Maintenance-free chains usually refer to chains that are designed in a way that reduces wear in applications where the chain cannot be lubricated due to the nature of the environment or in which regular maintenance is not possible for some other reason. There are two common solutions to designing a maintenance-free chain. The first is to make the pin and bushing out of materials that reduce unlubricated wear. The second is to seal the joint in order to keep the factory lubricant from escaping.
Chains that extend service life by changing the pin and bushing materials are often labelled Marathon or Endurance chains, depending on the manufacturer. Chain World stocks a selection of chains in this category, including KÖBO’s Endurance series.
Chains with sealed joints are often labelled X-ring or O-ring chains. In this category, Chain World stocks a number of products by manufacturers such as D.I.D.
Despite the name, maintenance-free chains are not always maintenance free, and could more accurately be called “low-maintenance”. Like normal chains, maintenance-free chains will have longer service lives with proper maintenance and lubrication.
Nonetheless, maintenance-free chains are an excellent solution in many places. Many applications do not allow for the chain to be lubricated, and maintenance-free chains will have a significantly longer service life and fewer issues than normal chains under these conditions. They also improve service life and reliability in many normal applications!