Bike chains are usually a controversial topic, especially for their need for replacement or upgrade.
Some riders are always quick to replace their chain even before their “worn” out limit. On the other hand, I know others who have ridden their bike chains beyond the specified limit.
Sometimes, I’ve to admit I envy how much mileage the latter can rack up after this point. Sometimes, twice the recommended range.
But in my opinion, waiting for your bike chain to wear out completely might not be the smartest idea.
Of course, similar to an automobile’s oil, many don’t see the need of replacing the bike chain every now and then.
After all, there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. Just go 20,000 miles and wait for the whole engine to blow out.
See, I learnt the hard way after allowing my bike chain to wear out.
Nothing serious, but I began noticing that my chain would often skip, and my shifting wasn’t seamless as before.
I didn’t think much of it until I visited my local bike shop for my annual maintenance.
I remember the guys at the LBS suggesting an immediate chain replacement before it destroyed my drive drain. What they didn’t mention, or rather missed, was damage was already done, so I needed a new cassette and Derailleur pulley wheels in a week because the chain slipped under pressure.
It was a bummer because, for a simple chain replacement, I ended up spending nearly five times for the complete drivetrain overhaul.
But I was glad it only set me back financially. I couldn’t have imagined what would have happened if the chain broke or skipped over excessively worn gears when riding out of the saddle. It would have been catastrophic.
From there on, I’ve always made a habit of replacing my chains when the need be.
Yes, it requires dedication and discipline, but I can’t get enough of how it has improved my overall performance.
I’m not the fastest rider in my block, but I shift significantly better than my peers. And on the rain and snow, I benefit from reliable braking and shifting.
Of course, with experience, I’ve also come to realize that some chains have better performance than others.
I’m a fan-favorite of the BMX chains, and if you feel the need of replacing your bike chains, I would recommend these.
Here’re five of my favorite BMX chains.
Table of Contents
The Best BMX Chains For The Money
#1 KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain - EDITOR'S CHOICE
I’m currently restoring my Haro BMX bike and need a quality but affordable chain for it.
I did a thorough review of the existing chains and ultimately settled for the KMC Z410. It’s a popular KMC freestyle chain.
I’m not new to KMC chains because I’ve used them in the past and had a good experience with them. I knew they made the best chain on the market.
The chain arrived fast, and unboxing blew me away. The chrome glare was just what I was hoping for to customize the aesthetics on my bike.
But it must be weak, right?
Nope. Zero issues.
KMC Z410 single speed bike chain’s performance was also more than satisfying. It was a smooth, hard finish.
First, I noticed the nickel chain plate protection. The coating helps with maximum protection of your chain from elements such as rust and humidity, thus keeping the maintenance costs as low as possible.
And that’s not the best part!
KMC freestyle chain features a “Drobuster” configuration with an oversized chain plating.
The great benefit of this design is more durability and strength to accommodate the hard landings and grindings.
For me, it has stood up to my backpedalling and slow and quick skid stopping. Plus, I was pleased how it withstood being snapped tension back and forth in direction at a moment’s notice without a problem breaking chain links.
The chain can also hold up to daily riding through all the dirt and grime. I’ve used mine for several seasons now, and I’ve only had to remove it because of slacking ones. It holds its tension well without slacking, and the quick connector links have never failed me.
Performance-wise, I’m pleased with the 112 links. Their great numbers allowed me to attain greater momentum with little effort, thus improving my overall ride efficiency.
The 1/8” size is also a welcome characteristic, especially regarding compatibility.
KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain isn’t only compatible with single speed bikes but will support the majority BMX bikes in the BMX market.
It can also work with Shimano, Campy, or SRAM.
Ease of use for this bad boy was on point, too.
KMC freestyle chain doesn’t come with the “traditional” masterlink. Instead, it arrives with a snap-on masterlink.
It looks sketchy, though, but you shouldn’t have any problems as long you follow the installation directions.
And always ensure the chains are well-lubricated. They’re quiet and will hold up well in any weather.
#2 Diamondback BMX Chain – Best Value for Money
If you’re looking for a BMX chain offering the best bang for your buck, choose the Diamondback BMX Chain.
It’s a dependable option, and I would highly recommend the BMX chain for the average bike. It’s also perfect for those inclined towards skating or aggressive street riding style.
Like our top pick, the KMC, Diamondback Chain is also a single-speed BMX chain.
It has a slightly higher number of links (116) than the KMC, which is a good thing as it helps boost the rider’s efficiency.
The other great draw with this purchase is the high-quality steel construction, buttressed with heavy-duty link plates.
The result is a chain that can take on whatever you throw at it. I’ve used it for 200 miles now, and it’s still working great.
It holds up as it came new and is by far better than the stock chains that came with my bike.
So far, it has also experienced a considerable amount of stretching, and the tension hasn’t slacked. It has broken, no chain drop or anything. I love it.
