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  1. #1
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    KMC vs. Shimano Chains? learn me sumtin'

    Both of my road bikes are due for new chains this winter and I'm trying to figure out what to get? On one bike, I've got a full DA9000 groups with chain. ON the other bike, I've got a mix of Ultegra 6800/105 5800 stuff and the stock KMC X11 chain that the bike came with.

    It is my understanding that the KMC X11L is equal to Ultegra while X11SL is equal to DA, is that true?

    Is there a reason to go with Shimano over KMC? The KMC has quick link, correct... which makes things a little easier should there be a need to fix on the road, right?
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  2. #2
    Los Barriles, BCS, Mexico
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    Both excellent chains. I have a tendency to use the least expensive KMC chains, they perform well. I think the main difference in both brands is the more expensive chains are lighter and 'prettier'.

    You can use the KMC quick link on Shimano chains easily.
    Trying to cram the rest of my life into the rest of my life!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TricrossRich View Post
    Both of my road bikes are due for new chains this winter and I'm trying to figure out what to get? On one bike, I've got a full DA9000 groups with chain. ON the other bike, I've got a mix of Ultegra 6800/105 5800 stuff and the stock KMC X11 chain that the bike came with.

    It is my understanding that the KMC X11L is equal to Ultegra while X11SL is equal to DA, is that true?

    Is there a reason to go with Shimano over KMC? The KMC has quick link, correct... which makes things a little easier should there be a need to fix on the road, right?
    No, not right. If you break a chain on the road your fix options are the same regardless of who makes the chain and if it was sold with a quick link or a pin. In other words you can use a quick link on a shimano chain. But come to think of it I'm not sure if pins are available for KMC, Sram and others or if shimano pins would work. So maybe shimano offers more fix options.

    If you believe what shimano says, which I do, there is a reason to go with their chains over KMC and that is that a pin works better than a quick link. Granted they are few and far between but I've heard of people having problems with quick links. Pins are flawless.

  4. #4
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    I've gotten superb service life from the KMC chains I've used.

  5. #5
    Los Barriles, BCS, Mexico
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    No, not right. If you break a chain on the road your fix options are the same regardless of who makes the chain and if it was sold with a quick link or a pin. In other words you can use a quick link on a shimano chain. But come to think of it I'm not sure if pins are available for KMC, Sram and others or if shimano pins would work. So maybe shimano offers more fix options.

    If you believe what shimano says, which I do, there is a reason to go with their chains over KMC and that is that a pin works better than a quick link. Granted they are few and far between but I've heard of people having problems with quick links. Pins are flawless.
    ...when properly installed.
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  6. #6
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    I've had bad luck with KMC chains, I've broken two of them out on the road. I usually don't run a chain past 3000 miles either so it's not from using it too long. I do shift a lot, probably much more than most, but I'm not sure that really matters much. Both that broke were the most expensive gold ones. Last one I broke was several thousand miles ago when I switched back to Shimano chains. I'm using the older 6800 and 9000 and the newer HG600 and HG700 currently. I don't notice any difference between them personally I just know I've never broken a Shimano chain. I don't mind using pins, I could use the quick links if I wanted but I prefer to follow the instructions, I have no issues with the pins if they're installed correctly. I bring a quick link with me in my saddle bag and will use it if I break one out on the road.
    use a torque wrench

  7. #7
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    I like to take my chain off to clean it. Chain pins defeat that purpose.

  8. #8
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    I prefer a quick link for chain/drive train cleaning. The new 11 speed KMC quick links say one use only. YBN makes a reusable 11 speed link and it works fine on either Shimano or KMC chains.

    KMC seems to have changed their design for the 11 speed to be similar to a SRAM 10 speed power link that is best serviced with a link tool. I have re-used an 11 speed KMC link with no issues. I did really like the 10 speed KMC links that could be installed and removed with your fingers.

  9. #9
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    I'm also happy with my KMC SL11 chain.. and am currently reusing a link as well with no issues.

