4 Takeaways from the CyclingTips Ultimate Chain Test

Dec 17, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Our friends over at CyclingTips embarked on a mammoth test this past year to find the best bicycle chain going. They worked with Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling, who spent 3,000 hours and over AU$15,000 of his own money, using a motorised Tacx Neo torture rack and precision measurements to determine the most durable and efficient chains.

Of course, chains matter a lot more to road bikers, where every lost watt can mean big losses over the course of a long ride, but there's plenty us mountain bikers can take away from this too, especially as some mountain bike chains got put through the wringer along with the road chains too.

We'd recommend reading the whole best bicycle chain test, but if you just want to get to the meat of it, here are the four key takeaways.

There are clear differences between chain brands

A sample of the chains tested. Credit: CyclingTips

Is a chain just a chain? Apparently not, according to this investigation. CyclingTips found a range of up to 4 watts in power difference between the most (Shimano 11-speed) and least efficient (SRAM Eagle X01) chain. Bear in mind this is just from one part of the drivetrain and SRAM claim that efficiency testing is only valid if it is carried out over the whole drivetrain, and they believe that their whole drivetrains perform comparably to the competition. However, 4 watts is a fairly substantial gulf, especially if efficiency is your ultimate aim.

There was also a huge difference in the durability of the chains tested. CyclingTips believe you could get thousands of kilometers more use out of the most durable (SRAM XX1) than the least durable (KMC X11E). According to Adam Kerin, “SRAM claim the world’s longest-lasting chain with their XX1, and they are not kidding. Both the X01 and XX1 chains were so far ahead of any other chain from a pure elongation wear measure that I had to re-run the tests. The results were basically identical. Their longevity is phenomenal.”

More cogs=more durability

Shimano XTR M9100 review

The test found that the more cogs a chain is designed to operate over, the more durable it is. This may go against conventional wisdom that older 8-, 9- and even 10-speed systems offer wider cog widths, which provide increased surface area with the chain and should make them more durable. However, the opposite was true here

The reasoning for this is less clear, but certain materials have improved, manufacturing processes have become refined, and new low-friction coatings have been added. Similarly, the chain designs themselves have changed, and where 8- and even 9-speed chains would see the inner links turn solely on the connecting pins, newer chains typically see these forces shared across the pins and specifically stamped plates, too.

Your lubricant is as important as your chain

The special brew lube being applied. Credit: CyclingTips

The chains were tested with a purposefully gritty lubricant to accelerate the chain wear in the test. This showed that, no matter how durable a chain is, the lubricant you use will play the most critical role in drivetrain durability. Kerin apparently ground down an endless number of chainrings and cassettes with any chain that made it past the 2,500km mark, effectively destroying the rest of the drivetrain before it failed. As always, run a good lube and keep your drivetrain clean – that’s the real trick to getting the most value and performance from your drivetrain components.

Most brands offer good options

Credit: CyclingTips.

One of the main takeaways from the study is that there is probably nothing wrong with the stock set up you're likely to already be running. Shimano chains are seemingly the most efficient on the market while also offering decent durability. SRAM chains were not quite as efficient in this test, but their durability scores them big points and should help them survive mountain biking all year round in even the worst conditions. If you're running a stock chain at the moment, don't rush out to change it, it's probably doing its job just fine.

However, there is merit in spending more on chains from within the big brands. For example, Eagle XO1 and XX1 were measurably more durable than NX and GX chains. And if you’re racing, XTR is more efficient than XT.

Read the full best bicycle chain test.


