I unwittingly purchased a fake CNHG901 HG-X11 chain for my Shimano 2x11 M700 groupset because my original chain already had 0.75 wear. I was naïve to think that I'd actually get a legitimate chain for the amount of money that I was paying. My question is, since the option of getting a refund is already out, is it actually safe for me to use this chain on my bike or am I better off not using it at all?

Additional info: I found out the chain was not authentic through this video: www.youtube.com where I found many differences between my chain and the one in the vid. Mine had engravings on both sides and not just one, it came with a quick link but not an instruction manual like in the video, and cost about 50% the price of a legit chain.

(The chain in the YT video is not my chain, the video is an actual unboxing of a legitimate Shimano chain, I used the video to compare the chain I got and the chain in the video.)

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    It would never have crossed my mind to worry about the manufacturer. If it's a chain that follows the required specs, it'll be perfectly usable. This reasoning is perfectly valid for any manufacturer that wants to retain customers. However, a shady vendor that does not shy away from product piracy is a whole different story: They have lied to you once, they might also have lied to you about the specs. Commented May 14, 2021 at 11:58
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    Out of curiosity, can you show a close up of your chain? It seems like it would be a lot of trouble to counterfeit a Shimano chain down to the markings. I agree that 901 and 701 chains are both stamped only on one side, and probably the 105 version as well.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 16:02
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    @d-b 0.75% wear.
    – MaplePanda
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 18:19
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    It has stretched (via internal wear) by a factor of x1.0075 Commented May 14, 2021 at 19:04
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    @WeiwenNg I don't know how exactly to upload a photo to the comment section but I'll describe it as best I can. The fake chain has the exact same engravings you'd find on the CNHG901 chain in the linked video, but on both sides. The box it arrived with was worn, and came with no instruction manual. I actually used this guide to legit check the chain I got (besides the video ofc) bikingultimate.com/….
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 10:57

4 Answers 4


The main problem is quality, in terms of dimensions and variance.

If you think its an 11 speed chain but someone has just repackaged some 10 speed chain, then there will be issues.

Likewise, if it were the right chain but didn't pass Quality Control and was rejected because it didn't match the required dimensions, then it could fail quicker, or accelerate wear on other parts.

If it were me, I'd examine the item closely, using calipers or a micrometer and comparing it to the old chain. You're looking for anything bad, like cracks or thin parts, or variable thickness.

If nothing appears wrong, I'd use it like a normal chain. But I'd do my monthly safety check and remember to wipe down the chain, run the wear checking tool on it, and be wary of climbing out of the saddle with a hard effort.

If I were competing, I'd use this kind of thing on my trainer bike, but not my race-day bike.

If I were riding long distance (ie more than a 10 minute walk home) I'd make sure to pack the spare links, and some pins/quicklinks and a tool in my on-bike toolkit. A breakdown that you can ride away from is much better than having to phone home for a pickup.

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    I think I'm better off not using it at all; since I ride long distances frequently and usually go alone so I can't afford to baby it but the chain itself is indeed compatible, I'm just worried about any premature wear or permanent damage it might cause to my drivetrain since the only thing wrong with my setup is the chain and everything else is fine. Sadly, I do not have a trainer bike so I think I'll have a mechanic inspect it so I can probably try to sell it to someone who might want it, and save for a legit chain. Lesson learned for me I guess and thank you for your input :))
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 12:50
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    If I were riding long distance (ie more than a 10 minute walk home) I'd make sure to pack the spare links, and some pins/quicklinks and a took in my on-bike toolkit. You should do that anyway even with any "official" Shimano (or other vendor) chain. (I assume you meant "tool" instead of "took"...) Commented May 14, 2021 at 12:50
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    @SEBASSZCHAN you could buy another chain and carry that as a spare. Now you own this one, may as well get some use out of it.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 13:34
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    Also, if this really is a fake chain, i.e. a low quality one that's been passed off as a Shimano chain, then I would be worried about material quality. Proper performance chains basically never break unless they were improperly joined. A low quality fake actually might.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 16:03
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    @JamesK Good point, but its getting away from the purpose of comments, and might be better for Bicycles Chat "10 minutes" was an off-the-cuff number.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 15, 2021 at 12:04

You can normally use chains from other legitimate vendors, be it SRAM or KMC or something else. You do not need to use Shimano™® chains only.

But no-one can tell you whether your chain is of sufficient quality. Only you can inspect it, measure it and try it. We cannot do that.

