Mountain bike chain: which MTB chain do you need?

The drive of your mountain bike depends on the chain. A strong and sturdy chain is very important, so that you can continue pedaling and climb a mountain with your MTB with peace of mind. When buying a new MTB chain, it is important to know how long the MTB chain should be. In this guide I tell you everything about the necklace.

Features of an MTB chain

A mountain bike chain is different from the chain of a normal city bike. The chain is often a lot stronger and they are available in different sizes. Apart from the special features of a mountain bike chain, it is generally very important to maintain the chain. It is perhaps the most important thing when cleaning a mountain bike.

Chains for mountain bikes are often provided with a special coating and are also available in lightweight variants. Everything to enjoy mountain biking.

mountain bike chain
An MTB chain is often a lot more resistant to dirt than a normal bicycle chain. © MTBdex.com

How long MTB chain?

When you are going to buy a new MTB chain, you will soon be faced with the question of how long it should be. It is good to know that it is better to buy a chain that is too long than too short. You can easily shorten a chain with a so-called chain tool or chain tool. Does the chain have a missing link? Then a missing link pliers is a must.

The best way to determine the length of the MTB chain is to place the chain over the largest chainring of the cassettes (front and rear). It is also very smart to measure your old chain or take it to the bicycle shop.

Although you can shorten the chain, this is not always necessary if a chain is too slack. You can also tension a chain. However, a chain can also be stretched over time, so that it may sometimes be necessary to shorten it in the long run.

MTB chain too slack or too tight

When adjusting a mountain bike, tensioning the chain is also an important part. If your mountanibike chain is too slack, it can damage the cassette, among other things. In addition, the shifting can also be less accurate.

If the chain is adjusted too tight or if you put a chain that is too short on your mountain bike, this can also result in damage to other mountain bike parts. For example, in some cases the chain can skip teeth on the sprocket, which can lead to unsafe situations. In addition, the chance of a chain breaking is also more present with a chain that is too tight.

To help you adjust the chain, I’ve written a guide to tensioning the chain on your mountain bike.

9, 10 or 11 Speed mountain bike chain

When buying a new chain you can choose from different types of options, depending on the number of gears. Think 9, 10 or 11 speed chains. Depending on the cassette of your mountain bike, you can make the right choice. In addition, there are also special chains for Shimano cassettes, for example. For example, do you have a 12-speed Shimano groupset on your MTB? Then a 12 speed chain is a must.

Colors: rainbow, steel or gold?

I have good news for those who want to pimp their bike: there are also chains in special colors. There are MTB rainbow chains (rainbow steel) or they are available in gold. It will be completely cool if you have a cassette in the same color version. Some webshops also sell sets.

When to replace the MTB chain?

Your mountain bike chain doesn’t just need to be replaced if it breaks or is completely corroded. A chain wears out during mountain biking. No matter how well you clean or lubricate it. There are several guidelines for determining when it is time to replace your MTB chain.

Many bicycle specialists adhere to the 3,000 kilometer rule: this means that you can replace the chain after 3000 cycling kilometers. There is also another way. With the help of a chain checker you can easily check how much the chain is worn.

By replacing your chain in time, you can last longer with the cassette of your mountain bike. So it is very important to keep a close eye on this. Read more information about replacing an MTB chain.

Maintenance of the mountain bike chain

To extend the life of the chain of your mountain bike, good maintenance is a must. Maintaining a chain consists of two activities: cleaning and lubrication. I have written a manual for both cleaning activities.

  • Cleaning MTB chain
  • Lubricate MTB chain

When cleaning and lubricating the chain, it is very important to use the correct MTB tools and resources. If you don’t do this, you can even damage your chain during maintenance.

lubricate mountain bike chain
Proper maintenance of your bicycle chain is very important © MTBdex.com

Frequently asked questions about an MTB chain

What should I pay attention to when buying an MTB chain?

The length of the chain, the weight, the coating and the number of gears of your bicycle are important factors. By looking at all these factors, you make the best choice for your mountain bike.

When does my bike chain need to be replaced?

It is recommended to replace the MTB chain after approximately 3,000 kilometers. You can also use a chain checker to see how much the chain is already worn.

How can I shorten the chain on my mountain bike?

A new necklace you buy is never custom made. The chain still has to be shortened to make it tailor-made for your MTB. There are two types of chains: a chain with a quick link, which you can shorten with a missing link pliers. In addition, there are also chains that you can shorten with a chain tool or chain tool.

Are colored MTB chains also available?

Yes, various webshops increasingly have MTB chains in cool and striking colors. Think of gold-colored necklaces or rainbow-colored necklaces.

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