200 Comments

  • 230 6
 So in the end, I conclude that you should pick a chain brand and be a dick about it.
  • 167 13
 you mean...pick a lube and put your dick in it?
  • 53 6
 DON'T TELL ME HOW TO CHOOSE MY CHAIN A-HOLE
  • 17 7
 They also conclude that the best way to lube your chain is to remove from the bike and cook it in an Instant Pot full of wax. Seriously. SMDH.
  • 104 0
 My owner prefers the standard bulk chain from Home Depot. I believe he went with the 3/8" Grade 30 Galvanized Steel Coil Proof. He said it would make me tougher. I lubricate it myself often. I do not recommend this chain it has not worn out at all.
  • 6 0
 dont tell me I should use lube on my chain. you dont know my chain.
  • 1 3
 Don’t have a rocky start on that crack, lube liberally!
  • 1 3
 Hence why I use my own natural lube
  • 4 1
 @Drew-O: then sun dry it in the yard for 2 hours followed by more lube and loads of refitting then you find out the length just changed enough to start it to skip.... NEW BIKE
  • 4 20
flag endurocat (Dec 17, 2019 at 19:17) (Below Threshold)
 The test it's not acurate. The chains from Sram are 12spd. vs 11spd. for the competition. The Eagle chain should be tested against the XTR 12spd.
  • 7 2
 @endurocat: they tested multiple chains of varying configurations. They were only posting the best in test and worst in test for ALL chains tested.
  • 2 22
flag endurocat (Dec 17, 2019 at 22:54) (Below Threshold)
 @Trudeez: I forgot you wrote the article.
  • 27 2
 @endurocat: you wouldn't have noticed if I had or not. . . Since you didn't read it and jumped to your own conclusion.
  • 7 8
 May i take this opportunity to say YOU DON'T HAVE TO REPLACE YOUR DRIVETRAINS AFTER X KMS!!!! The sram mid range chain/cassette combo has been running on my wife's bike for over 9 years, of riding every weekend. It still shifts well and feels nice. I only replaced the front sprocket to go to narrow wide. The bike shops laugh at it, but it has saved me lots of money to pay for other upgrades!
  • 138 0
 I thought there would be more links in this article.
  • 40 0
 You're about to start a new chain of puns.
  • 25 0
 It's ok as long as everyone's pinning it.
  • 15 3
 corny puns really grind my gears
  • 31 0
 Instead of multiple links, a master link would suffice.
  • 9 4
 I am an involuntary member of this gang.
  • 18 0
 @IronWheel: You’re the loose link, and I’m pretty sure the only gang you’re a member of, is a chain gang.
  • 18 0
 To say this test was exhaustive would be a stretch
  • 11 0
 Ironically, when I ride more I grind my teeth less, but my drivetrain wears out faster.
  • 13 0
 I can't think of any puns, I must be getting rusty.
  • 14 0
 @lbsteinm: you probably have a lot on your plate. Maybe a guide would help?
  • 8 0
 @Losifer: got worn out trying to read the article so im skipping to the comments
  • 8 0
 I'm too busy driving a train to comment
  • 8 0
 Riveting commentary. Pinkbike pun-dits never disappoint.
  • 2 3
 @browner: May be should put your chain in a box?
  • 2 2
 I am skipping this section.
  • 3 1
 @Endosch2: I'm just a cog in the wheel here, but I find this chain of puns super efficient.
  • 8 0
 Shut up, you guys - SHUT UP! I can't concentrate on making up a pun with you guys going off. I need to put on music so I can think of one. *pops in cassette*
  • 4 0
 Some of these puns are so bad they must have been written by the missing link.
  • 3 0
 I really felt like I could get my teeth into this article
  • 3 0
 @iffy: It's like a cable keeps pulling me back for more. Can't shift away from it.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: one little pun is all it takes to start a chain reaction...
and then it will suck you in and drag on...
  • 2 0
 @rrolly: You just need some lube to get going.
  • 3 0
 Oh, don't be so gritty.
  • 29 0
 We all know here that chainless is obviously faster, as Gwin prove it once.
  • 25 6
 Proofreading is dead, our hit new album, features great tracks like

"Kerin apparently ground down an endless number of chainrings and cassettes with any chain that made it past the 2,500km mark effectively destroying the rest of the drivetrain before it failed"

