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How Much Does A Mountain Bike Chain Cost?

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Despite being a small component in your bike, the bike chain can make a huge difference when it comes to your riding experience.

There are plenty of bike chain options that you can get for your mountain bike. So, you must be wondering, how much does a mountain bike chain cost?

Keep on reading to learn everything that has to do with mountain bike chains.

How Much Does a Mountain Bike Chain Cost?

The average mountain bike chain costs around $14 to $20. You can find cheaper ones for about $10 and more premium ones for as high as $90 as well.

If you’re not competing in tournaments and such, you don’t really need to spend the extra bucks on a premium bike chain. You’ll be just fine with an average bike chain.

How Long Does a Mountain Bike Chain Last?

The longevity of bike chains is measured in terms of miles, not time. Typically, you’ll get around 2,500 miles out of an average bike chain before you need to replace it.

Bike chain longevity also depends on the maintenance that you give your bike. If you don’t take good care of your bike, you’ll notice signs of wear and tear on the bike chain.

Some of those signs of wear and tear include:

1.    Rust

Unfortunately, once you find rust on your chain, it has to be replaced. Cycling with a rusty chain can be dangerous and damage the components of your bike, primarily your derailleur.

So, replacing your rusty bike chain isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s also a protective measure for you and your bike.

heavy rust buildup on a bike chain due to lack of care
A rusted bike chain can cause several problems for both the rider and the bike itself.

2.    Snapping

While it’s not that common, your bike chain can snap when you’re shifting the front derailleur or pedaling hard if it’s nearing the end of its lifespan.

This happens when the force you exert into pedaling and making the drivetrain move becomes too much for the chain to the point it breaks.

3.    Stretching

When the chain is worn out, the spaces between the links will be more stretched than when you first got the bike.

You can inspect this issue in multiple ways, one of which is by using a chain checker (see video below). These are cheap and nifty tools that can do the job in a couple of seconds.

A more conventional way to do this is to measure the spaces between the pins on the links with a ruler. What you do is align the zero mark with the center of any pin on the chain. Then, look at the 12-inch mark.

A good chain will have the pin aligned to the 12-inch mark. However, if the center of the pin lies after the 12-inch mark, it’s time to change your chain.

What Affects the Price of a Mountain Bike Chain?

There are a few factors that affect the price aspect, namely:

1.    Material

While most bike chains are made of steel, some are made from titanium, which is much sturdier. You can also find chains coated with titanium carbon nitride or another type of top coat.

Steel chains are the cheapest and most common. That being said, they’re well-known for being prone to rust.

Naturally, whenever steel chains face moisture or don’t get enough lubrication, they suffer more from wear and tear.

On the other end, titanium or coated chains not only look more appealing but also last longer. They’re also lighter, which helps you move faster as the overall weight of the bike is lower.

2.    Distance Durability

When we’re talking about durability in terms of distance, we’re concerned with how many miles you can cycle with the chain before it starts deteriorating.

The average steel chain lasts about 2,000 to 3,000 miles. More expensive chains can probably last you 500-1,000 miles more than your average steel chain.

3.    Chain Technology

Naturally, the more technologically advanced the chain is, the higher its price will be.

Some of these technologies include having a double x-bridge shape, like the KMC chains. This shape facilitates shifting and gets you to higher or lower gears faster.

4.    Degree of Specialization

Some bikes require special chains to operate. This is typically a result of having certain features and speed requirements.

The more customized or tailor-made the bike chain, the more it’s going to cost compared to the average bike chain.

Is Investing in a Premium Chain Worth It?

Unless you need the enhanced performance that comes with the investment, expensive chains aren’t worth it. This is especially the case if you’re a recreational cycler.

It’s only worth it if you participate in competitions or tournaments, where you’ll need the fastest and smoothest gear shifting and speed.

Not to mention, you wouldn’t be able to feel the extra benefit that premium chains have to offer, here’s why:

1.    They Serve the Same Function

No matter how much your chain costs, it’ll serve the same function.

What an expensive chain can serve you is that it’ll be more resistant to damage and might look cooler than an average bike chain.

Also, to be fair, expensive chains tend to be less noisy than other budget-friendly options.

2.    Both Can Last Long With Good Maintenance

Whether you buy a cheap or expensive chain, you’ll get around 2,000 miles worth of distance.

High-quality options can give you up to 3,500 miles. However, with proper maintenance and frequent lubrication, cheap chains can also last up to 3,000 and 3,500 miles as well.

3.    Almost the Same Size

More or less, both cheap and expensive options are going to be the same size and weight.

Premium chains can be a little thinner and lighter, which can be a bonus if the slight difference will affect your timings or performance during competitions.

4.    Cheap Chains Can Perform Just As Well

It’s safe to say that a cheap chain can perform as well and last just as long as an expensive chain, provided that you lubricate it well and keep it away from any moisture.

How to Care and Maintain a Mountain Bike Chain?

Of course, there are a couple of things that you can do to extend the longevity of your bike chain.

1.    Regular Cleaning

The first step to keep your bike chain alive and well is to clean it regularly. Make sure you remove any rust, debris, and dirt from between the pins.

You should use a degreaser to loosen the dirt and dried mud, then wipe it with a dry cloth.

You can also lukewarm water with detergent and a sponge, but you have to make sure you dry your bike’s chain thoroughly after that.

2.    Frequent and Thorough Lubrication

Make sure that any mechanical part on your bike is well-lubricated all the time.

You should also thoroughly lubricate the chain after you clean the bike to make sure that any parts that have become exposed to the air are covered again and isolated.

Lube on Bike Chain
Lubing your chain is an important part of ensuring your bike rides properly.

3.    Consistent Inspection

Always make sure to inspect your chain, either with a ruler or a tool, to make sure that it’s not stretching.

Once you see any signs of wear and tear, take precautionary measures, or change the chain altogether if needed.

4.    Avoiding Pressure on Your Chain

Try not to apply unnecessary pressure on your chain. The main way to do so is to avoid shifting the gears too quickly or applying too much force when pedaling.


Is a Road Bike Chain the Same Price as a Mountain Bike?

No. Road bike chains are a little pricier than mountain bike chains. While mountain bike ones range from $15 to $60, road bike chains can range from $25 to $60.

Within the high-end options, they can be around the same price. However, if you get two chains that perform similarly, a road bike one will be relatively more expensive.

Do I Have to Change the Cassette When I Change the Chain?

No. You don’t have to change the cassette every time you change the chain. Also, if you’re consistent when it comes to changing your chain every time you hit the 2,000 or 3,000-mile mark, you’ll hardly ever have to change the cassette.

How Do I Know If I Should Change the Cassette Too?

There are a couple of tell-tale signs that tell you that you need to change your cassette during the chain replacement. These are as follows:

  • The cassette has suffered damage.
  • The teeth on the cog have noticeable wear.
  • You notice the gears skipping, even after changing the chain.
  • You left your chain too long without maintenance to the extent of damaging the chainring and rear cogs.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you can get a brand-new mountain bike chain for as little as $10 or up to $100. It all depends on how well you need your chain to be.

Another aspect to keep in mind is how high-end your bike itself is. Otherwise, getting a premium chain for it won’t make much of a difference in how it cycles or moves.