Best Ever Chain for your Dirt Bike- Don’t miss this review!
Taking your dirt bike out for a day in the mud is an exciting and fun way to enjoy your machine, but dirt and mud get everywhere – that’s part of the fun! – and all that dirt gets everywhere, especially on and in your bike’s chain. All this action can take a toll on your machine, especially the drive chain. So what’s the best chain you can get for your bike to ensure you keep hopping the hill? Let’s take a look.
All dirt bike chains are not created equal. If you’re looking for a decent chain for your dirt bike, there are a few considerations to take in. Motorbike chains come in three types – Standard chain – also known as “MX” chains; O-ring chains, which use a rubber O-ring between the inner and outer link plates to keep in chain grease and help provide a longer lifespan for the chain; and X-ring chains, which do pretty much the same thing as O-ring chains, except the area where the seal touches the chain itself is minimized, providing less friction of the chain against the X-ring. This type of chain is commonly found on professional racing and high-performance motorcycles.
Here are some of the best chains out there to help keep you getting dirty:
The DID Gold Link 120 chain provides one of the best high-performance, low-friction sealed race chains available at a lightweight. With a listed tensile strength of 8,800 pounds, this excellent chain is best used on bikes with a large displacement engine up to 1,000 cc’s.
For riders with a more modest engine or pocketbook, the DID Standard 530 non-O-ring chains have a tensile strength of 7,200 pounds and offer quality manufacturing at affordable prices.
Also Read: How to Clean a Motorcycle Chain?
The Niche Gold 530 X-Ring Sealed chain offers great performance at a great price. The special X-ring seals in grease and provides less friction than regular O-ring type chains, with a tensile strength of over 9,400 pounds.
On the lower end of the spectrum, Niche also offers their Standard non-O-ring chains with lubricated rollers and a master link for easy installation.
RK Takasago is a well-recognized dirt bike chain manufacturer and is widely used on motorcycles of all types. Some of their best performers are the RK Racing Chain 520 Series High-Performance RX-Ring Chain, offering two lubrication pools and seal-points, with over 8,500 pounds of tensile strength per foot.
For those on a limited budget, RK also has their Standard non-O-ring 420 series, a great choice for a dependable chain with over 4,000 pounds of tensile strength.
With all the different choices out there, though, what should you take if you need new chains for your bike? To start with, find the correct size chain for your bike. Motorcycle chains are usually measured in two dimensions, Pitch and Width.
One of the first considerations is chain PITCH. Most motorcycle chains have a pitch of either 4, 5, or 6; Chain PITCH is measured in eighths of an inch between two pins on one of the links; if the distance between those two points is, for instance, measured at 4/8ths of an inch, the pitch for that chain is 4.
Revzilla illustration showing motorcycle chain components
- A number 4 pitch is most commonly used on small dirt bikes or ATVs.
- A number 5 pitch – or 5/8ths of an inch – is most commonly used on street bikes, dual sports, ATVs,s, and larger CC dirt bikes.
- A number 6 pitch chain is more commonly found on sportbikes.
Chain WIDTHS usually come in four different sizes: 15, 20, 25, and 30. The WIDTH of a chain is measured in eighths and sixteenths of an inch between the inner plates of the chain. To measure this distance, you measure the chain between the inner plates – the inner width of the roller, in other words.
Revzilla illustration showing motorcycle chain components
What kind of chain to buy depends on what kind of riding you’re doing. With so many chains on the market, getting the right chain for your bike can help extend the life of both your chain and the bike and save you money too!
Also Read: Best Dirt Bike Cleaner
Standard 420 chains
For motorcycles up to the 80cc range. These are some good chains in that price range for most riders, a standard 420 chain in the $20 – $50 range is sufficient for most:
A standard 420 chain, the JTC420 HDR is made with high-grade steel alloys and quality manufacturing standards to provide you with top performance at minimum weight.
The RK M420 98 chain is a standard non-O-ring chain supremely suited for everyday use at a great price! Made with riveted pins and curled bushings, the RK M420 98 also comes pre-stressed and pre-stretched to outperform most other chains on the market, with a master link for ease of installation.
Another winner in the standard chain lineup is the Yoxufa 420. This chain is compatible with most small-cylinder pit bikes, 4-wheelers, ATV’s and go-carts, offering great performance at a great price.