"This may go against conventional wisdom that older 8-, 9- and even 10-speed systems do offer wider cog widths which provide increased surface area with the chain and should make them more durable. However, the opposite was true here"
  • 7 0
 had to re-read that first sentence a bunch of times for it to make sense.
  • 3 0
 Grammar be hard.
  • 16 0
 I'd like to see a strength test result as well, not just elongation rates and roller wear. I think snapped chains suck worse than a chain which just wears a teeny bit faster.
  • 11 4
 This this this, I knew soon as I read this it wasn't a strength based test. Personally i've snapped every single Sram chain I've ever owned. Never had a problem with KMC, or Shimano.
  • 8 1
 @PhoS: personally, im the complete opposite. Ive snapped ever kmc/shimano chain ive owned only ever snapped 1 sram. never snapped a wippermann
  • 10 0
 @PhoS: I’ve never snapped a chain. I need to stop riding like a little beach.
  • 1 1
 @PhoS: same here, I'm not heavy but have snapped 3 SRAM chains but never a Shimano. That's what I care about regarding longevity.
  • 1 0
 jeez when do you people replace your chains - when the wear level is 5%?
  • 12 1
 I'm the author of the original CyclingTips article. I can confirm that Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling is currently in the process of strength testing chains. Not the easiest test to pull off, but hopefully something useful or interesting will come from it.
  • 1 0
 Agreed, after snapping three new KMC Ti nitride chains in a row on my hardtail, I bought an e-bike specific Shimano SIL-TEC chain which is developed for greater strength and smoother shifting (not that I ride an e-bike). It's perfect, shifting transitions are smooth and I have had zero issues. All my riding buddies are now buying the same!
  • 3 0
 @DaveRome: were the friction tests run on brand new chains or was there a break in period? I would be more interested in a watts test after 100 miles vs new out of the box.
  • 1 0
 @f00bar:

I usually replace 2-3 chains a season.
  • 2 0
 Myself and my two sons do Enduro Racing in Sweden - lots of mud. XX1 chains constantly snap. GX chains don’t. My friends are experiencing the same. I only have experience with these two SRAM chains.
  • 1 0
 @salespunk: Friction tests were done by CeramicSpeed which go over a 13 hour test period. The chains are switched between a derailleur drivetrain jig and a friction testing jig at regular intervals (at 250W and 90rpm). You can see that the chains become most efficient after a few hours and then start to degrade again as the wax coating wears.
  • 1 1
 @carlchristian: Were those hollow pin chains you snapped? Those things are next to worthless , and they want like $60USD for them..
  • 10 0
 I work on hidious stromer ebikes full time.... most of them 3000 customers of our shop don't ever lube their chain....or worse over lube them. They use them to get away from belgian traffic and getting to work 50km a 50km back. 4000 km'ers. And i call it a spaghetti chain. It's flat here so they use only 1 cog of their 1x 11 set up. When some guy 's live in more hilly parts of the country or learn how to ride a bike and actually shift , the chain goed 750 kmers further. Man i love moutainbikes ... only ebiked in belgium tsssddd
  • 5 0
 Well said!
  • 1 0
 It's like suspensions, nobody open them after 50 hours of usage. But at least chains are easier to maintain.
  • 10 1
 A buddy of mine was in the National Guard and he gave me this teeny tiny little bottle of gun oil they use called CLP. Clean lubricate protect. The stuff smelled terrible but I swear I could actually feel the difference when riding. Moral of the story the worse it smells the better it works and the government has the best chemicals. Triflow also stinks but works pretty good.
  • 5 0
 You can buy CLP at any gun or sporting good shop too.
  • 4 0
 idunno. Pedro's makes "ChainJ" lube that's biodegradable, non-toxic, smell is not abhorrent, and it's probably the best lube i've ever used in terms of slipperyness (highly technical term).
  • 2 3
 Prolink works the best (per frictionfacts), no smell. Parrafin is an amazing lubricant.
  • 10 0
 Correction. Not Prolink. That stuff actually causes faster wear and more resistance. Squirt is the stuff!!
  • 4 1
 Choose a lub and be a dick about it
  • 5 0
 Pick a lube and be a dick about it....
  • 3 0
 @peleton7: The one I look at on the shelf and think: "Well, calling it 'ChainJizz' just wasn't going to sell that product."
  • 4 0
 @teagues: chainjizz is more like white lightning - the worst lube of all time
  • 7 0
 Dumonde Tech.
  • 2 2
 Froglube or gtfo. Only the best for my Pivot and BCM midlength!
  • 3 0
 Squirt works real well when applied regularly! I killed a fresh one up chainring in the span of one X01 chain and it’s still measuring about 0.5, which is surprising. Screw 4watt efficiency loss at 90rpm With the SRAM chain, it’s all about the uphill grind here, I’ll go for durability @peleton7:
  • 9 0
 @Krimp: pick a dick, and lube it.
  • 1 0
 @JDFF: But only the original stuff with the sweet smell
  • 1 0
 I think ceramic speed is fastest then silca nfs .then smoovelube.com
Smoove lube is very affordable which I use. I heat the chain to 40degC in a double water bath for first application

Investing in a proper ultrasonic cleaner makes a huge difference compared with agitating in jar.
Always finish cleaning with alcohol to get rid of smear layer +\- water after kero meths wax cleaner( alcohol/Toluene) detergent/water


www.ceramicspeed.com/en/cycling/journal/ceramicspeed-introduces-world-s-fastest-chain-coating/@peleton7:
  • 5 0
 @peleton7: I was just going to say, ProLink didn't do so great in the original FrictionFacts tests! Squirt (and Smoove) are great. Parrafin is better, but requires a little more work.

