A vital element on any bike, whether it’s a BMX chain or a 27 gear full suspension mountain bike. BMX bikes use roller chains to drive power from the pedals to the drive train (The wheels). Most bicycle chains are made from plain carbon or alloy steel, but some are nickel-plated to prevent rust, or simply for aesthetics. Since the creation of BMX, the chains have only been progressing. Lighter chains have been developed to shed the last few ounces off a racing bike or strengthened up to accommodate the riding style of some BMX’ers.
Fly Bikes Tractor Chain
Released back in 2013, the Fly Bikes tractor chain was a big release from Fly. A pre-installed half link chain that helps the wheel fit your dropout much better. The tractor chain from fly is a very strong chain that has unusually thick side plates at 1.3 mm, this just adds to the strength of the chain and the aesthetic appeal with each plate having “FlyBikes” stamped on the sides. A very simple chain that doesn’t over complicate things. Another thing that isn’t observed in all chains is the hollow pins that make the chain much lighter simply because there is much less material being used but also this makes it even stronger. The process of de-linking the chain is still simple and fast so nothing is being changed there. This is an amazing chain but is at the bottom of the list for the best chains because I feel it is very simple and needs a little more aesthetic appeal.
Salt Plus Warlock BMX Chain
A typical half link chain by SaltPlus. Made to be very strong and in a variety of amazing colours. Made from steel, like most of the other chains, the SaltPlus warlock is bound to be strong although unlike a lot of chains this one has some very extravagant colour variants and this is definitely the only top of the market chain that has an oil slick option. Just like the Tractor chain, the Warlock is also extremely light whilst still boasting a lot of strength and some cool embossed logos on the links. With a weight of 447g and 100 links, I don’t think it’s going to be the deciding factor on whether your BMX is too heavy. Also at a price point of only £12.99, the Salt Plus Warlock isn’t going to break the bank.
KMC Z510 BMX Chain
As discussed on many forums, the KMC Z510 Chain is one of the best chains on the market. This chain is original, cheap and smooth. Definitely some of the most important things in a bike chain. Unfortunately for people riding a dirt jump bike, they may not be able to use this chain as it has a max speed of 1 sprocket with 112 links, though this is still more links than a few other chains on this list. The chain is tough and has a very nice noise reduction, which will let your beautiful hub run louder. They have reduced the sprocket rub noise of the Z510 by chamfering the inner plates of the chain. Higher inner plates are also used to prevent chain drop. I admire the price of this product as it is very cheap for the awesome quality it boasts. An amazing tensile strength of 1200 KG and a unique satisfaction warranty, KMC definitely aren’t trying to sell a dodgy product.
Shadow Interlock Supreme Bike Chain
In many peoples opinion, half link chains have a design flaw. This flaw is said to be that they just aren’t as strong the normal chains. As Shadow has started to use a better forging process they have increased the strength of their chains massively. The chain can now support over 1500 KG’s, making it one of the strongest bike chains on the market. The downsides of this chain are that it isn’t the cheapest out there, priced at around £30. Also, unlike most chains, the Shadow is very wide. Two master pins make the chain very easy to work with and shorten. Although the strength is substantially more than the other chains on this list Shadow have still managed to keep the weight down to under 400 grams, which makes it lighter and stronger than nearly every other chain on the market.
Wipperman 1G8 BMX Chain 2018The Wipperman 1G8 is widely respected as the strongest BMX chain you can buy. Wipperman don’t just design and build BMX chains, they also develop chains for other vehicles. The fact these other systems need extreme strength seems to have transferred over to their thought process when designing their 1G8 BMX chain. The BMX market definitely caters for tough riding with an abundant amount of strong chains but it’s rare for a chain to be designed specifically for grinding like the Wippermann 1G8.
As any park or street BMX rider will know, it’s entirely possible and pretty common for your bike chain to be hit or scraped when grinding along a ledge or rail. This isn’t a big deal in the short term although after learning new techniques and hitting it your chain multiple times there’s much more of a possibility of your chain snapping whilst riding. Anyone that doesn’t know, having a chain snap while riding is rather scary and there’s a high chance of being badly winded at the same time as falling off, which is also likely to happen. Now, if you don’t have the money, skills or the motivation to change which side your drivetrain is on then the only reliable option is to buy a chain like the Wipperman. Riders that have used this chain have many great things to report but many feel unless you are a hardcore park rider that’s likely to take a lot of big hits on your chain there isn’t much point getting a chain this tough. The Wipperman also has a lot of weight behind it. The 12mm wide chain has a weight of 17oz, making it a lot heavier than most other BMX chains on the market. Another problem with this chain is that the tight roll means many people aren’t able to ride it on with a 9t sprocket. This may not be a problem for you if you have a chainring of 10 teeth or more but if not then it’s worth making sure the chain will work with your gearing ratio before buying it.
KHE Hollow Pin Half Link ChainAnother brilliant half link chain, this time from KHE. Specifically designed for smaller gear ratios such as a 25/9t. The KHE chain is a fairly regular chain, not specifically designed for strength or weight. Many people describe the KHE chain as perfection for single speed and fixie bikes. The half link chain protects the bike from aggressive braking. Half link chains are notoriously strong, whoever they’re made by. Since each link is half the normal link, each one protects the next ultimately eliminating all the weak points. The way the half link chain is made makes the chain alignment very precise.
Written By Michael Scott from Tresna Clothing