Which chain to trust?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    moaaar shimz
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    New question here. Which chain to trust?

    Please chime in and tell me which chain have you had luck with... right now I am using a KMC Z9000 which has HORRIBLE reviews but it has been working fine for 6-8 months now.

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    SRAM PC-951 has been going for 2 seasons. always well lubed and cleaned. never really put too much thought in chain choice.

  3. #3
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    Been using a mix of HG-73/HG53 and 951/971 chains. Haven't had any problems. I usually buy the cheapest one I can find.
    Build.
    Ride.
    Repeat.

  4. #4
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    I have never broken a SRAM chain that I can remember at any of the medium to higher priced levels. Actually I do remember one chain with a link that had a roller disappear off the pin when the chain was not very old, must have been a defect. These chains were called SACHS back when I switched to SACHS/SRAM in the early '90's after breaking nearly every Shimano chain I had. With SRAM I used to get a year and a half before some gears would skip. Now as preventative maintenance I change the rings, cogs, and chain, and cables and housing, every spring after the major wet season passes.

    Edit: I never tried the XTR chain mentioned later below.
    Last edited by derby; 03-27-2010 at 06:46 PM.

  5. #5
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    By far the best MTB chain made is the Shimano CN-7701 XTR/Dura-Ace. It's the highest end chain made without hollow pins or hollow links. Shimano chains and cassettes shift noticeably better than SRAM. KMC, Wipperman, and others don't last near as long as either.

  6. #6
    Stay thirsty my friends
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Blonde
    By far the best MTB chain made is the Shimano CN-7701 XTR/Dura-Ace. It's the highest end chain made without hollow pins or hollow links. Shimano chains and cassettes shift noticeably better than SRAM. KMC, Wipperman, and others don't last near as long as either.
    +1

    The XTR chains are also indexed which means the center to center difference is held to higher tolerances which reduces wear to your cassette and rings. I think they shift noticeably better also but I haven't bought any of the high end KMC chains (I've had the cheapo stuff) so I don't know how it compares.
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  7. #7
    dirt rules
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    I buy the cheaper ones, and replace them quite often.
    Broken chains really suck.

  8. #8
    Now with More Wood
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    I've managed to break a couple of regular SRAM PC991, then went to the Cross Step version (still called a 991), been solid ever since, even with lacking proper maintenance from time to time.

  9. #9
    Natl. Champ DH Poser/Hack
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    agreed. 991 cross steps now and non cross steps before that. havent run a non sram chain since the mid 90's back in the sachs/sedis days like mentioned above. cant argue with shimano performance and quiet opperation but dont dig em much otherwise. id disagree with the xtr longevity and thats a ton of cash to toss at somethin that wears so much faster despite the smooth shifting. not worth it in my eyes. the kmc 9000 is a solid chain but lacks otherwise besides the very reasonable cost. used to be my "cheap" chain before the 951 came out which quieted down many custy bikes and upped the performance of even a cheap drivetrain for $5 more. i have 1 9000 left but cant seem to sell it. been in the drawer for 3 years.
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  10. #10
    moaaar shimz
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    I'm now between a 951 and a 971... 991 xstep is too much mulah.

  11. #11
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    youll find the 971 to be a bit stronger. the regular 991 is nice if ya dont wanna pay for the cross step and if it still fits into the budget
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  12. #12
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by cactuscorn
    agreed. 991 cross steps now and non cross steps before that. havent run a non sram chain since the mid 90's back in the sachs/sedis days like mentioned above. cant argue with shimano performance and quiet opperation but dont dig em much otherwise. id disagree with the xtr longevity and thats a ton of cash to toss at somethin that wears so much faster despite the smooth shifting. not worth it in my eyes. the kmc 9000 is a solid chain but lacks otherwise besides the very reasonable cost. used to be my "cheap" chain before the 951 came out which quieted down many custy bikes and upped the performance of even a cheap drivetrain for $5 more. i have 1 9000 left but cant seem to sell it. been in the drawer for 3 years.
    Have you used Shimano chains other than "back in the 90s"??

