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Chain question

Old 05-21-24, 08:39 AM
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Chain question

On my bike I have Ultegra di2 12s.
Last time I had to use a sitting-by chain for emergency, that chain were the SLX type.
Wich it worked just fine as the original Ultegra, only a slight difference in weight penalty.

They looks the same and feel the same. Why I must stick on Ultegra when the SLX is more cheaper?
I don't think the friction is something to really worry, but if we need to read what papers says the mountain bike type must be harder, have more longevity and work in extremely condition since is made for dirt and dust.

Has anyone really found out and cons?
I found out even the bottom bracket slx/Ultegra has very small difference but the difference in cost is huge... Marketing's tricks?
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Old 05-21-24, 08:44 AM
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I dunno man, I've ran AliExpress chains and cassettes without issue. I'm not saying they're as good as SRAM or Shimano, but for my purposes they're fine.

But back to your question - whether something is worth the price difference is a decision only you can make. Marginal gains at non-marginal price differences 😁
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Old 05-21-24, 08:52 AM
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Shimano says that the Ultegra CN-M8100 chain is compatible with their CN-M9100, CN-M7100 and CN-M6100 chains. Of course they aren't going to recommend the chain of another brand. But if it is the same dimensionally, then it's useable.

Is the SLX chain you are talking about a CN-M7100?

Marketing tricks? No, that's what advertisers have been doing for everything since many years before you were born. You have to look at them all with skepticism. And note that they probably aren't really saying it the way you perceive it. So, yes in a way that is a trick. But it's known that they all do it.

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Old 05-21-24, 10:01 AM
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I run 11spd 105 and any 11spd chain will work. However, the no-name stuff usually doesn't last anywhere near as long as the name brand stuff. I would imagine that 12spd chains are the same. Any 12spd chain will work, but how picky are you about the weight? And longevity?
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Old 05-22-24, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by CrowSeph
Wich it worked just fine as the original Ultegra, only a slight difference in weight penalty.
According to Shimano 12s SLX chain is ~252g, Ultegra 12s chain is... ~252g. Where are you people getting those weight differences from? It's the second time this week I see someone baselessly claiming that Ultegra chains are lighter and not as long lasting as lower tiers.

Originally Posted by CrowSeph
I don't think the friction is something to really worry, but if we need to read what papers says the mountain bike type must be harder, have more longevity and work in extremely condition since is made for dirt and dust.
Who exactly is saying that? MTB chains typically last a fraction of what road chains do because they're run in much worse conditions.

Last edited by hidetaka; 05-22-24 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 05-22-24, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK
I dunno man, I've ran AliExpress chains and cassettes without issue. I'm not saying they're as good as SRAM or Shimano, but for my purposes they're fine.

But back to your question - whether something is worth the price difference is a decision only you can make. Marginal gains at non-marginal price differences 😁
Until one of the link breaks during a sprint and you f*ck your knee up on your bars. I'm sure AliExpress sells good stuff too, but it's full of cheap knockoffs.

Chances are they may be selling genuine Shimano stuff that is un-marked/unlabeled too. Who knows.
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Old 05-22-24, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by hidetaka
According to Shimano 12s SLX chain is ~252g, Ultegra 12s chain is... ~252g. Where are you people getting those weight differences from? It's the second time this week I see someone baselessly claiming that Ultegra chains are lighter and not as long lasting as lower tiers.


Who exactly is saying that? MTB chains typically last a fraction of what road chains do because they're run in much worse conditions.
I read here and there by searching some infos.
Real SLX weight is 259 on 116 links not 252 as claimed as shimano. But c'mon! 6g is a joke!
Regarding the resistance it was my thought, since a product designed for mtb leave it implicit the major resistance (since the offroad and dusty roads).
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Old 05-22-24, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by CrowSeph

They looks the same and feel the same. Why I must stick on Ultegra when the SLX is more cheaper?
ZeroFrictionCycling is a great resource for independent chain testing.

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/chaintesting/

I don’t know the specific differences between SLX and Ultegra chains, but in general the more expensive chains are made from higher grade steel, have tighter manufacturing tolerances, surface hardening, surface treatments etc. This usually results in reduced wear and lower friction.

