|1. DID X-Ring||2. Unibear 530||3. Renthal O-Ring|
Motorbikes are either chain-driven or shaft-driven. A chain-driven one requires a chain to redirect power and also use a sprocket mechanism. If your motorcycle is a chain-driven one, you need to use a good quality motorcycle chain for great performance and maximum safety. This guide offers a lot of information that will aid you in making the right decision about the best motorcycle chain.
We have tried to cover every possible aspect of motorcycle chains, such as the benefits of a motorcycle chain, types, important features, top brands, and best products available on the market, FAQs, and other considerations.
Benefits Of Owning The Best Motorcycle Chain
A good quality motorcycle chain offers a couple of benefits; they are listed as follows;
A high-quality motorcycle chain is made for quick acceleration and sudden braking, two factors commonly shared by racing and off-road bikes.
A motorcycle chain offers high tensile strength and is made to handle hefty loads. A high-quality chain can hold nearly 8,000 pounds per foot and can be used with different bikes. But it is important you tune up the chain and keep it in good shape for the best efficiency.
3. Save On Fuel Costs
A good motorcycle chain results in smooth riding and better fuel consumption by reducing drag and corrosion. A smooth-running vehicle uses power more efficiently; hence, it’ll help you save on fuel costs.
4. Easily Available Replacement Parts
The chain and sprocket work together to transfer power to the rear wheel. The continuous demand for chains and sprockets results in a steady supply of replacement units.
5. Types Of Motorcycle Chains
There are three types of motorcycle chains and are listed as follows.
An O-ring motorcycle chain has O-shaped rings between the inner and outer roller covers of each chain link. This feature is commonly found in off-road motorbikes as it keeps the chain dust free. O-rings make sure that lubrication stays in place (between the plates). Thus, it ensures the chain remains lubricated, and contaminants like dirt and grime do not get into the links.
X-ring motorcycle chains are considered to be better than O-ring chains because they provide more efficiency, less drag, and give your bike more mileage. Hence, they are ideal for the stormy environment of a racetrack.
As we mentioned earlier, O-ring chains ensure that factory-applied lube stays between the plates, and X-ring chains do the same but are better utilisers of lubrication. This feature makes it perfect for newer motorcycles and allows for easy maintenance.
A lot of vintage motorcycles feature non-sealed chains. They are not easily available on the market even though they are cheaper than the previously listed types of best motorcycle chains. The reason for their unpopularity is that they are not easy to maintain. If you go for this type of chain, you will need to spend a lot of money on maintenance each year.
Important Features To Look For Before Buying The Best Motorcycle Chain
Before you start reading product reviews and recommendations, it is important to learn about the key features of a motorcycle chain, as knowing these features will help you get the right one for your bike.
One of the most crucial features you need to consider is the size of the motorcycle chain. Here size is measured in pitches, which refers to the distance between rollers in the chain. The distance between the points is considered to measure a sprocket. Matching the chain and sprocket pitch size is required because it’s important for getting optimal speed and efficiency.
Performing a 520 conversion is a great method to use a lighter chain on a motorcycle equipped with a heavier chain. The 520 chain conversion has gained popularity due to its versatility and works well for most bikes.
3. Tensile Strength
The tensile strength of a chain informs you how much weight your bike can hold. The most powerful motorcycle chains can handle loads as massive as 8,000 pounds. Some chains come pre-stretched to offer greater efficiency.
4. Construction Material
It is the last and another most important feature you need to consider when buying a motorcycle chain. While regular chains are made of steel, some companies use steel alloys to make them resistant to wear and tear. You can also choose gold-plated side plates that make the chains highly resistant to corrosion.
Motorcycle chain replacement is unavoidable; hence, it is recommended to have a new chain on hand at all times in case you need it. It is an easy job to match a chain to a sprocket for your motorcycle, just make sure to check its size.
It is advised that you regularly check to see how well-lubricated your motorcycle chain is. Consider keeping some kind of lubricant on hand, especially if you prefer to go on long rides.
