nitro chain logo
Tough. Durable. Reliable.
$25 Minimum Order $50 Minimum Order
roller chain terms and definitions

Roller chain terminology is quite broad and can be confusing especially if you have limited to no experience with roller chains. Our roller chain terms and definitions guide covers many of the common lingo that is used throughout the chain industry. Along with the definitions, we've supplied example images to give you a visualization.

Jump To Term:



This is the acronym for the "American National Standards Institute". This is an organization that sets standards for roller chains and engineering chains. All Nitro Chains are produced to conform to the ANSI industry standards.


These are special designed links with tabs or extended pins that are built in a chain for special conveying applications.

Average Tensile Strength

The tensile strength rating is based on a test where a machine pulls on a sample roller chain until it breaks. This test is repeated multiple times to obtain the 'average' tensile strength.



This is the part in a roller chain that sits between the pin and roller. The bushing is the bearing point allowing the pin and roller to rotate. Many Nitro roller chains are made with solid bushings. Some sizes may be fastened with split.


Connecting Link

These are the main links used to connect two ends of chain together. Another term for this is "master link".

'Cottered' Roller Chain

The cottered is a type of roller chain uses cotter pins in the pins on one side of the chain. This makes cutting the chain down to size much easier. You'll usually find cottered roller chain available in the larger pitch chains.


Double Pitch

This is used to describe a roller chain has a 'Pitch' dimension that is double of a standard roller chain. All other dimensions are identical. An alternative term is "extended pitch".

Double Strand

This is a roller chain that is two rows wide. See term 'Single Strand' for comparison.


Extended Pitch

See term 'Double Pitch'

Engineering Chain

A special line of chain designed for high loads and harsh environments where roller chain would fail.


Fatigue Resistance

An increased resistance to fatigue, which can lead into stress fractures in the plates, pins, rollers and bushings.


Half Link

See term 'Offset Link'

'Heavy Duty' Roller Chain

A roller chain that is made with thicker link plates than standard chain. This increases the heavy duty chains strength a fatigue resistance.

'Hollow Pin' Roller Chain

A special roller chain that uses hollowed pins over solid pins. The hollow pin roller chain is primarily used for inserting attachments, rods and pins into the chain.


Length Tolerance

The overall length tolerance of a new roller chain under the ANSI measuring load requirement.

Link Plate

These are the inner and outer plates of a roller chain. The plates are what hold all the other chain components and takes the brunt of the loads.


Master Link

See term 'Connecting Link'

Measuring Load

For proper length measurement the chain must be under a load of 1% of the tensile strength or a minimum of 18 lbs (whichever is greater).

Minimum Tensile Strength

The minimum load that a new roller chain can break when subject to a tensile load test.


Describes a roller chain with 2 or more strands (rows) wide. See terms 'Double Strand' and 'Triple Strand' for examples.


Offset Link

The offset links are only used when a strand of chain requires and odd number of links. Another term for this is "half link".

'O-Ring' Roller Chain

A roller chain that is made with synthetic o-rings between the inner & outer plates. O-ring roller chains are used to hold lubricant in and keep abrasive materials out.



A common referenced dimension of a roller chain that is measured from pin to pin on center.


After a roller chain is assembled it goes through a pre-loading process. The chain is pre-loaded to a load rating defined by ANSI B29.1 standards. This removes initial stretch by seating the chain joints.


Nitro carbon steel roller chain is put into a hot oil bath to penetrate and lubricate all chain joints. This serves as the initial service and to prevent corrosion from storage.

Pressed Fit

This is the link plate fitment of a riveting link or a connecting link. Requires the link plate to be pressed onto the pins.


'Riveted' Roller Chain

The riveted roller chain is the most common construction of all chains. Riveted means that the pins in the chain are staked/peened over. Most chains have dual staked pins like our standard roller chains and some have quad staked pins like our super premium roller chain.

Riveting Link

This is the outer link of an assembled roller chain. This link contains the pins and outer link plaves. Another term for this is "Pin Link"


The roller is a part that comes into contact with the sprocket teeth. Nitro roller chains are manufactured with solid constructed one piece rollers.

Roller Link

This is the inner link of an assembled roller chain. The roller link consists of the inner plates, rollers and bushings.


'Self Lube' Roller Chain

A roller chain that is built with a special oil impregnated bushing. The bushing provides constant lubrication to the bearing areas of the chain. No extra lubricant is required.

Shot Peened

Shot peening is a process where small steel balls are shot into some chain components. This compresses the materials surface, which improves the fatigue resistance and stress fractures from corrosion. Nitro carbon steel chain uses this process product enhancement.

Single Strand

This is a roller chain that is a single row width chain. See term 'Double Strand' for comparison.

Slip Fit

This describes the fitment of the removable plate on a connecting link. Most connecting links use a slip-fit plate.

Solid Roller

See term 'Roller'

'Super Premium' Roller Chain

It's a special manufactured roller chain with unique features. The super premium roller chain has superior fatigue resistance and best suited for high load drives.


Triple Strand

This is a roller chain that is three rows wide. Another term for this is "triplex".


Max Working Load

This is the maximum linear pull (chain pull) a roller chain should ever be subject to when operating in normal conditions. Many factors will affect a chains max working load limit such as safety, thermal, service and speed factors.