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YBN’s imaginatively named Soulchain SL (Super Light) 10-1 Ti 10 speed chain will suit those with a lust for bling and for saving every last gram from their road/audax bike. If that’s the yardstick by which you judge components, it won’t disappoint but while very competent, £49.99 is a fair bit to shell out on a chain and such astonishing beauty quickly becomes irrelevant under winter slime and grime.
Bling aside, the SL is compatible with both Campagnolo and Shimano (I’ve a hunch it’d be just fine with Sachs too) and there’s a wealth of technology employed in these 128 links. The gold treatment is in fact a very durable titanium nitride similar to those used on the most expensive sprockets and YBN make a seemingly identical model under licence for several other brands. The engineering rationale’ behind the plating is reduced friction and longevity, enabling the use of otherwise featherweight materials. The joining pin is treated with a hard- wearing layer of chromium carbide and I can well believe it’s one of the strongest around- more than up to the rough and tumble of competitive road racing.
The titanium nitride plating is either gorgeous or gaudy depending on your tastes but coupled with the X bridge outer plate certainly enhances shifting-especially under load and despite intentionally sloppy shifting, the full force of my 70 kilos dancing on the pedals, it couldn’t be cajoled into misbehaving. Uncharacteristically neglected with only the faintest hint of factory lube defending it from wet, salt strewn December roads; it remained silent, skipping tirelessly up and down the cassette. That said I would stop short of fitting it to my cross bike as to my mind, eight speeds is optimum so as to avoid clogging hassles.
Good looking, smooth shifting nitride-coated chain for lightweight thoroughbreds
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Make and model: YBN SL101-Ti Chain
Size tested: 10spd
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The SL 10 Ti chain a lightweight, high end 10 speed chain for riders seeking to save every last gram without compromising reliability or shifting prowess and to that end it meets the design brief very well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Gold Titanium nitride plated links, chromium carbide joining pin
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There's no doubt the SL10 is a very competent chain, more than up to the rigours of competitive road racing. It shifts beautifully under load and is much stronger than 256g would suggest.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Smooth, silent performance, distinctive looks and low weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, in a racing or best bike context.
Age: 36 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)