KMC X9SL X10SL Review

Pro Reviews

Installation
I shortened the X9SL (or X10SL) chain to the proper length for my Ibis Mojo drivetrain, with my handy Park CT-3 chain tool. I always suggest you get a good shop strength chain tool, they make chain work extremely easy, and they don’t break. The pin removal was very smooth and easy, and the attachment of the chain on the bike was a breeze using their ‘MissingLink’.

Test bikes: Ibis Mojo and Moots Mooto-XZ 29er
Drivetrain:
Mojo -> XTR 11/34 & Sram 11/32 cassette, XTR & Race Face Next 22/32/44 cranks
Mooto-XZ -> 11/34 cassette, XTR cranks 22/32/44

The MissingLink is KMC’s proprietary connection system, much like SRAMS’s Powerlink system, which are both vastly easier to use than the Shimano replacement pins. Not sure who actually makes the system (suspect KMC), since they both look suspiciously close to each other? No tools are required to attach the chain together.

I have found the missing link between the higher ape and civilized man: It is we.

Missing Link Installation
Simply insert one half of the link in opposite holes, keep the chain un-tensioned.

1) Insert both halves of the MissingLink into the chain ends.
2) Press both halves of the MissingLink connector together.
3) Lock in place by pulling the chain apart.
4) Opening: press both plates together while sliding the chain ends towards each other.

KMC suggests that you always use a new MissingLink during installation, but I usually reuse them, unless the chain has gotten an inordinate amount of abuse or spent a long time on the drivetrain.

Next » Impressions & Technical Features

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • Carl says:

    ‘Chain stretch’ is a figure of speech; I don’t know why people like to be so pedantic about it.

  • Chain Smoker says:

    I’m curious how the 9-speed version holds up against Shimano’s HG93 (XT) and CN7701 (XTR), durability-wise.

  • Gregg says:

    I used one of these last year, and it was the shortest lived chain I’ve ever owned. I would even go so far as to call it junk. You get what you pay for. I’m running the hollow pin/ punched plate Wippermans now, and they are far superior.

  • Anonymous says:

    They are much improved from last year, but I have not tested a Wipperman, so I can’t compare durability. I will speak with them at Interbike about doing a test.

  • Padre says:

    I am 220lbs and run this chain on 4 mtbs. I have been running them for about 3 years and have never had a failure of any kind.

    Light AND strong.

  • Remy says:

    I can’t say much for KMC’s chains on geared applications, but 7 years down the road my XD series bmx chain has held up through off and on use as college transportation after the bikes glory years. Still can see the gold ti-nitride coating on the pins! (Todays coatings much shinier and blingier)

    -but definitely needs to go now, finally started popping off… very reliable and they have been AROUND

  • Sylvain says:

    I have install the X10SL chain 2010 version, on my MTB 9 spd Shimano XT drivetrain. Look great and shifting was excellent until I pop a chainlink out of its rivet (not the one I install) while shifting 2 gear up without excessive power. This append only after only 400 km (3 month) of use. WIll go back to an HG-93 for now.

  • Ken says:

    In relation to longevity compared to the XTR I will let you know. Like Brian I tend to be a low cadence, more power climber and have snapped the XTR chain 3 times in the last 6 months since new, riding off-road about once a month in steep technical terrain(OK once was trying to salvage a really bad gear choice at the base of a steep pinch). The bike shop recommended the X9SL so we shall see if it lasts better with my low cadence grinding up climbs and at times poor shifting technique

  • shooby says:

    To all the Shimano advocates, who do you think makes Shimano chains. ;-)

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