Author Topic: KMC X1 Chain  (Read 447 times)

Brush2805

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KMC X1 Chain
« on: July 29, 2018, 09:28:08 PM »
I need to fit a new chain to my Raven.
I notice that KMC market the X1 chain "For high-end internal gear systems".
SJS market the chain as "Rohloff Compatible" and price at £29.99.
It's not hard to find a chain at a third of the price.
So is this chain worth the money? What's in the design of the chain that suits it to "high-end internal gear systems"?
I'm not very good at maintaining my chains so should I just buy cheaper?

Andre Jute

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2018, 11:18:10 PM »
Some of us think KMC make the best chains but their advantages are the stacked-up sum of many, many technologies each adding a fraction of some desirable attribute. The short version is that the X1 is basically a Z8 made in stainless rather than in steel with protective plating. This makes the chains lower down the KMC price scale extraordinary good value, especially since they're so widely distributed that sales are common.

A chain several of us use with the Rohloff, and especially if we also use Chainglider chain cases, because it has the best price-performance ratio we've hitherto discovered, is the KMC X8, which is the derailleur version of the Z8 and might therefore be a little superior in longevity. I buy the X8 simply because it is cheaper at the discounters, and more widely available. The one Z8 I had did not give superior performance in any aspect I could observe. Theoretically the flex built into the X8 could make it a superior chain even for a single-speed, which how how an internal hub gearbox presents itself to a chain.

First reports from members trying the X1 vary between inconclusive and, to me anyway, unconvincing; I remain to be convinced the X1 is worth the premium price. There are still some final reports to come; perhaps they'll change my mind.

There are several types of the X8. The X8-93 is half-nickel-plated and is the commonest one, and usually the cheapest. There is, or was, a cheaper, totally plain steel X8, which would be of interest to those of us with Chaingliders, but I've never seen it offered and can't now find it on the KMC product list. The X8-99 is fully-silvered and is the one to choose if your chain will be open to the elements, strictly for the sake of appearance and easier maintenance; there is no other difference in operation between the various X8 models. At one stage I rode on the X8-99, simply because it was on sale at less than the -93 at a distributor who gave free carriage, and, inside a Chainglider, found zero difference in operation.

You'll find considerable discussion of the X1 and particularly the X8 on the forum if you search for them.

My experience with the rank of KMC chains just under the X1 is ecstatic: they  nearly tripled my mileage per chain over the Shimano Nexus chains I used before.

There's one thing though: these high-level KMC chains turn the pins over with something called "bull's eye" technology, so you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain. On the other hand, the KMC instant links are superbly well made and reusable, so there is no need for a chain splitter in you tool kit. An instant link came with every KMC chain I've ever bought.

Tiberius

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2018, 05:19:27 AM »
Here and now I have KMC X1 chains on both my Rohloff bike, and my single speeder.

They look nice and last a little bit longer than cheap chains, but that's about it. I would pay a slight premium for an X1 but no way are they worth circa three times the cost of the alternatives.

I won't be buying another.


martinf

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2018, 06:42:10 AM »
I have a KMC X1 with the EPT weather-resistant treatment as an experiment on my Raven Sport Tour, which doesn't yet have a Chainglider, because on this bike I am using up a stock of spare TA chainrings in sizes that aren't Chainglider compatible. My reasoning is that the expensive X1 chain might reduce chain maintenance a little compared to something cheaper, but I very much doubt that any extra chain life will offset the higher cost.

Six of the family bikes now have Chaingliders, including my Thorn Raven Tour. On these bikes I fitted whatever chain I had available, usually SRAM as these are easy to buy locally. For a 3/32" Rohloff or Shimano Nexus transmission, the most basic and cheapest 8-speed SRAM chain works very well under a Chainglider. KMC chains are probably at least as good as SRAM but harder to find locally, personally I avoid Shimano chains because of their special joining pins.

On my remaining bikes with exposed chains (apart from the Raven Sport Tour these are the family Bromptons, my one remaining derailleur bike and a visitor bike with vertical dropouts converted to hub gears that needs a chain tensioner) I prefer the slightly more expensive nickel-plated SRAM chains, which I believe are slightly easier to clean than the standard finish chains, IMO a useful feature for an exposed chain but not an issue under a Chainglider.

Incidentally, the cost of a KMC X1 chain is not much less than that of a Chainglider, so a Chainglider plus cheap chain could be more cost-effective if your chainring/sprocket sizes and chainring thickness are compatible.

mickeg

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2018, 10:28:52 PM »
I just buy the cheapest KMC chains I can find.