  10. #10
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    Seems to really be a toss up, with peoples opinions being based solely on experience. It seems like the products are fairly similar with no consistent leader, but maybe differences based on how people are using/caring for the chain.

    I ended up going with the KMC X11SL. The SL was basically the same price as the L on amazon and was $8 more than Ultegra, but had free shipping (prime member). Normally, I'd buy these from my LBS, but my sister gave me an Amazon gift card for Christmas, so I had to find something I needed.
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  11. #11
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    I've also broken a couple of KMC chains. Of course, I'm a big guy (6' 5" - 240lbs), so I put a lot of stress on a chain, especially when climbing.

    I've got Ultegra 6800 chains on all three of my bikes now, and have had no issues.

  12. #12
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    Doesn't KMC manufacture chains for many other brands including Shimano?

    @OP - If you break the chain, the already installed quick link isn't going to do anything. I keep a spare quick link in my saddle bag just in case.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    Doesn't KMC manufacture chains for many other brands including Shimano?

    @OP - If you break the chain, the already installed quick link isn't going to do anything. I keep a spare quick link in my saddle bag just in case.
    Pretty sure KMC makes the high end Shimano chains.



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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    I like to take my chain off to clean it. Chain pins defeat that purpose.
    Your second statement is true. Your first statement defines something you like to do but that has no real value or purpose. I use quick links so I don't have to buy an expensive chain tool for 11s but there is no reason to take your chain off to clean it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Your second statement is true. Your first statement defines something you like to do but that has no real value or purpose. I use quick links so I don't have to buy an expensive chain tool for 11s but there is no reason to take your chain off to clean it.
    There is if you want clean it thoroughly.

  16. #16
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    In theory, a pin is stronger than a quick link. Though a quick link is great for a roadside repair.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    In theory, a pin is stronger than a quick link. Though a quick link is great for a roadside repair.
    Why are these complimentary? You ping the chain when you install it and if it breaks out on the road you quick-link it. If you use a quick-link to install the chain you can't use it to repair a broken chain on the road. It's already on the chain.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    Why are these complimentary? You ping the chain when you install it and if it breaks out on the road you quick-link it. If you use a quick-link to install the chain you can't use it to repair a broken chain on the road. It's already on the chain.


    The quick link is the easiest repair which will get you home. Surely you can re-use it for long enough to get home, but it's not wise to leave it there. The pin is your strongest long term solution.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  19. #19
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    Maybe it's just coincidence but the KMC chains I've used have worn out faster than Shimano.

  20. #20
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    My MTB had a chain that was around 50% quick links at one point.. they work just as well as normal links

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    The quick link is the easiest repair which will get you home. Surely you can re-use it for long enough to get home, but it's not wise to leave it there. The pin is your strongest long term solution.
    If I snap a chain on the road it's getting replaced immediately when I get home.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by deviousalex View Post
    If I snap a chain on the road it's getting replaced immediately when I get home.


    Exactly!
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    My MTB had a chain that was around 50% quick links at one point.. they work just as well as normal links


    What is that saying about the chain only being as strong as the weakest link? Therefore, in theory, 50% quick links is no weaker than one quick link. Not a wise move. A game of Russian Roulette IMHO.
    "With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important."-- DCGriz, RBR.

    “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” -- Aaron Levenstein



  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljvb View Post
    My MTB had a chain that was around 50% quick links at one point.. they work just as well as normal links
    So many things wrong here... I don't even know what to say.

    Well, one thing is for sure. That's one expensive chain.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    The quick link is the easiest repair which will get you home. Surely you can re-use it for long enough to get home, but it's not wise to leave it there. The pin is your strongest long term solution.
    Re-use? If you have a quick link holding your chain together you would need a second quick link to fix the broken link unless it happened to break close enough to the existing quick link to allow for the chain to be minimally shortened.

    After 10's of thousands of miles I have never had my own, or seen another rider, have a quick link fail. I have seen poorly installed friction fit pins fail.

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