    The reason I ask is because in the late 90s/early 2000s they underwent radical changes. Since that time, basically ALL of the shimano chains have had the "cross-step" feature of bulged pins to prevent links from sliding off. I've found these to be massively strong and while I did break some old Shimano chains back in the day, I also broke Sachs/SRAM ones, just that I broke fewer of those than I did Shimano. Fast-foward to the newer generation of Shimano chains, and these have been going strong for almost ten years now, a HUGE improvement over their old generation, and you don't have to pay $50+ to get the benefits of the design, whereas you do with cross-step. You say XTR is a ton of cash, but top end SRAM chains have been MORE expensive than top-end Shimano chains, for quite a while. XTR usually tops out at 34-43 bucks or so, SRAM is more like $50.
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  13. #13
    Natl. Champ DH Poser/Hack
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    yeah, had a few but more oem stuff than by choice. just seem to wear faster is all and thats what i was tryin to say re long term costs which i failed to make very clear. yes, todays shimano chains are far stronger and better overall. i cant argue that. the shimano single use pin thing is also a huge hassle compared to the tool free, mistake proof, reuseable power link. park tool owns me due to all the diff chain tools i gotta have on each bench to service shimano chains. as for the initial cost, wholesale and msrp are dead equal. if yer findin xtr/derache or 991 cs chains under $45-$50, someones bein kind. or yer shoppin the net but thats another argument. overall, i dont disagree with ya but i see some clear advantages that outweight any negitives of sram chains so thats why i reccomend them and use em on all my bikes. i otta get paid for this kinda talk!
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  14. #14
    moaaar shimz
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    Ok so it's down to 97/991 vs XTR it seems.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacubaya
    Ok so it's down to 97/991 vs XTR it seems.
    glad thats settled
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  16. #16
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by cactuscorn
    the shimano single use pin thing is also a huge hassle compared to the tool free, mistake proof, reuseable power link.
    True, and I'm using the tool free, mistake proof, reuseable power link on my XTR chain.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  17. #17
    Natl. Champ DH Poser/Hack
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    you make a father very proud. how long ya been runnin that combo? never done it as a standard install but i hear shimano is not reccomendin it. marketing or is there a glitch you can notice?
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  18. #18
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by cactuscorn
    you make a father very proud. how long ya been runnin that combo? never done it as a standard install but i hear shimano is not reccomendin it. marketing or is there a glitch you can notice?
    I've done it on and off (doing it right now on a chain) and never had any problems or issues. I've never seen anyone report any issues either on this site, running the same combo.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  19. #19
    moaaar shimz
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    I ordered the 971... any problems and I'll get an XTR. Thanks everyone

  20. #20
    Natl. Champ DH Poser/Hack
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    id be interested in a update a few weeks down the road.
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  21. #21
    Stay thirsty my friends
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    I've done it on and off (doing it right now on a chain) and never had any problems or issues. I've never seen anyone report any issues either on this site, running the same combo.

    I run the same setup, optimum in my books.

    If you want to do a test take an Sram chain and an XTR chain and test the flexibility over a number of links by hanging the same amount of chain off the end of a table and see which one is the most flexible.

    XTR wins.

    The pin swaging is superior as mentioned by my fine collegue Jayem, he knows his shiite.
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  22. #22
    Wuss extraordinare
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    So I'm gonna go on out on a limb here, SRAM CHAINS SUCK! I have had nothing but problems with them. I never used to break chains and have now broken 3 SRAM pc991 chains in less than a year and a half. All new, all with the powerlink, and all either at the power link or in other places. And don't go and say I must not be maintianing them properly, I used to work in a shop and have a dedicated degreaser/parts cleaner in my garage. The down and dirty is that Shimano is the only way to go! XT or XTR.

  23. #23
    Natl. Champ DH Poser/Hack
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    nutty how folks have totally diff experiences and opinions on this. to their credit, im not a big or powerful rider and i suppose im graceful enough so i tend to get lots of miles from my parts. on the other hand, i work on a ton of bikes belongin to riders from all over the place includin the ham fisted type and see those riders usin the same stuff i do with the same results. perhaps its trail personality and weather conditions as much as it is rider. hard to say but thats why theres choices in this industry. make yer own based on what works for you. my feelings wont be hurt.
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  24. #24
    sixsixtysix
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    I am a big guy, loads of power to the drive train and have snapped almost every SRAM chain, sheered pawls out of hubs and most recently snapped, yes snapped a SRAM 990 cassette.

    SRAM 971's would last me maybe a month, The 991 or 1090's wouldn't usually last a week on any bike that I was hammering on. (I snapped a 991 Hollow Pin about 50 yards into its very first ride)

    As of lately I have been running the newer KMC XS9L with great results, shifts super clean, is fairly light and in the 6 months its been in service it hasn't given me a single problem and still isn't completely stretched out.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by sixsixtysix
    I am a big guy, loads of power to the drive train and have snapped almost every SRAM chain, sheered pawls out of hubs and most recently snapped, yes snapped a SRAM 990 cassette.

    SRAM 971's would last me maybe a month, The 991 or 1090's wouldn't usually last a week on any bike that I was hammering on. (I snapped a 991 Hollow Pin about 50 yards into its very first ride)

    As of lately I have been running the newer KMC XS9L with great results, shifts super clean, is fairly light and in the 6 months its been in service it hasn't given me a single problem and still isn't completely stretched out.
    Even though I hate you, I have to agree.
    Haven't had a single problem running KMC chains. And I have yet to snap one of their master links. I snap the SRAM ones all the time.

  26. #26
    sixsixtysix
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    Quote Originally Posted by KavuRider
    Even though I hate you, I have to agree.
    Haven't had a single problem running KMC chains. And I have yet to snap one of their master links. I snap the SRAM ones all the time.

    When I am done with my X9SL I am going to wait next to the trail and throw it into your spokes as you ride by.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by sixsixtysix
    When I am done with my X9SL I am going to wait next to the trail and throw it into your spokes as you ride by.
    I'd be afraid if I actually rode my bike anymore!

  28. #28
    Meh.
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    My Wipperman was more durable than XTR, took longer to stretch, and shifted just as well. It did cost quite a bit more though.

    The higher end KMC chains shift well too.

  29. #29
    OMG!
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    951... its a ****in chain

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