Absolute Black Oval Chainring - Review

Jan 9, 2015
by Richard Cunningham  

Pinkbike Product Picks

Absolute Black oval chainrings 2014

Absolute Black is a quality aftermarket parts maker from the UK that was one of the first mountain bike suppliers to jump on the oval chainring movement. Absolute makes oval rings to fit 104-milliemeter bolt circles, as well as direct-mount rings for SRAM and Truvativ GXP cranksets. We reviewed the 32-tooth model, which is the smallest option for 104 BCD crank spiders. Absolute Black says the major axis is the same as a 34-tooth round sprocket, while the minor axis is close to that of a 30-tooth. Proper spacing and threads are machined into the anodized aluminum sprockets, and the 50-millimeter chain line is corrected for one-by drivetrains. Chain control is assured by a narrow-wide tooth profile, which is a good thing, because oval rings are tricky to protect with a conventional guide. Absolute Black sells oval rings in either 32 or 34-tooth sizes for 104 BCD cranks and offers a 32-tooth direct-mount for SRAM GXP - all for $66 USD. Colors are anodized green or black. Stated weights for the 32-tooth models are 41 grams and 59 grams respectively. Absolute Black

Absolute Black oval chainrings 2014

Absolute Black's 30-tooth round direct-mount chainring for SRAM GXP cranks next to its 32-tooth oval chainring for 104 BCD cranks. Reportedly, pushing two extra teeth on the oval ring requires a similar effort as the smaller, round sprocket.




Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesSetting up the Absolute Black oval chainring requires little more than lining up the pip on the sprocket with the crank arm to assure that the timing is correct. Because the same number of teeth are engaged at any point of the crank revolution, the ovalized sprocket will not affect chain length, or cause the rear derailleur's take-up arm to oscillate as the bike is pedaled. As a result, switching to an oval chainring with the same number of teeth will not require a chain adjustment. Absolute Black's oval ring is well constructed and beautifully finished, and it mounted up easily to a Shimano XTR crankset. The chain, although not new, was relatively fresh and ran silently on the sprocket from day one.

Initial rides with the oval chainring did not produce the "aha" moment I was expecting. A lifetime of spinning round chainrings caused my legs some confusion as my feet felt as if they were speeding and slowing with every revolution. That sensation faded quickly, but there were a two more lessons to learn before I became completely adjusted to pedaling an asymmetrical sprocket. Saddle position fore and aft affects the timing of the sprocket and the legs. I discovered that sliding my saddle one centimeter forward made for smoother pedaling. I also learned that the oval ring favors a slightly lower RPM as well as a steadier cadence, so I found myself shifting more often to stay in the sweet spot.

Once sorted, the oval chairing's advantages were readily apparent. Pedaling torque was more consistent, which made it easier to maintain pace up while climbing. Controlling rear-wheel traction was made easier, presumably, because I was getting through the "dead zone" with greater ease, and that allowed me to top some technical steeps that I often struggled with. The slight pulsing sensation could be a distraction on the flats, where minimal pressure was required on the pedals. The pulsing disappears if the rider chooses a taller gear and a slower cadence, or when the terrain asks for more leg power. The bottom line for Absolute Black's oval chairing is that switching to one is a sure way to ease up punchy technical climbs, and it could also be used to widen the gearing ranges of one-by drivetrains by allowing the rider to push two more teeth up front without sacrificing the bike's climbing ability. - RC