I've previously covered this topic in-depth for CyclingTips. Google "Holy Grail of Chain Lube" if interested.
  • 1 3
 @Krimp:Try putting your chain in a box & stop being a dick!
  • 4 0
 While on a solo international trip surfing/mtn biking I found myself in a very rural area with a bunch of good trails, really muddy, and no bike shops nearby. My chain was becoming a creeky mess from all the spray offs and I didn't have any lube with me, so, I used the olive oil I had in the van for cooking. The chain gets pretty gunky since the dirt sticks(spray it off end of day and re-apply) but...it worked for a period of multiple days without issues. I've also used olive oil in my brakes when I needed a bleed in a pinch....worked just fine even in some prolonged, fairly steep, techy descents. I may try butter for the next trip Smile
  • 2 0
 @GlassGuy: Olive oil has actually been tested to be more efficient than many popular chain lubes! It does, however, get sticky with exposure to oxygen and is known to oxidise metals if left on long-term. Works in a pinch, but not the best choice for keeping things clean.
  • 1 0
 @DaveRome: yep...definitely not a long term additive since dirt collects and gunks up quickly, but, it did me well when I needed...something! And if you're someone(or a race team trying to brag about being more "earth friendly"), then this is a solid option as long as you clean almost daily and then reapply before a ride...and you can cook!
  • 1 0
 @gcrider: WTF? "Sorry, kids -- Daddy can't spend time with you again tonight; he has finishing work to do on the bike chain he started cleaning last evening."
  • 1 0
 Lol
Sorry forgot to say No Kids!!
It’s actually quicker than it sounds
And quicker than cleaning off normal lube, as cassette, jockey wheels and ring is way quicker to clean.
Who doesn’t like a clean ring?
@tripleultrasuperboostplusplus:
  • 1 0
 @GlassGuy: If only there was a cover for your chain, so you did not need to lube your chain
There could be a better solution?
  • 10 0
 Clear differences between brands? Lubricant is as important? Must be yanking my chain...
  • 9 0
 So all that effort to say, "whatever you already have is fine"? Well, I guess, it's good to know that at least I didn't screw *something* up...
  • 14 0
 haha no kidding.

3,000hrs and $15k of his own money just to say "whatever you have is fine".

er... ok thanks guy!
  • 8 0
 I was hoping someone would read the study and give us a better TLDR than Pinkbike did.
  • 3 0
 Read the original article and you'll see that the differences are quite significant. Those statements only placate their advertisers and mislead us as the customer. It's a disservice to those who make and sell superior products as well.
  • 2 0
 @Ktron: if you read a little deeper, the guy that does the testing uses this data to sell chains and lubes. It's a business expense at that point.
  • 3 0
 @DaveRome: to be honest, I think most of us are even less likely to listen to a podcast than we are to read the study. Or maybe I’m just getting old...
  • 5 0
 It would be interesting to test how chain growth (primarily in full suspension frames) and lateral movements affect the chain wear.
  • 1 4
 Would be better putting your clean chain in a box!
  • 6 3
 I have an Eagle setup now, and the shifting feels crunchy, even though I'm fastidious about keeping the drivetrain clean and the chain lubed. However, my anecdotal experience bears out the finding that SRAM Eagle chains last a long time. I've kind of been hoping to burn up the SRAM drivetrain, but the chain has almost no wear after a hard season!!!

