Pretty much every bike chain I have ever used is made up of four parts: outer plates, inner plates, pins that connect everything together, and rollers that actually contact the chainring & rear cogs. Well, Taya’s latest 11 speed EVO-Light bike chain just cut one of those components out of the equation, promising lighter weight and improved shifting precision.

Taya Onze EVO-Light 11-speed roller-less bike chain

Taya Onze 11-speed EVO-light roller-less bike chainThe bike chain hasn’t effectively changed much in recent memory, besides reshaping the outer plates and maybe hollowing out plates & pins to shed a few grams. Now, after 50 years of producing bike chains, the fact that Taya’s new Onze EVO-Light chain completely eliminates one of four basic components is pretty impressive.

Our first question was, why try to eliminate the chain roller in the first place? Taya’s idea to eliminate the separate roller was at once to simplify chain construction, making it run more quietly, but also to remove one of the key wear items from a chain. Eliminating any element meant they could shed weight and have one less part to assemble at each link. Plus, as an extra separately moving part, when rollers wear they have a negative effect on shifting performance, and contribute to further drivetrain wear.

Eliminating the separate roller is also said to help keep contaminants out of the rolling portion of the chain, which should lead to even longer chain life. And Taya says that the channel pressed into the outer side of the inner chain plate while forming the integrated roller will also better hold chain lubricant, while not attracting dirt & grime as much. If those claims hold true out in the real world, color us impressed.

Taya Onze 11-speed EVO-light roller-less bike chainSo then, how do you eliminate the roller? The roller is the actual contact point between the chain and the drivetrain components on your bike, so Taya had to find a new design to transfer power from the chainring to the cogs in the cassette. To do that, they developed a new inner plate forging process that presses half of the new roller profile into each end of their inner chain plate.

Technically, then, the chain roller isn’t totally gone, it just becomes split in half and integrated into the new inner plates. Then when Taya pins the chain together with a conventional riveted pin, you end up with a chain that doesn’t look much different from a conventional chains, except for a seam through the middle of the new roller design.

Taya Onze 11-speed EVO-light roller-less bike chainTaya claims that eliminating the separate roller can save up to 10% on the overall weight of a chain, without any other technology upgrades. Looking at a five and a half link segment of the new Onze EVO-Light 11 chain vs. a standard Onze 11 chain shows a real savings of just 2% in this example. Not a giant savings, but we’ll take any real weight savings, especially when it’s potentially improving durability and shift performance.

Taya Onze 11-speed EVO-light roller-less bike chain

Taya says they’ve started producing the new Onze EVO-Light chain in a 11-speed version as that is the most common drivetrain configuration at the moment. The new chain will first be available in an all-silver version with other colors & surface treatments to follow (likely followed by a 12-speed model). The chain uses a standard 11-speed quick-link, and while Taya includes a Sigma+ one with the chain, any quick-link will work.

TayaChain.com

28 COMMENTS

  1. Aren’t rollers much harder than the side plates? It seems like you’re giving up a lot. Different parts of the chain experience different stresses, so using a more ductile material as a wear surface seems like a bad idea.

    • But with regular bike chains, the rollers are riding on similar raised parts of the side plates. This is over a smaller diameter, so it seems you’d have greater wear of the side plate dimples on a conventional chain.

    • Rollers (and bushings, which is the part that the small raised bits originally replaced) don’t wear as much as you might thing. The pin to side-plate/bushing interface is where most of the lengthening wear occurs.

  2. I think this will have major durability issues. The rollers, pins and inner plates all experience pretty significant wear. Because the roller can rotate, the wear on the inner and outer surfaces can be spread over the entire circumference. This will concentrate all the wear to one side of the inner links.

      • Jo,

        It only rotates as much as the links bend around the circumference of the the chainrings, cogs and pulleys. The pulleys don’t matter because they don’t take a load, but the cogs and chainrings do. Like jasonmiles31 ascertained, the wear will be concentrated only on the fixed points of contact with this “roller” design whereas with traditional rollers, they actually roll and will distribute the wear evenly.

  3. This seems like a part that may make its way on to bikes at OEM level to lower the cost of an 11-spd bike for a manufacturer. However non-uniform contact on the cassette & chainring teeth doesn’t excite me, nor does the fact that the link will still wear just like a roller as it’s still a pin compressing against the internal diameter of the link. I think Taya are grabbing at straws with any claimed performance or durability benefit. There’s one benefit here and that is for a bean counter speccing a bike at the lowest possible dollar value.

  4. No mention of rolling resistance. The whole point of rollers is that they roll relative to the chain plates as they join or leave a sprocket. These are just going to scrape along the teeth of your chainrings and cogs.

    • That’s what I was thinking too. Now every time you replace your chain get ready to replace the cassette and chain rings too.

    • Chainring wear will definitely suffer. The roller is the softest part of the chain, and the biggest wear item (Shafty is wrong). Without rollers aluminum chainrings will wear faster, as well as cogs. Not a good trade off.

