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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
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
@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

up vote 7 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
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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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