Written by 11:22 am MTB, MTB Gears • 2 Comments

My Best Mountain Bike Chains (Reviews & Buying Guide)



Best for riders looking for a 10-speed sturdy and reliable metal chain
Best Mountain Bike Chains
- Bike speed: 10
-Material: steel
  • Sturdier
  • minimum tooth interference
  • easy to remove and install
  • Pricey than most alternatives
Best for riders operating under a tight budget
Best Mountain Bike Chains
-Bike speed: 8,9,10
-Material:  Chrome-Plated
  • Fluid shifting
  • incredibly lightweight
  • easy to replace
  • wears quicker
Best for riders looking for extra strong and long lasting chain
Best Mountain Bike Chains
  • Bike speed: 9-speed
    -Material: Chrome-Plated
    • Less expensive
    • durable
    • chrome hardened for extra strength
    • quick replacement
    • 114 links might not being enough for a 29r
    Best for shoppers looking for the lowest prices in the market possible
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    KMC K810
    -Bike speed:  single speed
    -Material: steel
    • elegant gold look
    • incredibly cheap
    • easy to remove and clean
    • cheap price means wears quickly
    Best for performance and extra strength
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    - Bike speed: 11-speed
    -Material:  Stainless steel
    • incredibly durable
    • top of the range material
    • Quite expensive
    Best for people looking for extra strength and stylish design
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    KMC X10 SL-
    - Bike speed: 10-speed 
    -Material: steel, Titanium coated
    • incredibly durable
    • stylish look
    • wide range of colors available
    • expensive
    Best for the rider looking for chain resistant to wear and corrosion
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    SRAM PC 1051 CHAIN
    - Bike speed: 10-speed
    - Material: Steel and Nickel
    • strong links
    • doesn’t stretch with ease
    • incredibly light
    • reliable
    • installation is a bit challenging
    Best cheap and durable mountain bike chain
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    - Bike speed: 9-speed
    -Material: Steel
    • Strong chain
    • can be shorted with ease
    • a pin that connects ends of the chain
    • It can get really stiff at the beginning
    Best for accurate shifting in mountain biking
    Best Mountain Bike Chains
    - Bike speed: Single speed
    - Material: steel
    • inexpensive
    • quiet performance
    • smooth shifting
    • the connector is practically hard to distinguish





      • Bike speed: 10
      • Material: steel
    • Pros:  Sturdier, minimum tooth interference, easy to remove and install
    • Cons: Pricey than most alternatives


      • Bike speed: 8,9,10
      • Material:  Chrome-Plated
    • Pros: Fluid shifting, incredibly lightweight, easy to replace
    • Cons: wears quicker

    SRAM PC 971 CHAIN 

      • Bike speed: 9-speed
      • Material: Chrome-Plated
    • Pros: Less expensive, durable, chrome hardened for extra strength, quick replacement
    • Cons: 114 links might not being enough for a 29r

    KMC K810

      • Bike speed:  single speed
      • Material: steel
    • Pros:  elegant gold look, incredibly cheap, easy to remove and clean
    • Cons: cheap price means wears quickly


      • Bike speed: 11-speed
      • Material:  Stainless steel
    • Pros:  incredibly durable, top of the range material
    • Cons: Quite expensive

    KMC X10 SL

      • Bike speed: 10-speed 
      • Material: steel, Titanium coated
    • Pros: incredibly durable, stylish look, wide range of colors available
    • Cons: expensive

    SRAM PC 1051 CHAIN

      • Bike speed: 10-speed
      • Material: Steel and Nickel
    • Pros: strong links, doesn’t stretch with ease, incredibly light, reliable
    • Cons: installation is a bit challenging


      • Bike speed: 9-speed
      • Material: Steel
    • Pros: Strong chain, can be shorted with ease, a pin that connects ends of the chain
    • Cons: It can get really stiff at the beginning


    • Bike speed: Single speed
    • Material: steel
    • Pros: inexpensive, quiet performance, smooth shifting
    • Cons: the connector is practically hard to distinguish



    As with any other part, it is essential to think carefully through every detail before you choose your bike chain. This part may seem simple and straightforward but can be quite confusing as well. Here is what you need to consider when making a selection.


    Just like when you are buying a mountain bike GPS, the purpose of the chain will come into play. Are you looking for something to go on riding adventure with? Ideally, if you spend most of time tackling those tough and rough terrains riding in the mountains, you might want to put your money on a more sturdy chain. It must be well built and ready to survive those abusive rides. In other cases, if your riding is less rough, you can actually go for a less durable chain. It is that simple.

    Types of chain

    • Traditional bike chain

    There are pretty much common and you will find them on most mountain bikes. These types of chains often feature the same inner-link/outer-link configuration. It is the best option for mountain and road bikes

    • Half Link chains

    This one comes with identical links, which have a thick and thinned ends. Right at the thick end, you get the standard width of the chain. The thin end is the same in size with the inner link of the traditional chain. One of the best things about this type of chain is that its adjustment can be done quickly and with more accuracy. It is quite popular among professional bikers.


