Apart from the wheel, frame and other contact points, the drivetrain plays a relatively important role contributing to the overall feel that a rider gets from the bike.
In this case, we are looking at the KMC X9 Titanium Nitrate coated chain. Before we get into the meat of the review, let us go through some of the nitty gritty specifications of this chain.
It has up to 116 links and comes with a Missing Link. With shorter pin lengths and higher-grade materials, it weights approximately 285grams. Because of the unique X-SP (stretch proof) treatment on both the alloy pins and plates, the friction between the inner plates and the pins has been reduced. This will bring about lesser wear and tear, or rather, friction. Thus, the durability has been effectively enhanced and as a result, chain life has been significantly prolonged.
This chain has been put to tests on two different bikes with components from the top range to the lower end ones. All these have been done over a period of 6 weeks and more than 500km of mileage on the chain.
On the bike, the chain felt crisp, and the switching of gears was of no issue at all. In short, it seemed as though the chain had meshed itself with the crank set and the rear derailleur. While riding on the road, the shifting of gears was smooth and does not create as much noise as other chains would during the shifting of gears.
When brought off road, there was minimal, if not no, compromise in its performance. The bike was transported to our secret testing grounds to take on the slopes and the undulating terrain. Changing of gears was easy and it bites into the cassette very quickly. It made me feel that every step on the pedal was worth it and no distance was lost due to the chain?s inability to perform. There were instances where I was on a wrong gear when taking some of the upslope and was forced to shift midway through, and the chain was tough enough to endure those shifts on the move. Not only that, the KMC X-bridge configuration also ensures a faster and smoother shift in the most demanding conditions. This is because the ?X bridge? side plates use a raised cross pattern to mesh with ramped and pinned cogs for impressively slick, immediate shifting. The whole chain is pre-stretched before you get it so it slips quietly into your transmission without any teething problems.
On a wet day, I degreased and lubricated the chain before bringing it out for a spin along some flat terrain splashing it with water but without eating any mud. I then left it alone for the next 2 days. This was done to test the non-rust ability of the chain. Result? Not a speck of rust was found on the chain. The linkages are totally dry but it still runs smooth on my next ride. Thus, since the chain does not rust easily, it puts the rider?s mind at ease and all that is needed is to keep the chain lubricated.
I decided also to fix the chain on an average bike with average components to further test and ascertain the chain?s performance. A comment I received from a fellow biker after he tried the bike was that he was shocked to experience the smooth ride when he realized that the components on that bike were of the lower end type. The conclusion came when the differentiating factor was the chain. The smoothness of the chain cannot be denied.
Worth it or not?
In terms of performance, it is smooth and does not rust even when it comes in contact with water. That would also come with the responsibility of the rider to take care of the chain.
The chain is also loud with its colour and appearance. With Shimano and SRAM chains going for about $25-$50, this KMC x9 Titanium Nitrate coated chain falls nicely within the range and possible even so with the upgrade from using a Missing Link to a Power Link. For those who dislike such loud colours, there is another silver X9 chain available.
If you are into decorating bikes both for on-road and off-road, you might want to consider this Titanium Nitrate coated beauty with a highly valued bling bling factor.