Installing the Diamondback Chain is also pretty basic and easy.
It comes along with a masterlink, but you’ll need an inexpensive breaking tool. But this is pretty the case for most BMX chains because bikes come in different sprocket sizes. So, no biggie.
Of course, you might get lucky and have the right set-up for your chain’s length, but highly unlikely.
#3 Eastern Atom Chain – Best for Street And Skate Park Cruising
All of my jumping problems went away after I started using this chain.
The Eastern Atom Chain is a big improvement from the cheap stock chain that came with my bike.
It’s strong, and the half-link style allows me to dial in length with precision.
Plus, I love how the half-link chain couples together with my bike. It looks nice.
For the price, I also don’t think I could have gotten anything better than the Easter Atom half-Link chain.
Eastern Bikes Chain seems to hold up much better than the generic chains, and I’ve not experienced snapped chains since switching to this.
My biggest draw to these half-links chains is they’re tailored for the average BMX rider. They come with a decent length of 50″ long (100 links), allowing BMX riders to generate powerful momentum while applying less effort. Overall, it helps with boosting the efficiency of your ride.
Performance-wise, these chains will take you on any trail with relative ease.
Sporting a rust-resistant steel construction bolstered with oversized-outer plates & super tall inner plates, I’m confident enough to take on the high-impact tricks.
I can also ride on the dirt and other messy, and not worry much about the chain snapping. Plus, I do pop wheelie frequently, and surprisingly, the chain hasn’t stretched out at all.
And here’s the kicker.
These half- chains let riders make a gradual adjustment to their rear wheel base, so it’s so flexible for varying terrains.
Installation of the Atom Half Link chain is also a breeze, though it doesn’t come with a master link.
But all half-chains require a chain breaker for installing and removing links.
Overall, the Atom Half Link chain is a wonderful option that looks good and strong.
Most riders love this chain because it doesn’t get stretched out, even after the wheelies.
#4 Odyssey Bluebird BMX Chain - Premium Half-link Chains
I’m doing a custom build, and I’m happy with the Odyssey BMX Chain.
It’s a great chain, easy to put on the bike, and has really awesome performance, especially with a chain tool.
As for the chain, I’m pleased with how easy it is to dial on the wheel geometry.
It’s a great option for riders looking to slam the wheel and shorten the wheelbase, but the half-link is the look they’ve in mind.
Odyssey Bluebird Chain is a full link chain but with a half link chain master link option. It makes for a nice chain for dialling in the chain length and getting the right geometry for your riding needs and style.
Performance-wise Odyssey BMX Chain excels in the trails and will take you to places you’ve always wanted.
The heavy-duty plates and heat treated riveted pins will stand up to abuse and work well even when the chain is under immense tension. And the good thing is the offer strength while remaining lighter than the regular solid pins.
Out of the box, Bluebird Chain comes pre-lubed and is quiet. It outperforms most of the chains on the market and works better than my original Teflon chains.
The half link dials in my full suspension bike had a nasty habit of chucking the chain off on the rough downhills.
Plus, it doesn’t fail to impress on how it works great, and the half-link makes it possible to run a different gear combo.
I’m also 100% sold on this chain as it even comes with a factory-installed half-link (pre-installed half link) for a perfect fit. It gives you a proper dropout adjustment and a master key for easy installation.
The master link at the half-link end of the chain already installed means it’s easy to adjust the length of the chain.
I also found the Bluebird BMX Chain to be a great offering for tiny gears and short dropouts. Unlike my previous chains that kept on breaking, this one will stand up to a few chain grinds and remain strong.
I’ve used mine for several seasons now, and it has held up amazing for me.
The strength is incredible, installing is a breeze, and I no longer have to worry about bashing my knee on the stem-like I had to do with my previous Stroke chain.
#5 Flybikes Tractor Chain Black - Easiest to Install
Our final pick, the Flybikes Tractor Chain Black, is an easy chain to install and probably one of the easiest ones I’ve come across.
It’s a pre-installed half link chain, and many users love it because it helps with the wheel feet on your dropout much better.
Along with the ease of installation, Fly Tractor Chain Black sports a simple and basic design. This is essential for performance efficiency and better use.
It also goes ahead to include hollow crmo pins (chromium heat treatment), a characteristic that isn’t common with most BMX chains. The hollow pins help with lightening the overall chain while retaining strength for better performance.
On the trail, Flybikes Tractor Chain Black doesn’t skimp on the performance.
First, it’s made with durability in mind. The unusually thick side chain plate (1.3mm) is all you would want for your trick bike.
It’ll handle all the abuses and take on the pedal grinds without damaging or breaking.
On top of that, it doesn’t lose slack as some of the generic stock pedals and will give you the tension and power you need to take on the hilly terrains, dirt, and so much more.
