Best Single Speed Chain – Reviews and Buying Guide w/FAQs

Single-speed bikes or a “fixie” are still very popular among the general population. and with internally geared hubs. Fixed gear bikes require wider chains so they can withstand the pressure shifts a single gear bike experiences while riding. Choosing the right single speed chain needs inspection and comparison among all different bike chains.

Why Are Single Speed Chains Different?

Single speed chains need to be wider as they will handle more pressure than a chain on a geared bike. Usually geared bikes have multiple cogs on their freewheel or cassette and a derailleur to control the chain. A fixed gear bike chain is wider, the spacing between two links is narrow and they won’t fit on geared bicycle cogs. If you try to fit a fixed gear chain on a geared bike, even if the gaps match the cog sizes, the chain won’t shift gears and get caught between the cogs. Usually for fixie bikes, the chain width is 1/8″ internally.

Which Fixie Chain Should I Buy?

There are plenty of single speed chains out there for you to choose from, also chains that have their own specific plus points. But which will you pick for your fixie bike?

To know which chain will work, you’ll need to look at different chains and compare them side by side. But this will take up so much of your time.

Luckily, that’s why we’re here! We’ve compiled a few top quality bike chains for you to take a look at and decide which one will work best for you.

1. Shimano Ultegra/XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain

Shimano Ultegra/XT CN-HG701 is a super narrow, directional chain. The chain roller link plate and pin link plate are treated with SIL-TEC treatment. SIL-TEC surface treatment on its inner and outer link plates ensures ultra-low friction and gives the chain durability.

Its design makes it compatible with MTB, 11-speed road and E-BIKES.

CN-HG701 allows your bike smooth and reliable shifting performance. It is strong enough to handle both road and mountain terrains and it makes less noise while cycling.

Does this chain come with quick release link?

Yes, Shimano’s Ultegra chain comes with a quick release link, which helps you unlink the chain whenever you need to clean it or uninstall it. But this link isn’t reusable. Once you’ve taken it off, it won’t hold the chain together anymore. But you can easily purchase more of Shimano’s quick release links online.

Can this chain be used on 12 speed drivetrains?

No, Shimano Ultegra is designed specifically for 11-speed drivetrains. You can try using it with 12 speed cogs but there is a possibility that this will damage your drivetrain materials.

2. Schwinn Bicycle Chain

The Schwinn bicycle chain is the ideal choice for single speed bikes. However, you will need a chain breaker tool to assemble it because, unlike Shimano’s Ultegra chain, Schwinn chain doesn’t have a master link.

The chain is fully nickel plated and has an anti drop design. Schwinn bicycle chains can be used for beach cruisers, single speed bikes and some multi speeds as well. It is guaranteed to give you the optimal performance.

What size bike chain should I use?

Schwinn’s bike chain comes with 114 links so you can shorten it or lengthen it to your requirement. The chain link dimensions are 1/8×3/32 inches but this chain may not be ideal for your multi-geared bike. Usually all 6 speed, 7 speed or 8 speed gears are compatible with 3/32 inch chains.

3. ZONKIE Bike Chain Single-Speed, Bicycle Chain

ZONKIE is experienced in manufacturing quality bike components and promises the same quality in their single speed bike chain. Their chains are made by repeated forging to ensure chain strength and the quality is professionally tested.

The chain’s polished surface makes it rust and corrosion resistant while also facilitating lubrication of the chain links.

Is this chain easy to install?

This chain is simpler to install than most others on this list. Zonkie’s bike chains come with a quick release magic link which can be disconnected to unlink the chain.

The quick release link is reusable so you can use it again and again whenever you’ll need to replace your chain or change its length. This makes installation, replacement and maintenance of the chain super easy.

4. KMC Z410 Bicycle Chain

KMC’s Z410 bicycle chain is especially developed for use on single speed bikes. It promises you a smooth riding experience, while also having a glossy hard finish.

