Massive success: KMC Freestyle Extreme chain

photo (1)I never rode BMX bikes. Worked on them, sure. But never rode. When I jumped ramps in the woods at the end of Elgin Street in Washington, Illinois, I used a Sears bike with 26-inch wheels. And that’s okay. I didn’t understand Schwinn Stingrays, either.

But I like BMX bikes. Or, at least, I like ideas from BMX. Like TIG-welded chromoly frames. The early frames finally contradicted the received wisdom that brazed construction was the only way to assemble a quality bicycle frame. And today, everyone who rides a bicycle with an upward-sloping top tube benefits from that innovation.

BMX also created demand for alloy rims with higher spoke counts, more so than any folding bicycle ever had. And the open-face stem, once transferred to mountain and road bicycles, made handlebar changes quick and easy, especially if you remember snaking and scraping drop bars through a Cinelli 1R stem.

But I didn’t think I’d be excited about a chain. I mean, coaster-brake chains may vary in quality, but what’s so special about a BMX chain besides marketing?


Well, take another look at that picture at the top of the story. (Both pictures courtesy of Steve Koch.)

The chain on the left is the 1/2 x 1/8-inch unit that came on a 24-inch-wheeled adult tricycle. The chain on the right, which transfers power from the hub to the rear axle, is a massive 1/2 x 3/16.

A sideplate in the previous transfer chain failed prematurely, probably because of hub misalignment (and, let’s face it, because it was a cheap chain). So I made sure the hub was straight and installed the KMC K415H Freestyle Extreme chain suggested by Illinois Cycle’s John Bousky.

Those beefy sideplates aren’t going anywhere.

The chain I bought contained 98 links, and a lot of it was left over after the repair. However, if you’re considering this same chain on your full-size coaster, single or three speeder, keep a couple of things in mind: 1) This is a wide chain; if you have a chainguard or the chain runs close to the frame, you could have interference issues. 2) This is a WIDE chain; you need a chain breaker designed to work with it. 3) This is also a short chain for most adult bicycles; if you can’t find it in a longer length, you’ll need to buy two and cut to fit.

But it’s oh so worth it to keep an enthusiastic cyclist on the road.

About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
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