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  1. #1
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    Chain quality!? Does it matter? Differences between the UN-73, and the XTR 7701 chain

    Hello,

    I was told to upgrade my chain on my XTR/XT drive train.

    I'm using a Un 73 chain (LX) and I wanted to go for something better quality if need be... say like the XTR chain.

    Will this make a big difference? is it worth swapping out?

    The bike is still new, and hasn't been touched yet, I'm just swapping out parts waiting for the mud and snow to dry up.

  2. #2
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    It matters to shimano who'll make more money off another gullible buyer.
    I don't post to generate business for myself or make like I'm better than sliced bread

  3. #3
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    You'll only ever know by trying. The feel of a drivetrain depends on several factors; BB, cranks, pedals, chainrings, chain, cassette, freehub, hub and, of course, the frame.
    I could bang on about how my experiences of different chains, Shimano, SRAM, KMC, have all been, but it would be relatively pointless, unless you have a similar drivetrain to me and ride a similar amount of miles in a similar environment. Also, unless your shifter, cables and derailleur are perfectly tuned, how do you know that you're getting the best from a chain? What does a 'cheap' chain feel like in your drivetrain? How long does it last without regular maintenance? How long does it last with regular maintenance? How does an 'expensive' chain perform/last?
    Remember that as a chain wears, so will your cassette and chainring(s). The longer a chain goes without 'stretching' (not literally, I know), the more mileage you're getting out of your rings and sprockets, too. In my experience, the XTR/DuraAce has a significantly longer working life than any other Shimano chain I've ever used. The KMC X9 is the only other chain I've tried that compares. In my drivetrain, the KMC not only lasts as long as the XTR, but it contributes to quicker, crisper shifting, and so is my chain of choice. I've ordered a Connex Wipperman 920 on a recommendation, so I'll get to see how that compares. Beyond the excellent Powerlink, which I'll use whatever chain I have, I have nothing constructive to say about SRAM chains.
    The price difference between most chains is not a great deal, so it's relatively inexpensive to try different ones out until you find the one that suits you and your drivetrain. Since your bike is new, ride what you've got until it's time to replace; then you can add the LX to your experience...
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  4. #4
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    Great Advice! Its money better spent elsewhere!

  5. #5
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    one more point to add
    beware the expensive light weight chains, while being light weight has its advantages for racing, they generally wear out alot faster and cost more (prob. doesnt pertain to the $300 ti wipperman)http://www.connexchain.com/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sexyblackbmw
    Hello,

    I was told to upgrade my chain on my XTR/XT drive train.

    I'm using a Un 73 chain (LX) and I wanted to go for something better quality if need be... say like the XTR chain.

    Will this make a big difference? is it worth swapping out?..

    FYI- the only differences between Shimano 9sp chains is the amount of anti-corrosion treatments that the chain receives. HG-73 plated pin link plates, HG-93 (XT,Ultegra) plated pin link plates and pins, CN-7701 (XTR, Durace) plated pin link plates, plated roller link plates, pins.
    I bike; therefore, I work

  7. #7
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    ahhh I see, so my bike isn't going to shift any better in the long run with an XTR Durace 7701 chain compared to my HG 73.

  8. #8
    POG
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    Anybody else have experience with KMC 9 spd chains?

    I've never used them but see that beyond bikes has the x9 for 15 bucks.

  9. #9
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    SO the KMC X9 is better than 7701 XTR/durace? for shifting performance, longevity and smooth quiet operation?

  10. #10
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    As per my previous post, the KMC X9 is my current chain of choice. I find that it shifts a wee bit quicker than the XTR in my drivetrain, it's also quieter, although that kind of goes hand in hand with the quicker bit. Longevity is pretty much on a par with the XTR; I've had some last longer, some not as long. How long a chain lasts is highly depended on the environment you ride in, so it's not easy to pit two chains head to head. I've found both the XTR and the X9 to be considerably more durable than any other Shimano, and certainly any SRAM chain I have ever used. Like I said, though, try different chains for yourself. How you ride them and look after them will also determine which is best for you.
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  11. #11
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    What extra cost Jeson's sells the CN7701 for $25 (market).

