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The chain game: Connex, KMC gear up to join the 12-speed revolution

Published September 5, 2019

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — When Shimano released details of its 12-speed drivetrain last year, Connex and KMC went to work in earnest.

While Sram got the jump on Shimano in the 12-speed evolution, the two chain companies were at a disadvantage because Sram does not allow group component substitutions at the OEM level. That delayed KMC, which does a lot of OEM business. Connex, on the other hand, doesn't cater much to the OEM level, so it waited on Shimano to ensure it could deliver a compatible option, which Connex said is more durable.

At Eurobike this week, both companies unveiled plans to enter the 12-speed market in January 2020. Connex's 12SO and KMC's X12 and e12 chains are compatible with Sram 12-speed mountain bike and Shimano 12-speed drivetrains. 

"We've been waiting for this for a while now," said Adrian Bleiler, international sales manager of KMC.

Connex's 12-speed chain will be constructed in steel, stainless and other plated versions. Connex says it's strong enough for e-bike drivetrains. The chains join with the Connex Link, a locking system that can be opened and closed by hand. The steel version will be available first with the stainless and other plated versions to follow.

 "We have a loyal customer base that's been waiting for this," said Christian Hamann, managing director of Wippermann, which owns Connex. "All of our chains offer a very good wear characteristics. The Connex Link is unique and adds value."

The 12SO will retail for $90.

KMC will offer the X12, which also is compatible with Campagnolo 12-speed, and e12 chains in numerous color options with different coatings: Ti-N, Titanium Nitride gold, EPT EcoProTeQ anti-rust and nickel-coated.

While Connex maintains its chains are strong enough for the torque generated by e-bikes, KMC is manufacturing a dedicated e-bike chain, the e12. Using a reinforced pin design, KMC says the e12 will last three times longer than standard chains. It's also offered in several color options. The X12 and e12 are constructed with a non-directional design for easy installation.

"Our special e-bike version is more durable because of the enhanced riveting," said Harrie Hofstede, KMC OEM sales manager. "Both versions are an upgrade on durability."

The X12 will retail from $39.95-$120; the e12 from $62.95-$67.50.

Topics associated with this article: Eurobike

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