Electric dirt bike chain. Renthal Best Dirt Bike Chain and Sprocket Kit

The Difference Between Chain, Belt and Shaft Drive of Electric Bikes?

In addition to chain drive and belt drive, shaft drive is also a drive system for electric bicycles. But which is the better choice?

For the uninitiated, this can be a tough choice!

In this article, we compare the unique properties of three different drive systems, and you can try to figure out which one is better for your e-bike based on their characteristics.

Chain drive

Chain drives are the most trusted and oldest drivetrains. It consists of a simple chain of links. They connect the sprockets. As a system, it exists in most bicycles and motorcycles. The sprocket is connected to the transmission output shaft and is called the driving sprocket. Also on the rear wheel is what is called a driven sprocket. Both are connected by a chain. The chain is also available in a variety of designs. As mentioned above, chain drives are most commonly used on sport bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers and touring bikes. A chain drive is the most efficient way to transfer power from the engine to the rear wheels. During this transition, only 3% of power is lost. Chain drives are strong, which is why they are suitable for drag racing. They are also durable, which is why they are used almost exclusively on dirt-oriented motorcycles. One of the biggest drawbacks of these chains is that they are expensive to maintain. Proper maintenance requires regular use and cleaning of the chain with lubricating oil. When you replace the chain, you also need to replace the sprocket. This increases the expense and labor involved. Chain drives are not as smooth or quiet as belts or shafts. Also, you need to align the rear wheel carefully so that the chain rolls straight on the rear sprocket.

Belt drives are not as common as chain drive systems. The drive includes a drive pulley towards the gearbox output shaft. The other part is the driven pulley at the wheel. The two pulleys are connected by a belt. It has teeth or grooves. The belt itself is made of a rubber-like material, making it durable. Modern belt drives are reinforced with internal drums and external Kevlar coating. Belt drives work similarly to chains. This is the most common choice among cruisers. That’s because they’re quiet, smooth, and low-maintenance. Lubrication is also not required. However, the chain needs lube every few hundred miles. That way, the belt can last 15,000 to 20,000 miles, or maybe longer with an expensive Kevlar belt. Their power loss is about 11%, and it’s not just a chain. Still, it’s not bad. Belt drives last longer than chains. But despite this advantage, belts are more prone to damage than chains. Pebbles stuck in the sprockets can wear down the belt and cause it to fail. This is something that never happens to a chain. It might be possible to temporarily rejoin the broken chain on the side of the road, but not with a belt. Replacing a belt is much more expensive than a chain.

Shaft Drive

The chainless shaft drive system is the most expensive of all other drive systems while they are also the most robust, very smooth, and require almost no type of maintenance. The shaft drive consists of a shaft connected to the gearbox output through a universal joint, which is essentially a coupling that helps to transmit rotational power at any selected angle. At the other end, the shaft is connected to the rear wheel hub by spiral bevel gears. The bevel gear rotates the direction of rotation of the shaft by 90 degrees, causing the wheels to rotate. The entire drive system is lubricated in oil and sealed to protect it from any external elements, thereby reducing maintenance. With the latest advancements and technological developments, shaft drives are now also available as part of e-bikes. In these respects it differs from the other two types of chains as it is 2kg heavier than the other two. This weight is necessary because it provides better power at the start of the bike. Another thing worth mentioning is that the shaft-driven components are proprietary, which means it’s impossible to switch to belt or chain drive if you need to.

Shaft-drive e-bike is not common in the market, while you can find the best one at Honbike. Shaft drives is a simple and suitable option whether you are a beginner or a professional. If you are using your e-bike for sport and adventure climbing, the shaft drive is very handy. It’s also great for rough riding. As for other features, the shaft drive is very quiet and easy to operate. While the shaft drive may be more expensive, it is the best option for enjoying and having the best experience riding an e-bike. The technology has moved forward, bringing shaft-driven e-bikes into FOCUS. While they may not be as common today, trends certainly suggest that shaft drives will dominate the rest, ensuring the convenience and simplicity of the e-bike riding experience.

Mid-drive Electric Bike Chains

The chain on an e-bike with a mid-drive has extra stress to deal with. This happens because the motor is placed directly between the pedals, hence translates the power directly to the chain for the bike to move forward.

Picture credit: https://newatlas.com/bicycles/the-lightest-bike-motor/

The upside of having this style of motor is that the weight of the bike is evenly balanced, so the ride will be more comfortable to handle.

Furthermore, mid-drives are more efficient and will extend your range on a single charge cycle. You can also use lower gears when scaling a hill, which wouldn’t be possible if you were using a hub-drive motor.