The chain is plated for landing and abrasion. The nickel plating prevents rust. Z410 is built for heavy use on single speed bikes and it’ll be your companion for a lot of long, happy bike rides.

Do I need to use spacers with this chain?

It is better to use spacers when installing this chain as it has been tested professionally to yield best results when accompanied with accurate spacing.

KMC’s HL710L Half Link Chain is a 100 links long chain which is the go-to if your drivetrain is small in size. It is aesthetic to look at and great for street riding. The width of the chain allows you to ride for a long time on plain terrains but it may not be ideal for mountainous or uneven terrains.

Does this chain work on fixies?

KMC HL710L Half Link single speed chain is mainly designed for single speed bikes but will also work on fixie bikes.

What Should You Consider When Buying a Single Speed Chain? (Buying Guide)

To find out the best chains for fixed gear bikes, you’ll need to know the bike chain parts so you can check the quality of the chain.

Mainly there are 4 components of a bike chain.

  • Inner plates
  • Outer plates
  • Rivets
  • Rollers

While buying a single speed bike chain, you need to be mindful of certain aspects.

Matching your bike parts

Your chain is a part of your drivetrain. The derailleur, cassette/freewheel, chainring and chains together make up your drivetrain. If any of these components aren’t fitting in with the rest, your biking experience will be affected. It will also cause your bike parts to wear out faster.

You’ll need to change your chainring when you replace your chain. Shimano Ultegra/XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain works best if the other components of your bike are also a Shimano set. Schwinn Bicycle chains can be used with most drivetrain parts of different brands.

The Usability And Longevity

When you’re buying a chain for a single speed bike, you need to make sure it can be used for a while and doesn’t wear easily. ZONKIE’s single speed bike chain is hardened in an oil bath after multiple forgings and then treated in a salt bath. This makes the chain durable and lets it withstand even a pressure of 850 kilograms.

Affordability

You need to set an estimated limit to your budget when buying bicycle parts. It’s easy to end up spending too much on various bike parts when you could’ve gotten something that works for you at a lower price. KMC Z410 and Shimano’s Ultegra/XT CN-HG701 11-Speed Chain are good quality, dependable chains available within the range 3.48 – $14.25 USD.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when I need a new chain?

When chains continually change cogs there’s an abrasive force at work to make your bike run. This abrasion will eventually wear your chain out. The chain wears out, the cogs on your freewheel wear out and that’s when you know your components need a change. To check if your chain needs to be replaced, use a chain gauge to measure it.

Sometimes there’s stiff links in chains, which don’t loosen up even when you use the appropriate amount of grease or the needed tools. The best thing to do in this case, would be to change your chain. But there are some things you need to keep in mind when selecting a new chain.

Can I install a bike chain by myself?

Usually bike chains that come with master links are easier to assemble than the ones without. If you’re looking for an easy to install chain, ZONKIE’s Bike Chain Single-Speed is a good choice. This chain is easy to install and can be quickly shortened and easily connected with the spring element.

Here’s How Easy Installation of ZONKIE’s Bike Chain Single-Speed is:

Step-1: Compare the length of the new chain with the old one to see if it needs shortening or more links.

Step-2: After the length is decided, install the new chain on your bike’s chainring. Use a chain breaker tool to disconnect and reconnect the chain’s links.

For a more detailed understanding on installing chains, refer to this video.

Why do I need to use single speed chains for a fixie?

A fixed gear bike doesn’t have a derailleur or multiple cogs on the chainring to handle the constant pressure while riding. So, you’ll need a sturdy chain that will run well even when pressure on the bike is shifted constantly when riding different terrains in the same gear.

A single speed chain has the width which will give you that stability while biking.
Schwinn and Shimano bike chains are usually good choices for long lasting, strong chains.

Conclusion

Single speed chains are developed specially for use on single speed bikes and won’t work on multiple gears as they are too wide to fit within chainrings with multiple cogs and in cassettes. Once you’ve used a few different chains it’ll be easy for you to grasp which chain works best for your fixie.

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