Much as they did with the X11 to optimize for 11-speed systems, the new KMC X12-1 chains get fine tuned for 12-speed drive trains. The X-Shift pattern involves much shaping, with chamfers, cuts, and slants all designed to make it run silent and shift fast across the entire cassette range. And up front, presumably important if road bikes start going to 12 speeds, too.

On top of that, they’re not offering it with this gold-hued titanium nitride coating to make it shift even better by helping it stay clean…

Hit that link up above for closeup detail of their plate shaping and an explanation of why it helps.

The X12-1 chain will be available in full gold, gold/black and silver, but the most benefit comes from the full gold model. They say the Ti-nitride coating creates an ultra smooth surface that sheds mud and grit more easily, and a cleaner chain means smoother pedaling, faster and more precise shifts and less of that grating noise that constantly reminds you you’re wearing out that very expensive 12-speed cassette.

KMCchain.com

27 comments

  1. Jason on

    “…and less of that grating noise that constantly reminds you you’re wearing out that very expensive 12-speed cassette.”

    Does 1×12 really make a grating noise in top/low cogs?

    Reply
  2. carlos on

    I like KMC chains and think they’re great value for money. All the TiN-coated chains I’ve seen have been line-of-sight coatings where only external visible surfaces were coated. None of the contact areas were – where the effect of the coating would be needed. As is, the chain will stay cleaner to the eye because TiN has lower surface energy (mildly hydrophobic). Not sure how this can improve performance, friction, shifting or wear though.

    Reply
    • TheKaiser on

      Agreed, there doesn’t seem to be enough attention to this point with TiNi in general. In the top pic above, with black/gold color scheme, it appears that the rollers are coated, but the pins and inner plates aren’t. Then, in the bottom pic, the pins are coated (although we can’t tell if that was done pre, or post, assembly) but the rollers aren’t. In addition to that point, I have always wanted to know what the actual lifespan of TiNi coatings are on the inner contact surfaces. I mean, sure, it is hard and wear resistant, but it is thin as h311 too, and it certainly won’t last forever when subjected to abrasive grit. So, do you end up with a super hard 1-2 micron layer that still only lasts 2 rides on the inside wear surfaces, or does it actually genuinely extend the lifespan of a chain?

      Reply
      • carlos on

        Yes, if the contact surfaces are coated and substrate is smoother than the coating thickness then it should definitely reduce friction and extend lifetime. 1-2 micron is a common thickness. Much thicker (5-10 um) and excessive internal stresses start to build up and coating can delaminate.

        Reply
      • sad on

        i had the chain from the last pic which is in fact the 11s chain. of course as you point out some part wear the coating quickly but in reality thats totally fine.
        the reason is that where the coating goes away, there isnt much grit or water – its just where the metal contacts.

        At the end of the day, tini coating will still help a lot with durability and glide. Is it worth the price though? Personally I dont think so. The chain itself will wear out before rusting or drag becomes an issue with or without tini… the tini coating seems much more interesting on the cassette cogs that don’t wear nearly as fast.

        Reply
        • TheKaiser on

          I don’t see how it will “help a lot with durability and glide” if it “wear(s) the coating quickly” “where the metal contacts”. In my understanding, the majority of both the wear and friction in a chain comes from the metal on metal contact surfaces inside the chain, and if that is where the coating is first to go then the remaining intact coating on the outer plates performs very very little useful purpose (other than looking cool).

          Reply
    • Mercianrider on

      The coating on the non-contact surfaces will make a difference though, as dirt stuck to the sides will eventually be flung or rubbed onto other parts of the drivetrain the chain contacts.

      Reply
  3. doug on

    I find that if I ride my bike enough, I wear out chains far faster then they “rust”. I ride the low end SRAM 1110 and 1030 series and frankly just riding the bike(s) keeps rust from ever appearing, maybe that’s just me.

    Reply
  4. J D on

    Call me crazy, but I love running 11speed chains on my 10 speed road bike groups, 10spd on my 9spd mtb, etc. Truly feel as if shifting is livelier. Wonder if a 12 speed chain on a 10spd gruppo would be overkilll……

    Reply
  5. Dustytires on

    Doug is right, ride a lot, wear out chain. Get new chain before it hurts your expensive cogs of any count. If you want to look pimp, get the expensive chains, they should still be replaced before their wear affects the cogset and ring.

    Reply
  6. Paul on

    I dont buy the advantages of the exotic chain materials. Instead, I fastidiously maintain my chain and drivetrain. Its cheap, and effective.

    Reply

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