Will I keep running SRAM chains? Probably not-I'll go for the better shift quality of a Shimano drivetrain. But props to SRAM for durable chains (and cassettes). If SRAM shifting can get close to Shimano without the cost of an electronic drivetrain, I might even stick with the SRAM stuff.
  • 2 1
 Shimano 12 speed yes. Considerably smoother shifting than SRAM.
  • 1 0
 I wear out the 11spd SRAM cassette before the chains, which is getting expensive! I want to swap over to Shimano but then I have to buy a different driver, blah blah blah. Got a new bike with E13 12spd cassette and it felt really good, but, I sold it before I could determine durability
  • 3 0
 Basic store bought Paraffin Wax has been shown to boost you 5 watts in one test. But "Gulf Wax" and "Crockpot" are only marketing to your grandma for canning and crockpotting so go ahead and spend another $50 on a chain while I kick it with your gramms tonight..
  • 3 0
 So what they saying is box is full of crap when they say their prime 9 stuff will last long because less gears. And also it's funny that sram chains are so freaking durable when it's the only thing they have that's not made in Asia but in Portugal of all places. Maybe they should move more of the manufacturing there.
  • 3 0
 Can’t speak to the chain, but the sprockets are about 10% thicker with 9S. And tuning doesn’t have to be as precise to keep the thing working.
  • 4 0
 These geeky lab tests and maths are just fine, but the real test is getting out and riding each and every chain for thousands of miles. (we need a sarcasm font)
  • 7 0
 Frankly, anyone who gets out to ride for thousands of miles each year will be so stoked on life that a few extra bucks to frequently replace worn out chains (and a few more extra bucks to buy decent lube) will seem a small price to pay. Wink
  • 2 0
 @g-42: True!!
  • 1 3
 Put your chain in a box & be a dick about it!
  • 5 0
 Can I run a Shimano chain with a Sram drive train? Or will my bike blow up??? Please help bc it is beginning to smoke!
  • 25 0
 You'll shoot your eye out kid
  • 1 0
 In the linked article the author says he runs an xtr chain on Sram Eagle AXS and it runs smoother and shifts better than if he had the Sram chain.
  • 1 2
 May well blow up if you put it in a box!
  • 2 0
 This article makes me wonder. I've recently upgraded to a 10sp drivetrain (Shimano Zee) after having been on 9sp. I understood you could run a 10sp chain on a 9sp drivetrain and be good (or apparently better, according to this article). Now that I am on 10sp, will I get even better performance (shifting and durability) if use 11sp chains now?
  • 3 0
 yes. funny i do the same - use an 11-speed chain on 10-speed cassette. works quite well. also the 11-speed chain is supposed to be narrower so it's better for chain retention.
  • 4 0
 I do that. My cross bike is 10sp and I use an 11 speed chain. My mountain bike is 10sp and I use an 11 speed chain. My road bike is 11sp and I use a 12 speed chain. Shifting is noticeably better. Wear on the cassette and chainrings is also noticeably better.
  • 1 0
 shifting performance may be better but I've hear a lot of people say the thinner chains aren't as strong. not sure if thats true or not but would kinda make sense.
  • 2 0
 @nismo325: Not sure why that would be true. Making a chain narrower only takes shorter bushings and pins/rivets. The link plates themselves could stay identical and so is the interface with the rivets (the bit that typically fails). However, from what I take from the article it is like 7sp and 8sp chain link plates are flat whereas the link plates for more speeds are shaped to also take part of the load directly from the bushings so that actually puts less load on the pins. Also, making the bushings and pins shorter (to make the chain narrower) actually reduces the load on the pin-plate interface already even without the specially shaped plates.

Are you aware of the theory behind their statement that narrower chains would be weaker? I'm interested to hear why this would be as it kind of goes against my theory above.
  • 2 0
 "The test found that the more cogs a chain is designed to operate over, the more durable it is. This may go against conventional wisdom that older 8-, 9- and even 10-speed systems offer wider cog widths, which provide increased surface area with the chain and should make them more durable. However, the opposite was true here"

They compared a low end shimano HG40 8 speed chain and a middle end hg93 9sp chain to an ultegra 11 and xtr 12 chains. This is totally unconclusive about chains made for higher cogs being more efficient. Another conclusion could be that you can't buy anymore high end chains for older 8 and 9sp systems.

