KMC X9L chain £21

Smooth-shifting & durable

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying the same brand of chain that your bike came with. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the usual Shimano and SRAM offerings though, then you’ll find some real gems out there, such as this KMC item.

The X9L is a nickel-plated 112-link chain. It has sculpted side plates to make the chain run more smoothly, but it also helps it to be picked up and shifted by the front mech and slammed across gate profile cassettes from Shimano and SRAM.

The slotted side plates help save a few grams and KMC claims they aid mud evacuation, but we reckon they are more for show than go.

The KMC Powerlink is a doddle to use and it means you can split and rejoin the chain for cleaning in seconds – and without tools.

We’ve run one on a five-inch trail bike for two years straight and it’s still got life in it for a while yet. 

KMC is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of transmission and drive chains, and the experience shows here.

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