Review: KMC X11 EPT Anti-Rust Chain

by
November 16, 2017

kmc rust proof chain race face next sl rust

Just how good is the EPT anti-rust coating? We gave one to a high-mileage test rider to see if months of wet weather riding and neglect could beat it.

Brand: KMC
Product: X11 EPT 11-Speed Chain
From: Moore Large, www.moorelarge.co.uk
Price: £34.99
Tested: by Darren Hall for 5 months

Daz is one of our local mega-milers (and a negligent mechanic), so we thought we’d see how he got on with KMC’s Anti Rust chain… 


Being one of those mountain bikers who prefers to ride bikes than maintain and clean them, and living in one of the wettest places in the country, the idea of a chain that doesn’t rust is perhaps the holy grail of bike componentry. So it was with some enthusiasm that I took on the challenge of turning a chain with ‘maximum rust resistance’, err, rusty. Long story short: I failed.

The KMC X11 EPT chain comes with a new EcoProteq treatment, which the manufacturer claims has double the rust resistance of its previous RustBuster treatment, 650 hours of salt spray resistance (that’s a lot of winter road riding!), and some other benefits such as less noise and a more subtle look. Don’t run 11-speed? You can also get the EPT chain in 1, 8, 9 and 10 speed versions, and there’s even e-bike specific chain options too.

kmc rust proof chain race face next sl rust
An anti-rust chain for use in one of the wettest parts of the UK? Sounds like a challenge.

With the goal of showcasing its clever new treatment, KMC’s UK distributor, Moore Large, sent us out an 11-speed chain that was made up of one half a KMC X11 EPT chain, and another half from another ‘popular drivetrain brand’. This other half was a bog-standard untreated chain, with the idea being that we could evaluate the condition of each half over time to see just how anti-rusty the KMC bit would be. And so from there, all I had to do was to seek out the filth wherever I could find it.

The Calderdale spring/summer(?) did not disappoint on this score, but it soon became apparent that simply going on normal wet rides wasn’t going to be enough. Thanks to my laziness, it’s not uncommon for me to come back from a night ride and throw the bike in the garage as-is, and come back to it a few days later to find an orange chain. Add to that some deliberate non-lubing, and we had the perfect chain-busting regime.

kmc rust proof chain race face next sl rust
The KMC X11 EPT chain features a special anti-rust treatment that boasts 100% more protection than its previous coating.

A few weeks of abuse later and the differences between the two chains became apparent. The untreated half would immediately turn orange after being left uncleaned and un-lubed, whereas the treated KMC half showed no real difference. Although as you would expect, a quick clean and application of lube restored the non-treated half to normal working order and appearance. There also appeared to be no drop in performance, with the chain remaining smooth running and shifting as long as a modicum of lubrication was employed.

The EcoProteq coating seemed to be working, but for how long? Again the Calderdale autumn did not disappoint. The hopes for Indian Summer didn’t materialise and more wet rides and lazy maintenance ensued. The coated half of the chain is still pretty much as it was when first unwrapped. The uncoated half is beginning to look, well, like a four-month old chain that hasn’t been looked after. Because that half is so rusty, it has started flaking orange bits onto the cassette and chainrings, which is why you can see a few flecks of orange on the KMC half – just in case you were wondering.

kmc rust proof chain race face next sl rust
The other half of the chain is going a peculiar (and familiar) shade of orange.

The only negative I can think of is the appearance. The coating gives it a matt grey/silver appearance, so shiny bling this is not. You won’t turn any heads at the trail centre with this, but then that if your riding peers are known for turning heads at chains, that might say more about them than anything else.

Overall

All up, the KMC X11 EPT chain did exactly as advertised, even with my deliberate neglect. That said, our experiment really only showed its performance against a £19 untreated chain, but it’s still a good example of what the EPT treatment can do – even after 800km of punishment.

If you’re the obsessive maintenance type who’s handy with a rag and a bottle of lube, and enjoys spending time at the end of a group night ride cleaning and detailing things, then the extra £15 might be better spent in the pub – assuming you make it back before last orders. If you’re from the ‘I’ll sort it out tomorrow’ brigade like me, then the extra expense for the KMC X11 EPT chain may well be worth it.

Review Info

Brand: KMC
Product: X11 EPT 11-Speed Chain
From: Moore Large, www.moorelarge.co.uk
Price: £34.99
Tested: by Darren Hall for 5 months

Categorised as:

drivetrain review