also important to mention that this one tends to create a lot of drag at high speeds, so it’s not the best for racing.
This is the most basic type out of the three. In most cases, it’s what you can find on old motorbikes. These are quite cheap, but don’t let that fool you because they’re also very dependable.
Non-sealed chains do require a lot of maintenance, which is one of the reasons most people avoid them. This type requires the most frequent cleaning and lubricating in order to ensure its performance.
Failing to maintain a non-sealed chain will significantly reduce its lifespan, so you’ll probably have to buy a new one at least once a year.
Tips on Changing Them
Motorbike chains wear out regardless of the type you opted for. Regular maintenance, cleaning, and lubricating can prolong its lifespan, but eventually, you’ll come to the point of replacing it altogether.
Recognizing the signs that your chain is near its final day is critical. It might be a good idea to start looking for a new one if you have to clean and lubricate it more often than before.
In most cases, experts recommend that you change your sprockets at the same time you change it. This is especially critical if it started to wear down the sprocket teeth.
The changing process isn’t as tricky, but you might want to consult your mechanic if you don’t have as much experience and are unsure about how to do this.
Below are a few tips that can help you if you’re willing to try to change the chain by yourself. You can skip some of these if you’re not changing the sprockets this time, although we highly recommend that you change it while you’re at it.
The first thing you should do is create a working space for you to replace it and the sprockets. You should have enough space to move around as well as to access and remove the rear wheel.
You should then check because maybe you’ll have to remove the gear lever before you remove the sprocket. Make sure to check the splined boss position and then remove the sprocket once everything is ready.
Check how the sprocket is secured because not all are the same. Some have a self-locking nut while others have a tabbed locking washer. Tap back the tabs with a screwdriver or a punch and hammer, but make sure to have a new washer for the new sprocket.
Use a piece of hardwood wrapped in a soft cloth to prevent it from turning once you apply force to the front sprocket nut. However, be careful not to trap the valve.
Take off the front sprocket nut with a breaker bar, but make sure to leave a sprocket in place.
You can now take off the wheel as well and put the socket side up on the floor next to it. Remove the sprocket nut before checking if your sprocket is of the right size and fit.
Fit it in place and wrap the old chain around it. Refit the wheel, but don’t tighten the spindle nuts.
Split the old chain with a splitter tool and connect it to the new one. Pull the old one from the front sprocket and keep on doing so until the new one is around both sprockets. Connect both ends of the new chain with a master link.
Put the hardwood back into the wheel before tightening the nut correctly. Before you finish, you should tighten the spindle and tension the drive chain, as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best motorcycle chain lube?
Lubes come as a paste and spray. They have the same purpose of making sure your chain runs smoothly while also protecting it from dust, dirt, and even moisture.
However, both types come with certain benefits and drawbacks. In most cases, it’s up to you to choose the lubricant based on your needs and preferences.
Are gold motorcycle chains better?
They are usually a bit more expensive than others. However, they’re not much different in terms of performance. The only real difference is that they’re less likely to rust as quickly.
How to adjust motorcycle chains?
You should adjust your chain every 500 miles. To do that, you loosen the axle nut a few turns. Adjust it a quarter turn at a time and make sure to do it according to its specifications. You might want to check the user manual for the correct amount of slack.
At this point, you probably understand the importance of having a quality chain. There are many brands on the market, offering plenty of different options, so there’s something for every bike.
This is a critical part of your motorcycle, and as such, it deserves a careful approach, thorough maintenance, and proper care. For this reason, it’s important to for the best, most durable, and long-lasting option.
The key to success is in being careful with how you choose. You should consider all the important factors, and we’re sure that you’ll find your next drive chain within the list we prepared.