I maintain several 9-speed (rear cassette) road bikes (Giant OCR 1/2/3, Tiagra and 105 from 2000-ish era) and one 10-speed rear cassette 105 road bike, made in 2007. I'm trying to find out if I can buy "one" chain to fit all these bikes and get good shifting results, thus only stock one kind of spare. I've read some people say yes, 10 speed chain works even better on their 9 speed setup, but it's all so context-specific. Instead of guessing, It'd be great if someone had information based on experience. I would like to focus on shifting/riding performance, and leave out the issue of possible variances in chain longevity.

1) Based on actual experience, do any of these specific 10-speed chains work well on a Shimano Tiagra 9-speed rear drivetrain? Well meaning shifts without issues, not "noisy" compared to 9 speed chain. KMC 10.93? SRAM PC-1031/PC-1071? Shimano CN-6701?

2) Are there other specific models of chains, that work well this way, based on actual experience? (For example, maybe there are chains marketed as 9-speed that are actually spec'd to the 10-speed specs, or other chain manufacturers I didn't include)

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    you can't. 9-speed chains are a different width to 10-speed chains. If you did cobble something together, it would certainly fail your "good shifting" test. – PeteH Jul 1 '14 at 17:27
  • 9 spd is a different width externally, not internally. I see no reason why this couldn't work. It's roughly 6.6 mm vs 5.88 mm. I've certainly used 9spd chain on 6/7 speed clusters w/o problems. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Jul 1 '14 at 19:10
  • PeterH, your comment is a broad, theoretical, and incorrect guess. There are numerous posts on assorted forums from people who ARE doing this. The problem is the information in those posts doesn't typically have details about which specific 10-speed chain models work well with which specific 9 speed drivetrain components. For example, Shimano has multiple 10-speed chain specs, e.g., "normal" and "narrow". Anyone can simply exclaim "that won't work"; however, there are numerous people who say they are doing this successfully. What are the known success paths for the configuration I mentioned? – user12819 Jul 1 '14 at 19:24
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    I made my comment because 9- and 10- speed Shimano chains have different dimensions, so it wasn't a guess and is not theoretical. I take your point but the answer to your question is subjective in that it depends on exactly what your definition of "good shifting" is. Our definitions are clearly different (and in that respect I apologise - my comment was subjective too), but in any case good luck finding the perfect chain. – PeteH Jul 1 '14 at 21:28
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    I don't really see so much problem with using the proper chain. As far as stocking extras, you'd only need 2 chains. It's not like you need 6 different sizes. This is assuming you needed to stock them in the first place. They are not uncommon and should be readily available at your local bike store. – Kibbee Jul 1 '14 at 22:09

I'm going with the KMC X10 line of chains, in particular, the KMC X10.93 chain, looks like around $25, as my "one chain to drive them all" for my 9 and 10 speed rear derailleur bike collection of Shimano drive train bikes. After it arrives, I'll post an update with the experience-based results on my 9 speed bikes.

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