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I've noticed that 10-speed chains cost 2.5 times as much as their 9 speed counterparts. Is this just because there isn't much demand for these, so the manufacturers can justify the ridiculous expense?

Is there a cheaper option?

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It's because they figured you spent a lot of money for a fancy bike and can afford an expensive chain. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 11 '12 at 22:49
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The cheaper option is to keep using 8-speed systems... Like I do, for example... Very happy... ;oP –  heltonbiker Apr 12 '12 at 2:49
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@DanielRHicks: 10 speed is common on pretty much any road bike in the last 4 years, and a lot of mid range mountain bikes, too. Not exactly a "fancy bike" only option. –  zenbike Apr 12 '12 at 3:19
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There are 10 speed compatible chains starting around $20. However, most shops, in order to limit the number of different items they need to stock, will only stock higher end chains, usually 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace, and SRAM's PC-1071 and 1091r.

Which are more expensive, but have the advantage of being compatible with any 10 speed drive train.

Most likely, there is some difference in price because 10 speed technology is only just starting to move to the most basic of quality bikes, and there hasn't until recently been a need for a low price/basic quality option for 10 speed.

9 speed was the same way. It will get better, as the need for low end 10 speed gets more universal.

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My assumption is that racing bicycles (which 10 speed chains are generally used on) are used by an audience with a much higher median income than any other cyclist. I read an article recently and i believe the salary was around 60k a year. I think the industry uses this as a means to inflate the prices on all 10speed/ racing style bicycles. Just my assumption tho :)

Also i do no know of any alternative other than a cheaper chain which will typically be heavier but usually just as or more durable.

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Assumptions generally don't make good, factual answers. –  zenbike Apr 12 '12 at 3:20
    
@zenbike - The original poster misused the word though: the initial fact it claims as an assumption was documented in an article. In the second occurrence of the word, he actually meant "hypothesis" (assumption: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof --- hypothesis: a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation). Hypothesis are the starting point for establishing scientific truth. –  mac Apr 26 at 20:40
    
@Mac: Hypothesis does not, in fact, make a better factual answer than an assumption, since a hypothesis is only an assumption based on at best incomplete data used to BS a grant committee into funding the researcher's lifestyle while he does the research. :) It's the result of the research which would make a better factual answer. –  zenbike May 2 at 11:48
    
@zenbike - I never claimed the contrary, though. :) I just claimed that the OP did not make an assumption, but formulated a hypothesis. If anything, my implicit message was that while assumptions per se are rarely useful, a hypothesis is, as it is a required passage in the search for truth (at least if you use the scientific method). Also, a hypothesis is to be considered valid until disproved (or until an alternative one relying on less unknown factors is formulated - it's the lex parsimoniae). So a hypothesis - while non strictly factual - can still be a good answer. –  mac May 3 at 21:09
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I believe that the ten speed chains have a narrower link in order to fit the tighter cassette, which might actually cost more to fabricate. I know that in the SRAM chains you have to use a new PowerLock link each time according to the instructions, so it's still tool less but not something you want to use for a weekly cleaning.

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