How To Find The Best Motorcycle Chain
Almost all motorcycles are chain-drive. This means that the engine powers a small metal chain that actually drives the bike. So, obviously keeping the chain in a good condition is important and so is buying the best motorcycle chain.
You do not have to be a mechanical expert to buy and maintain the chain properly. You just need the basic knowledge about variety of chains and which one suits your motorcycle.
Why are motorcycle chains important?
For a hindrance free riding, you need to pay attention towards proper maintenance of this chain. Chains follow simple mechanics. A sprocket that is connected to the transmission actually operates the chain. A sprocket of the rear wheel actually puts all power on to the road.
However, this simple chain takes all the beating. It is crucial that you pay enough attention to the motorcycle chain and lube it regularly. So, if you invest in a weak chain or neglect it, this might damage the sprockets or completely snap!
What should you know?
While looking for the best motorcycle chain, you will see that there are various brands on the market. But, which is used in your motorcycle? Basically, there are three types of chains.
1.Heavy Duty (Standard) Chains
This is the generic category of motorcycle chains. They do not have any ring between the outer and inner chain side plates. Mostly their production cost is low and they are light in weight.
Such chains are seldom found on modern bikes. But, if you spot a recent bike with these chains, it will most likely be a low-hp bike or off-road riding bike.
2. O-Ring Chains
They are the most common ones. O-rings are present between the inner and outer side plates of the motorcycle chain. As compared to metal on metal pooling of lubrication, the O-rings create very little friction beside the inner side plate.Such function adds significant time to the chain’s life and prolongs it as compared to the standard chain. A well maintained O-ring chain will easily give you 12,000 to 18,000 miles.
3. X-Ring Chains
A newer and better variation has replaced O-rings; it is called X-ring chains. These chains have a piece of rubber in ‘X’ shape sandwiched between both the side plates. According to manufacturers, this chain is capable of holding the lubricant better. So the life of chain is increased by more than 40 percent.
This happens because as compared to O-rings, they have multiple lubrication pools and contact points on the side plates. X-rings are in general more expensive but are very commonly used now.
Which features require your attention?
Now, you would be completely aware of the type of chain that is used in your motorcycle. It is time to understand the features that you need to look at closely before buying a chain. Consider all your requirements and then invest in the best motorcycle chain according to you. To understand in more detail, watch this video:
1. Sprocket and chain combination
This is the most important thing and should not be taken lightly. A motorcycle chain would work properly only with a certain sprocket. Do you know which sprocket your motorcycle chain goes with? If not, you should gather this knowledge instantly. As without this basic information you might not be able to get the correct chain for the sprocket.
Learn to read the size of a chain. Generally, a motorcycle chain size is described as530-119 ‘pitch by length’. This means that the chain has 530-pitch and there are 119 links in the total length. In the case of drive chain, pitch is basically the distance between the two pins of a chain link. There are various motorcycle pitches, but only a few are most commonly used.How would you know the size of your motorcycle chain? One easy way is look at the side of chain. Or, you can choose the difficult way and measure it with a measuring tape.
3. Numbers on the chain
Do not get confused with the numbers written on the chain. All motorcycle chains are measured in 8th of 1 inch. The first digit is always the pitch such as 520, 525 or 530. So, basically they are all 5/8th after 1 inch pitch. Pitch is measured from pint to pin. All digits after that is the width of the chain. Meaning, 520 is ¼ inch or 2/8 wide.All motorcycle chains have these measurements engraved in them. And if you cannot read those, there are other ways to find the size of your bike’s chain. You can take the help of various ‘fit my bike’ apps available on the Internet. They help you when you enter the exact model and make of your bike. This information is enough to know the chain size. Do not compromise; get the best motorcycle chain for your bike.
4. Other specifications
Always check the tensile strength of the chain you are about to buy along with the correct size. As even the perfect size chain might not be strong enough to bear all the horse power of your motorcycle.
More specifications that you can pay attention to include the type of bike a chain is made for. What type of motorcycle do you own? What is the horsepower? Also, consider your riding style. Do you mostly use your motorcycle for off-road riding? Then you can consider chains with better abrasion to water and dust.
The final choice…
If you are confused and have no idea where to start looking, then consider the following products. You might find the perfect match for your motorcycle here.
RK Racing X-ring Chain
The GB520XSO-120 racing chain with 120 links is a gold chain by RK. The connecting links are X-Ring. The best selling chain 520XSO by RK Chain Factory saw an upgrade in running production. The new version non-gold XSO and GBXSO features the proprietary RK seal design, “RX-Ring”. It is offered in 530, 525, and 520, it is the best motorcycle chain. All these variations can be bought in both standard steel or gold color.