      • Wear on an exposed bicycle chain is primarily caused by abrasive particles dispersed within the lubricant and adhering to the drivetrain. The difference in material hardness plays a role, but the hardest component in the system, sand/dirt/dust, you can’t eliminate. That’s why most gears and most chains have “hard” coatings. It’s an attempt to approach the hardness of the contaminant. Think about how quickly parts can wear in excessively muddy or sandy conditions, and the effect is obvious. That’s why we make grinding wheels from aluminum oxide and silicon carbide and not medium hardness steel.

        Rollers are hard and brittle. Try to crush one and you’ll see it breaks into pieces before deforming at all. Extremely cheap chains sometimes feature non hardened rollers, but that’s rare on bicycles, and certainly performance bikes. Typically rollers are case hardened.

        The plates, while hard, are the softest part of a chain. That usually doesn’t matter as much, since the wear surfaces are covered and not exposed to contaminants as readily.

        This design by Taya has been tried in various configurations before, and they were ALL FAILURES! The roller is a huge help to prolonging a chains life in an open system like this. Removing them is taking a full step backwards in chain design.

  5. Chain lube retention seems like it would be negatively impacted by this design as instead of the lube being held between the roller and the pin it’s now held in the “slit” between the side-plate bulges. In the roller case that lube won’t in the normal case contact the cassette or cogs (unless/until its squeezed out or washed away). In this new design the cog and cassette teeth are constantly touching that slit and potentially drawing out the lube (and fouling it). This seems like a recipe for increased lube consumption, more noise, and accelerated wear. But at least it’s probably more expensive.

  6. As has been alluded to, standard chains are basically a steel-on-steel pivot, with a fairly close fit, allowing a lot of surface contact to distribute load. Removing the roller now places the sliding motion in the roller to the cog and chainring tooth. Besides the fact that you don’t get the benefit of trapped lubricant, I imagine aluminum chainring teeth will suffer the most.
    As for what’s harder, the roller or the plate, part of it is brand dependent.

  7. It’s seems like this chain got special design
    I had tried this chain on the Taipei cycle show
    It got really great shifting performance
    There still got the roller but it’s different than the normal one

  8. Everybody is arm chair quarterbacking here. If it turns out to be longer chain life, I am all for it. And everyone seems to assume these cost less, but perhaps they cost more. It hasn’t been done because nobody came up with the process to make a link like that.

    • Sorry, rational thought isn’t allowed here.

      I agree. Any innovation is worth considering until proven not to be better than what currently exists. It seems anytime there is something to challenge the status quo people are quick to denounce it (discs, wavecel…) without anything other than an opinion to back their claim.

      • well, since you mention it, most of the posters here are employing rational thought. Mechanically, this design does not solve any problems, and introduces a sliding component where there was once a rotating component. Not likely to work out well for protecting chain rings and clusters, but hey, if you want to save a buck or two on a chain, but buy new rings and cassettes, more power to ya’.

    • This HAS been done before. It’s not a question of execution, this design is simply not suitable for the application of bicycles with an exposed chain. Without a roller to ROLL, the extended side plates SLIDE onto the teeth, causing rapid wear. On a bike it’s even worse, since your lube is filled with abrasive particles from riding outside.

  9. It’s amazing how many chain experts there are on this forum who know more than a company that’s been manufacturing them for 50 years. Very impressive.

    • So from my point of view (degree in mech engineering) this a win only for the manufacturer as they have figured out how to make a cheaper chain.

  10. Technically this isn’t all that new Taya introduced this technology at the end of 2014. There are some of these chains out there in 10sp. I’ve yet to come across a review of one that’s been in service though, so the jury is still out none the less.

  11. I’ve requested one such a chain from them for a test, and surprisingly they agreed to send me one, despite me not being a dealer.
    While all that was said above is technically true (about extra wear on chain from it sliding, not rolling), I think that when combined with immersive waxing chain treatment (think MoltenSpeedWax, but I make my own, more plastic, more like Smoove in non-emulsified state) it will result in a chain that would be completely and utterly impervious to contamination – and it is contamination that is main culprit of chain wear by a HUGE margin.
    I already have a Taya chain (Deca UL with DHT treatment) and when combined with wax treatment it already show pretty much zero wear after bed-in period for 5000 of kilometres, but I do not do extreme mud riding and in such conditions even wax will eventually be scraped off and mixed with contaminants.
    But without a roller and hence very narrow and long ‘path’ to friction pairs, I theorise that wax will form an ‘o-ring’ of sorts, and since insides of the stamped roller do not rotate – it would form an watertight seal against all elements.

    I agree that once chain becomes even slightly worn, a rollerless chain will perform much worse than a roller chain… yet, it will perform identically when the chain and chainrings are new and perfectly mesh with each other. And this chain (theoretically) will remain ‘like new’ for a LONG time even in extreme condition and with very infrequent (think – thousands of kilomteres) between ‘rewaxings’.

    It might sound too good to be true, and it might actually BE too good to be true, but I intend to find out :).

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