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KMC vs Shimano Chain

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KMC and Shimano chains are two of the most popular bike chains you can use on your bike. But, do you know the difference between the two chains? If not, read this article as we compare KMC vs Shimano chain for you to find out which one best fits your bike.

Features KMC Chain Shimano Chain
Price More Expensive Least Expensive
Design Non-Directional Directional
Materials Alloy/Stainless Steel Zinc-Alloy Steel
Compatibility Any Drivetrains Shimano Drivetrains
Adjustment Does not need a tool Need a tool

Shimano Chains

Shimano chains are manufactured from the company Shimano Inc., a famous Japanese multinational company that manufactures cycling and biking components, among other things. This company is well-known globally for producing high-quality bike components, and the chain is no different.

Overall, Shimano chains are built with durability and lightness. It is seemingly a perfect combination that will help make you have a comfortable ride. This chain is built with zinc-alloy steel, which provides the lightness and durability every biker needs from a chain.

Shimano chains are known to be directional. Meaning, they are designed in order for the outer plates to be optimized with chainring shifts while its inner plates are optimized for the cassette shifts.

This feature results in a more improved shifting performance that will help the biker shift gears quickly. It provides a smoother shift, resulting in an excellent transfer of power directly to the pedal.

The Upsides and Downsides of Shimano Chains

Shimano chains are among the top-rated bike chains you can use on a bike. Its quality is top-notched and provides durability and toughness to last longer. But the most significant upside for me is the price which is a little cheaper than KMC chains.

In terms of compatibility, if your bike is having a Shimano drivetrain, then a Shimano chain is a perfect option. The chai from Shimano is designed to go with the drivetrain made also from Shimano.

The ramps and the tooth profile on the chainrings, cassette, plates, internal measurements, and other features are optimized with each other to work as an efficient mechanical unit. The Shimano chains are designed to work with Shimano drivetrains and nothing else.

Which led me to the downsides of having Shimano chains in your bike. These chains are not designed to work with other drivetrains not made from Shimano. Adjustment of this chain will also require you to have a specialized tool to remove or add additional links.

Each Shimano chain also uses a pin depending on a particular type of Shimano chain being used. Meaning, you will need to find the right pin if there is a need to repair or replace a particular link. With Shimano chains, you will need to invest in the right tools and pins for its repairs and maintenance activities.

KMC Chains

kmc chains

The KMC chain is manufactured by a well-known company based in Taiwan, the KMC Chain Industrial Company Limited. This manufacturer is also known to produce other high-quality bike components which are being distributed in major bike markets such as Europe and the U.S.

Compatibility and durability are two words that best describe KMC Chains. They are designed to be compatible with all of the drivetrains. They cannot be optimized for a specific group set because they are built to be compatible with all drivetrains.

The KMC chain is also well-known for its diamond-coating technology. It also comes with hollow pins and plates resulting in its lightness. I know one particular KMC chain that just weighs around 236 grams which is pretty impressive.

The lightness of this chain is perfect for bikers for those bikers who are very conscious of the weight of the bike. The weight will also help in giving bikers a lightweight chain that does not compromise quality and aesthetics.

In terms of its physical features, the diamond-like coating of this chain also provides some help to the biker. It is actually a very thin protective layer made of carbon, allowing easy and smooth gear shifting.

The Upsides and Downsides of KMC Chains

The most significant upside in using a KMC chain is its compatibility. This chain is compatible with other drivetrains such as Shimano, Campagnolo, Sram, among other brands. Also, if a Shimano bike chain needs a special tool for removal or adjustment, the KMC chain does not.

It is built with a unique and straightforward open-close mechanism that will allow you to easily remove or add chain links using your hands. This feature is perfect when doing quick fixes should you encounter emergencies on the road.

These bike chains also come in various roller widths and external widths, making them compatible with different drivetrains. It also provides durability and toughness due to the alloy and stainless steel materials being used in the manufacturing process.

For its downsides, the more pronounced is the price which is more expensive compared to Shimano bike chains. As a bike owner, I often wonder if the price of this brand is justifiable since there are other brands, such as Shimano, which are more affordable.

Another downside of the Shimano chain based on my experience of using them, is its tendency to get noisy. After some kilometers, you may notice that it produces an unnecessary sound which is pretty annoying.


Knowing the difference between KMC vs Shimano chain is crucial if you are a bike enthusiast. They are both excellent bike chains that offer various upsides and downsides. Knowing the difference in features of these two brands is essential in looking for the chain for your bike.

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