Home
Verdict: 
Great looking high-spec colour-coordinated chain. Your best bike will thank you, your wallet not so much
Weight: 
240g
Contact: 
KMC X11SL DLC Chain
7 10

Let's be honest, you'll only be eyeing up the X11SL DLC chain if you have a posh bike and you want a flash colour-coordinated chain to finish it off. And if that's what you want, and you're okay with the salty £90 price tag (around £60 online), then the good news is that this is also a really good chain.

DLC stands for 'Diamond Like Coating' which is a hard coating KMC applies to the chain to reduce abrasion and wear. The X11SL has other high-end chain features too: the inner and outer link plates are all hollow, as are the pins, meaning that it's light for a chain at 240g for 116 links.

Find your nearest dealer here

Buy this online here

The chain's available with inner plates in a range of colours: black, blue, red, green, celeste, orange, pink and yellow. That means you can match it to your nice posh race bike and it'll look the business. It's simple to fit too, as it includes a KMC Missing Link 11-speed connector.

Once it's on, shifting performance is good and the chain runs nice and quietly with positive and reliable shifts between sprockets and chainrings. If you want to keep the coloured links looking good it's best to use a wax lube that doesn't pick up too much dirt. You won't need a wet lube, though, because you'll be leaving that bike in the garage if it's raining, right?

Is it better than a SRAM Red or Shimano Dura-Ace chain, both of which weigh about the same and can be had for less than £30? Well, not really. It is a lot prettier, though, assuming you keep it clean. That's the real reason to buy one over a pro-level chain from a major groupset manufacturer for less than half the price. It's your money, and your bike will look the business.

Verdict

Great looking high-spec colour-coordinated chain. Your best bike will thank you, your wallet not so much

road.cc test report

Make and model: KMC X11SL DLC Black/Blue Chain

Size tested: n/a

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Compatible with: Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo 11-speed

Top-Performance

Triple X-Durability

Diamond Like Coating

Open innner and outer plate design

Super Light, 243 grams only!

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It looks great, which is mostly the reason you'd fit a coloured chain.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

It looks great.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It's expensive.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe for a Sunday best bike

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your score

It's a really good chain that looks super-smart on a posh bike. Hard to score really: you pays your money, etc

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

10 comments

Avatar
anarchy [100 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Poncy shite. Will be black in 5 mins anyway

Avatar
il sole [77 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I've got the red version on my best bike and shifting performance is excellent... But of course I only got it to add a bit of bling and it looks ace  1

Avatar
Jamminatrix [149 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

The DLC makes sense... DLC coatings are used for MTB shock stanchions to keep then smooth and wearfree. DLC is even used by modeler's for crankshaft coatings on 2-stroke nitro engines.

Of course "DLC" varies significantly in quality...hardness, brittleness, etc, and of course, how thick/well it is applied. But what I want to know is, is the DLC strong enough to not wear out (on the inner pins, which is what causes 'stretch'; and on the ramps and rollers, which is what causes poor shifting)?

I haven't seen ANY closeup pictures of KMC DLC chains with thousands of miles on them. I'd be curious to see a long-term photo review.

EDIT: Is the Quick Connect link DLC too?

Avatar
hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Will DLC on a chain cause any extra wear to the chainrings, cassette, derailleur pulley wheels?

Avatar
Morat [250 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
hampstead_bandit wrote:

Will DLC on a chain cause any extra wear to the chainrings, cassette, derailleur pulley wheels?

Only if the bike is taken out of the display case  3

Avatar
Leviathan [2505 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Its actually a white and gold chain.

Avatar
Welsh boy [344 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Wow, it has hollow inner and outer link plates too! I can see from the picture that they are slotted, but HOLLOW? Really?

Avatar
adam900710 [67 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Welsh boy wrote:

Wow, it has hollow inner and outer link plates too! I can see from the picture that they are slotted, but HOLLOW? Really?

Yes, hollow plates and pins.
And X11SL also has such hollow plates and pins.
But with almost half the price.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1282 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
adam900710 wrote:
Welsh boy wrote:

Wow, it has hollow inner and outer link plates too! I can see from the picture that they are slotted, but HOLLOW? Really?

Yes, hollow plates and pins.
And X11SL also has such hollow plates and pins.
But with almost half the price.

Calm down everyone, they are not 'hollow' in the typical usage of the term - in this case, they are referring to the slots.

Genuinely 'hollow' chains are under development at the MucOff-Sky-Rapha Skunkworks in Bournemouth. I have a friend who works in the carbon fibre/F1 industry, who reckons they have the laser-3D-printing gubbins to make something with an internal void that's still strong enough nearly productionised. Word is they will cost approximately £950 for 114 links (116 being clearly a silly weight issue, and no-one needs that sort of capacity wrap).

Avatar
earth [340 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I like KMC chains but I had one of the Titanium Nitrided ones.  The coating was on ly on the parts of the chain that can been seen.  When I took a few links out to fit it I found it was not on the inside of the links where they are in contact.  I felt this made the coating close to useless.  They need to prove this is not the case with this chain.