Top 10 Best Motorcycle Chains 2021
1. DID X-Ring
The first model on our list of best motorcycle chains is by DID, and it is one of the most popular chains produced by the brand. DID X-ring chain is highly reliable, so you can rest assured that you’re getting a highly versatile chain. It features a good quality socket, and it is designed to reduce your expenses on lubrication. It is an ideal pick for you if you prefer a noise-free ride.
It reduces drag and speed problems and offers a great tensile strength of over 9,000 pounds. One of the biggest benefits of getting this chain is that it self-distributes lubrication in an even manner. That makes sure your motorcycle covers more miles. It will offer 36 times more durability as compared to a run-of-the-mill chain, even if you are an avid off-road biker.
There is absolutely no doubt about its tensile strength, high rigidity, and engine displacement (750cc). Despite all these amazing features, it is not without its faults. It needs to be lubricated frequently to work well, and the connecting link is not the riveting type. Be careful when connecting the links as it is an important part when attaching a chain to a bike.
2. Unibear 530
If you are not a bike fanatic or do not like off-road riding and would like a simple, cheap, but practical chain for your motorcycle, then the Unibear 530 Gold O-ring chain might be the ideal one for you. It is a 130-link chain system that features a connecting master link for simple installation. The chain is made using heat-treated and pre-stretched alloy steel for maximum resistance to wear.
The classy gold finish of the chain features reflects light as it falls on the sprockets to give your bike more visual appeal. It comes pre-lubricated so you can install it right out of the box without greasing it. Besides that, it offers a tensile strength of around 9,400 pounds.
However, this might not be the best option for you if you want to buy a stronger chain to help you win some motorbike races. That is because it can easily snap if you ride extremely fast. It is better to only keep it as a spare chain or use it to cover regular distances. It is also a bit heavier than other O-ring chains available on the market.
3. Renthal O-Ring 120-Links Chain
If you ride your bike regularly, it is crucial that you keep a spare chain with you at all times in case of any mishap. The Renthal O-ring is exactly the kind of chain you need to have on hand as it comes pre-lubricated with vacuum-injected grease. It is an affordable O-ring chain and will last longer if it is maintained from time to time.
Three major factors make it a good option to consider; carbon alloy steel-bearing pins, alloy steel side plates, and gold side plates. The steel-bearing pins offer resistance to wear, the alloy steel side plates offer high tensile strength, and the gold side plates provide resistance to corrosion.
The chain comes pre-stretched to increase its performance. You can pair it with a good quality sprocket, and it will fit like a glove due to its 120-link chain system. But you may have to check its size before attaching it on some bikes. It may require extra equipment.
4. Pro Taper 520 MX Chain
The Pro Taper 520 MX chain is another best motorcycle chain featuring a 120-link chain system. This X-ring chain is made for 125 to 530cc applications. It is made from high-power steel alloy, which is lightweight but can take a beating from frequent off-road rides. The chain is gold coated for a fabulous look and to maintain a reflective shine.
The chain offers a tensile strength of 8,800 pounds and has been tested against rash riding, extreme temperatures, and freezing weather. It is ideal for street use on any 4-stroke motorcycle or ATV and is also suitable for infrequent off-road rides.
A major downside is that it is not one of the most durable options available on the market, which means it will stretch out with time. Another problem that you may face when installing it is that you’ll have to carefully adjust its size for a good fit.
5. JT Sprockets 120-link X-Ring Drive Chain
The JT Sprockets is one of the best motorcycle chains if you are specifically looking for a heavy-duty X-ring chain. It features a 120-link system which is considered to be the best and is made from a high-quality steel alloy that offers high tensile strength. It weighs less than three pounds, and you’d experience less friction in comparison to other types of motorcycle chains.
It is further equipped with quad-riveted pins that counter lateral forces on the router plate, which are harmful to the chain. It is specially designed to offer great performance during off-road rides and would be ideal for anyone owning a dirt bike, endure, or sportbike. Its specialty is that it can accommodate varied riding styles.
The only drawback that we noted about this chain is with its connecting link. It features a poor quality, clip-style master link, which may break when you try to attach it. It is recommended that you get an alternative link mechanism and keep it with you in case the master link breaks.
