Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Bicycle Mechanics
Reload this Page >

Which is better for a fixie: 1/8" or 3/32" chain?

Notices
Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

Which is better for a fixie: 1/8" or 3/32" chain?

Old 10-13-07, 08:30 PM
  #1  
Sincitycycler
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Sincitycycler's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: "Gosh honey, you pass more like Tony Rominger..."
Posts: 3,218

Bikes: 2005 Scott CR1 Pro - 1992 Panasonix Fixed Conversion 60tx20t

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Which is better for a fixie: 1/8" or 3/32" chain?

Advantages of each?

What do track riders use?
__________________
"How did all those 'Keep Off the Grass' signs get there?"
Sincitycycler is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 09:36 PM
  #2  
dizzy101
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 369
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
3/32 is better

Read this entry on the Surlyblog
dizzy101 is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 09:42 PM
  #3  
sivat
Geek Extraordinaire
 
sivat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 1,769

Bikes: Bianchi Advantage Fixed Conversion; Specialized Stumpjumper FS Hardtail

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Track riders use 1/8". 3/32" is usually quieter and more efficient. My advise is to make the decision based on what cranks you are using. If your cranks have a 130bcd or smaller, it will be a lot easier to find good, inexpensive chainrings in 3/32". If your cranks are 144bcd, 1/8" chainrings are easier to find.
__________________
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track
sivat is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 09:53 PM
  #4  
Tapeworm21
Senior Member
 
Tapeworm21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Berkeley
Posts: 2,265

Bikes: 2010 Tarmac SL, 2013 Fairdale Weekender, 2013 Fairdale Coaster, 1995 Specialized M2 Pro, 1972 Schwinn Heavy Duty, 2014 Surley Long Haul Trucker

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
The advantage for a 1/8 chain on my drivetrain is simple. It actually fits on my chainring. They're cheap (SRAM single-speed chains) and easily replaceable. I pretty much destroyed one within 5 months, but for $15 I got a new one. Woopdy doo.

Or, go to Surlyblog. And since Surly doesn't even make a chainring suitable for a 1/8 chain, they MIGHT be a little bit bias.
Tapeworm21 is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 09:58 PM
  #5  
roadfix
hello
 
roadfix's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 18,622
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 171 Post(s)
Liked 50 Times in 22 Posts
I use 1/8" chains because they're cheap and you can run anything with it, as my fixies are built up with combinations of 1/8 & 3/32 rings and cogs.

Last edited by roadfix; 10-14-07 at 02:15 PM.
roadfix is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 10:08 PM
  #6  
skinny
Senior Member
 
skinny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 821
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If you are using 1/8" chainrings or cogs, use 1/8" chains. If you are using 3/32" chainrings and cogs, use either 1/8" or 3/32" chains. Using a 1/8" chain on 3/32" chainring and cog will be a little noisier, but not much.

Track riders generally use 1/8" cogs, chainrings, and chains.
skinny is offline  
Old 10-13-07, 11:27 PM
  #7  
fiver
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Eugene OR
Posts: 130

Bikes: VooDoo Limba, 2000 GF Kai Tai, old lugged fixies

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
3/32 is what I would use unless I happened to have a 1/8 cog. I've heard arguments that 1/8" is stronger, but we all use 3/32" on our mountain bikes and climbing hills puts a hell of a lot more torque on your drive train than skidding a track wheel does. So I would choose 3/32 (aside from the cog issue) because your chain will be lighter and you will have a much wider selection in terms of quality (less selection in terms of colour though
fiver is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 07:37 AM
  #8  
vpiuva
*
 
vpiuva's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,458
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
I can't put my fingers on it, but IIRC Sheldon Brown recommends 3/32" rings, cogs, and chain for us non-track fixie/SS riders
vpiuva is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 11:27 AM
  #9  
sivat
Geek Extraordinaire
 
sivat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 1,769

Bikes: Bianchi Advantage Fixed Conversion; Specialized Stumpjumper FS Hardtail

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sheldon likes 3/32" because there is a lot more development put into 3/32" chains, so you can get a really good quality, 3/32" chain for pretty cheap. Since a lot of 1/8" chains are sold for the low end cruiser market, you have to go for an expensive, high end chain to get the same quality in 1/8".
__________________
I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track
sivat is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 12:35 PM
  #10  
Fredmertz51
Senior Member
 
Fredmertz51's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Iowa
Posts: 335

Bikes: Actual 10-speed Olmo road, Bianchi BUSS, Kona A-Ha, Schwinn Moab 2 rain bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Tapeworm21 View Post
The advantage for a 1/8 chain on my drivetrain is simple. It actually fits on my chainring. They're cheap (SRAM single-speed chains) and easily replaceable. I pretty much destroyed one within 5 months, but for $15 I got a new one. Woopdy doo.

