Chains surely have the worst job of any component on our bikes. Often neglected until we over-lube them, they only get our full attention when they fail and we curse them. KMC's X11EPT ECO ProteQ chain features a special coating that's intended to prevent rust if you're riding in nasty conditions on a regular basis, or if you're the kind of person who's on a once-a-month chain lubing schedule. But don't be that person.
The $50.00 USD 11-speed chain is compatible with drivetrains from both Shimano and SRAM, as well as the Campy drivetrain on your road bike.
X11EPT ECO ProteQ Details
• Intended use: 11-speed
• Compatible w/ Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo
• EPT anti-rust coating
• Non-directional design
• Chamfered inner, outer plates
• MSRP: $50.00 USD
Chains aren't exactly the most exciting component on your bike, but KMC has thrown a bunch of their technology at this high-end 11-speed offering, the most interesting of which is the EcoProteQ treatment that's intended to prevent rust from forming while also being an environmentally friendly manufacturing process. KMC applies the coating to all of the chain's components, and they claim that the process creates a chain that resists corrosion twice as well as their RustBuster coating. KMC even claims that the chain is good for 650-hours of salt spray, although it's not clear what happens after that... Does it break? Does it catch on fire? Or does it just turn orange?
Being KMC's high-end 11-speed chain, the X11EPT receives chamfered edges on both the inner and outer plates, an 'X' side profile to the latter, and also KMC's highest strength pins and riveting. Unlike Shimano's fancy chains, the X11EPT is non-directional, meaning that there's no right or wrong way to install it. Performance
The bikes I spend my time on are often covered in mud or dust, and look like they've been buried in the ground for a few months. Except for their drivetrains, that is, that are nearly always well-cleaned and well-lubed. Okay, so I'm not the ideal guy for the X11EPT, but for the express purpose of seeing how this anti-rust coating performs, I did my best to ignore the drivetrain's needs for as long as possible. That included multiple weeks worth of riding without a drop of lube, and I also kept it on my Element during the BC Bike Race, although I did lube it for that singletrack extravaganza for the benefit of those racing beside me.
The chain has been on my bike for seven months now, and it's been combined with a SRAM XX1 cassette, a Shimano XTR derailleur, and OneUp's Switch Chainring System.
So, how much rust have I seen on the X11EPT? The answer is none, even during weeks of use without lube that had me cringing with every annoying squeak that it emitted while obviously being far too dry. The chain would get a strange, matte look to it when excessively dry, but it refused to allow a spot of orange-colored rust to form at any point. The EcoProteQ treatment doesn't seem to wear out, either, as it has still yet to show any signs of corrosion.
Rust resistance aside, shift quality has been on-par with any other chain that I've used with a high-end drivetrain; not any better, but also not any worse. Wear rate has roughly equaled other chains as well, and I'm more impressed with this stat than with the rust prevention as I would have expected it to wear out relatively quickly given my neglectful testing strategy. I've been taking a bit of time off the bike lately, but it lasted five months of high-mileage riding before Park Tool's CC-2 chain checker read .75 of wear, which is when you're supposed to swap in a new chain. Oh, and it never broke once.