Generally, mid-drive motors are more powerful compared to hub drives and will offer an output of between 250 and 750 watts.

This is way more than what human effort can produce, that’s why there is extra stress on the chain of a mid-drive e-bike. Therefore, using an ordinary chain on a mid-drive will wear it down much faster.

The average rider can output around 100 watts from pedaling, and this may go to 250 watts during those short powerful bursts.

Since standard bike chains are built to accommodate human power output, they are not a good fit for electric bikes; especially those with a mid-drive motor. When it comes to cycling with electric assistance, mid-drive motors can unleash some serious power.

When you consider that you are using both human effort and electric motor assistance in an e-bike, it will be easy for the regular bike chain to snap after a few cycles of rigorous riding.

From the above, we can conclude that electric bikes with a mid-drive motor need a special chain. While the functionality doesn’t change, the strength of that chain has to be stronger than usual to cope with the increased strain for durable use.

This also means that you’ll have to spend more on the special chain!

Hub-drive Motors

Unlike mid-drives, hub motors are positioned on the back or front wheel of the electric bike. This results in a slight weight imbalance, with most of the bike’s weight leaning towards either the front or back of the bike.

Furthermore, these types of motors are generally bigger and less efficient, but more powerful in their functionality. Nonetheless, they are still the most commonly used types of motors given that they are easier and cheaper to produce.

Picture credit: https://electrek.co/2018/06/07/electric-bicycle-hub-motors-vs-mid-drive/

While mid-drive motors are connected to the same gear and drive chain that the pedals are connected to, hub-drives are entirely independent of the drive chain linked to the pedals.

This is to say that mid-drives work hand-in-hand with the pedals to propel the bike while hub motors function separately. As such, you can continue pedaling the bike comfortably even after running out of battery life. In the same way, you can depend on just the motor to power the bike if you don’t feel like pedaling.

In conclusion, the chain doesn’t need to be extra strong on a hub drive e-bike since the level of strain is no different from the one experienced on a regular bike.

For this reason, you don’t need a special chain when riding an electric bike powered by a hub motor.

However, you should ensure the chain you buy is compatible with the bike by checking the number of gears on your electric bike. This will also allow for compatibility with other components on the bike.

What Type of Chain is Recommended for your E-bike?

If you need to replace the chain on your hub-drive electric bike, you can either opt for a special e-bike or an ordinary bike chain. Both will get the job done, although the e-bike chain will provide you with longer service.

Ordinary bike chains are generally made out of less expensive and weaker materials that end up in a shorter life cycle compared to the e-bike specific chain.

For instance, if you were to use a basic chain like an HG40 on a Bosch mid-drive motor, it is almost imminent that the chain will snap at a certain point.

But for a mid-drive motor on your electric bike, it is recommended to go for a stronger chain specifically designed for e-bikes. Failure to do this will have you going through chains faster than you anticipated.

Some of the best options you can go for when looking to replace your mid-drive bike chain include KMC and Shimano chains. These are not only strong but will also fit all brands of electric bikes on the market.

If you want something long-lasting that won’t keep on sending you to the bike spare shop, try choosing from one of the two options. Alternatively, you can search for a heavier-duty chain that’s meatier than a standard bicycle chain.

How Do You Maintain Your Bike Chain?

Keeping your bike’s chain in optimal condition is essential for proper performance and durability. To ensure it works as well as possible, set aside some time to give the chain regular maintenance. this includes cleaning with degreaser before applying a lube of choice.

Aim to deep clean around every few months given the hard-to-remove grime which can build up over time.

Also keep an eye on when you’re lubricating depending on weather conditions; thicker lubes should be used if rain or cold temperatures are expected while dry products work best under hot/dry days.

How To Fix Rear Dropped Chain on Electric Bikes

Rear dropped chain is when your chain falls off the rear derailleur and is stuck between the dropout (where your rear wheel rests) and gear cluster (the set of metal rings that make up your gears).

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To fix rear dropped chain, push the rear derailleur cage (the mechanism that is your chain’s lowest point to the ground) forward, toward your pedals.

Correcting rear dropped chain by first pressing on the rear derailleur cage and then resetting the chain.

The tension on your chain will slack, which allows you to use your other hand to replace your chain back on the gear that your bike was in before the chain dropped.

Now take your e-bike for a quick ride and move through all your gear combinations to be sure you’re safe to hit the road.

How To Fix Front Dropped Chain On Your Electric Bike

Front dropped chain is when your chain disconnects from the chain ring, where your pedals power the chain.

This one can be a bit trickier to fix on your own, so tag in a friend or family member if you can. To fix it, you need to push the rear derailleur cage forward while guiding the chain back onto the teeth of the chain ring.

