PASSPORT ELEMENTS SINGLE SPEED CHAIN
The Passport Elements Anti Rust Chain lacks the outright strength, and refinement of KMC Z1 X Inox and still benefits from a decent helping of wet lube. Nonetheless, at half the price, it should prove more than reliable enough for winter single-speed, hub-gear, and, most, fixed, commuting, training, and indeed, single speed ‘cross antics.
Pros: Inexpensive, reliable and highly corrosion resistant.
Cons: Less refined than electroplated models.
The Elements come in two forms. Our single speed 1/8th and 7,8, 9spd 3/32 derailleur options. The key ingredient here, is their thick silvery galvanised coating. Aside from the obvious corrosion inhibiting prowess, lube also adheres better to the surface texture. Theoretically, you’re using less lubricant and there’s less transfer when tackling roadside mechanicals/ shouldering the bike.
Length is reasonably generous. Ample for a 77.8 inch gear (15 tooth sprocket, 44 tooth ring, 700x32 tyres) and 41cm chainstays. I cut ours down by four and dispensed with the tool-free “magic” type.
These are fine, with a freewheel/hub gear transmission. Fixed demands a more traditional union. Now, unlike standard chains, it comes completely dry. Perfect for mess free ... ahem ..... indoor fitment. Talking of which, tensile strength is cited as a reasonable, and more than adequate for its target audience, 802kg. Putting this into context, a heavier duty model for big gear pushers and track riders, such as KMC Z1 X Inox, is around 1050 Kg.
Being December, I fed our sample, chainsaw bar oil (this was part of our (Cheap as Chips Chain Lubes Challenge) which has a very similar consistency and flow rate to Weldtite TF2 Extreme Wet. Drizzled from a 125ml dropper bottle, the chain's gravelly patter, was quickly replaced by a more refined, swoosh. The side-plates required minimal wiping, too.
Despite the tenacious wet lube, and a high quality, straight-cut titanium track sprocket, I wasn’t surprised that the Elements was more audible than the KMC Z1 X, which has been my go-to fixed/track chain, for several years now. The difference in tensile strength, was also quite apparent, during the first few outings. This resulted in a more gentle approach, to acceleration, climbing and transmission braking, until I gained full confidence in it.
During this formative 100 miles, things became noticeably quieter, almost meditative. I had to ease a stiff link, and adjust the chain tension twice, during this period. Minimal transfer of lube to hands/clothing.
I resumed my usual state of gusto for the remaining 500. Predictably (given its tensile strength realties to my familiar KMC, and similar, top drawer/half link designs) there was more detectable flex than I was used to. Mind you, I was probably pushing it to the top of its design brief.
Nonetheless, dancing on the pedals, powering up 1in7s, the Elements quickly won my confidence. Track standing, spring away from the lights and indeed, transmission braking was equally dependable. That said, I wasn’t confident enough, to couple my single wheel touring trailer, and haul 20 kilos of shopping behind. Especially since my fixed builds, only run a single, front brake. In fairness to the Elements, it is aimed at the average commuter.
Corrosion Resistance/Lubrication Retention
Experience with other galvanised models suggests not being too lazy (or tight) when it comes to lube, once the galvanising wears away, the bare metal underneath can corrode quickly. To date, I’ve cruised past the 500mile marker, on a single helping of chainsaw oil. No hint of wear in the galvanised armour, let alone corrosion.
Thus far, no hint of the snowy, blizzard conditions, promised. However, regularly tackling wet, sometimes salted coastal roads has failed to induce any taint. This hasn’t been my experience, of two KMC X1 Inox models, in comparable winters.
Big powerful riders, or those doing a lot of transmission braking will prefer to stick with beefy half-link/track specific designs. Nonetheless, the Passport Element Chain is a very worthy, inexpensive upgrade, for OEM single speed/hub geared builds, or traditional fixed-gear winter/conversions.