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Chain drive is often overlooked for its efficiency, when in fact it is an extremely effective method of transmitting drive with up to 95% of the power being transferred from one shaft to another. In addition to efficient transmission, chain drive is also flexible and adaptable, avoiding the need to cut special gears to change ratios, when off the shelf products can be matched to most tasks, simply be changing sprockets.



The drive chain of any vehicle is one of the most important components and yet normally gets the least attention. The standard drive chain of older motorcycles and cars are of the "Roller Chain" type. The chain consists of two major parts, 1) the pin link and 2) the roller link.



Both links get their linear strength from the side plates that keep them together. A "Heavy Duty" chain will have thicker, stronger side plates and thus greater overall strength. The pin link is very simple in design having only two rods or pins connecting the side plates. The roller link is more complex, consisting of two hollow bushings connecting the side plates surrounded by a movable roller.



There are several types of drive chains to cope with everyday cycling, industrial applications, to racing superbikes:

  • Standard: as described above.



Common Drive Chains

Chain reference #




1/2 inch

3/16 inch


1/2 inch

1/4 inch


1/2 inch



5/8 inch

1/4 inch


5/8 inch

5/16 inch


5/8 inch

3/8 inch


3/4 inch

3/8 inch

  • O-Ring: similar to the standard but equipped with a rubber o-ring at each end of the pin. This o-ring traps in lubricant and keeps out road grit and moisture, thus prolonging the life of the chain.

O Rings

  • Self-Lubricating: these chains incorporate oil-impregnated sintered metal bushings inside the rollers that gradually release oil to the chain.

Master link: Master Linkmost vehicle chains are connected into a loop by a master link. This is a single pin link with

extended pins that allow the attachment of a removable side plate. The side plate is held in place by a spring clip.



Endless Chain: some vehicles are equipped with an endless chain that does not contain a master link but are connected back unto itself when produced. These chains must be removed by removing the swingarm of the bike.


The more you care for your chain, the longer it will last.  In this case where high pressures are applied for short duration, lubrication is important.  After each run in adverse salt or dusty conditions the final drive should be cleaned and lubricated.

  • remove the chain from the vehicle and soak in kerosene (I know gasoline will also clean a chain but due to its fire potential, use kerosene).

  • if road grime and slight rust is a problem, scrub lightly with a hard bristle or metal brush.

  • hang the chain over the pan of kerosene and drip dry.

  • work your way down the chain testing the rollers and flexibility between each link. If you find links that will not flex freely even after forcing them, the chain needs replacing.

  • place the chain on the floor and measure out 1 foot. Grab the chain at each end of this foot length and push the chain links together. Now pull outward on the chain and note any change in its length. It is recommended that this movement be no more than 1/4 inch. Check the rest of the chain in 1 foot lengths. If the slack is more than 1/4 inch for any foot, the chain should be replaced.

  • relube the chain.

  1. This is commonly done by using one of the aerosol can chain lubes available. CAUTION: if your chain is of o-ring design, make sure the chain lube is compatible.

  2. A second way to lube your chain is by purchasing a can of solid lube. This material has to be heated, melting the solid, and the chain dipped in. The chain is hung over the can and allowed to drain and harden. This form of lube is longer lasting and will protect your chain the most.

  • reinstall your chain and set the slack to your manuals specs. If the chain adjuster on your rear axel indicates that the chain needs replacing, do so.

  • the master link spring clip open end MUST face away from the direction of rotation.



Whenever you check your chain, check your rear and drive sprockets also. The teeth on both sprockets should be uniform and symmetric. If they appear hooked or worn, they probably need replacing.  Grant you, not an easy thing to do between land speed record runs.




  • Super Non O-Ring
    Dai-Hard Series

  • Professional O-Ring V Series

  • Premium X-Ring VM Series

  • Superbike Series

  • Exclusive Racing

  • ATV Racing

  • Superbike Series Selection Chart




    3.Select a chain

    4.Select Centre Distances




      Currently Selected Chain Chain Description Selection Data
    Enter Data Here 110166 ISO 606 32B-1 Bush Roller Chain Selected For/Customer :
    Input Power
    Input Speed
    Drive Teeth Z1

    Driven Teeth Z2

    Drive Load

    Driven Load
    Calculated Data

    Chain Pitch
    2.000 Ins
    50.80 mm
    Output Speed
    Max Speed
    380 rpm
    Centre Distance mm
    Date Created :08/22/2004
    Selected By :
    Application :
    Email address:
    Summary Data
    Corrected Power: 10.00 KW
    Max power at this speed: KW
    Power Deviation: %
    Chain Velocity: m/s
    Bearing Pressure: N/mm˛
    Safety Factor: :1
    Approx Wear Life: hours
    Approx Fatigue Life: hours


    Chain Statics Chain Dynamics
    Modified Centre Distance mm Chain linear velocity m/s
    No of chain links Chain working load N
    Chain Length mm Chain peak loads N
    Chain total mass Kg Chain Breaking load (min) N
    Pitch Circle Dia Z1 mm Safety factor (Peak loads) :1
    Z2 mm
    Bearing area mm˛ Bearing Pressure N/mm˛
    Chain selection power limit KW Power compared to max %
    Recommended lubrication Speed compared to max %


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