KMC X9L chain review£21.00

Smooth-shifting & durable

BikeRadar score4.5/5

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.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
Back to top