Or, go to Surlyblog. And since Surly doesn't even make a chainring suitable for a 1/8 chain, they MIGHT be a little bit bias.
I've been running a SRAM 1/8 chain on a Surly Stainless chain ring all summer. No problems. What am I doing wrong?
Fredmertz51 is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 01:09 PM
  #11  
Tapeworm21
Senior Member
 
Tapeworm21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Berkeley
Posts: 2,265

Bikes: 2010 Tarmac SL, 2013 Fairdale Weekender, 2013 Fairdale Coaster, 1995 Specialized M2 Pro, 1972 Schwinn Heavy Duty, 2014 Surley Long Haul Trucker

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by Fredmertz51 View Post
I've been running a SRAM 1/8 chain on a Surly Stainless chain ring all summer. No problems. What am I doing wrong?
Losing your warranty.
Tapeworm21 is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 02:50 PM
  #12  
wroomwroomoops
Sir Fallalot
 
wroomwroomoops's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,286
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by sivat View Post
Sheldon likes 3/32" because there is a lot more development put into 3/32" chains, so you can get a really good quality, 3/32" chain for pretty cheap. Since a lot of 1/8" chains are sold for the low end cruiser market, you have to go for an expensive, high end chain to get the same quality in 1/8".
I have the opposite impression: I can have OK 1/8" chains for really, really cheap.

To the OP: my experience shows that 1/8" chainrings outlive their 3/32" counterparts by AT LEAST 3 TIMES! Hence, you save a boatload of moneyz if you go 1/8". Chainrings cost a lot.

Reason: it's not so much the difference in tooth width (1/8" vs. 3/32") as much as the fact that 3/32" chainrings have their teeth extremely thinned down at the tip. 1/8" have them nice and burly all the way to the top. This makes a huge difference. I mean, HEWGE! My estimate of 1:3 is very much on the conservative side - I am still using that 1/8" chainring with which my whole love affair with 1/8" drivetrains started. Let's see how long it lasts.
wroomwroomoops is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 09:35 PM
  #13  
grolby
Senior Member
 
grolby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: BOSTON BABY
Posts: 9,723
Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 260 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 41 Posts
Originally Posted by Tapeworm21 View Post
The advantage for a 1/8 chain on my drivetrain is simple. It actually fits on my chainring. They're cheap (SRAM single-speed chains) and easily replaceable. I pretty much destroyed one within 5 months, but for $15 I got a new one. Woopdy doo.

Or, go to Surlyblog. And since Surly doesn't even make a chainring suitable for a 1/8 chain, they MIGHT be a little bit bias.
They might be biased, but they're certainly right. 3/32" chain = stronger, lighter, better for less money. Narrow chain is simply a better choice for 99% of the riders out there.
grolby is offline  
Old 10-14-07, 10:15 PM
  #14  
Thor29
Senior Member
 
Thor29's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 757
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If you actually read what the Surly guys say about chain size, you'll find that the reason they recommend 3/32 over 1/8 on their chainrings is due to tolerance stack up issues. You might still get a 1/2 to work on their rings. Regardless, I run 3/32 8 speed SRAM chains on my single speed mountain bike and on my fixed gear bike. Never had any problems.
Thor29 is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 01:40 AM
  #15  
wroomwroomoops
Sir Fallalot
 
wroomwroomoops's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,286
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by grolby View Post
They might be biased, but they're certainly right. 3/32" chain = stronger, lighter, better for less money. Narrow chain is simply a better choice for 99% of the riders out there.
I'd like to challenge every single word in that sentence, but since I'm in a hurry, I'll just say: stronger? HAHAHA!
wroomwroomoops is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 07:42 AM
  #16  
wroomwroomoops
Sir Fallalot
 
wroomwroomoops's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,286
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
Anyhow - why do you think track cyclists use 1/8" chains? Because they're stronger. Much stronger than 3/32". And having a 1/8" drivetrain will save you lots of money in the medium/long run, because chainring and cog will last much longer than 3/32" chainrings and cogs. Do I have to post pictures of two aluminum chainrings which I put the same amount of miles onto, one 3/32" the other 1/8"? You'll see on them that the 1/8" shows no signs of deformation (just the anodizing is a bit worn), while the 3/32" has its teeth deformed.

