I am looking at replacement chains and would like to get feedback from those who have experience/knowledge about various grades and brands of chains. My question: SRAM has 5 choices in their 9-speed chains; unplated, nickel-plated outer links, nickel-plated outer and inner links, cross-link (whatever THAT is), and hollow-pin. Where is the value/durability point? The parts person at a LBS said that nickel plating made them shift better and that since only the outer links were involved with shifting, the one with nickel-plated outer links was the best choice. If you keep your chain clean and lubed does it make sense to pay more for a plated chain?
Nickel provides corrosion protection and a nicer-looking finish, but I don't believe it improves shifting in and of itself.
Cross stepping is a double rolled / struck riveting process that makes for a stronger chain than a basic rolled rivet derailleur chain.
Hollow-pin / cylindrical rivet chains are used to reduce the weight of the chain and rely more of the thickness of the side plates for overall strength than do solid rivets.
Even an inexpensive chain will work just fine for about as long as a high end chain if it's wiped down on a regular, post-ride basis, particularly after being exposed to moisture.
Last edited by TandemGeek; 05-03-08 at 09:31 PM.