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  1. #1
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    Chains.....I'm confused

    So I bought a bike with an EBB but the chain was too short to put in a 20 tooth cog. So I bought a new chain a KMC Z610HX off of amazon which according to bikepedia is the chain that came with the bike. It is a bmx chain. After getting it I noticed that the chain that was on the bike was slightly wider than the one that I just bought. So.....did I buy too narrow of a chain? I've been riding it and everything seems fine, but I am worried about excessive wear.

    What is the breakdown of chain width?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    KMC makes a chain alled the z510hx, which is the modern bmx freestyle rider's chain of choice (all half-link chains aside, and those all suck). the 510 is a 1/8" bmx chain, whereas the 610 is a 3/32" single-speed chain. I have one on my Karate Monkey and it works great, lasts forever, and will probably wear out completely before I break it. the 610 ought to be find for you.

  3. #3
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    Basically there are two widths. 3/32 and 1/8. You can buy 1/8 or 3/32 chainrings and cogs. You can run a 1/8 chain on 3/32 cogs and chainrings but not the other way around. If the chain you have is meshing fine (you'd know instantly if it wasn't right) then you're fine.

  4. #4
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    Interesting, so I must just have a complete 3/32 system and feels a little tight and the chain that was on the bike must have been a 1/8 chain with some side to side play. Any chain size stronger than the other?

    So there is this in range of widest to narrowest...
    1/8 (bmx / track?)
    3/32 (single and geared up to 8 speed?)
    9 speed
    10 speed

    Am I missing something?

  5. #5
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    this question comes up a lot and the general consensus seems to be that a regular 8-speed chain is fine for a SS mountain bike. bmx/track chains are usually overkill, unless you are a monster or you have a 1/8" chainring or cog.

  6. #6
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    1) Use a 1/8th chain with a 1/8th cog/chain ring. Us a 3/32 chain with a 3/32 cog chain ring.
    2) There is no proof that 1/8th chains are stronger or longer lasting then 3/32.
    3) Bike companies lie all the time about their specs. Bikepedia just takes the info from them. When I bought my GT Peace SS ever piece of documentation said It came with a 1/8th KMC chain. It didn't.

    I wanted an orange KMC chain on my bike and they only make them in 1/8th. So I had to replace the cog and chain rings. 3/32 are kind of like the standard and every bike shop will carry them, so if you can stay with 3/32 I'd recommend it.

  7. #7
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    So are 8 speeds 3/32 or 1/8th?
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  8. #8
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    3/32. as are 9 and 10 speeds. However, 9/10 speeds have a smaller external width so it is probably better to stick with 8 speeds.

    Edit: this is a good reference site for chains:

    Bicycles/Maintenance and Repair/Chains/Chain sizes - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

  9. #9
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    So now that you know what the deal is with chain sizes, I'll say that unless you are a weight weenie, you would be hard pressed to find a better 3/32" SS chain than the Z610HX.

  10. #10
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    chain is not something to take lightly. kmc 510 or 710 is the standard. get a 1/8" halflink to dial in drivetrain. don't go 3/32" for singlespeed.

  11. #11
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by the kraken View Post
    chain is not something to take lightly. kmc 510 or 710 is the standard. get a 1/8" halflink to dial in drivetrain. don't go 3/32" for singlespeed.
    not sure whose standard it is, i think more than 50% here rides 3/32" chains.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek View Post
    not sure whose standard it is, i think more than 50% here rides 3/32" chains.
    it is the standard. maybe not in this forum, but the rest of the world kmc 510, 710 is the norm. saving a couple of ounces is not worth smashing your face etc from broken chains.

    fyi dj mtb, bmx and track bikes (which makes up 99% of singlespeed market) all use 1/8" chains
    Last edited by the kraken; 01-13-2012 at 10:11 PM.

  13. #13
    one chain loop
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    wow, alrighty then.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by the kraken View Post
    it is the standard. maybe not in this forum, but the rest of the world kmc 510, 710 is the norm. saving a couple of ounces is not worth smashing your face etc from broken chains.
    I'm pretty sure that among riders for whom it is "standard" the reasoning has more to do with tradition than actual strength. Track bikes have had 1/8" drivetrains for a hundred years. I have seen some tests that suggest the chainrings/cogs wear better than 3/32. That said I have trolled the interwebs mining for any similar tests on chain and I haven't seen one. I've seen some good arguments about either width being stronger.

