Chains and Sprockets (Dept of Everything You Need To Know)

I’ve been trying to sort out chain sizes and ratings, and found this site:  Notes on Sprockets and Chains.  I am now a Chain Geek. For sure, take a look, and you can be one too.  Great links at the end, too…

This is specifically what I was looking for:

Chain Dimensions

Chain types are identified by number; ie. a number 40 chain. The rightmost digit is 0 for chain of the standard dimensions; 1 for lightweight chain; and 5 for rollerless bushing chain. The digits to the left indicate the pitch of the chain in eighths of an inch. For example, a number 40 chain would have a pitch of four-eighths of an inch, or 1/2″, and would be of the standard dimensions in width, roller diameter, etc.

The roller diameter is “nearest binary fraction” (32nd of an inch) to 5/8ths of the pitch; pin diameter is half of roller diameter. The width of the chain, for “standard” (0 series) chain, is the nearest binary fraction to 5/8ths of the pitch; for narrow chains (1 series) width is 41% of the pitch. Sprocket thickness is approximately 85-90% of the roller width.

Plate thickness is 1/8th of the pitch, except “extra-heavy” chain, which is designated by the suffix H, and is 1/32″ thicker.


2 responses to “Chains and Sprockets (Dept of Everything You Need To Know)

  1. Don’t forget that the typical industrial chain works great for spinning a squirrel cage fan. It fails when trying to handle you and your bike (400-800lb load) backing off and then jamming the throttle putting a massive tug on the chain at speed. It rarely gets driven through sandy puddles on rainy days. That industrial chain is meant to have a pretty nice life.

    I have always lubed and adjusted my street chain every 500 miles on my ICE bikes and used a good quality o-ring 520 or 530.

    In short, to avoid taking teeth off your sprocket or have your chain hop off while riding use a good quality street chain, keep it adjusted and clean!


    • Thanks Steve- but not really buying the idea that an industrial chain is somehow weaker than the same size chain for a motorcycle. I’d love to see some test data if you have any to back that up…


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