A Simplified Guide To The Best Motorcycle Chain
Almost every bike is power-run by a chain drive. As such, all the power coming from the engine passes through the small metallic chain installed on the bike. Therefore, it makes sense that you should ensure you get the best motorcycle chain the market has to offer. Use this guide to help you do exactly that:
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon
Function Of The Motorcycle Chain
Designed to maintain power transmission, the motorcycle chain is critical to the delivery of a safe riding experience. With proper inspection, maintenance, repair, and replacement, your chain will ensure the bike rides steadily and safely.
Therefore, you need to keep the chain in good condition until it proves problematic. When this happens, swap it almost immediately for a new one from any of the best motorcycle chains reviewed below.
Types Of Motorcycle Chain For 2017
There are different brands producing bike chain out there. In general, however, all of these chains fall into these categories:
- type #1
- type #2
- type #3
Heavy Duty (Standard Chain)
Old in style, heavy duty chains have no ring in between the inner and the outer side plates. As such, they are typically lightweight and relatively affordable to produce. However, it is hard coming across these types of chain on a modern motorcycle. If you ever do, then it will most likely be on low hp or off-road use bikes.
O-ring chains sit smack between the chain's side plates. This means that they create far less friction in comparison to metal-on-metal. They achieve this by pooling lubrication right next to the inner plate.
By so doing, the life of the chain is significantly prolonged especially in comparison to the standard chain. Therefore, you can easily expect to get 12,000 to 18,000 miles out of an O-ring chain that's well maintained.
The last among the motorcycle chain types, x-ring chains are a more modern variant of the O-ring chain. They use the typically X-shaped piece of rubber in between the bike's side plates. Manufacturers suggest that this type of design enables the chain to hold onto lubrication better while delivering more than 40% life to the chain.
The reason behind this unusual design is that X-ring chains are unlike their circular O-ring counterparts. This is in the sense that they come with multiple pools of lubrication and points of contact with the side plate.
In general, however, X-plates tend to cost more than O-ring chains. That said, they are becoming more common and quite affordable with each passing month.
What To Look Out For In A Motorcycle Chain
So, what should you look for to get the best motorcycle chain? How should you go about your search to ensure that you end up buying the highest quality for the most affordable price?
With regards to investing in a chain, consider the chain type, the ring type, and the total number of links.
1. Type Of Chain
In general, you'll typically have to make a choice between 530 and 520 motorcycle chain. Most chains you will see will have a 530 or a 520 number embedded. This number denotes a measurement of the chain's size.
The first number, which is almost always a 5 these days, denotes the length of the pitch right in between the pins. As such, this number is used to show buyers how big the links on the chain are. Some time back, chains started with a four but this is no longer the case.
The second number, on the other hand, denotes the total width of the chain pins.
This means that you get more thickness with a 530 chain than with its 520 counterparts. However, if the sprockets are changed, then you can use both of these types of chain interchangeably.
2. Type Of Ring
There are three types of rings on motorcycle chain: x-ring, non-o rings, and o-ring. The oldest are the non-o rings that are quite in vogue at the moment.
After they had stopped being the standard, the non-O ring was replaced by the O-ring. This type of ring is expensive to produce but is typically better sealed against dirt as well as being a whole lot tougher.
The last type of ring is the X-ring which is even pricier. This ring type is, however, quite durable and will cause less friction on your bike's chain. Less friction, in this case, almost always leads to better performance.
3. Chain Link Requirements
Last but not least, you might want to understand how many chain links your motorcycle needs. Chains range from 80 all the way up to a maximum of 130 links. That said, most of the bikes you will come across will typically have around 110 links.
Some manufacturers of bike chain offer a wide variety of lengths while others only sell 130-link chains that you will have to deduct from to get the overall number of links you need.
However, as you modify the motorcycle chain, keep in mind that although removing the links is easy, adding extra links isn't.
