YBN’s imaginatively named MK918 is every bit as indestructible as its rugged good looks suggest and solves the problem of chain tension on frames with vertical ends pressed into service as road fixers/single-speeds. However, designed for BMX/Trials and tipping the scales at a portly 340g it’ll give weight weenies heart failure and limits sprocket and chain-ring combinations unless you’ve ultra short chain-stays.
Hardened, heat treaded steel construction and the choice between standard 1/8 and narrower 3/32 (denoted by N) widths, the half links enables the creation of a magic gear-perfect chain tension without unsightly Heath-Robinson tensioning devices intruding on a single speeder’s clean lines. High quality chrome plating and square riveted links translate into a breaking strength of approximately 1.3 tonnes-ample for all but the most Herculean of sprinters.
Road and trail duties through changeable weathers with only the lick and a promise factory lube hasn’t resulted in anything but the faintest tarnish-so with a bit of common sense and light drizzling of lube you’ll churn past the salt-monster unscathed.
Fitting is very straightforward thanks to the Shimano- type joining pin, although it takes sturdy needle-nose pliers to trip the excess. Aboard my 50’ Road Path bike it looks identical to Sweet Shadow Conspiracy’s Interlock but this comes as little surprise given YBN make chains under licence for other big names. Turning the cranks rewards with a phenomenally rigid and serenely quiet drivetrain. Weight forgotten, sprinting away from the lights rewards with explosive power and trickling through town saw speed easily controlled by holding off against the cranks.
Those needing an ultra smooth, ultra dependable chain for single speed cross or track duties should look no further but giving a penny change from thirty-quid, it’s wasted on hacks with horizontal ends and cheap sprockets.
Bomb-proof chain for aggressive fixed and single-speed use.
road.cc test report
Make and model: YBN MK918N half link chain
Size tested: 102L
Primarily a BMX/trials chain it makes the crossover (at least in principle) to fixed and singles-speed use where it's not only super-strong but gets around the problem of chain tension on conversions with vertical frame ends.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
340g heat treated, chromium plated 102 links equates to a hefty and ultra dependable chain.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
So long as you're running a moderate gear, or prepared to compromise in accordance with chain-length, you couldn't ask for a better design when weight isn't a consideration. Increased rigidity improves acceleration/sprinting and makes for improverd transmission braking on a fixed too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Rugged good looks and standards of construction.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Weight and length.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were converting a good frame with vertical dropouts to fixed or singlespeed use
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)