Monthly Archives: April 2013

Shimano vs KMC bicycle chains

I have no idea what to use as the title for this post; because I don’t want to be too rude…

But let me start at the beginning. I’d been riding my Specialized Rockhopper for around 8 months when I decided to place an order for some bike parts for various bikes and thought I might as well get a spare 9-speed chain.

I thought I could benefit from a spare chain for the Rockhopper so that I can switch over to a clean chain in a few moments, should the need arise.

I ordered a Shimano 9-speed chain. It arrived, and I fitted it to the Rockhopper and rode to work. Well – it was a horrible experience. Shifting became horrible and sluggish, and the chain slapped the chainstay extremely often.

My first thought was that my casette and chainrings were shot, and that the new chain didn’t fit onto them. Certainly – this can happen to a badly worn drivetrain, if the components have worn together, i.e. the teeth are worn and the chain is stretched to match, then putting on a brand new chain will impede shifting. This theory is well and good, but all my components were barely 8 months old, and seeing as I was using this bike in conjunction with my old one, they had only covered 2000 miles, and so the sprockets/chain-rings were barely worn.

So the verdict is – Shimano chains are garbage. Not good. This is echoed by A. the man I trust with all things bike related and B. a plethora of online cyclists that have slated Shimano chains.

Personally I fint it ironic that a Shimano chain didn’t do as good a job at being a chain (shifting, etc) on Shimano chainrings and sprockets compared to a KMC chain.

Here is a picture of the Shimano chain after a week of riding:

Shimano 9 speed chain CN-HG73

Shimano CN-HG73 chain RUST!!

It’s rusted! After a week of horrible shifting and frequent chain slaps – the chain rusts! It certainly wasn’t built to last. I mean, sure – we’re all familiar with the concept of “inbuilt obsolesence“, but this kind of rusting and wear is taking the proverbial visit to the men’s room, in order to urinate…

This brings me nicely onto my next point.

KMC chains. Now, KMC chains – in complete contrast to Shimano chains – I have found to be a dream! They are resistant to stretching (or at least more so than Shimano chains), they work better on Shimano components than Shimano’s own chains, and they’re not too expensive either. I’ve found that their coating means that they don’t rust. The absence of rust can only be a good thing. For one, you wouldn’t get the rust flaking off, mixing with the lube on the chain and creating a rather abrasive paste that speeds up the wearing of your drivetrain components.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is something meaningful about the fact that some certain companies choose to make only one type of component or item. The company that I am about to praise is KMC, they only make chains and as such they make arguably the best chains on the market (for the average Joe commuter, that is, I cannot comment on what the pros would use).

When a company makes only one type of item – i.e. chains in the case of KMC, you can imaigne that all their R&D budget goes on developing chains, and they go over the top with developing their niche product. Call them saddoes, geeks, nerds or whatever, but that’s who I want to buy my niche products from!

Here is a photo of an 8 month old KMC chain next to a 1 week old Shimano chain:

KMC chain on left (used 8 months), Shimano chain on right (used 1 week)

Just by the picture, when you see the 8 month old KMC chain and it looks good as new compared to the rusted Shimano chain, which one would you rather buy?

Conclusion: don’t bother with Shimano chains. KMC chains rock the house. I have only KMC chains on all my bikes, and I do mean all three of them, even the vintage Carlton Corsa. They work!

And no, I am not getting paid comission (or anything for that matter) from KMC for this plug; I am simply plugging their product because it’s the bee’s knees. At the same time, if KMC was to get in touch with me and send me some chains – who am I to say no?