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.