O- Ring Chains
O-ring chains offer more protection from dirt, mud, and grit and are a good choice for added protection for your chain. Slightly more expensive than standard chains, O-ring chains can extend chain life up to two times longer than standard chains. Here are some choices that can help extend the life of your bike:
If you’re looking for an O-ring chain that stands out among the others, the RK Racing 520 series of drive chains are built to take those quick starts and acceleration needed in head-to-head racing chains. Solidly built, with pre-stressed and pre-stretched construction, this O-ring linked performance chain can give you an edge with great reliability and performance.
Another winner in the O-ring chain arena, the DID 520 VO O-ring chain has great impact resistance and up to 235 times the life of other racing O-ring chains. Suitable for engines up to 500cc in size, the DID 520 O-ring chain also comes with a master link for easy installation.
The Jinfannibi 428 O-ring Chain is another winner for your bike in the O-ring chain arena. Reasonably priced but still offering excellent performance, the Jinfannibi 428 series of chains come pre-tested for long life and durability, with a master link for easy installation.
X – Ring Chains
X-ring chains are similar to O-ring chains in that they use an “x” shaped rubber seal to help keep the grease in the rollers. X-ring chains, because they limit the amount of rubber in them that makes contact with the chain links, offer the same amount of sealing protection with less drag that may slow the chain down ever so slightly. X-ring chains are a step up from O-ring chains and are usually found on high-performance motorcycles. Here are some X-Ring chains:
The Niche Gold 520 ring is for motorbike racers who demand the best for their machines. Its super-tough hardened steel construction and NBR rubber X-ring construction seal out dirt and moisture, giving this series of chains improved seal performance and long life, and it comes with a matching master link.
RK Racing’s GBXO O-ring chain offers great performance and a lightweight for those situations when every ounce counts. Weighing in at just over four pounds with a tensile strength of 8,500 pounds per foot, the GB520XO series of chains can take what you dish out and be ready for more.
For riders who need to be a bit more budget-conscious but still want extreme performance, the MRELC Gold 520 series is the way to go. With its hardened steel construction, quad riveted points, and NBR rubber X-ring seals, the MRELC Gold series also fits a wide variety of motorcycles, ATVs, pit bikes, mini bikes, go-carts, scooters, and more; this one even comes with two master links and a chain breaker!
What factors to consider while buying a chain for your dirt bike?
When buying a chain for your bike, though, several factors come into play. One of the most important is determining the chain size.
- Count the links. This will tell you how long your chain needs to be. The correct length of china is critical to how well the chain performs and will lessen wear on the chain drive sprocket. A worn sprocket will increase your chain’s wear and could spell disaster if the chain comes off. It’s a good bet that most chain manufacturers offer chains in your bike’s length, but you may need a chain breaker to take off excess links to make the chain fit well.
- Features – when comparing chains, take a good look at what each chain you’re considering offers, such as standard chains versus O-ring chains and O-ring versus X-rings; taking the time to compare chains and prices will help you get the best chain for you.
- Cost – Just because a chain is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for your bike. Conversely, a cheap chain is not necessarily bad for your bike either. Do some comparison shopping to find the right chain at the right price for both you and your wallet.
- Tensile strength – be sure to pick a chain with good tensile strength for your bike’s weight and riding style. The light of a tensile strength could cause the chain to break under load or heavy acceleration.
- Installation – pick a chain that’s easy to install. While replacing your chain is a fairly straightforward task, a chain that’s easy to install cuts down on the time spent off the bike rather than on.
- Durability – a motorcycle chain needs to be maintained with regular lubrication and attention to its condition. A good chain will last a long time with regular maintenance, but some chains are self-lubricating and will last a long time with minimal attention.
With all these choices of chains for your bike, choosing what to buy and how much to spend on what you need can be challenging. Ultimately, choosing the best chain is up to you, but these are just a few examples of some great chains that will keep you running.
For riders looking for a great chain at a great price, our pick for a Standard dirt bike chain fits the bill well.
A standard 420 chain, the JTC420 HDR tough construction and manufacturing standards provide you with top performance at minimum weight.
Our pick for a top O-ring racing chain is the RK Racing 520-SO-120.
Built to take the rigors of dirt bike racing, this has what it takes to get you across the finish line, and at a great price too!
For riders who want serious strength and durability, our top pick in the X-ring category is:
With its incredible strength, great performance, and affordability, this high-performance chain is a top performer for competitive dirt bike riders who demand the best for their machines.
Whether Standard, O-ring, or X-ring, these are just a few of the choices to consider when finding the proper chain for you and your bike. Taking the time to get the right chain can go a long way to keeping you out in the dirt.