I'm not saying the assumption is not true, just that it would need some other data, like using some NOS dura-ace chains to find out why it is so.
  • 5 0
 Just remember, the more chains you use, the betterer
  • 3 0
 I once tried using a chain for a second season and it broke on roughly the third ride. Does anyone else replace their chain annually as a preventative measure or am I crazy?
  • 2 1
 Crazy, prob just random chance. I run my chains til the wear tool says to replace them. I've only broken one chain out of 25k+ miles.
  • 16 1
 To get around that, I just buy a new bike.
  • 4 1
 I use 2 chains and swap occasionally until cogs dies. Then change everything! Now that I am in 1x since 1,5year and saw how fast the chainring wore (narrow/wide efficiency is quickly shitty) I buy steel chainring.
  • 14 0
 @Clem-mk: 2 chaaaaiiinzzz
  • 5 0
 @islandforlife: bingo. Also comes with new tires. Steal if you ask me.
  • 4 1
 Chains don't age or fatigue when not in use. Maybe if you're in a maritime climate the salt in the air might cause some corrosion?

Otherwise, just check the chain for stretch and replace as warranted.
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: You're probably right. I could have just as easily damaged the chain off a rock or something else. I just really hate having to repair my bike mid ride or worse walk out. Glad I asked as this makes it easier to justify saving a couple bucks Smile
  • 2 1
 Shift better
  • 1 3
 You can run a chain all year if you can make a box to keep it clean!
  • 1 1
 I'm having to replace my 11spd SRAM cassettes before the chain has worn out, so I'd say keep it riding til it breaks(again)
  • 2 1
 After 3000 miles on a SRAM Eagle I still found no noticeable wear at which time I replaced it. I do like the smooth shifting of a Shimano (XT) drivetrain but I was going through a chain every 6 months.
I do wipe down my chain after every ride and relube every couple rides. I only use Dumonde Tech lubes.
  • 1 0
 I’ve found that the XO1 chains don’t elongate as much as they become a little loose side to side. I do measure wear regularly but when my shifting seems a bit off and a new cable and housing doesn’t help I replace the chain. Seems to be about once a season. After two seasons and three chains my XO1 cassette is probably in need of replacement.
  • 1 0
 To be honest, I was pretty surprised at the quality of my Shimano XT m8000 chain, it is nice looking. Also like the fact that new chains have beveled edges on the pins, then just the master link system, great idea versus the old way. Overall I'm not surprised new chains are better than old ones, even if the quality control is potentially worse, they're made smarter, not relying solely on ~110 pressed in pins to potentially slide out.
  • 1 0
 How about a 9-speed drivetrain (along the lines of the Microshift Advent and Box 9-speed drivetrains) with a 12-speed chain and 12-speed cassette sprocket spacing? There'd be less chain angle, especially in the small gears, compared to full 12-speed drivetrains, and the cassette would cost less and be lighter.
  • 1 0
 The results are in line with what i've experienced over the years so far. Shimano chains (9 and 10 speeds XT/XTR/Ultegra/Dura Ace) lasted around 1200Km while KMC chains (X10 SL) lasted around 2500Km. For less than twice the price the chain last more than the double of the time. I'm riding between 6500Km and 8000Km per year with my 3 bikes so it add up pretty fast. For me, 1 chain per bike per year is a lot more easy to manage and cost less. On top of that, the KMC chains are easier to keep clean compared to the Shimano ones.
  • 1 0
 Stoked to read this after having invested in a Sram XX1 chain.

Lasting twice as long as an XTR (/Dura Ace) chain, it means my chain ring and cassette will also last twice as long.

As I expected investing a little extra in this chain will significantly reduce the costs on my bike due to half the wear on the chain, chain ring and cassette.


In my opinion the XX1 is the great winner of this test and I would recommend it to anyone who has an 11sp cassette to save money long-term, regardless if it's a cheap or expensive drive train.
  • 1 0
 Not exactly, if the rollers on the xx1 chain are harder than on the durace, it can mean that the chainring/cassette are worn faster with the xx1 chain.
  • 2 1
 @FCX250: A worn chain ring or cassette comes from the fact that the distance between the links has become bigger, meaning that the rollers now eat into the teeth. So if you wear down 2 XTR chains in the same distance as 1 XX1 chain, you've worn your chain ring and cassette twice as much as the longer distance between the links caused to eat into the teeth.

With no wear / extra length, it doesn't matter how hard the rollers are, they won't eat into your ring.

Even if one chain might have harder rollers than the other (which is an assumption and for all we know it would theoretically also be possible the XX1 has softer rollers), the difference would probably only be a couple of percent, and not twice as much.
  • 1 0
 @Mattin: The thing is the chain growth due to wear between the durace and the xx1 is almost negligible, the rollers being worn on the inside doesn't matter much and the xx1 almost certainly has harder rollers and harder metal cuts through much easier, think drill bits or grinding disks, as the rollers are pressed quite hard against one of the teeth and there's always some surface scratching.