A second set of hands may be helpful for fixing front dropped chain.

Lastly, just release the derailleur, and you’re ready to test out your gears. Ride your e-bike in a safe place and shift through all your gears. Once you’ve moved through them all without dropping the chain again, you’ll know you’re ready to ride.

How To Fix Cross Chaining On Your E-Bike

Cross chaining happens when your chain is simultaneously on the smallest sprocket of the gear cassette (rear wheel) and the smallest ring on your chainring (by the pedals), or the largest cog and the largest chainring.

If you only have 1 chainring, cross-chaining isn’t an issue. Luckily, all of Magnum’s current line of e-bikes are formatted this way, not only preventing cross-chaining but also lessening your chances of a dropped chain overall.

If you have more than 1 chainring, how do you know what gear settings will result in cross-chaining?

Let’s say you have a 21-speed bike, with 3 settings for your chainring (front setting) and 7 settings for your gear cassette in the rear. You would be cross-chaining if you set your gears to:

  • 3-1 (with your front gear/chainring at the largest setting of 3 and your rear cog at the largest setting of 1)
  • 1-7 (with your chainring at the smallest setting of 1 and your rear cog at the smallest setting of 7)

These gear settings cause excessive wear and tear on your e-bike. They also position the chain with a fair amount of slack, which makes you much more susceptible to a dropped chain.

The exact gear combinations that cause cross-chaining vary depending on your gearing and shifter settings on your electric bike, so check your manual to be sure you aren’t regularly riding in gear combinations that can cause this. You can always step off your e-bike after shifting gears to check on your cog and chainring positioning.

Top 4 E-Bike Chain Safety And Maintenance Tips

Follow these tips to keep your chain in top shape.

Clean and lubricate your chain weekly.

  • Your chain will get very dirty with regular use
  • First, use a bike-friendly degreaser to clean
  • Then, use a bike-friendly lube to keep it moving smoothly
  • We strongly recommend avoiding spray lube — you might accidentally grease up parts of your bike that you don’t mean to

Keep up with derailleur maintenance.

  • When inspecting and cleaning your chain, check your derailleurs for buildup
  • Give them a good degreasing and lubrication as needed for peak performance

Watch for signs of chain or derailleur wear.

  • Is your chain skipping when in a certain gear setting — or on all of your gears?
  • Do you experience a lag between shifting gears and the chain completing the shift?
  • Does the chain resist all shifting?
  • All of these are serious signs that you need a tune-up or potentially replacement parts
  • Take your e-bike in for service if you experience any of these issues

Avoid cross-chaining.

  • If your e-bike has more than one chainring, don’t use gear settings that will cross-chain your e-bike: big-big or small-small
  • E.g., on a 21-speed bike, you have 3 settings for your chainring (front) and 7 settings for your gear cassette (rear)
  • Cross-chaining on this bike would be:
  • 3-1 (with your front gear/chainring at the largest setting of 3 and your rear cog at the largest setting of 1)
  • 1-7 (with your chainring at the smallest setting of 1 and your rear cog at the smallest setting of 7)

100 Ride modes

The Stark VARG is equipped with an Android Stark phone that allows you to customize the bike, adjusting the power curve, engine braking, flywheel effect and traction control, to make the perfect bike for every rider and track.

The Stark VARG is equipped with an Android Stark phone that allows you to customize the bike, adjusting the power curve, engine braking, flywheel effect and traction control, to make the perfect bike for every rider and track.

5kWh – Up to 6hrs of riding

The 6.5kWh of the Stark VARG allows you to ride for up to 6 hours of easy trail riding or complete a full MXGP heat and recharging takes between 1 or 2 hours depending on the outlet and charger.

The 6.5kWh of the Stark VARG allows you to ride for up to 6 hours of easy trail riding or complete a full MXGP heat and recharging takes between 1 or 2 hours depending on the outlet and charger.

Ride anywhere, anytime

The Stark VARG’s near-silent motor allows you to ride anywhere, anytime, letting you ride in places you’d previously never imagined possible.

The Stark VARG’s near-silent motor allows you to ride anywhere, anytime, letting you ride in places you’d previously never imagined possible.

Top 10 Best Dirt Bike Chain and Sprocket sets 2023

JT 520 Steel Sprocket And Chain Kit

JT Sprockets is one of the world’s leading manufacturer of aftermarket sprockets, constantly trying to raise the industry’s standards for quality and service. They supply some of the most durable and best quality sprocket available in the marketplace worldwide. They also claim to sell more sprockets than all the other aftermarket brands combined, but this is difficult to confirm.