    The chain has a nickel plating and around here will outlast the other chains by a large margin.

    That said, we have snow salt, mud in the winter, mud/dust in the spring and dust in the summer.

    I used to use the CN7701, due to the anti corrosion properties, this allows me to use a dry lube all year long.

    The dry lube keeps the chain much cleaner and faster than some of the more gooy wet lubes out there.

    The CN7701 weighs in at about 300g competitive with the lighest out there, I believe it shifts better on shimano than any other chain.

  12. #12
    just along for the ride
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    I use KMC too, just as good as shimano at half the cost, had mixed results with sram so I avoid them.

  13. #13
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    The additional plating on the inner plates on the XTR chain helps reduce the wear that causes increased sideplay in the chain down the road. Reduced sideplay in the chain amounts to quicker shifting and more solid performance. Other than the powerlinks for emergency use, I'm not a big fan of the SRAM chains either.
    Ride More

  14. #14
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    awww perfect thanks guys!

    The stores around my area (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) want $55 to $60 plus 14% taxes = $68 dollar range. For a 7701 XTR shimano

  15. #15
    sam575
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveUK
    You'll only ever know by trying. The feel of a drivetrain depends on several factors; BB, cranks, pedals, chainrings, chain, cassette, freehub, hub and, of course, the frame.
    I could bang on about how my experiences of different chains, Shimano, SRAM, KMC, have all been, but it would be relatively pointless, unless you have a similar drivetrain to me and ride a similar amount of miles in a similar environment. Also, unless your shifter, cables and derailleur are perfectly tuned, how do you know that you're getting the best from a chain? What does a 'cheap' chain feel like in your drivetrain? How long does it last without regular maintenance? How long does it last with regular maintenance? How does an 'expensive' chain perform/last?
    Remember that as a chain wears, so will your cassette and chainring(s). The longer a chain goes without 'stretching' (not literally, I know), the more mileage you're getting out of your rings and sprockets, too. In my experience, the XTR/DuraAce has a significantly longer working life than any other Shimano chain I've ever used. The KMC X9 is the only other chain I've tried that compares. In my drivetrain, the KMC not only lasts as long as the XTR, but it contributes to quicker, crisper shifting, and so is my chain of choice. I've ordered a Connex Wipperman 920 on a recommendation, so I'll get to see how that compares. Beyond the excellent Powerlink, which I'll use whatever chain I have, I have nothing constructive to say about SRAM chains.
    The price difference between most chains is not a great deal, so it's relatively inexpensive to try different ones out until you find the one that suits you and your drivetrain. Since your bike is new, ride what you've got until it's time to replace; then you can add the LX to your experience...
    funny you say that...Shimano chains are manufactured by KMC! www.kmcchain.com

    You'll find a big difference in shifting with your Connex compared to a Shiamno (or KMC) chain. Connex chains will clunk into gear, and are generally not as smooth to shift up and down the cassette. The positives are you know it's changed gear because you can hear it and feel it. The trade off is no more slick shifting. BUT Connex chains are the strongest and last the longest by miles (great for DH or Freeride applications). For me, I like a slick drivetrain with velvet shifting, so I use XTR chains with XT cassettes, Sram XO shifters and rear mech, and XTR front. I used to use Connex chains but now prefer that silky feel Shmano chains are renowned for.

  16. #16
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    Cheers for that, sam575. I knew about KMC manufacturing Shimano's chains, but the information about the Connex chains has certainly given me food for thought. Like yourself, I like slick shifting, so I don't know if I'd give that up for a longer chain life. I use a Saint shifter to XT mech, with the X9 onto an XT cassette and the whole lot works together seamlessly. I don't suppose any system is perfect all the time, but when 'the weather's right', as I say, my gear changes are pretty much invisible. I know I've changed gear, and would rather not hear or feel it go 'clunk'. Still, I'd be a fool to myself if I didn't at leats try one out, so that I will. Thanks again for your perspective, though. Out of curiosity, which cable set-up do you use. I've been using single-length Alligator kevlar braided outer with their PTFE coated inners. I'm very impressed with them.