They should have made that measurement, for the same chain wear which chain caused more wear on the cogs/c.ring.
  • 1 0
 The reason why 12speed chains are more durable than 9speed chains is the same as why a 5 blade razor is sharper than one with three blades - as soon as that one is in the market, quality of the older models, that are not bleeding edge (pun intended) anymore drops, becausdd es that saves money.
  • 2 1
 My first singlespeed chain was a sram x9 and it broke after less than 500km.

Since then I have been really happy with both the kmc x10-93 and the sram xx1. Both have lasted > 2500km with lots of pnw winter mud. These chains together lasted longer than a rear hub, 3 bottom brackets and a headset.

I'm starting to think the secret to long chain life is that I clean and lube the chain after every ride.

Now I am genuinely curious what is a good chain to use and this article doesn't really settle anything for me. Guy put in a lot of work. I'm planning to stick with the cheap kmc because they're cheap and lasted too long already.
  • 1 0
 SRAM; the only chains I haven’t broke.
Broke 2 brand new M8000 chains on 2 different bikes, both with less than half a season on them.
This old Shimano guy has learned his lesson
  • 1 0
 Maybe I missed it but for the same chain wear, which chain caused more cog wear?

And the more teeth a cog/chainring has the less wear the chain has, as the links relative movement is lessened.
  • 2 0
 I don't have an answer to this as the test focused on the chains themselves. All things being equal, the chain that most quickly elongates will be the one that causes the most cog wear.
  • 1 0
 @DaveRome: No I ask this because the hardness on rollers seems to be different between chains and can influence (or not) the rate at which the cogs wear out, that's why I say same chain wear/elongation between brands.
  • 1 1
 Best stuff I've used is this. LA's Totally Awesome all-purpose cleaner. It can be found at any dollar store or on Amazon.
I pull my chain, put splash of this cleaner in a plastic bin and mix with water. I let the chain soak while I clean my bike. Then, brush with an old toothbrush, rinse, pull through a towel to dry and then re-lube. Rock n Roll lube and WD40 wet lube work great. My chains last/zero issues.
  • 1 1
 All this tells me is that the SRAM flagship chains will likely outlast all of their other drivetrain parts. It's probably the cheapest part of the drivetrain to replace. So, when the cassette or derailleur breaks apart before the 1000km mark, you pretty much have to spend at least $500 to replace at least one broken part and maybe even the chain in order to match the wear to restart another round of wear for the new chain, cassette, or derailleur.
  • 2 0
 Less wear if the drivetrain has more cogs!? I regret making fun of that hydraulic 13-speed drivetrain, now. Razz
  • 3 2
 Plus black, rainbow, and gold are all good reasons to go with that SRAM chain in addition to it being the strongest on the market.
  • 2 0
 "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and on to the downcountry bind them"
  • 1 0
 Who the hell changes a chain anyway? I've been running 62/11 SS on my MTBs ever since I moved to the Alps and have had zero issues.
  • 1 0
 Shimano chain comes greased so Oil is compatible with grease, what Kind oil do you recommend?
T9 & Tri Low/PTFE. degrease and put back wax.
  • 2 0
 We now need a Dub chain????
  • 2 3
 Interesting how everything you read says that 11 and 12 speed chains are betterer, but I have never seen so many snapped chains in WCDH as I have in the past three years.

Just a coincidence?
  • 7 0
 idk bro, I broke plenty of 7 8 and 9 chains but never a 11 or 12 yet
  • 2 1
 I'm not a huge SRAM fan, but got a new bike with an Eagle drivetrain, and I've been astounded at how durable the chain is. I've run (and sometimes broken) Shimano, SRAM, KMC and Wipperman chains over a few decades of riding and racing road, track and MTB, from 6 speed to 12 now.
  • 5 2
 aren't they running 7 speeds?
  • 2 2
 @hardtailparty: They absolutely do. Derp!
  • 1 1
 Only 12sp chain I have broken was a worn out one pushing a big gear from standstill, which you should never do. Went thru multiple 9sp chains over the years, used to just re join on a new link & you were good to go.
  • 2 0
 @hardtailparty:
The 7 speed downhill groupsets from sram don’t use 6/7/8 speed spaced chains. They use 11.