I am not even 100% convinced it is actually a fake chain, but I will just take is as a premise I am answering to.

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    The chain in the video isn't my chain btw, it's an unboxing video of a legit chain of the same model. Just wanted to clarify that. You're right, I'm just scared of using a fake chain on my drivetrain, like what if it ruins the teeth of my cogs or something. Thank you for responding btw :)
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 9:29
  • A proper inspection of a dodgy chain would IMO include things like metallurgy and micro-fracture analysis, which need specialized equipment not available in any household & possibly specialized expertise as well.
    – Reid
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 16:15
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    @Reid Maybe, depending on your requirements and worries. Things like microfractures are usually an issue in alu alloys, not steel. It really depends on what you are actually worried about. I would be more worried about precision and manufacturing tolerances. 11 speed chains must be built pretty accurately. However, remember that only few factories can make them, it is not something a dodgy maker can make in their garage and still make profit. It is difficult and there are small margins. Commented May 14, 2021 at 17:07
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    Be also aware that even the real branded chains do not really see any thorough metallurgic analysis, they just follow the manufacturing process that they know it works. Commented May 14, 2021 at 17:12
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    Well, my point is with a counterfeit chain, you have no idea what corners are being cut. It could be the chain is made with inappropriate/cheap metal and manufacturing processes. Or it could literally be diverted from the reputable product line and thus be identical. And it's nearly impossible to tell the difference with the type of inspection practical for a normal cyclist.
    – Reid
    Commented May 14, 2021 at 21:04

I'm a bike shop and I was sold by another bike shop fake HG901s.

What triggered us is that fact that a customer bought a chain, installed it, and came back after 100km of use and a wear of 0,75.

I opened two more boxes of those and they both had 0,75 wear.

The new fake and a new real put side to side show a very striking length difference, the same as when putting a quite worn chain side to side with a new one.

In the first image, you can compare the inner plates of the fake (up) and real chain. The construction is not the same at all and maybe the measured "wear" on the fake chain comes from that hole being larger from bad manufacturing; it would effectively make the chain longer. I will try to measure this.

The second image is the comparison of chain length. The fake one has 100km (left). In this image they are aligned with the first link towards the top of the image and we are looking at about 100 links down.

Fake HG901-11 (top) and real Shimano chains inner plates

Fake HG901-11 and real HG701-11 wear comparison

  • You are using incorrect style of tool. Only Park Tool CC-4 and Shimano TL-CN40, TL-CN41 and TL-CN42 measure the correct thing: pardo.net/bike/pic/fail-004/000.html -- the other types of tools can incorrectly report a perfect new chain to be fully worn.
    – juhist
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 19:40
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    We are using the KMC Digital chain checker. It shows new chains at zero. Also new fake and real don't have the same lenght at all when put side to side. It visually shows the same thing you see when putting a worn chain next to a new one. So the 0,75 "wear" on all fake HG901-11 is real and problematic. Please see other post showing the lenght differences and chain construction.
    – SuperBab
    Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 0:46
  • thank you for this.. It's great that we got to see a side-by-side comparison of the legit and fake chains. And wow, even I'm impressed the fake chain survived that 100km ride!
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 11:55
  • If that second pic is a new Dura-Ace 901, shouldn't it have hollow pins? I just bought 2 chains that I fear are fakes. But, lined next to a new chain, there is no length difference. Thanks for all the info. Commented May 27, 2022 at 23:27
  • The new chain in these pictures was probably a HG701-11.
    – SuperBab
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 13:36

Quite a delayed answer, plus, it is based on my experience with just one fake chain, but still can be useful to somebody.

I bought a Shimano 11 gear chain for a lower than expected but not too low price to suspect a fake, so, I assumed it was a deal or sale or something. When it came it was pretty obvious immediately the chain was fake, one of the clues was it didn't have greese on it. I confronted the seller and they never confessed it was fake, but they gave me 50% refund.

I am an amateur and not too powerful, so, I thought I would not have strength to break it, so, I installed it on my bike anyway. I rode maybe 200km before it snapped. I was riding on a flat road, doing something like 25-30 km/h, and my experience with Garmin/Tacx suggests I was not applying anything more than 200 watts - or at least not much more.

The chain got into the rear wheel and damaged multiple spokes and rear derailleur. All in all, it costed me much more to fix the bike than I saved on the chain.

So, I would avoid fake chains. A reputable manufacturer would not pretend to be something else - they would mark them as Shimano-compartible with their name as a manufacturer.

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