6. Niche Gold 530 X-Ring
This motorcycle chain by Niche is made and tested to offer better performance than an OEM chain. It is designed to hold up under harsh weather conditions. It features a 120-link system that is made from sturdy steel alloys with quad-riveted pins so that it can rotate at high speeds with minimal friction. It makes sure to reduce friction by up to 50% and offers twice the lifespan of conventional O-ring chains.
You can easily reduce the size of the chain to fit your bike’s size by using a clip and connecting the master link provided with the chain. It is sure to last long if maintained properly and lubricated after every 350 miles. One of its best features is that it is compatible with most Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki motorcycles.
One of the major downsides is that it doesn’t come pre-lubricated, but the manufacturer provides a 0.4-ounce tube of lubricating oil with the set. However, the oil is not very viscous and may start leaking.
7. EK Chain 530 Z 3D Premium Chain
The EK Chain 530 Z 3D combines a 3D design and an elegant gold finish for a reflective shine. It is an XCX-ring type of chain that flaunts a slim design featuring 120-links with side plates as well as pins with lightening holes to decrease the overall weight of the chain. The gold finish not only adds to its elegance but also provides resistance to corrosion.
The chain is designed to minimize friction and enhance the natural flow of your wheels for greater transmission efficiency and to refine your riding experience. It offers a tensile strength of 9,000 pounds and features a non-removable, rivet-shaped master link.
The only problem is that this chain is a bit costly as compared to other products listed here. Also, you may notice after receiving the package that the gold finish appears more brass-colored than gold.
8. RK Racing Chain 520-SO-120
It is another best motorcycle chain by RK, which is made of the highest quality material and provides maximum durability. The firm specializes in the production of motorcycle chains and other accessories. Hence, with it, you can rest assured that you’re getting a high-quality product at such an affordable cost.
This chain comes pre-stretched to increase its lifespan. Therefore, unlike the traditional designs that do not come pre-stretched, RK is easy to install because the manufacturer has already done most of the work for you.
If you can unscrew a sprocket, then you can easily install it by yourself without the help of an expert. It is a lightweight chain (weighs only 2.9 pounds), making it extremely easy to carry and it does not add a lot of weight to the vehicle.
9. Did 520ERV3-120 Gold
It is another great motorcycle chain by DID and is ideal for motorcycle enthusiasts who love bikes and can do anything to make the vehicle long-lasting. It is a costly motorcycle chain, so for those on a low budget, this one is not the best option. It is for those who are willing to spend anything to get a high-quality chain for their bike.
It comes coated with gold to add to its strength and make it corrosion resistant. That is what makes this chain resistant to extreme weather conditions. It can work well in harshly humid and freezing weather because of the gold-coating that is resistant to corrosion.
It is an X-ring type of chain and made of X-ring seals. These seals are made to last for a lot of years because they minimize friction and perform better than their O-ring counterparts. This chain can last 20 times longer than other ordinary chains available on the market. That is what makes it worth the price as it offers value for money.
It offers 8660 tensile strength, so you can tour around the country with a motorbike depending on this chain. It will strongly hold on to your heavy luggage and make sure you are comfortable.
10. RK Racing Chain GB520MXU-120
The last product on our list of best motorcycle chains is another one by RK Japan. If you are looking for a lightweight chain that will offer incredible service, then RK chain GB520MXU is a great option to consider. It is extremely portable as it weighs only 3.75 pounds.
It is a premium chain because it is equipped with U-ring seals that are way stronger and durable than O-rings. The U-ring technology is recently introduced in the market and is an improvement on the older models of seals. It offers a great tensile strength of 9,000 pounds, which makes it one of the strongest motorcycle chains that you can get for your bike.
The materials used to make this chain have undergone high heat treatment using the Heat Induction Transfer process that the manufacturer has specially designed.
As the materials used for its construction have undergone high pressure, they can handle high tension. This elaborate process that the materials go through ensures better performance and maximum comfort.
The classy gold finish it features makes it resistant to corrosion. You will enjoy a smooth ride on both coarse and leveled roads because it can tackle any amount of pressure. It can be installed on bikes between 125cc to 500cc.
