Integrating a KMC Chain In a Campagnolo Drivetrain (Good…or…)

Condensed Answer:

KMC chains are compatible with Campagnolo drivetrains when the chain and the cassette are designed for the same number of gears (e.g., 11-speed chain + 11-speed cassette).

It’s also possible to use a chain designed for one extra gear than those on the cassette (e.g., 11-speed chain + 10-speed cassette). For ideal performance, however, it’s recommended to match the components.

Using a chain designed for fewer gears than those on the cassette will result in the rubbing of the chain’s outer plates against the cogs surrounding it.

KMC Chains Are Designed To Be Maximally Compatible With All Brands

KMC chains are designed to be maximally compatible with cassettes and chainrings produced by all brands.

There are two main requirements for compatibility:

  • The chain has to match the number of speeds on the cassette.
  • The chain has to be designed for standard bicycles, not e-bikes.

If those two conditions are met, it can be used on a Campagnolo drivetrain.

Below are lists of KMC chains compatible with the respected Campagnolo drivetrain.

KMC Z8.3
  • 8-speed
8-speed chains
  • 9-speed
9-speed chains
KMC 10-speed
  • 10-speed
DLC 10244g116
10-speed chains
KMC 11-speed
  • 11-speed
DLC 11227g116
11-speed chains
KMC 12-speed
  • 12-speed
DLC 12238g126
12-speed chains

Requirements For Chain and Drivetrain Compatibility

It’s important to know the following principles and dependencies when determining whether a chain can fit in a particular drivetrain.

  • Chains have an inner and an outer width depending entirely on the number of speeds that the chain is designed for.
  • The inner width of 7/8-speed chains is greater than that of 9/10/11/12-speed chains. The inner width of 9/10/11/12-speed chains is the same, however, because the thickness of the cogs doesn’t change much.
2.38mm 7.3mm (Shimano), 7.1mm (SRAM) 
2.38mm 7.3mm (Shimano), 7.1mm (SRAM) 
2.18mm 6.5-7mm 
10 2.18mm 5.88-6mm 
11 2.18mm 5.5-5.6mm 
122.18mm 5.3mm
Chain Dimensions
  • The outer width decreases with each extra gear because cassettes get denser as the number of speeds augments. In other words, cogs don’t change their thickness much but get closer to one another. The goal is to make one hub compatible with more than one type of cassette.
  • Since the inner width doesn’t change much the only way to make the chain thinner is to thin out the outer plates.
  • To avoid rubbing of the chain against the cogs surrounding it, it’s necessary to match the chain’s number of speeds with the cogs on the cassette.
  • If the chain is designed for fewer speeds, it will be too thick for the cassette and will create noise and a poor shifting experience.

FAQ: Can I use a KMC quick link with a Campagnolo chain?

It’s possible to use a KMC quick-link with a Campagnolo chain as long as the two are designed for the same number of speeds and the quick-link is explicitly described as Campagnolo compatible.

Otherwise, the dimensions will be off and the quick-link won’t be securely installed and will cause rubbing (if it’s too wide).

Some Campagnolo chains might not agree with a basic KMC quick link. For that reason, it’s recommended to check the KMC website to know with greater certainty whether the link that you have is fully compatible with your chain.

One example of such a chain would be Veloce 10-speed. This model requires a KMC 10CR quick-link which is hard to find these days.

In short, it’s possible to use a KMC quick link with a Campagnolo chain, but in at least 50% of the cases, it’s somewhat difficult to find the exact unit that you need.

To save yourself some unnecessary headaches and extra hours of online research stick with the officially recommended Campagnolo quick links if you already have a Campagnolo chain.

Derailleur Trimming

Even if two chains are designed for the same number of gears, they can still have slight dimensional differences. Therefore, it’s not unheard of to experience chain-rubbing after installing a new chain.

Most of the time, it happens because the chain is too close to the front derailleur’s cage. If the rubbing happens when using extreme gear combinations (e.g., large ring + largest cog), then simply avoiding those gears will be enough.

If the rubbing happens even when using the “recommended” gears, it will be necessary to trim the derailleur. This can be achieved via the trim function of the shifter (if there is one) or via the limit screws on the derailleur. You can find more information regarding this issue here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Graeme King

    Not recommended and voids warranty.
    We have seen damage to Campagnolo front derailleurs from KMC chains which we don’t see where Campagnolo chains are used -0 ditto the reverse surfaces of chainrings.

    1. B.Writer

      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

      What would cause this to happen? If the derailleur is set correctly, there shouldn’t be rubbing in standard gear ranges. People have used KMC chains and Campagnolo with a decent amount of success.

      In what drivetrain (10/11…etc.) have you witnessed damage to the derailleur from a KMC chain?

      Obviously, it’s always best to use the original chain, but some people may not have access to one at their location.

      Thank you for your help.

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