As I said, the problem is not as much the 3/32" to 1/8" difference in width, as much as the 3/32" teeth have those tiny-ass tips. They are designed to not last.
wroomwroomoops is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 07:54 AM
  #17  
Sammyboy
The Legitimiser
 
Sammyboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Southampton, UK
Posts: 4,849

Bikes: Gazelle Trim Trophy, EG Bates Track Bike, HR Bates Cantiflex bike, Nigel Dean fixed gear conversion, Raleigh Royal, Falcon Westminster.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
I think the point is, a high quality 1/8th track chain might be stronger than an equivalent 3/32nd chain, but a cheap, low end 1/8th chain is NOT likely to be as good as an inexpensive 3/32 chain. If you buy a chain at your LBS, the 3/32 is likely to be reasonably good, but the 1/8th, if you're not at a track specific shop, is probably cheapie intended to be adequate on a kids bike.
Sammyboy is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 08:12 AM
  #18  
wroomwroomoops
Sir Fallalot
 
wroomwroomoops's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,286
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by Sammyboy View Post
I think the point is, a high quality 1/8th track chain might be stronger than an equivalent 3/32nd chain, but a cheap, low end 1/8th chain is NOT likely to be as good as an inexpensive 3/32 chain. If you buy a chain at your LBS, the 3/32 is likely to be reasonably good, but the 1/8th, if you're not at a track specific shop, is probably cheapie intended to be adequate on a kids bike.
I disagree - a cheap 3/32" chain is crap just as a cheap 1/8" chain. I should know, I bought a ton of both lately, from China (but at a price so low that in the end it makes sense). The crappy 1/8" chains still outlive (by a little) the crappy 3/32" ones. Which, by the way, cost me exactly the same amount of money.

I think we'll have to live with our disagreement on this issue. Because I know I'm right
wroomwroomoops is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 08:30 AM
  #19  
CdCf
Videre non videri
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 3,208

Bikes: 1 road bike (simple, light), 1 TT bike (could be more aero, could be lighter), 1 all-weather commuter and winter bike, 1 Monark 828E ergometer indoor bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
The strength of a chain is in the roller part and in the side plates. Not the width of the gap. I don't have a 1/8" anywhere, so I can't check, but does it actually have thicker plates? Even if they are thicker, the choice of metal quality and treatment probably outweighs a slight difference in plate thickness.
CdCf is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 09:58 AM
  #20  
wroomwroomoops
Sir Fallalot
 
wroomwroomoops's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,286
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 12 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
The strength of a chain is in the roller part and in the side plates. Not the width of the gap.
Of course!

Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
I don't have a 1/8" anywhere, so I can't check, but does it actually have thicker plates? Even if they are thicker, the choice of metal quality and treatment probably outweighs a slight difference in plate thickness.
Yes, they are thicker. Yes, the choice of metal quality and treatment outweiths a slight difference in plate thickness, but at parity of metal quality and treatment, the plate thickness determines the strength of the chain. And the difference is usually not slight anyway.
wroomwroomoops is offline  
Old 10-15-07, 02:16 PM
  #21  
Sammyboy
The Legitimiser
 
Sammyboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Southampton, UK
Posts: 4,849

Bikes: Gazelle Trim Trophy, EG Bates Track Bike, HR Bates Cantiflex bike, Nigel Dean fixed gear conversion, Raleigh Royal, Falcon Westminster.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
I'm not sure we really have a disagreement. Why not go into your LBS, and by ask for one 1/8th chain, and one 3/32 chain, and see which is better. I quite agree that if you deliberately buy the crappiest you can, both will be appalling.
Sammyboy is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.