Just looking at them side-by-side or even running them short term will tell you little or nothing. They can also weigh exactly the same, but it doesn’t mean they will wear at the same rate or be as strong.

ZeroFrictionCycling often rank chains in terms of their cost/mile, which often works out cheaper with the higher quality chains. I would suggest you take a look at their results and they may well have tested both the chains you are comparing.
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Old 05-22-24, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Until one of the link breaks during a sprint and you f*ck your knee up on your bars. I'm sure AliExpress sells good stuff too, but it's full of cheap knockoffs.

Chances are they may be selling genuine Shimano stuff that is un-marked/unlabeled too. Who knows.
There's a difference between cheap stuff and fake stuff - I'm not advocating for buying knockoffs here.

FWIW the only chains I've ever snapped were Shimano 10sp chains but admittedly that was due to user error in the earlier days of 10sp - didn't know at the time not to re-press pins.
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Old 05-22-24, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by CrowSeph
... Why I must stick on Ultegra when the SLX is more cheaper?
I don't think the friction is something to really worry, but if we need to read what papers says the mountain bike type must be harder, have more longevity and work in extremely condition since is made for dirt and dust.
Originally Posted by CrowSeph
Regarding the resistance it was my thought, since a product designed for mtb leave it implicit the major resistance (since the offroad and dusty roads).
So did you read this from the "papers" or did you just think this up? Either way, it is wrong; Shimano does not currently differentiate between 12-speed road and MTB chain: SHIMANO DEORE XT 12-Speed MTB Chain | SHIMANO BIKE-EU

It has been that way since at least 11-speed. The package says Ultegra Deore XT CN-HG701-11.

CN-M7100 is just the 105/Deore SLX tier 12-speed chain.
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Old 05-22-24, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CrowSeph

They looks the same and feel the same. Why I must stick on Ultegra when the SLX is more cheaper?
I don't think the friction is something to really worry, but if we need to read what papers says the mountain bike type must be harder, have more longevity and work in extremely condition since is made for dirt and dust.

Has anyone really found out and cons?
I found out even the bottom bracket slx/Ultegra has very small difference but the difference in cost is huge... Marketing's tricks?
I defer to ZFC on this, otherwise I would go with personal experience. Log your slx chain miles and durability, then get an ultegra or dura ace chain and see how it does.
This matters the more you ride, or the more speeds your bikes have. I ride older then dirt 8sp or 1sp chains so this is a non-issue for me.
I prefer square taper bb's, but SLX is a good middle ground for price to performance.
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Old 05-22-24, 07:13 PM
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I've generally ran the Dura Ace chains as they did not cost that much more than the Ultegra or 105 or whatever, and found they were generally quieter and shifted a little better. When covid happened and I needed a chain, I got what I could get, and it did not matter. I have also used KMC and found them to be nice chains. I think as time has gone by however, the chains on the lower tiers 105\Ulterga\Rival\Force\XT\X01 through trickle down have become just as good as the Dura Ace\Red\XTR\XX versions, and the weight penalty is just not that much to worry about.
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Old 05-22-24, 07:19 PM
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What lube is most compatible with Shimano chains?
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Old 05-23-24, 02:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
What lube is most compatible with Shimano chains?
For official compatibility I only use Shimano Premium Grease. It's hard to get it into the rollers, but it's the only one you can use and keep the warranty
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Old 05-23-24, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
ZeroFrictionCycling is a great resource for independent chain testing.

https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/chaintesting/

I don’t know the specific differences between SLX and Ultegra chains, but in general the more expensive chains are made from higher grade steel, have tighter manufacturing tolerances, surface hardening, surface treatments etc. This usually results in reduced wear and lower friction.

Just looking at them side-by-side or even running them short term will tell you little or nothing. They can also weigh exactly the same, but it doesn’t mean they will wear at the same rate or be as strong.