    In the end the only thing that seems consistent is this. Crappy chain fails. Improper installation leads to broken chains. Quality chain is reliable, and lasts longer. As long as you are comparing similar chains I don't think you'll find any real difference in durability. For instance the KMC K510hx and the KMC K610hx. They are pretty much the same chain the width being the only difference. Also, in my experience the strongest chains I've used.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek View Post
    wow, alrighty then.
    I take it you've never broken a chain before?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtrops View Post
    I'm pretty sure that among riders for whom it is "standard" the reasoning has more to do with tradition than actual strength. Track bikes have had 1/8" drivetrains for a hundred years. I have seen some tests that suggest the chainrings/cogs wear better than 3/32. That said I have trolled the interwebs mining for any similar tests on chain and I haven't seen one. I've seen some good arguments about either width being stronger.

    In the end the only thing that seems consistent is this. Crappy chain fails. Improper installation leads to broken chains. Quality chain is reliable, and lasts longer. As long as you are comparing similar chains I don't think you'll find any real difference in durability. For instance the KMC K510hx and the KMC K610hx. They are pretty much the same chain the width being the only difference. Also, in my experience the strongest chains I've used.
    so you're actually saying that a 3/32 chain is as strong as 1/8? not quite bro

  17. #17
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    This has been posted here before, but seemed relevant.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by the kraken View Post
    so you're actually saying that a 3/32 chain is as strong as 1/8? not quite bro
    What I'm saying is that this is a dumb argument. There are strong 3/32 chains, and weak 1/8 chains. The only reasonable comparison is two similar chains. For instance, the ones I talked about before both have a rated tensile strength of 1200kg (data from KMC). The 710sl has a tensile strength of 950kg, and the 710 that you mentioned has a tensile strength of 1300kg.

    So yes, I'm saying that 1/8 is as strong as 3/32. And yes I have broken chains. And yes I have broken both widths equally. More commonly I replace them when they are worn, and what I can tell about my own chains is that the HX chains really do last longer.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinnyspinspin View Post
    This has been posted here before, but seemed relevant.
    Perfect.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtrops View Post
    What I'm saying is that this is a dumb argument. There are strong 3/32 chains, and weak 1/8 chains. The only reasonable comparison is two similar chains. For instance, the ones I talked about before both have a rated tensile strength of 1200kg (data from KMC). The 710sl has a tensile strength of 950kg, and the 710 that you mentioned has a tensile strength of 1300kg.

    So yes, I'm saying that 1/8 is as strong as 3/32. And yes I have broken chains. And yes I have broken both widths equally. More commonly I replace them when they are worn, and what I can tell about my own chains is that the HX chains really do last longer.
    okay, so you probably know a lot more about chains than I do. ha ha. I have broken a few mtb chains and had some bad accidents. It's one of the reasons i like singlespeeds. I broke one 3/32 bmx chain and smashed my knee on the stem, my knee blew up the size of a soccer ball. I've never broken a 1/8 510 or 710 so I'm just speaking from experience.. I apologize if I'm misinformed..

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by the kraken View Post
    okay, so you probably know a lot more about chains than I do. ha ha. I have broken a few mtb chains and had some bad accidents. It's one of the reasons i like singlespeeds. I broke one 3/32 bmx chain and smashed my knee on the stem, my knee blew up the size of a soccer ball. I've never broken a 1/8 510 or 710 so I'm just speaking from experience.. I apologize if I'm misinformed..
    Your experience is what counts in the end. As luck would have it you have found two very strong chains. I like the quieter aspect of narrower chains, but like you, I won't sacrifice strength for weight in my chain.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by the kraken View Post
    so you're actually saying that a 3/32 chain is as strong as 1/8? not quite bro
    The size doesn't determine the strength, the materials and construction does. In general, R&R goes into 3/32 chain development, because that's where the money is, so you end up with stronger and more durable 3/32 chains. Just because it's bigger and heavier, doesn't mean it's stronger. There's a reason the SRAM 8 speed chains are always recommended - because they work great.

    You'd be better served finding a known good chain, instead of blindly saying "3/32 chains suck, 1/8 chains rock". You're just opening yourself up to the very real possibility of getting a low quality, weak 1/8 chain because you're not looking past the size.

    Do the research next time.

  23. #23
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    Personally I don't think it matters all that much what chain you use. They are all pretty strong.

    The only time I busted a chain was when I stupidly re-used a chain pin after altering the chain's length. But that was my own stupidy. That could have happened with any chain.

    I do, however, recommend that you get a chain a replaceable master link.

  24. #24
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    I buy the $12.00 KMC 1/8" BMX chains from my LBS. They're cheap and strong. I change 'em twice a season. I don't have to worry about breakage or excessive drive train wear.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dms1818 View Post
    I buy the $12.00 KMC 1/8" BMX chains from my LBS. They're cheap and strong. I change 'em twice a season. I don't have to worry about breakage or excessive drive train wear.
    smart man

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