Do E-Bikes Need Special Chains?(EXPLAINED)

Welcome To Electric Bike Tricks 

In 2019 I was on a trip with my friends and we were riding our electric bikes.

The day was really fun but in the middle of the day, something unexpected happened.

Actually, we were 4 miles away from the end of our trip, when my electric bike chain was cut off.


In fact, I had some links for the chain, but the strange thing was that I had completely changed the chain about a month ago, which made me think what would be the reason and why the chain was cut off.

Also, did I choose a chain that was not suitable for my ebike? so I searched deeply for the answer to this question!


You may now be in the same situation and looking for a new chain for your electric bike So I will be happy to share my search result so you don’t have to spend several hours searching.

As a general rule, an ebike needs a special chain that can handle the stress & pressure from the motor, generally, a chain that supports an ebike will be labeled as an ebike rated chain also, it’s much lighter than the normal chain.


Why Ebike Needs Special Chains?



ebike needs a special chain for the below reasons.

1. The Motor

The motor plays an important role in affecting the electric bike chains because it increases the pressure on the chains while riding the bike.

Mid Drive Motor

When you have a mid-drive motor it’s located in the middle of your ebike by design which, increases the pressure on the chain because the torque coming out of the motor is directed directly to the chains.

This will cause a lot of pressure on the chain if we took into consideration that in normal bikes humans can maximum produce from 80 to 100 watts during the ride.

But in ebike chain will handle at least more than 250 watts (which is the lowest motor capacity in the market)

Hup Motor:

If you have an electric bike with a hub motor, and you want to use the pedal, you will have one speed and here the effect will not be great on the chain of the motor, but the effect on the chain will be from the weight of the bike itself.

2. Ebike weight

It is known that the weight of an electric bike is heavier than regular bikes.

An electric bike weighs from 15 to 25 kilograms because it contains the battery and the motor, and all this weight puts pressure on the chains.

especially if you decide to use the pedal, the pressure will be already high on the chains, and for this, your electric bike needs a speacial chain.

3. The Off-road riding

The way of riding an electric bike is very different from regular bikes, one of the most important reasons why we think of acquiring an electric bike is to have an enjoyable riding experience in woods or mountains, but this also makes us shifting between using the pedal or the motor with the use of the harsh force of the motor, which increases the pressure on chains.

On the other hand :

These places are often filled with mud and dirt, which is not tolerated by chains dedicated to regular bikes, this explains the existence of chains dedicated to electric bikes.

How to choose the right Chain for your ebike?


In order to know how to choose the appropriate chain for your electric bike, we must first know what is the difference between the types of chains, because there is a lot of wrong information.

This wrong info can cost you a lot of money, instead of buying a chain that costs between 30 or 100 dollars, it can cost you the price of a cassette equivalent to 200 or 300 dollars!!

So let’s compare the chains in terms of speeds in order to know which chain is suitable for your ebike, especially if your ebike is between 10 to 12 speeds because the similarity between the chains in these speeds is not clear which can lead to some damages to your ebike if you were not aware of it.


Comparison Factors 7 & 8 Speed Chain 9 Speed Chain 10 Speed Chain 11 Speed Chain 12 Speed Chain
Length between barrels 3.175 mm 3.175 mm 3.175 mm 3.175 mm 3.175 mm
Width 7.1 mm 6.8mm 6.1mm to 5.95mm 5.62mm to 7mm 5.25mm


As we can see from the previous comparison of the various types of chains, the length between the barbells did not differ in any of the types, and it is considered a standard length for all chains, but what will make the difference for you when choosing a chain for your electric bike is the width between the outer and internal link.

Now let’s discuss each type separately and share with you what you need to know when buying a chain for your bike

 7 & 8 Speed Chain

Chains with 7, 8 or even 6 speeds are not very different from each other because they are almost the same size in terms of length or width, and also there are no precise engineering details when shifting between speeds.

All you need to do while buying one of these chains is to make sure that it’s rated as electric bikes chains.

9 Speed Chain

Here we will start the fun because the nine-speed bikes have different details in terms of chain movement on cassette.

You can see that the width is different, which is designed to be in perfect harmony with the cassette in a way that gives you the required speed and also maintains the life span of the ebike.

So my advice to you is to always buy the chain from the same brand of your ebike because they simply tested all the parts together and this will give you higher confidence and safety while riding your ebike.


10,11,12 Speed Chains

Since all of the 10, 11, and 12-speed chains are the most common types of misinformation, I will share with you some information that you should know while purchasing any of them.

Since the width in the three types is close, some people think that they can use any type in place of the other, and there are also some companies that sell the chains as being used for all speeds 10, 11, or 12 and this is not right.


Here is why you shouldn’t do this.


Perhaps the difference in width is not big, but the difference here is in the outer plate, which causes damage to the cassette during shifting because, during movement between the gears, there will be friction, even if a little, which will certainly lead to damage to the cassette.

So buy the right chain for the speed of your electric bike.

But also, let me tell you that you can use this method in emergency situations, for example, if the chain is cut off and you have a Link 11 and you are riding a 12-speed ebike, you can replace it and change it back when you return home.

but in general, try not to skip more than one speed so if you have 10 speeds don’t replace with 12 speeds

FYI, 9 Speeds chain will not even fit in 12 speeds chain


What you should know if your chain is 10,11, or 12 speed?

One of the pieces of information that were completely new to me during my research on bike chains is that bike chains, especially high-speed chains, are directional, which means that if you put the chain backward it will not work and you will hear a noise or the chain will be tough

So to fix this issue always keep the side that has the writing from outside

Note: not all chain brands have the same design so you might have a different brand that it’s OK to put the chain in any direction however if you put your chain & hear the noise this means that have put it backwords.

For More Information about chain maintenance, you can check the below posts.


Is It Safe To Ride Ebike With A Rusty Chain?

How To Use WD40 On Your Ebike?



In general, electric bikes need special chains due to the pressure coming out of the motor directly on the chains and also the weight of the electric bike is heavier than regular bikes.

On the other hand, the multiple uses of electric bikes and their ability to withstand unpaved roads make it necessary to have chains dedicated to them.




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