  17. #17
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    Isn't the significant difference of the XTR chain over the XT that it's rated to take 250kg of force compared to 200kg? Or am I mistaking it with the SRAM hollowpoint/top-end chains.

  18. #18
    sam575
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveUK
    Cheers for that, sam575. I knew about KMC manufacturing Shimano's chains, but the information about the Connex chains has certainly given me food for thought. Like yourself, I like slick shifting, so I don't know if I'd give that up for a longer chain life. I use a Saint shifter to XT mech, with the X9 onto an XT cassette and the whole lot works together seamlessly. I don't suppose any system is perfect all the time, but when 'the weather's right', as I say, my gear changes are pretty much invisible. I know I've changed gear, and would rather not hear or feel it go 'clunk'. Still, I'd be a fool to myself if I didn't at leats try one out, so that I will. Thanks again for your perspective, though. Out of curiosity, which cable set-up do you use. I've been using single-length Alligator kevlar braided outer with their PTFE coated inners. I'm very impressed with them.
    I use the Shimano stuff we have in the workshop. I've never had problems with it and it comes pre-lubed, and it's free for me! I also run full length outers. As for cables, at the moment the Sram black teflon coated cables that come with XO shifters are doing a great job in contributing to a nice light shifting action.

    Go for it and give the Connex a go...let me know your thoughts after a few rides. You'll love the Connex link, it craps on the Sram powerlink as it never jams up as the Sram one does every so often.

  19. #19
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    Chains are like underwear change them often to keep them clean--I like to run cheep chain and change them often--I have tried expensive chains and can't tell any difference from the cheep ones. I find a well lubed and clean drive-train has the biggest effect on shifting, not the chain.
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  20. #20
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    "Chains are like underwear change them often to keep them clean"

    I believe that this is possibly the finest advice so far. I don't agree, from experience, about the cheap chain part, put keeping your drivetrain free of crud is a major factor.
    I hope you don't mind, 23mjm, but I've quoted your 'underwear' mantra in my Basic Cleaning and Maintenance Guide.
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  21. #21
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    i went ahead and bought an XTR chain anyways... my drivetrain is brand new, so I might as well change it now, it hopes of longer life of the entire drivetrain, being less suceptable to rust, and possibily better performance in the long run....

    I friend hooked me up with a great deal as well!

    how often do you guys change your chain?

    I heard its not good to put new chain on a worn drivetrain, since performance will suffer... ride the current drivetrain till its all worn, and then replace the cassette, chain, and chainrings all at once down the road.

  22. #22
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    Measure your existing chain streach. Tool or a set of calipers. 1% is time to change the chain. New chains are about 0.25%.

    If the old one is above 1% you may soon have to change the cassette and chainrings, so the new chain will work well.

    If below 1% then the knew chain should work, especially if the old chain was the first one on the chainring and cassettes.

    Inspect all teeth for shape and consistancy. Give the new chain a try, if it skips alot then you should change the rest quickly.

    Or just go all new.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sexyblackbmw
    ..
    how often do you guys change your chain?..
    About once a year whether it needs it or not.
    I bike; therefore, I work

  24. #24
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    I've been trying to change my chain atleast 2-3 times a year. It's hard but I have to remind myself to replace it.

    Thanks for all the advice about chains above. I've been using a 991 chain for a couple years now without any trouble. Being a bit broke right now, I'm looking for a cheaper alternative to another $35 991.

    On the SS I've been using a Shimano 8-speed. Mainly b/c it was a nice gift. I tried a 1/2" Wipperman chain that kept developing stiff links. I would fix them (About 4-5 of them) then a few rides later, I'd have 3 or 4 more stiff links. It sucked...and was crazy heavy.

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