The JT 520 Steel Sprocket And Chain Kit includes ONE JT Steel Front Sprocket, ONE JT Steel Rear Sprocket, and your choice of ONE Premium Drive Chain, each with the following features:

Front Sprocket:

Manufactured using the latest generation of computer design and control metal cutting equipment and only the finest grade of SCM420 chromoly steel alloy.

  • Made exclusively from the finest high carbon steel.
  • Outlasts any mild steel or surface hardened sprocket.
  • Heat treated and hand finished to meet or exceed the highest possible quality standards.

Rear Sprocket:

JT Steel Sprockets are manufactured using the finest grade of C49 high carbon steel.

  • Made exclusively from the finest high carbon steel.
  • Outlasts any mild steel or surface hardened sprocket.
  • Heat treated and hand finished to meet or exceed the highest possible quality standards.
  • Black version uses an induction-hardened black zinc finish.

Vortex 520 CAT5 Sprocket And Chain Kit

Founded in 1995 in Florida, Vortex Racing has become a brand of choice for professional race teams and supercross motocross champions worldwide. Nowadays, this company is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is owned and operated by motorcycle enthusiasts and racers and offers a wide spectrum of premium quality parts for street and dirt bikes. Created as a result of brilliant engineering and manufactured from the finest materials available, Vortex chains, sprockets, and other components are synonymous with high performance and durability.

The 520 CAT5 Sprocket And Chain Kit includes ONE Steel Countershaft (Front) Sprocket, ONE CAT5 Rear Sprocket, and your choice of ONE Premium 520 Drive Chain, each with the following features:

Vortex Front Steel Sprocket:

  • Made of the highest quality steel.
  • Case hardened.
  • Drilled lightening holes on most applications.

Vortex CAT5 Rear Sprocket:

Utilizes the same Vortex design with a color anodizing that excludes sweeps, mud grooves and teeth. The result is a bright flash of color in red, blue, gold or black (available colors vary by bike model) with bright silver highlights.

  • Cat 5 anodized.
  • 100% CNC machined.
  • Vortex patent pending design.
  • Saber tooth grooves.

British designed and in-house manufactured in the UK, Talon gearbox sprockets are made from heat-treated and zinc-coated case-hardened chromoly-steel. These are precision Motocross parts which boast craftsmanship and quality manufacturing processes including internal inspection to ensure a hard, flat surface finish which can maintain a higher level of performance for longer.

The rear sprocket is designed for maximum durability and is constructed from anodized aircraft-spec aluminium. Add your choice of premium Dirt Bike chains, and consider features like gold or steel finish, link weight and shot-peening which increases strength and durability.

  • 1 Aluminium Countershaft and 1 Aluminium Rear sprocket with a choice of premium drive Chain
  • Chain tensile strengths from 4,200 to 9,000 pounds
  • Master Link types: Clip, Rivet and Clip, Rivet, Press-fit Clip

Pro Taper Dirt Bike Chain and Sprocket kit

Pro Taper dirt bike sprockets are durable and lightweight and available to fit most Dirt Bike makes and models. The Front Sprocket is precision broached and machined with lightening holes to reduce weight and a special coating to deliver enhanced strength and wear resistance. It has mud grooves to help clear debris and prolong chain life, and has laser-etched teeth numbering for easy identification.

The Race Spec (RS) rear sprocket is constructed from heat-treated anodized aluminium and also has laser-etched teeth numbers. The Pro taper mud-groove design and construction boasts 44% more tooth area than standard designs so should outlast many competitors. Add your careful choice of premium Dirt Bike chains, remembering that non-sealed chains are normally recommended for off-road use and require more regular maintenance than sealed chains.

Best Dirt Bike Chain Lube

Remember when you’re cleaning your Dirt Bike chain, lubricant is vital after every ride or race but excessive lube can attract dirt and debris into the mechanism. Spray evenly across the chain and sprocket assembly and let the lube wick into the joints as the chain moves.

Renthal All Condition Dirt Bike Chain Lube

This all condition Dirt Bike chain lube is compatible with all O-ring and non O-ring chains, and is specially designed for maximum penetration across the chain. The stable viscosity and high film strength gives great adhesion through a range of temperatures and the nozzle design ensures it is easy to apply. This great Renthal Dirt Bike chain lube helps achieve maximum power transfer and increases chain, chain-ring and sprocket life.

No Toil Biodegradable Dirt Bike Chain Lube With Wax

The powerful No Toil Dirt Bike chain lube has a triple action that lubricates, protects and cleans your Dirt Bike chain, and is suitable for all O-ring and non O-ring chains. It is biodegradable and non-toxic, unlike petroleum-based Dirt Bike chain lubes that can be harmful to your body’s organs and immune-system.