I worked in a bike shop before I went to college, I built up most of my bikes from the frame, etc.  Thus, I do not mind working on my bikes at all.  So if I am adjusting chain tension more often and replacing more chains, that does not bother me.  Someone that is less mechanically adept or has minimal spare time might have different component preferences than I have.

Donerol

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2018, 12:03:13 PM »
There's one thing though: these high-level KMC chains turn the pins over with something called "bull's eye" technology, so you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain. On the other hand, the KMC instant links are superbly well made and reusable, so there is no need for a chain splitter in you tool kit. An instant link came with every KMC chain I've ever bought.

How do you shorten a chain without using a chain breaker?

Andre Jute

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2018, 06:29:51 AM »
There's one thing though: these high-level KMC chains turn the pins over with something called "bull's eye" technology, so you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain. On the other hand, the KMC instant links are superbly well made and reusable, so there is no need for a chain splitter in you tool kit. An instant link came with every KMC chain I've ever bought.

How do you shorten a chain without using a chain breaker?

Short answer: You don't. You still need the chain splitter to clear away the unwanted link(s). It would perhaps have been clearer if I said: "You must not put the chain together again with the chain splitter because, as you cannot match the bullseye technology for reforming the rivet head, reusing the pin will result in a weak spot; instead you must always use an instant link. You can use more than one instant link on a KMC chain without any adverse effects. There is thus no need for the hefty precision chain splitter in your on-bike toolkit; the one on your multitool will do for removing a link. Since I go no further from home these days than the confines of Ireland, at most a couple of nights in a guest house or hotel, I don't carry a chain splitter at all."

I do hope you're having me on. I'm pretty sure everyone else understood that I meant to exclude the chain splitter only from putting together the shortened chain. If we start doubting the closures of meaning experienced cyclists make, explanations on a written board will soon become turgid.

Thanks for catching that slip!

Brush2805

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 10:01:58 AM »
They do look very nice, just thought there might be some solid facts behind the KMC marketing.

j-ms

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2018, 01:12:35 PM »
I got 10,000 Kms on my Raven out of my first KMC X1 chain.  After battling through a number of other chains for the next 5,000 Km I resorted to another KMC X1 about ten days ago.  Hope I get 10K out of this one too.

Donerol

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2018, 11:26:06 AM »
I do hope you're having me on. I'm pretty sure everyone else understood that I meant to exclude the chain splitter only from putting together the shortened chain. If we start doubting the closures of meaning experienced cyclists make, explanations on a written board will soon become turgid.

Actually, I wasn't. I had just replaced my chain with a KMC for the first time and wasted a lot of time trying to work out from their ambiguous (badly translated) instructions whether the quicklink was reuseable or not after the initial fitting - I like to remove my chain to clean it rather than use one of those chain mounted gizmos. Your comment "you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain" gave me a moment's panic that there was some special (expensive) tool I should have used rather than the bog standard one that most of us have.

I'm as experienced a cyclist as you but do find some modern technology much fussier than it used to be, and not always worth it.


mickeg

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2018, 04:43:01 PM »
I frequently re-use the KMC quick links on their eight speed chains.  Has not been any problem for me.

KMC makes two different versions of the eight speed quick links, if you shop for one you should be aware of that.
http://kmcchain.us/connectortype/8-speed-below-ml/

I have no idea if the two are interchangeable or not, but I have only bought the ones I needed so I had no reason to find out if they are interchangeable.

Andre Jute

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2018, 06:10:55 AM »
Your comment "you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain" gave me a moment's panic that there was some special (expensive) tool I should have used rather than the bog standard one that most of us have.

Uh-huh. I got bad news for you, pal. That marketing guff about how you can break the chain without tools and put it together again without tools, with only your fingers -- of course only if you use their branded (read "expensive") quick link --doesn't apply to days when it is cold and your fingers won't cooperate, doesn't apply after dark when you can't see what you're doing, doesn't apply when you're wet and miserable in the rain beside a four-lane highway with trucks thundering by 18 inches away, doesn't apply when you left your close-work reading spectacles at home, and doesn't apply generally on any occasion when you want to take your chain apart; all of this is subsumed in the small print under "emergencies excluded". To make up for lying to you, the chain manufacturers will graciously sell you a pair of tools to replace the chainbreaker, one for taking apart the "toeless" quick link, one for closing it again. The KMC pair of quick link pliers look like this:



Both are available at SJS for £21 the pair, plus postage. If you buy only one, buy the link remover because you can use the two sides of the chain to pull the link straight when you put it together again: all the putting-together pliers do is keep your hands clean.

