About Roller Chain

What are the differences between #4x and #35 chain?

From Wikipedia:
“Roller chain is made in several sizes, the most common American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards being 40, 50, 60, and 80. The first digit(s) indicate the pitch of the chain in eighths of an inch, with the last digit being 0 for standard chain, 1 for lightweight chain, and 5 for bushed chain with **NO** rollers.”

The ** marks and the capitalized **NO** above and below, are added by me for emphasis.

The construction of bushed #4x chain **HAS** rollers (see illustration)
The construction of bushed #35 chain is a bushed chain with **NO** rollers (from just above – “and 5 for bushed chain with **NO** rollers.”)


What are rollers and are they important?

Again, from Wikipedia:
“There are actually two types of links alternating in the bush roller chain. The first type is inner links, having two inner plates held together by two sleeves or bushings upon which rotate two rollers. Inner links alternate with the second type, the outer links, consisting of two outer plates held together by pins passing through the bushings of the inner links. The “bushingless” roller chain is similar in operation though not in construction; instead of separate bushings or sleeves holding the inner plates together, the plate has a tube stamped into it protruding from the hole which serves the same purpose. This has the advantage of removing one step in assembly of the chain.”

“The roller chain design reduces friction compared to simpler designs, resulting in higher efficiency and less wear. The original power transmission chain varieties lacked rollers and bushings, with both the inner and outer plates held by pins which directly contacted the sprocket teeth; however this configuration exhibited extremely rapid wear of both the sprocket teeth, and the plates where they pivoted on the pins. This problem was partially solved by the development of bushed chains, with the pins holding the outer plates passing through bushings or sleeves connecting the inner plates. This distributed the wear over a greater area; however the teeth of the sprockets still wore more rapidly than is desirable, from the sliding friction against the bushings.”

**”The addition of rollers surrounding the bushing sleeves of the chain and provided rolling contact with the teeth of the sprockets resulting in excellent resistance to wear of both sprockets and chain as well.”**

“There is even very low friction, as long as the chain is sufficiently lubricated. Continuous, clean, lubrication of roller chains is of primary importance for efficient operation as well as correct tensioning.”


My take is that #35 chain may not perform as well as #40 (#41, #42, etc) because there is more friction (may not last as long) because there are NO rollers as stated by Wikipedia. #35 chain may perform better for lower tooth count sprockets because the chain “pitch” is smaller, being ⅜” instead of ½”.

I know motorbikes and goKarts have been using #35 chain forever and swear by this chain.
I keep thinking that #4x chain, because of the inclusion of rollers, is the better product.