Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

KMC X10 SL Ti Review

Last month I posted a review for the KMC X9SL Ti chain, and now after getting some time on the 10 speed version I have to say I'm just as excited about the X10SL Ti.

I won't completely restate the X9 review, but in a nutshell I bought that chain because it looked cool, not because I thought it would necessarily perform well. The performance far exceeded my expectations and the durability was far and away better than any other chain I'd ever used.

With that very positive experience I opted for an X10SL Ti on my road bike. So far I've got 500 miles on the road chain and the shifting performance is palpably smoother than its predecessor, a Sram PC1091. The KMC has been quieter, smoother and more predictable in every situation all while showing just slightest signs of wear. The gold titanium nitride finish is still intact if not slightly dirty and the stretch/elongation/wear is barely measurable with my Park chain gauge.

Perhaps the most tangible improvement is the smooth shifting action as the chain moves much more predictably up and down the cassette. It never seems get hung up between gears or bind the way the 1091 did.

All of my road miles were on Sram cassettes- an 11-26 Red Powerdome cassette and an 11-23 OG 1070. The chain performed flawlessly on both. Up front I've been running a 50/34 compact which can be problematic because of the large 16 tooth difference between chainrings. Here again the X10 has proven to be a reliable performer and has handled both up and down shifts with aplomb. With previous chains I had some shifting issues and even some chainsuck (yes, chainsuck on a road bike).

I decided to take it a step further and also put an X10SL Ti on my YBB as part of my 2 x 10 upgrade. I've been very glad I did. After ten rides in frozen, muddy and occasionally wet conditions I haven't had a single mis-shift or other cause for alarm. In addition to adding to the aesthetics of the bike the chain also has sheds dirt and grime much like it's X9 predecessor. I still don't have a ton of time on this setup, but the performance so far has been spot-on and nothing short of amazing. Anyone worried about durability with a 10 speed setup is being unnecessarily cautious and should strongly consider an X10SL Ti when they do decide to get in the game.

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