Summary of 12-speed chains for use with Shimano road bike and MTB components

Posted at: Sep. 12, 2022

We have compiled a list of 12-speed chains that can be used with Shimano road bike and MTB components. Also about chain compatibility with chains from manufacturers other than Shimano.

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Shimano’s 12-speed chain

The latest DURA-ACE, ULTEGRA, and 105 road bicycles, as well as the current higher grades of MTB (XTR, DEORE XTR, SLX, and DEORE) use four types of 12-speed-specific chains: CN-M9100, CN-M8100, CN-M7100, and CN-M6100.

CN-M9100 is the highest grade, and the smaller the number up to CN-M6100, the lower the grade of chain.

As for 12-speed chains, MTB chains that have already been converted to 12-speed are also used for road use, and 12-speed chains for road use are not in the product lineup as of August 2022.

Can I use a 12-speed chain from a manufacturer other than Shimano?

KMC’s 12-speed chains

KMC is a standard manufacturer of Shimano-compatible chains in Japan. 12-speed chains include the DLC chain and the popular X chain, both of which are designed for SRAM and Campagnolo and cannot be used with Shimano 12-speed components.

There are some reviews that say they can be used with Shimano 12-speed components without any problems, but be aware that they are not compatible with the manufacturer’s products before trying them.

In addition, KMC’s manufacturer’s website clearly states this, but some mail-order websites sell the product without stating that it is for SRAM and Campagnolo, so be careful not to make a mistake in purchasing it.

SRAM and Campa 12-speed chains.

It is natural that they cannot be used since they are not compatible with Shimano manufacturers, but SRAM used to be compatible with Shimano, so one might think, “Well, can’t SRAM be used?” However, since KMC’s 12-speed chains are clearly differentiated as “for SRAM and Campagnolo,” it is safe to assume that SRAM and Campa 12-speed chains cannot be used with Shimano 12-speed components.

However, as with KMC 12-speed chains, it is possible that “there was no problem when I tried it,” so try it at your own risk.

The distance between sprockets is very narrow with 12 speeds, so shifting compatibility is very severe.

Since all 12 speeds for road use are electric shifting (Di2), it is best to use a genuine Shimano chain to benefit from the fast shifting speeds of Di2.

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