De-linking this chain is also as easy as it gets and won’t take much of your time. It’s simple and fast as there’s nothing much to change.
Overall, the Flybikes Tractor Chain Black is an amazing BMX chain and ticks on all the boxes for a performance-oriented option.
It’s at the bottom of the list, though, because it’s quite basic, lacks the frills and frays and has a wanting aesthetic design.
But overall, it’s a nice purchase for those looking for something that works, features, colors and design, notwithstanding.
Best BMX Chains Buying Guide
While all bicycle chains perform the same task, they achieve this differently. Chains are built differently.
Though the chains come in different styles, the best BMX chains are built with strength in mind. Usually, these BMX chains will stand up to breakages when bumped on grind rails and copings.
The other thing is they need to stand up to different weather inclement weather. This is particularly true for mountain bike chains.
Alongside strength and durability, there’re plenty of other factors to consider when selecting the best BMX chains.
And in the section below, I’ll share everything to consider when making your new BMX chain purchase.
Let’s first start with the types.
Different Types of BMX Chains
Most bicycle chains come either as a single speed or between six and 11-speed lengths.
It’s critical you choose the correct BMX chain for the number of gears on your bike.
For every gear change, the ratio between the front and rear chainrings is altered.
Also, keep in mind that the higher the number of gears, the thinner the individual links should be. After all, the 11-speed bike has much less space than the 6-speed bike.
The lower speed chain, the 6-speed chain, is the widest, coming at a length of 7.8mm. As the size goes up, the chain gets thinner.
Half Link Vs. Traditional Chains
The two popular designs for BMX chains are the half links and traditional chains.
Full link Chains
Also known as the full link chains, these chains are the classical chain types.
They have a similar internal-external link configuration (outer link alternate with inner link) as the road chains and MTB chains- therefore, one link consists of two “halflinks”.
To shorten the traditional chains, you need to remove each of these types of links.
These links utilize smaller matching links joined together.
They solve the issue of wheel position problems. Plus, they eliminate the hassle of shortening the chain as less material is used in the process.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best BMX Chain
In the section below, I’ll guide you on what to consider when selecting your next BMX pedal.
As with any other bike part, you don’t want to have a flimsy chain.
You don’t want them to rust or even break.
So, quality is such an important element, and you should ensure your chain can handle the abuses and punishment of BMX riding.
Usually, I recommend you go for the 1/8” sized chains for BMX race bikes.
But since they arrived at a universal standard size, you’ll require a special chain tool for proper installation.
Always consider the price as you don’t want overspending on a chain.
You don’t want to undercut the price either because you might just end up with junk.
Of course, price doesn’t always determine quality, but the higher-priced BMX chains are of better quality in most cases.
The recommended materials for your BMX chain should be plain carbon, alloy steel with nickel plated protection.
These materials are lightweight, durable, and can withstand the weather inclement, including rust, dirt, mud and rain.
The other important thing to keep an eye out for is whether your chain has plate protection.
Having plate protection is important to cushion the plate against high impact landings or grindings.
Secondly, ensure the chain has some rust resistance on it to prevent rusting.
Sprocket thickness is usually defined by the type of BMX riding you do.
But generally, most of the BMX bikes have a sprocket thickness of 1/8″, but you can find other options that offer a thickness of 3/32”.
A difference between these two is a chain with a 1/8″ sprocket thickness can fit pretty much any BMX. On the other hand, the 3/32″ are limited in their compatibility.
Usually, the choice of material determines the overall durability.
We had already seen that carbon and steel alloy make the best materials for bike chains.
But alongside the materials, also consider chains with hard rivets and new proprietary forging process as these are likely to enhance the overall durability.
Keep in mind the durable options are a little bit expensive.
Ease of Use and Installation
It’s good to consider the ease of installation on a BMX chain.
Ideally, using and installing one shouldn’t be frustrating or difficult.
A good BMX bike chain should have minimal issues during installation and shouldn’t take long.
Best BMX Chain Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Are KMC chains good?
A: Yes, KMC chains are good. While they’re a bit more expensive than other chains, they’re more cooperative with different speeds.
Q: How often should I lube my bike chain?
A: Lube your chain when the cranks and crevices are void of lube.
Typically, this should be about once a week.
And if you ride for more than 30 miles a week, you should do it twice a week.
Q: How often should I replace my BMX chain?
A: It depends on how often you ride.
But generally, I would recommend replacement after 2 000 miles.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
We’re through with our list of the best BMX chains, and every of the listed models here is awesome in its own right.
All the options have their strengths and weaknesses, but if I were to single out the best chain, I would go with the KMC Z410 – the best chain on the market.
This heavy duty model wins over the others by the hair, but it’s also easy to see why.
The chain is built with strength and performance in mind. It’s chain-tested for high tensile strength and will stand up to any abuse.
It helps to level up your performance in any way without digging too much into your pockets.