Whether you like to ride your road bike along winding country roads, grind your singlespeed up the sides of veritable earthen skyscrapers, or push and challenge yourself up, down and around the wild mountain paths of your home state (my favorite), you will probably need a chain on your bike. Preferably a very strong, very light, versatile, low-maintenance and reliable one.
Chains are something that cyclists tend to only notice when things aren’t working so well. For example: when we break them or forget to lube them before a long ride- then we REALLY pay attention to them. This season, the KS-Kenda women have teamed up with KMC Chain to run what we consider to be the best racing chain on the market. KMC began their journey in 1977 under the guidance of founder Charles Wu. More than 30 years later, their motto is still “If it isn’t good enough for us, it isn’t good enough for you.” And they mean it. KMC builds chains exclusively and is constantly striving to improve their products and designs. We love working with them and we are benefiting daily from their dedication to constant growth and product improvement!
For the 2018 season, the KS-Kenda women are running the X11- SL Titanium Nitride Chain. You probably know it as the beautiful GOLD bling that adorns each and every one of our Pivot steeds, but let us tell you- there’s a lot more to these chains than just a pretty face. They get the job done well, not to mention in style.
Out of the box, the X-11 SL Ti-Ni weighs in at 243 Grams, comes with 116 links, which has proven to be plenty of length for our Shimano XTR 1×11 Drivetrains and the various combinations of front chainrings and cassettes that we each use.
The plates composing each link are made with a special steel alloy that reduces chain stretch, thereby extending chain life. The outer level of these plates are also specially designed to shift smoother and more quietly with an “X” shaped pattern called “X-Bridge”. As an added bonus, this shape aids the chain in shedding mud for those crazy conditions that tend to be a favorite of Cyclocross enthusiasts (of note: Cross is coming! Make sure your chain is ready).
In the case of our Titanium Nitride-coated chains, friction is further reduced with this special coating- also cutting down on the amount of maintenance necessary for keeping our chains running as smooth as the first day you put it on. KMC even uses a proprietary treatment of the chain’s pins called Extreme Stretch-Proof Treatment (X-SP) which makes them much less susceptible to the wear and stretch caused by mud and sand entering into the moving parts of the chain over time.
To date, we have run these chains in variable conditions across the US! Between the 4 of us, there are bone-dry deserts, sand, mud and muck, rocks, dusty and gritty long climbs, short punchy, humid climbs; long road miles, cyclocross training, sprint work and park laps that compose our training and racing. Not one of us has broken a chain in any of these settings. Personally, I have been through half as many chains this season as I have in race seasons-past. So the verdict sits: the KMC SL series is light, strong, quiet and seriously hard to kill.
Tech Tips: Care and Maintenance of you KMC
Be sure to check out this LINK to the KMC Website where they have created some wonderful educational and DIY tutorials.