  • One size, 12 oz bottle
  • Overspray without harming the environment
  • Engineered to adhere to your chain in the harshest conditions

Basics of Motocross/Dirt Bike Chains and Sprockets

Types of Dirt Bike Chains

The two basic types are unsealed chains and O-ring chains (or other variants like z-ring chains). O-ring chains have individual buffered 0-rings on each roller to seal and protect the contact with the chain links. Unsealed chains don’t have these 0-rings so rely on third party lubrication to keep the movement supple and smooth. Most Dirt Bikes can run with either kind, although there are width differences so be certain yours is compatible before you purchase. O-ring chains are generally perceived to drag on the power transfer due to the additional friction involved, however they can add a significant level of protection to your chain to prolong its life and require less maintenance.

Every recommendation in our top ten Best Dirt Bike Chain and Sprocket sets links to a page with an easy drop-down make and model guide so you can check the compatibility of your bike and have total peace of mind before you buy.

Understanding Dirt Bike Chain Sizes

The size of your chain is represented by a 3 digit number, usually starting with either a 4, 5 or 6. This first digit is the most important as it indicates the “pitch” or the distance from one pin to the next. A 4 means 4/8 of an inch, a 5 means 5/8 and a 6 means 6/8 of an inch. This system accounts for the vast majority of chains you will come across although please be aware some companies have converted their sizing to decimals. The remaining two digits of the chain size can relate to various things like width, roller diameter and model number.

What’s the difference between 520 and 525 ss chains?

When it comes to motorbike sprockets and chains, size matters! The numbers 520 and 525 actually refer to the pitch or spacing of the chain links. Think of it like the “linkiness” of the chain. A 520 chain has smaller links with a pitch of 5/8 inch (15.875 mm), while a 525 chain has slightly larger links with the same pitch. It’s like comparing mini marshmallows to regular marshmallows – they’re both delicious, but one is a tad bigger!

Now, here’s where things get interesting. The strength of the chain is where the real difference comes into play. Due to its larger size, a 525 chain is generally stronger than a 520 chain. It’s like comparing Hulk to Spider-Man – both are superheroes, but Hulk has more muscle power! The increased size of the links in a 525 chain allows it to handle higher levels of torque and power, making it ideal for larger and more powerful motorcycles that demand extra oomph.


So, what’s the advantage of a 525 chain? Well, with its increased strength, it’s built to handle more power and torque, making it suitable for high-performance motorcycles. It’s like having a heavyweight Champion in your corner, providing peace of mind when you’re revving up the engine and pushing your bike to its limits.

On the other hand, the advantage of a 520 chain lies in its lighter weight and smaller size, which can contribute to improved acceleration and performance for smaller motorcycles. It’s like having a nimble ninja that can swiftly maneuver through tight spaces.


However, there’s a trade-off. The smaller size and lighter weight of a 520 chain may not be suitable for larger motorcycles with high horsepower, as it may not provide the same level of durability and strength. It’s like trying to lift heavy weights with chopsticks – it might not hold up under extreme pressure!


In conclusion, the main differences between 520 and 525 motorbike sprockets and chains are the size and strength. A 525 chain is larger and stronger, making it ideal for larger and more powerful motorcycles. On the other hand, a 520 chain is smaller and lighter, potentially offering improved acceleration and performance for smaller motorcycles. It’s important to consider your motorcycle’s specifications, power requirements, and usage to determine which type of chain is the best fit for your ride.

Replacing or Removing Dirt Bike Chains

Removing or replacing your Dirt Bike chain shouldn’t be a difficult process, you will probably need a pair of regular or needle-nose pliers to remove the clip on the master link, and possibly a flat-blade screwdriver to lever it off its housing. Different kinds of master link fastenings are used throughout the industry, some are riveted, some clipped and some press or slip-fitted. The type of master link used is not relevant to your bike, only to the chain itself so make sure you are familiar with whatever connection you have with your current chain and the style of your new one. Specialist tools are widely available to help with this process.

Remember to keep your dirt bike chain clean!

One of the most important things to remember is to keep your Dirt Bike chain clean! A properly cleaned chain will have a much longer lifespan and can make a noticeable difference to your bike’s controllability. When cleaning your Dirt Bike chain avoid compressed air or water pressure-washers as these can force dirt into the contact points, increase wear and even damage the rings. Use old-fashioned soap and water with an added degreasing agent, and dry it off manually with a clean rag. After cleaning you must always apply Dirt Bike chain lube, and we have added a couple of recommendations to the end of our top ten list to help you out.

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