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I have a KMC x10e chain which is 162 links long on my Xtracycle electric cargo bike. The chain is worn and I am trying to replace it. From what I can tell it is available only in 136 links. Is the way to get to 162 to buy two and combine them? Or is it possible to buy a custom chain at exactly the length needed or buy a long one and reduce it to 162?

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    1: Buy a longer chain. 2: Buy two chains and splice them together. 3: Obtain the chain from someone who buys chain by the spool & cuts to length. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 18 '18 at 17:17
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    That is quite long for a "normal" bike. Are you counting an inner and an outer pair as one link? or as two links ? – Criggie Sep 18 '18 at 19:46
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    I have an Xtracycle Cargo bike.. thus the length. Will update the description. – Marcus Leon Sep 18 '18 at 20:45
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    Note that it's normal for a replacement chain to be about 10 links longer than needed (since the exact length varies from bike to bike), so one almost always has to shorten ("break") the chain before installing. You will need a chain tool ("breaker") for this, even if the chain comes with some sort of "quick link" for joining. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 18 '18 at 20:54
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    And to determine the proper length for the new chain, count the links of the existing one and use the same number of links (yes, I know this is tedious). If you measure the length with a ruler you will be thrown off by the "stretch" of the used chain. (Experienced bike mechanics can determine the proper length by fitting the chain on the bike, but it takes some time to learn that skill.) – Daniel R Hicks Sep 18 '18 at 20:59
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Your local bike shop might (see comments on the might) buy chain in bulk and can cut it off at precisely the length you need. Get a quick link at the same time so you can easily put the chain on or remove it.

They may have limited selection, though, especially as you’re looking at a speciality chain- a 10 speed chain designed for ebike torques. So they may not have this as a bulk item. Bike shops that specialize in cargo bikes and recumbents are your best bet.

Otherwise, you’ll have to break and conjoin two shorter chains. Be sure to get the same brand and model chain as slight differences in chain width or profile can cause shifting issues. You’ll need a 10-speed compatible chain tool to break one of the chains to length. There’s generally no problem using the quick links to put the chains back together again as long as they’re the links provided in the box.

But back to the speciality chain issue. Many of us think there’s a great deal of “marketing” and much less “engineering” around ebike parts. Given that a top sprinter can easily put out 1500 watts, a high quality 10-speed chain should be able to handle many mid-drive motors which are 750-1000 Watts. My main caution would be to make sure your motor controller has a shift sensor so it de-torques during derailleur shifts as shifting under max epower can snap even the strongest chain.

  • Marketing, sure, but also certification. Not for chains as far as I know, but at least helmets and tires must be tested to more rigorous standards than normal (in Switzerland, maybe EU). – Nobody Sep 18 '18 at 19:51
  • I don’t see any extra cert marks on KMC’s site for this chain. – RoboKaren Sep 18 '18 at 19:52
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    FWIW I've worked in bike shops and bike parts distributors for around 14 years and I've occasionally seen bulk chain rolls in catalogs but never seen a shop be in the practice of buying or using them. A lot of shops buy the SRAM bulk boxes of 25 pre-cut chains. I think the rolls are more a manufacturer thing. – Nathan Knutson Sep 18 '18 at 22:12
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    In theory they can buy a bulk roll, but most shops will use pre-cut chains; the convenience and speed outweigh the savings most likely (and the cost of mis-cutting the chain; you'd likely cut to a pre-cut length and then size down to prevent yourself from going insane). – Batman Sep 18 '18 at 22:34

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