There are a few things to consider when selecting the correct chain for your bike. The main things to consider are:
- How many gears your bike has
- Bicycle use
- Wear on other drive parts
To find the correct chain for your bike, count how many sprockets the bicycle has on the rear wheel. This will be from 5 to 12 gears. Some bikes will be only a single speed, like bmx, cruiser, fixed wheel bikes or kids bikes.
For geared bikes:
Chains for 6 to 8 speed are generally all the same width and interchangeable. The other styles: 5, 9, 10, 11 and 12 speed will all use a specific chain.
For single speed bikes:
There are 2 types of chain for a single speed bike. One is 1/8'' (3.2mm) chain, the other is 3/32'' (2.4mm) chains. These are not interchangeable. This measurement is the roller width. Generally speaking, the wider chains are for electric bikes, BMX bikes, and track/single speed adult bikes. The narrow chains are generally for internal geared bikes and kids bikes.
For bikes that are ridden in the mud or used for racing, a good quality chain will last longer and will in turn cause less wear on the rest of the drive train parts.
If the old chain is too worn, the other drive train parts may need to be replaced. This includes the cassette or cluster, the chainring(s) and the jockey wheels. It is a good idea to measure your chain to know if it is time to replace the other drive train parts.
Chain fitting will require a special tool as the new chain will need to be cut to length. A lot of tools are universal but some are not so ensure you are getting one that will fit your chain correctly. Chains can be joined with a pin or a joining link.
Happy riding! :-)