KMC X9 SL Gold Chain £49.99
It’s a bicycle chain, and a very expensive one at that. However, this time the gold-coloured coating is no bling joke but a surface treatment that should greatly extend service life in harsh operating conditions.
Titanium nitride is widely used where abrasion is a potential wear problem thanks to its exceptional surface hardness. KMC’s X9 SL chain is not only coated in the stuff but has slotted inner and outer side plates to save weight. It comes in at an undeniably svelte 240g for 116 links, allowing KMC to claim it to be the lightest nine-speed chain there is. As the name implies, it is designed for a nine-speed transmission; its X10 SL sibling is identical but for the narrower width required for 10-speed operation. Both are said to work equally well on Campagnolo and Shimano transmissions.
Besides a seriously hard surface treatment and attention to weight loss, the X9 SL has various bulges and ridges embossed into the plates to aid shifting and a unique way of finishing the ends of the pins to ensure pull strength. The chain also comes with KMC’s own re-useable master joining link, also finished in ti-nitride.
How long does one last? So far, a couple of evening 10s; it has been fitted to the reviewer’s TT bike, where its probable longevity should see it still performing well for several seasons to come… Actually, it is destined to take part in a 24 hour TT, so it should cover at least a few miles in the near future.
Aside from longevity, which should exceed that of any non ti-nitride coated competitor, the KMC offers ease of fitment and, judging by the results so far, excellent shifting. The recipient machine has proven troublesome in this respect in the past despite hours spent checking derailleur hanger alignment and everything else. On went the X9, and after a quick tweak of the mech’s barrel adjuster, shifting was as sweet as anything.
More news on chain life as and when…