KMC x9 EPT 9 SPEED CHAIN
Tipping the scales at a portly 355g KMC X9 EPT is the nine speed version in a family of well-engineered models designed to meet the needs of mid-motor e-bikes, yet fully compatible with all standard drivetrains.
136 links is ample for most applications, though tandems, recumbents and other specialist builds with unusually wide ranges. No surprise that it has coped handsomely with my Univega’s 44/33/22 12-30tooth setup.
EPT (Eco-proteq) refers to the industrial looking satin finish reckoned to withstand 676hours of salt spray. KMC wouldn’t reveal its exact composition but we’re pretty confident its top drawer nickel plating. Either way, despite several months’ daily service, there’s no hint of tarnish and should retain its lustre, right until the moment it becomes bin fodder.
Other refinements include their X bridge system. These are a series of precision machined chamfers that work along the same lines as Shimano’s hyperglide, supposedly improving shifting under load while reducing wear.
KMC also offers a triple X warrantee that promises to replace any unit that doesn’t meet expectations-free of charge-with the usual caveats. 6mm “mushroom pins” continue the bullet proof narrative. However, I’m not particularly smitten with “magic links”; so pruned and joined ours the traditional way.
Arguably we only notice chains when they don’t come up to scratch. Paired with a brand spanking new Tiagra cassette, I was immediately struck by how smooth and silent the shifts were; even under extreme provocation- trickling through to the lights in a really tall gear, then clicking down in the dying seconds, or ascending torturous climbs with 30kilo payload en tow.
Being a four seasons’ all terrain build; I’ve spent weeks testing ours along fire roads, boggy trails-with the odd shallow river crossing thrown in for good measure. Even salty coastal causeways have made negligible impression on the finish, or induced obvious signs of wear.
We’re all a bit cynical when it comes to claims; though alternating between more traditional competitors, the X9 won hands down in terms of refinement. That said; having fed ours a diet of wet, dry and sophisticated ceramic preps, I’m not convinced it’s noticeably easier to keep clean than anyone else’s.
Nonetheless, my digital chain checker’s reading of 0.20 indicates favourable longevity and while this wouldn’t be my first choice for bikes on calorie controlled diets, I’d certainly stick one on a daily driver where durability trumps saving a few grams.