When you view the cross-section of this chain, the “RX-Ring” by RK shows 2 lubrication pools. Also, the seal points are also 2 as compared to the single pool design and seal point of the O-ring motorcycle chains. The new GBXSO by RK offers unbeatable value, performance and quality. It has 8,500 pound/feet tensile strength which ensures high performance in demanding situations.
- Does not stretch, very durable as they are pre-stressed and pre-stretched
- Has a master riveting link
- RK is a reputed name, they are also giving 2 seal and lubrication points
- Not very pocket friendly, a little costly
- Durability is difficult to verify in comparison to O-ring chains
- Not much tested in extensive dust and rain
Renthal C294 O-Ring
Renthal brings the best motorcycle chain. The C294 is 520-pitch R3-2 O-ring with 120 links. The Nitrile O rings are capable of extending life as they retain unique vacuum injected grease within the chain joints. The side plates are made from shot-peened steel alloy. This provides high impact load resistance and maximum tensile strength.
Renthal is a chain manufacturer known for their high quality and consistency. The high steel carbon alloy bearing pins ensure premium wear and tear resistance. The gold color of side plates is aimed at corrosion prevention. The chain is also pre-stretched in order to enhance the overall performance. I recommend that before buying you check the size of the chain properly and ensure that this chain would fit your bike perfectly.
- Consistent and premium quality chains
- More suitable for off-road rides but are equally great during on-road riding
- Very low maintenance and keeps the noise down as it is pre-lubed
- Priced as top-end market product in this category
- There are cheaper chains that are capable of providing same features and performance
- Size differences have been noticed
DID 520 ER Non-O Ring Chain
The 520 ER T2-114 by DID have a gold chain and come with connecting link. This is a non O-ring motorcycle chain which is exclusively designed for MX/SX racing. It is strong and light in weight. This chain is used by top factory Motocross and Supercross teams.
The highest possible engine displacement is 450cc and 8100 pounds is the tensile strength. The master link is also included. According to the manufacturer, wear life of this chain is 4.3 times more than other standard chains under similar circumstances. The SDH high technology pin treatment creates an extensively hard layer of chromium carbide.
The surface of the pin has this layer while the inner core is maintained to be soft. The impact strength of the pins treated with SDH is extremely high along with exceptional shock absorption. SDH process aids the creation of best motorcycle chain. This chain will have superior anti-oxidation properties, outstanding wear resistance and great performance in muddy and dusty conditions.
- Great value, affordable price
- Durable and easy to install
- Longer life as compared to other standard chains and low noise
- Lower tensile strength as compared to similar models
- Customer reports of odd number links, check carefully before buying
Unibear 530 O-Ring chain
The 530 O-Ring motorcycle chains by Unibear have 130 links. This Japanese Technology gold chain comes with one connecting link. An O-Ring is present between the inner and outer side plates of the motorcycle chain. Also, such chains provide permanent sealing with lubrication between the pin and bush.
The tensile strength of these chains is about 9438.66 lb. According to the Unibear technology, an advanced process of heat treatment is applied to the chains. The chain is pre-stretched and hence presents long life and durability.
It is the best motorcycle chain with side plates made of heat-treated, high-strength steel alloy so that stretching can be prevented. The holes in side plates lower friction, reduces weight, facilitate self-cleaning, extend O-ring life and dissipate heat. The pins of this chain are quad-staked to enhance reliability to the side plates.
- Well priced and extended life
- Minimum friction with shot-peened and precision center-less ground rollers and bushings
- Protruding bushings inhibit kinking and extend the life of O-ring chain
- The clip type master link could be replaced with rivet for better performance
- Customers experienced size problems with the chain
RK 520SO O-Ring Racing Chain
The O-Ring racing chains by RK have remained the first choice of AMA World Superbike and FIM World Championship participants. This is their legacy from past 25 years. All chains by RK especially the Motocross ones have used special high carbon heat treated steel alloys with solid bushings and rollers. This is probably the best motorcycle chain when it comes to durability and strength.
The RK 520SO Racing motorcycle chain has been pre-stressed to ensure maximum performance. It is also pre-stretched so that it lasts long and has a great life. The chain comes with a master link which is clip-type. The maximum tensile strength is 7,700 lbs per feet. It is suitable with 400 cc for both off-road and street riding. Do check the horse power of your motorcycle before deploying this chain. Do not use it on powerful bikes.
- RK brand is available at a low priceư
- Pre-stressed and pre-stretched for long life and maximum performance
- Minimum noise
- Low tensile strength, so it is more suited for simpler bikes
- Reliability problems as the chain breaks much before expected time
- Clip type links are not that strong either
The RK motorcycle chain is clearly the best manufacturer with premium quality products. They produce some of the top quality motorcycle chains with great strength and consistency. I recommend these genuinely amazing motorcycle chains. Hopefully, you found the best motorcycle chain here in this blog.
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