How To Maintain Your Motorcycle Chain
If you manage using your bike chain as you are supposed to, then the roller chain will revolve around the rear and front sprockets - which are a crucial part of the entire chain drive system.
What you should not, however, is that the best motorcycle chain require three main types of maintenance. These include:
By lubricating your motorcycle chain, you will ensure that the rollers and links continue working efficiently both with each other and with the sprockets they connect with. However, you need to keep in mind that lubricant will cause your chain to accumulate a buildup of grime and dirt. This is why you must always ensure you only use the best chain lube every single time.
b) Routine Adjustment
You should also adjust the motorcycle chain because it tends to stretch after spinning around the sprockets whenever you are speeding on your bike.
The only advantage you stand to gain from not adjusting and lubricating your chain every once in a while is that you can replace the sprockets and chain more often. This will, therefore, increase your bike's mechanical capabilities.
Last but not least, remember that chains deteriorate - even with regular lubrication. To this end, you need to adjust them to make up for the stretching they undergo. That said, you should get replacement chains whenever you have a knack that your bike isn't handling quite as well as it did when you first bought it.
And below is a video with some tips on handling this procedure:
The Best Motorcycle Chains On The Market
So, which are the best motorcycle chain? Consider the following:
The RK Racing Chain O-ring comes with the benefits listed below:
- It is affordable
- It is pre-stressed, meaning it will provide you with maximum performance
- The pre-stretching also ensures a longer lifespan
- It comes with a clip-type master link
- The tensile strength is 7700 lbs/ft
However, you can expect the following flaws from it:
- Its low tensile strength means that you can only use it on less-powerful bikes
- Some users report reliability issues with this chain
- You won't be able to spray it even after thinning
- You can't use it on fiberglass or plastic
- The RK racing chain 114-Iinks gold X-ring chain comes with: 8,500 lb/ft tensile strength
- It carries a brand name that has a reputation for a high-quality chain
- It is available in the 530, 525, and 520 options
- The RX ring provides two seal/lubrication points
- It comes with a riveting master-link
- It ranks among the most durable of chains you'll find on the market
- It does not stretch easily
- It comes pre-stressed and pre-stretched
- Compared to O-ring versions, it's hard to determine this chain's durability
- It is quite pricey
With the RK racing chain 112-Iinks X-ring chain, you get:
- It weighs at 5 pounds
- It will last longer than 20,000 miles
- It comes in variants ranging from 96 all the way up to 124 links
- It is quite durable and thick
- It has been designed to minimize friction as much as possible
- It isn't as expensive as its competitors
- It delivers increased durability and better performance than most of the other chains
- With it, you get tensile strength in the 9500 pounds/ft
- The manufacturer has included a rivet-type master link with each chain
- However, it isn't the best chain out there on account of the fact that there are cheaper chains in the market
- It is quite affordable
- It delivers excellent performance
- The JT x-rings offer low friction, meaning you get better mileage and less wear
- It is made of high-quality steel alloys, which provide tensile strengths upward of 8,900 lbs/ft
- It also comes with a rivet-type master link
- There's only the 120 links version, meaning you might have to remove a couple of links
- The fact that there are only 120 links means that you will be forced to invest in another chain altogether if it doesn't end up fitting your bike
- If you need something affordable, consider investing in the Unibear O-ring chain
- It delivers tensile strength of more than 9,400 lbs/ft
- This chain is quite durable
- At close to 6 pounds, it ranks among the heaviest chains you will come across
- It should last you more than 15,000 miles
- There's only the 130 links version meaning you might need to get rid of some of the links
So, there you have it - the best motorcycle chain you can find. Although each of these chains offers great value in one way or the other, we have a particular preference for the RK Racing Chain GB520XSO-114 114-Links Gold X-Ring Chain with Connecting Link.
The advanced X-ring design, the affordable price, and the durability of this chain deliver the kind of service that will have you speeding for miles on end without having to get a replacement chain.
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