From pros running shimano, I think some are using cut down 11 speed DA cassettes.
  • 1 2
 @jaame could come down to wide bars & bike geo, it is much easier to get power down on bikes now than it was on tiny bikes with narrow bars
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan: Great info. Makes sense with the close spacing they have.
  • 1 1
 It's the micro drivetrain that dh racers use
  • 1 0
 @zyoungson: it could be down to racer physiology too. Wide bars definitely give you a lot more oomph. I broke an 11 speed chain on my road bike last year doing top gear hill repeats. It was an old chain though.
  • 1 4
 Yes just put it in a box?
  • 1 0
 @parkourfan:
They are usually just 11spd road cassettes and you just throw away the easiest 4 gears.
  • 1 0
 @Chris97a: yeah, I didn’t mean literally cut off lol.
  • 1 0
 @parkourfan: Better off covering it up, than cutting it off!
  • 1 0
 I hope that abused MChipollini is a China knock off, bought and beaten for trainer use.
  • 1 0
 That counterweight or peddle spindle on the drive side crank must be terrifying during the chain tests!
  • 2 0
 I was impressed with 11 spd ybn chains in this test.
  • 1 0
 6.32-4.06 = 2.26
2.26 is way less than 4
Yeah pinkbike. You keep miss quoting articles. Hopefully you correct this article.
  • 1 0
 As I’m reading this article, the Sesame Street pinball song somehow keeps playing in my head.....8 9 10 11 12....
  • 1 0
 no big surprise here . . . .just keep it clean and lubricated and change it at the right time.
  • 1 3
 All the tests I have seen before:

Campagnolo chains last the longest (lets say 100)
Shimano XTR / DuraAce next (80)
Shimano XT (70)
Sram top of the line (40)

More cogs does not mean more durability. It means less durability on both chain and cassete because of the poor chainline. And the derailer last less because the pivot needs to work on extreme angles. Once worn out, you just need to get a new one.
  • 1 0
 This is All I have to say about that: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xuD0p535nQ
  • 2 0
 Thank you.
  • 2 1
 They should test the RM slayer
  • 1 1
 My lube of choice is whatever is left in the container after I change the oil in my truck and invert the bottle.
  • 1 3
 clean chains will last longer
  • 1 0
 Shimano 12 sp chain is awesome!
  • 1 0
 I just put some spit on it
  • 1 0
 ...but how much noise did the chains make? That's the *real* question.
  • 2 0
 Maybe they answered that with the efficiency claim? Less efficiency generates more waste like noise and friction/heat?
  • 1 2
 Dude this article needs to be longer. That many chains?? That much research?? We need better conclusions than "This is best this is worst"
  • 1 0
 Can anyone recommend a good method for cleaning the chain?
  • 1 2
 Buy kerosene and apply on chain with a brush. Just a little bit. Wash, dry and lube. You can use the kerosene pretty much all over the bike (except the rotors).

For lube, the oil used for old sawing machine was the standard for decades, before "bike-specific" oils were branded.
  • 5 5
 SRAM chains are the only SRAM thing I will run.
  • 2 1
 Truvativ is good.
  • 1 0
 Agreed
  • 1 0
 Pretty much the same here, although HG+ is putting an end to that. I will be down to just running SRAM Eagle quick links on my HG+ chains because Shimano always has to screw up a detail somewhere.
  • 2 0
 Or Sram chains are the first thing that will slowly make you realise how good Sram actually is Wink
  • 1 0
 @Mattin: lol. I've been trying to find something to really like about SRAM since before they were SRAM. It all started wrong with the crappy XRay shifter on my first nice bike back in the mid 90's. I switched it out for an excellent XT Rapidfire shifter and I still have yet to find a reason to run a SRAM drivetrain over Shimano. Hell, I think I still have that shifter, they last forever. I have boxes of old obsolete Shimano parts I couldn't break or wear out. But all I have collected from SRAM is a box of broken parts from fixing friends bikes over the years.
  • 1 0
 Um hello, chain tension
  • 1 1
 No one gives a stretched chain about the cycling tips sister site.
  • 1 1
 Eagle is garbage, gimme back my 3x9
  • 1 1
 They believes, Arrhhhhh
  • 1 3
 There is an easy way to make your chain last longer, but you would not believe me anyway?
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