ZeroFrictionCycling often rank chains in terms of their cost/mile, which often works out cheaper with the higher quality chains. I would suggest you take a look at their results and they may well have tested both the chains you are comparing.
zfs makes a few unproven assumptions to come up with the claim that expensive chains are cheaper overall. The claim is the rest of the drive train, rings and cassette, will last 3 chains no matter if the chain last 1000 mi or 5000 mi. Thus he argues no price on lube or chains is too high, as long as the chain last longer.

Problem with that is, its not proven and, imo, counter intuitive. Id say, that if you keep track of chain wear and elongation, and replace it at predefined wear point, you are effectively divorcing chain wear from cassette and ring wear. Ie wear on the cassette and rings is going to be the same no matter if it takes 3 chains to do 6000 mi or 1 chain. As long as you remember to replace at the same elongation.
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Old 05-23-24, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
zfs makes a few unproven assumptions to come up with the claim that expensive chains are cheaper overall. The claim is the rest of the drive train, rings and cassette, will last 3 chains no matter if the chain last 1000 mi or 5000 mi. Thus he argues no price on lube or chains is too high, as long as the chain last longer.

Problem with that is, its not proven and, imo, counter intuitive. Id say, that if you keep track of chain wear and elongation, and replace it at predefined wear point, you are effectively divorcing chain wear from cassette and ring wear. Ie wear on the cassette and rings is going to be the same no matter if it takes 3 chains to do 6000 mi or 1 chain. As long as you remember to replace at the same elongation.
Sure, so you could simply look at the ZFC chain life and calculate cost per mile without including the other costs. The SLX/105 level chains will probably offer great value in that respect if you don’t care about the ultimate in efficiency and do actually monitor your chain wear. I haven’t looked at the results for this particular chain, but I did note that most of the 12-speed chains have excellent wear life, especially SRAM 12-speed.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:36 AM
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Edit to #15

zfc calculates total price to run 10.000 km, assuming spending a cassette pr 2 chains and a set of rings pr 6 chains. Thats slightly different than what I wrote before, but the point is the same. Is an unproven assumption that vastly favors the most expensive chains over replacing mid tier chains more often.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK
There's a difference between cheap stuff and fake stuff - I'm not advocating for buying knockoffs here.

FWIW the only chains I've ever snapped were Shimano 10sp chains but admittedly that was due to user error in the earlier days of 10sp - didn't know at the time not to re-press pins.
Curious to know if/how can you tell on AliExpress if it's genuine or a knockoff before actually having the product in hand?
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Old 05-23-24, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Curious to know if/how can you tell on AliExpress if it's genuine or a knockoff before actually having the product in hand?
Well, that was never a concern to me as I'm not buying Shimano branded chains from AliExpress. But, your point is valid for the KMC chains I've seen sold on Ali, for example - I would not be confident they were genuine but I can't rule out that they are authentic. When I reference the cheap chains I was talking about those sold as ZTTO, Rider Ace, Think Rider, etc.

My main point is I am someone who thinks "a chain is a chain" and I acknowledge that there are others who are way more nuanced about chains than I am. I'm not trying to convince anyone to think the same way I do, nor am I claiming that cheap chains are just as good as expensive chains. All I can contribute to this thread is that based on my experience I've not found it to "matter" (to use fancy chains), nor have I broken a cheap chain, but YMMV.
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Old 05-23-24, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK
Well, that was never a concern to me as I'm not buying Shimano branded chains from AliExpress. But, your point is valid for the KMC chains I've seen sold on Ali, for example - I would not be confident they were genuine but I can't rule out that they are authentic. When I reference the cheap chains I was talking about those sold as ZTTO, Rider Ace, Think Rider, etc.

My main point is I am someone who thinks "a chain is a chain" and I acknowledge that there are others who are way more nuanced about chains than I am. I'm not trying to convince anyone to think the same way I do, nor am I claiming that cheap chains are just as good as expensive chains. All I can contribute to this thread is that based on my experience I've not found it to "matter" (to use fancy chains), nor have I broken a cheap chain, but YMMV.
I think that’s pretty fair as long as you realise that the cheap chains will be less efficient and wear faster.