Or you could give both the KMC pliers a miss and do what I did, buy Park's Master Link Pliers which for £15 does both jobs, even if down at Café Cyclist HQ it won't make as big an impression as two --count 'em, two! -- link pliers branded by the maker of your chain.



I'm as experienced a cyclist as you...

Probably much more experienced. But I wasn't referring in my comment about closures in the minds of experienced cyclists to my own experience but to the huge experience of those who would read my remarks.

...find some modern technology much fussier than it used to be, and not always worth it.

+1. I like interesting technology, but sometimes the Japanese can overcomplicate things for no good reason except that they can. A drinking buddy of my yoof who worked under the founders of Hewlett Packard told me that one of them (I can't remember which) used to say when the juniors were showing off their cleverness, "If you take that any further, you'll trip over your own ego."

KMC makes two different versions of the eight speed quick links... I have no idea if the two are interchangeable or not

The two versions of 8-speed quick links KMC sells are not interchangeable. They're differentiated by the width of the link, more specifically by the length of the pins. if you buy the narrow one to fit to the wide chain 8-speed chain, you're in for a lot of frustration because you won't be able to close it. If you fit the wide one to the narrow chain, it will rattle and catch on things and not fit in the Chainglider. The KMC quick links last forever, so it is years since I bought any, but my recollection is that even a large mail-order business made a mistake and sent me the wrong kind because the package doesn't (or didn't then) carry the necessary information of which chains the contents fit; I had to look it up on a big table on the KMC site.

mickeg

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2018, 02:07:43 PM »
When I worked at a bike shop decades ago, a chain breaker was the device used to force a pin out of a chain to split it or to push the pin back into the chain to re-connect the ends together.  At that time there were no quick links that could connect the ends of a dérailleur type chain.  Only chains for a single speed or IGH had a master link, derailler chains did not.  Thus you needed the chain breaker to remove or install a chain on a frame.  Now we often refer to that tool as a chain tool.  With practice you could push the pin exactly the right distance out of the chain on the first try, if you pushed it all the way out you would never get it back in. 

The pliers to split a quick link were not yet invented since the quick links did not exist back then either.  I have never heard of anyone referring to a quick link pliers as a chain breaker, but I could see why someone might call it that.


...

KMC makes two different versions of the eight speed quick links... I have no idea if the two are interchangeable or not

The two versions of 8-speed quick links KMC sells are not interchangeable. They're differentiated by the width of the link, more specifically by the length of the pins. if you buy the narrow one to fit to the wide chain 8-speed chain, you're in for a lot of frustration because you won't be able to close it. If you fit the wide one to the narrow chain, it will rattle and catch on things and not fit in the Chainglider. The KMC quick links last forever, so it is years since I bought any, but my recollection is that even a large mail-order business made a mistake and sent me the wrong kind because the package doesn't (or didn't then) carry the necessary information of which chains the contents fit; I had to look it up on a big table on the KMC site.

Thanks.  If the various KMC chains were marked for which specific chains they are, that would be quite helpful too.

martinf

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2018, 07:15:57 PM »
There's one thing though: these high-level KMC chains turn the pins over with something called "bull's eye" technology, so you shouldn't use a chain breaker to shorten the chain.

Some years ago, after breaking a cheap chain tool, the very helpful mechanic at my former LBS (unfortunately closed this year) recommended a Rohloff Revolver chain tool, and sold one to me for a (relatively) reasonable price. At the time, I was cleaning/replacing a lot of derailleur bike chains, and had often had problems with the quick links, so I thought the investment was worth it.

The Rohloff Revolver is supposed to be good for joining chains, even some that are not supposed to be joined in this way, it has a setting to spread the ends of the chain rivet.

So far, I have not had any problems joining SRAM single-speed and SRAM and KMC 8 speed chains with this tool.

Despite the recommendation not to, I also did the KMC X1 chain with this tool, so far it seems to be holding out well.

Brush2805

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Re: KMC X1 Chain
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2018, 10:12:45 PM »
I got 10,000 Kms on my Raven out of my first KMC X1 chain.  After battling through a number of other chains for the next 5,000 Km I resorted to another KMC X1 about ten days ago.  Hope I get 10K out of this one too.

I don't record my distance accurately but I estimate I've done around 7000 km on my current X1, although as I've stated in another thread it maybe should have been replaced a while ago. Is that good for a chain on hub transmission?