Bicycle Chain – The bicycle chain is a roller chain that transfer power from the pedals to the drive wheel of the bike. It is made up of hundreds of individual small parts which must withstand years of dirt and water. Bike chains are not created equal. For example, a road-bicycle chain needs to be exceedingly light, while the mountain bike and BMX bicycle chain need to be stronger and heavier. Remember not every feature is essential or even important to every rider. so select and pay only for the features that will be important to your riding style.
The best road bicycle chain is made of sophisticated alloys that benefit from various forms of heat treatment. This is true for the inner and outer plates and the rollers. The heat treatment creates a tough surface that resists physical wear caused by road grit penetrating the rivet-bushing-roller interface. A road bicycle chain is weighed in grams. They have hollow rivets to make them lighter, however, this also makes it weaker. The trade off is worth it for road cyclist who need to travel fast and light. If care is taken with light-gauge chains, they will last as long as the gears on the bike. The modern road-bicycle chain is also designed with a narrow gauge which is necessary to fit the increasingly narrowing gears. On the best road bicycles chain links, the inner faces of the inner and outer plates are machined with a slight bevel to allow the chain to climb gears more easily for more accurate and responsive shifting. They can also reduce the buildup of muck between the chain ring and the chain.
The best mountain and BMX bicycle chain is heavier and more sturdy than a road bicycle chain. A good mountain bicycle chain is 3/32 gauge and a BMX bicycle chain is 1/8 inch. These two types should not have beveled edges. They should also consist of heat-treated alloy steel pins and plates to resist dirt, moisture and wear.
Some manufacturers use special coatings on road, mountain or BMX chains. During manufacturing, the bicycle chain is coated with compounds like titanium nitrite to create a much smoother surface for less friction between the bicycle chain and the derailleur and to control rust development. They bicycle will be less prone to attracting muck build up on the outer surfaces, stay cleaner and thus have a longer life. Titanium nitrite leaves a gold surface color which is the easiest way to identify this special treatment. A bicycle chain can also be colored using anodizing. For those who want fashion, a bicycle chain can now be purchased in red, blue or gold colors, however, this anodizing is for aesthetics only. For cyclists that put many miles, color is not an option because the bicycle chain gets dirty after a few hundred miles and the color is not visible.