Best Motorcycle Chain Brands
Motocross fanatics are usually familiar with DID motorcycle chains. DID is based in the U.S., and it has created a niche market for bike chains over the years. It has established a good name in the U.S. and Europe, where it supplies gold motocross chains designed to handle high-octave action. Some of its popular products are mentioned on our list of best motorcycle chains.
2. RK Japan
As the name suggests, it is a Japan-based company that started back in 1932. At that time, it was known as Takasago Tekko K.K and specialized in the production of steel sheets and other stainless steel materials. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the company started producing motorcycle chains.
Since then, RK Japan has paired with racing brands like Yamaha and Honda. Its U.S. office, known as the RK Excel America, oversees the sale and supply of some of its best selling motorcycle chains.
Renthal Limited started in 1969 with the efforts of motorcycle and engineering enthusiasts. It is based in Bradbury, England. It is famous for manufacturing motorcycle accessories that are used in bikes like Kawasaki and Suzuki. One of its top-selling motorcycle chains is the Z-ring 520-pitch 120-links chain.
Motorcycle Chain Pricing
In this section of our guide on best motorcycle chains, we have dissected different price ranges of motorcycle chains to let you have a proper idea of what quality you can get for the money you pay.
$20 to $30
At this price range, you can buy a basic 420-pitch chain for your bike with approximately 80cc output. But if you can manage to add in a couple more dollars, you’ll be able to buy some of the best 520 chains.
$50 to $100
Many motorbike fanatics purchase heavy-duty chains by paying nearly $100. Chains that fall within this price range feature advanced ring systems and sturdy steel construction that boosts their resistance to regular wear and tear. On the upper end of this range, you will get features like high engine displacement (up to 7750cc, 120 links, and high tensile strength.
In this price range, you’ll get the best motorcycle chains for high-performance motorbikes. The most commonly found in this range include the X-ring 150 link chains. These chains can tackle hefty loads, and some even feature SDH pins that can handle high impacts. If you want to upgrade to a high-performance bike, it is recommended to go for a chain in this price range.
FAQs on Motorcycle Chains
1. Can You Replace A 520 Pitch With A 530 Pitch Chain?
No, you can’t as a 530 pitch used in place of a 520 one lead to mechanical problems and accidents. 520 pitch and sprocket combinations should only be renewed with other 520 pitch combinations.
2. How Long Do Motorcycle Chains Last?
The lifespan of the best motorcycle chains depends on a few factors, such as weather conditions, construction material, and also on the user. A high-quality chain can offer you months of great service if you don’t subject it to turbulent impacts.
3. How Do I Know When I Should Get A New Motorcycle Chain?
Mechanical glitches can cause a lot of problems if you are not attentive enough to your bike’s needs. Whenever you observe a drop in performance, consider checking the state of your chain. Sometimes the sprocket eats away at the chain’s link, that’s why regular maintenance is important.
4. What Is Slack?
Slack refers to the degree at which your bike chain hangs. It is normal for slack to rise, especially after considerable mileage. Retighten your chain to make sure it is firm enough to transfer full power.
5. How Often Should One Check The Chain-set Of A Motorcycle?
It should be inspected and adjusted after every run of around 400 miles. Place your bike on the main stand, so your rear wheel is free, and you can check the chain by rotating the wheel. You need to check how well-lubricated your chain is by touching it and visually inspecting the dirt on it.
6. How To Clean A Motorcycle Chain?
The chain’s lubrication attracts dirt, which keeps accumulating and forms a grime type matter, which tends to build up around the chain. Use a hard or a wire brush with mild soap to clean a non-sealed kind of chain to remove this gunk and reduce the chances of wear. An extremely soft brush should be used to clean an O-ring type chain.
Carefully read and understand chain specifications before you buy a new best motorcycle chain for your bike. Buy a high-quality sprocket to extend the lifespan of your bike chain.
We hope this guide has helped you gain a lot of meaningful information on motorcycle chains that’ll help you when you’re looking to buy a new chain for your bike.