Unsure of which 10 Speed Chain to buy? This comprehensive guide has everything you need to know!

SRAM, KMC and Shimano are the 3 big players in the mountain bike chain market. Between them they make a wide array of different chains. Want to know what the differences between all of them are? Read on!

Outer Plates and Inner Plates

The main plates of the chains are available in either Hollow or Solid Plates. 

  • Hollow Plate - Saves weight without sacrificing strength, can help to shed mud
  • Solid Plate - More economical

These plates are available in a wide range of surface finishes. Those finishes are:

  • Sil-Tec - A Shimano proprietary finish in which Fluorine particles are embed into the zinc finish to reduce friction by 60%.
  • DLC - Diamond Like Coating - Resists abrasive wear. It also has an extremely high hardness value that increases durability
  • Ti-Nitride - A very low friction coating means less wear and maintenance
  • Nickel Silver - Excellent corrosion resistance and longevity
  • Grey - A mid-tier finish with great corrosion resistance at a good price point.
  • Brown - An economical finish with good corrosion resistance

Pin Type

The pin or the rivet is that part that joins the chain plates together. The ends are mushroomed to keep the plates locked on and the pins are chrome hardened across all models.

  • Hollow Pin - Saves weight without sacrificing strength (normally about 
  • Solid Pin - a more economical solution

Joining Style

There is 2 methods of joining a chain when installing. Either a connecting link or a joining pin.

  • Connecting Link - Both SRAM and KMC use a connecting link. Also known as a quick link. SRAM calls these "Power-Lock" and they are only recommended to be used once while KMC's are reusable. Connecting links don't require tools to install. However,  chains come slightly too long for standard applications and normally require a chain tool to shorten them. Connecting links technically shouldn't require tools to remove, although in practice, I've reached for a pair of powerlink pliers more than once!
  • Joining Pin - This is Shimano's preferred method of joining a chain. They always require a chain tool to install.

Chain Comparison Table

 

  Outer Plate Inner Plate Pin Type Joining Weight

SRAM

PC-1091R

Hollow Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Hollow

Single Use

Power-Lock

257g

SRAM 

1091

Hollow Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Hollow

Single Use

Power-Lock

257g

SRAM

1071

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid Plate

Grey

Hollow

Single Use

Power-Lock

257g

SRAM

1051

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid

Single Use

Power-Lock

272g

SRAM

1031

Solid Plate

Grey

Solid Plate

Grey

Solid

Single Use

Power-Lock

272g

KMC X10SL

DLC

Hollow Plate

DLC

Hollow Plate

DLC

Hollow

Reuseable

Connect Link

253g

KMC X10SL

Ti-Nitride

Hollow Plate

Ti-Nitride

Hollow Plate

Ti-Nitride

Hollow

Reuseable

Connect Link

253g

KMC X10SL

Silver

Hollow Plate

Nickel Silver

Hollow Plate

Nickel Silver

Hollow

Reuseable

Connect Link

253g

KMC

X10L

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Hollow Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid

Reuseable

Connect Link

268g

KMC

X10.93

Solid Plate

Nickel Silver

Solid Plate

Grey

Solid

Reuseable

Connect Link

273g

Shimano XT

CN-HG-95

Solid Plate

Sil-Tec

Solid Plate

Sil-Tec

Solid

Single Use

Joining Pin

273g

Shimano Deore

CN-HG54

Solid Plate

Grey

Solid Plate

Brown

Solid

Single Use 

Joining Pin

273g