by Greg Evans
New for this year from Taiwan-based chain manufacturer KMC is its X11 chain. It is the brand’s first chain specifically designed with the demands of modern single chainring (1X) drivetrains in mind. With chains offering a limited canvas for dramatic changes or redesigns, for the X11, the devil is in the details, but you might need a magnifying glass, or a reading glass to see them. At Interbike 2016, we took a closer look at the changes that KMC says makes this chain special, and grabbed a few close-up images of the changes.
The chain features KMC’s double X-Bridge outer plates, which have an X-shaped protrusion on the outer face, as well as an x-shaped indentation on the inner face. This creates more room between the plates for the larger teeth on the increasingly popular narrow/wide chainrings.
KMC updated its 11-speed chain with additional chamfering. These rounded edges can be found on the upper-left and lower-right corners of the outer plates. KMC’s reasoning behind this decision is to prevent contact between the chain and the closely-spaced cogs on 11-speed cassettes which might potentially damage the outer plates.
Additional chamfering has been added to the inside of the inner plates as well. Previous models featured some chamfering in this location, however on the new X11, the beveled edge extends nearly all the way around the circumference of the plate.
The model of chain shown in the photos is the X11.93, which retails for $40 USD. KMC also offers the updated chains in both Lightweight and Superlight versions, with the latter receiving their “Diamond Like Coating” and a claimed weight of 243 grams. The Superlight chain can be had for $140 USD.
While the X11 chains are optimized for wide range cassettes and single chainring (1X) drivetrains, they will still work with double chainring setups, and within the last week, the updated chain became the chain of choice of 12-time National Champion Katie Compton.
After a broken chain at the 2016 Trek CXC Cup, KMC-sponsored Katie Compton switched to the new KMC chamfered models in Vegas. At Jingle Cross, Compton’s husband Mark Legg-Compton said the new chain has two benefits that Compton has noticed. First, the new chamfered chain does not have a tendency to want to drop down a cog when back pedaling while cross chained. Second, he said Compton noticed an improvement in shifting. Legg-Compton also expects the chamfering to reduce the strain on the chain from Compton’s Wick Werks rings, which feature some of the most prominent shift ramps available, but can place additional stress on chains.
Stay tuned for our review of the new X11.93 chain as we’ve just installed it on a wide-range 1X drivetrain.
More info: kmcchain.us
See our ever-growing collection of new product news from Interbike 2016 here.
KMC Chain Chamfered 11-Speed Chain Photo Gallery: