KMC X9SL X10SL Review

Pro Reviews

Bottom Line
After many months of use, and many miles of abuse, the X10SL has been worn faster than the X9SL, but both have lasted significantly longer than their predecessors. KMC has improved the SL series’ technology to increase the life of the chain, which is an excellent accomplishment when dealing with a lightweight chain in such a demanding and inhospitable environment.

The KMC SL chains are lightweight, shift well and have a usefulness duration that is better or comparable to other lightweight chains on the market. I still would get an occasional ghost shift, but it was nothing that created undue functionality. The technology and innovation that KMC has used for the SL series chain will keep them at the forefront of the chain world.

KMC continues to tweak and massage their chains using their expertise, so they are always upgrading the XSL series so that they can bring the best and highest performing chain to the marketplace.

And of course the gold version is bling, and really seems to shift better!

Strengths
-Lightweight
-Shifting
-MissingLink

Weaknesses
-Durability
-Ghost shifts

Value Rating: 3.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

KMC SL Series Specs
Colors – gold or silver
Speeds – 9 or 10 speed
MSRP:
9 speed silver – $70
9 speed gold – $75
10 speed silver – $80
10 speed gold – $85

KMC US url: http://www.kmcchain.us/
KMC url: http://www.kmcchain.com/index.php?ln=en

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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