While a chain isn’t typically a piece of equipment you’d find yourself lusting over, we have to admit that the chains sitting at the KMC booth at Interbike did result in good deal of head turning on our part. Fortunately KMC was kind enough to send a few boxes home with us, and their X10SL Gold chain found its way onto our Specialized Shiv Expert test bike.
The X10SL is designed for fast, smooth shifting and, as the name suggests, is compatible with 10-speed drivetrains (they do make an 11-speed compatible version as well). Part of KMC’s “X-Series”, the X10SL is on the higher-end of the KMC line at $75 at the KMC store. And at a claimed 253 grams uncut (252 grams according to the AG scale), this chain is super-light. KMC was able to skinny down the chain thanks to its hollow inner and outer plates and pin. The hollow plates also allow more dirt, mud, and debris to exit the chain on all sides.
The unique Double X Bridge and Optimal Chamfering design on each chain plate of the X10SL enhances shifting performance through precise up and down shifting. Even though the chamfering creates an asymmetrical design, the chain is still non-directional and can be installed in any direction.
To install the chain, you’ll use KMC’s Missing Link system, which is included in the box (you can also purchase a spare from KMC for $17). You simply remove the links you don’t need and then push the Missing Link into place with your fingers to lock it down—done!
So what about that gold color? Aside from attracting quite a few compliments on the road, the gold coating comes from KMC’s Titanium Nitride coating. According to KMC, this creates a smooth, yet hard surface to decrease friction and allow for faster shifting. The coating is also designed to repel dirt, which makes for easier cleaning. We’ve had the chain on our Shiv for the last three months, and we have noticed a significant difference. Our shifting is faster, smoother, and the chain is simply quieter overall. We have also noticed that the amount of debris that collects on the chain is significantly less compared to what we’ve experienced in the past.
As we mentioned earlier, most chains aren’t something you’d find yourself drooling over, but you will quickly find yourself cursing one that doesn’t work as it should. And when it comes to the X10SL, we give it a thumbs-up. Our shifting is quick and smooth, and our chain maintenance is simplified thanks to less dirt and debris sticking where it shouldn’t. And of course the gold color is an added bonus in the bike bling department.