    Once you have an idea of the kind of riding you would be doing, material used to make the chain should be your next consideration. The material the chain comes made form can determine things like durability and where you can use the chain, among other things. We have three main materials Alloy steel, Nickel plated and Titanium chains.

    • Alloy Steel

    Pretty much the standard material in the market today; you will find alloy steel in most chains.  This material can be used in a wide range of applications. We are talking about racing bikes, mountain bikes and also road bikes. It is a reasonably less expensive chain in the market. Alloy steel chains despite coming with relatively low prices in the market, can withstand a number of conditions. Additionally, with this, you only get one color; gray.

    • Nickel plated chains

    You will find it in those high-end mountain bikes. They cost more than alloy steel chains. Chains made from this material are durable and offer the best anti corrosion properties. They also come with some sort of aesthetic value. They look beautiful. You can find these chains in different colors. You can choose based on the color you like the most.

    • Titanium chains

    Another high-end material; mountain bike chains made of these materials sit right there at the top of the price range. For you to own the Titanium chain today, you will have to dig dipper into your pocket, but that does come with practical benefits as well. Titanium is an incredibly hard and strong material and if you can get a chain made of it, you would be talking about extra strength and durability.

    Still, on the materials, we have seen chain manufacturers combine 2 or even 3 materials. We now have steel, titanium and steel alloy chains. That also comes with amazing benefits. It combines the properties of the two materials and brings all them in one complete incredible package. If you can get this combination, do not hesitate; go for it. You will have to pay more for this tough.

    Chain Length

    You need to make sure the chain you pick actually fits. Gearing of your bike is going to dictate the kind of length to go for. For example, if your bike comes with a speed of 11 or even 12, you will need a longer chain than what you would need for a 10-speed bike.

    The speed of your bikes often depends on a number of things including your riding style. For example, those long range bike rides with a few visits to different terrains will need a wide range of speeds. However, you might not need as many as you would if you once in a while hit those rocky mountains with a number of obstacles along the way.

    Easy Installation

    It is for a fact, there is no one out there who wants something that is difficult to install. Who would want to spend hours trying to fit this simple part into their bike? So when making a choice, always go for an easy-to-install chain. At any given time, it must be incredibly easy to remove. It should also come with a reliable master link. That will allow you to lubricate it with so much ease.


    Just like mountain bike tires, that chain will need to be replaced at some point in time. So when making a choice you might want to consider how easy is it to replace.  Some chains we have in the market do not need you to use a tool to remove and replace, but a pretty good number of them do. Those long chains do require the use of tools when it comes to removing. For this, you will need a chain tool that will allow you to push the pinout of the chain. This will allows for easy removal.

    Aesthetic value

    Who said your bike doesn’t have to look sporty and elegant. After considering every other thing, that stylish design is what you might need, especially if you are a serious bike racer. These parts now come in different colors and elegant designs. So if you want to really turn head around, you can go for one that is sleek and uniquely elegant. You will have to pay more for that though.

    How to care for your chain

    For great longevity, there are a couple of things you need to do for your chain. It is a moving part and lack of proper care can lead to damage and eventually becoming very useless. Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do.

    • Give it a thorough cleaning

    After every ride, especially through those muddy trails, give is a quick, but thorough cleaning. Make sure all the dirt and debris are all removed. However, it is important you do this when the chain is fixed on the bike. Taking it off frequently can cause it to weaken.

    • Lubricate it

    Once you have given it a clean wash, take the best mountain bike chain lube and have it lubricated. It is essential you do this as that will make it run smoothly. It will also run with less resistance, giving you those smooth rides.

    When to replace your mountain bike chains?

    When should you have your bike’s chain replaced? Well, there is no definite answer to this question. It depends on a number of things including your riding style and also the quality of the chain you currently have.

    Riders, however, are advised to replace it on a regular basis. This will come with plenty of benefits. After all, a new mountain bike chain that works as expected will eliminate those frustrating rides.

    Ideally, replacing the chain after every 200 to 300 miles is highly recommended. However, you could actually be forced to replace sooner than that. There are a number of signs that could tell you it is time to have a new chain installed.

    First, when the chain starts to wear out, it normally start to stretch. This might lead to skipping of some teeth on the sprocket. Should you catch this problem before it is too late, you might only be forced to replace the chainrings or cassette. However, if you just assume the problem, you will have to replace the entire chain.

    Final Words

    Most people think that bike chains are all the same; well, they are not. They differ in a number of ways. For example, the come in different quality and that can have a direct effect on how exactly your power is delivered. Go for the best one today and you will enjoy your rides all the time. The best make allows you to achieve those smooth and most importantly fun trips

    Updated on January 20, 2021 by Ben

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