Personally, if I was on 12-speed Di2 Ultegra I would treat it to an Ultegra chain. They are not that expensive and they are a pretty important drivetrain component. A 105/SLX chain would be a reasonable budget option and totally fine as a stop gap. But why bother with Ultegra Di2 and then start downgrading important parts of it? I’ve gone the other way with using Ultegra chains on 105 drivetrains.
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Old 05-23-24, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK
My main point is I am someone who thinks "a chain is a chain" and I acknowledge that there are others who are way more nuanced about chains than I am. I'm not trying to convince anyone to think the same way I do, nor am I claiming that cheap chains are just as good as expensive chains. All I can contribute to this thread is that based on my experience I've not found it to "matter" (to use fancy chains), nor have I broken a cheap chain, but YMMV.
This needs some context: what speed are your drivetrain(s)?

Originally Posted by PeteHski
Personally, if I was on 12-speed Di2 Ultegra I would treat it to an Ultegra chain. They are not that expensive and they are a pretty important drivetrain component. A 105/SLX chain would be a reasonable budget option and totally fine as a stop gap. But why bother with Ultegra Di2 and then start downgrading important parts of it? I’ve gone the other way with using Ultegra chains on 105 drivetrains.
I feel the same way. I run Ultegra and cassettes chains on all my otherwise 105 bikes and buy spare chains when they are on deep discount, so while a 105 chain is a reasonable substitute, the savings are not significant. My gravel bike came with a full GRX groupset except for the 105 chain, which works just fine and so it not worth the effort to swap it out and toss a perfectly fine chain. I will install a longer Ultegra chain with my XT 11-40 cassette and move the 105 chain to my most infrequently ridden bike.
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Old 05-23-24, 04:42 PM
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True PeteHski SoSmellyAir
I'm still running 10sp.
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Old 05-23-24, 06:51 PM
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My experience for what it's worth, I put on new chain ring and cassette and put 3 brand new chains into rotation, waxing every 300 miles approximately. Sometimes lower miles if conditions warranted it. 2 were SRAM PC-1130 chains and 1 was a Chinese VGSports chain. I am still running the 2 SRAM chains along with another new SRAM chain and have logged over 7000 combined miles on them. The VGSports chain was pulled at less than 2000 miles (combined miles) because it was stretched beyond useful life and the SRAMS weren't showing any measurable stretch. I wouldn't have put a new SRAM chain into the rotation if the other 2 were showing any measurable wear. I don't care about weight, but I do care about parts wearing out too quickly. I've had good luck with KMC and Shimano chains also, but I got a really good deal on a bulk lot of SRAM chains a few years back and bought a bunch. 11spd.
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Old 05-24-24, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SpedFast
My experience for what it's worth, I put on new chain ring and cassette and put 3 brand new chains into rotation, waxing every 300 miles approximately. Sometimes lower miles if conditions warranted it. 2 were SRAM PC-1130 chains and 1 was a Chinese VGSports chain. I am still running the 2 SRAM chains along with another new SRAM chain and have logged over 7000 combined miles on them. The VGSports chain was pulled at less than 2000 miles (combined miles) because it was stretched beyond useful life and the SRAMS weren't showing any measurable stretch. I wouldn't have put a new SRAM chain into the rotation if the other 2 were showing any measurable wear. I don't care about weight, but I do care about parts wearing out too quickly. I've had good luck with KMC and Shimano chains also, but I got a really good deal on a bulk lot of SRAM chains a few years back and bought a bunch. 11spd.
Perfect example. The “monkey metal” chains are relatively soft and wear very quickly. You can’t tell surface hardness just by looking at them when new. Also if the manufacturing tolerances are poor, they might show considerable elongation even when brand new.
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Old 05-24-24, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Perfect example. The “monkey metal” chains are relatively soft and wear very quickly. You can’t tell surface hardness just by looking at them when new. Also if the manufacturing tolerances are poor, they might show considerable elongation even when brand new.
I've never even thought of checking a new chain for wear before putting it into rotation. Now I'm wondering how 'stretched' that VG chain was new.
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