Must Read This Week

265 Comments

  • + 340
 I prefer a round sprocket and oval wheels
  • + 66
 Oval chainring, oval cassette, oval wheels... Ovalception.
  • + 61
 Drink the Ovaltine! It's good for you and good for climbing too!
  • + 107
 Oval sex... oh sorry I didn't know you copyrighted that mr President
  • + 71
 That comment was oval the top...
  • + 54
 I think you are oval reacting!
  • + 19
 Whats the deal with Ovaltine?
  • - 36
flag ridesmoothbro (Jan 9, 2015 at 13:29) (Below Threshold)
 LOL!
  • + 62
 This is not a well rounded pun rally.
  • + 29
 STOP GETTING ALL OUT OF SHAPE ABOUT THIS. GET OVAL IT!
  • + 17
 Square is where it's at
  • + 32
 I'd love to stick around in this odd little circle we've got making jokes, but the wife just called and said she was ovalating..
  • - 12
flag jaydubmah (Jan 9, 2015 at 16:35) (Below Threshold)
 This product is so exciting I'm oval-ating!!!
  • - 18
flag ridesmoothbro (Jan 9, 2015 at 17:04) (Below Threshold)
 HeeHee!
  • + 12
 What a n-oval idea.
  • + 13
 No Seinfeld fans on Pinkbike?
  • + 15
 Oval all the Pinkbike puns I've read, these rank pretty high.
  • + 14
 I like it but I don't think it deserves a standing ovalation.
  • + 12
 It's about time these were rounded off, they seem to be going all oval the place
  • - 5
flag fssphotography (Jan 10, 2015 at 3:02) (Below Threshold)
 oval my god...
  • + 2
 Hey those chainrings are the same shape as my ballbags so they must be good.
  • + 9
 Fecalmaster, you just fecaled all oval yourself for not keeping the pun going!
  • - 1
 What's the oval/under on how many people will purchase these?
  • + 21
 Choosing the correct drivetrain components nowadays can be a bit ovalwhelming.
  • + 14
 Is it just me or does this thread seem a bit ovalkill?
  • + 7
 some of these puns are just going oval my head...
  • + 3
 Hookless Roval is the sht!
  • - 1
 Classic.
  • + 0
 When will you all upgrade to a Rhombus ring? (Sorry, that is all I had)
  • + 2
 The Bearcloth went OVAL the mountain, the Bearcloth went OVAL the mountain, the Bearcloth went OVAL the mountain!..... Of course it didn't take him OB LONG time, but he probably should just have gone aROUND.
  • + 13
 These are great! I will surely use some of them in our advertsSmile thanks.
  • - 3
 Hey these are not new designs by far, as i can remember useing shimano "bio-pace" chain rings which were oval shaped in the late 80's but soon fell out of favour
  • + 1
 First real LOL I've had on here in a while
  • + 91
 Why is that simple physics that are proven in the world are suddenly stupid in the bike world? Are we above science? This is a great product that makes perfect sense.
  • + 30
 Because it ain't #MOTO.
  • - 18
flag makripper (Jan 9, 2015 at 8:46) (Below Threshold)
 the 90's called, they want their stupid ideas back. (in mtb) In road it makes sense.
  • - 9
flag justanotherrider (Jan 9, 2015 at 9:15) (Below Threshold)
 Might be good if you are just riding smooth trails or bike paths but if you want to hammer a quick jab on the pedals before a drop, or out of a corner when you might not be in the "sweet spot" then round is going to be better. There is a reason long stems and bio pace rings are no longer.
  • + 28
 Justanotherrider. that is the opposite of what the review said they experienced with the rings, have you ridden them enough to make those claims or are you just armchair engineering? Also this has nothing to do with long stems (which aren't part of the drivetrain last time I checked) and nothing to do with Biopace rings (which did the opposite of these rings as I understand it)
  • - 19
flag makripper (Jan 9, 2015 at 9:27) (Below Threshold)
 patrick, biopace is the same thing. sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html the whole point of both is getting through the "dead zone" more quickly....
  • + 24
 Biopace was oval rings but they put the large part in the wrong place so they hampered rather than helped.
  • + 17
 Biopace was absolutely NOT the same thing. Do some research for once.
  • - 11
flag makripper (Jan 9, 2015 at 9:37) (Below Threshold)
 the theory behind biopace was to go through the "dead spot" faster by ramping up before and after it's supposed to smoothen out the power delivery. I remember how shitty it was and taking them off my bike after a day of using it. Tell me how well it works dork. What's your biopace theory?
  • + 8
 Another gimmick that will only serve to separate you from your money. It will not make you happier, and you would need a scientific instrument to prove it made you faster (if it did). Once it receives widespread acceptance, the powers that be can de-bunk the science behind it and convince you to go back to round rings again, just like they did with Bio-Pace.
  • - 15
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 9, 2015 at 10:38) (Below Threshold)
 Tmackstab - oh no, I do not dare to be above science, horrible things may happen. If you say so it must be a true blasphemy. Simple physics hahaha. Is that all you got Father Scientologist? Maybe something about facts, logic, reasoning? Do you understand Quantum Physics as well? You know, give us any big word that hits the dumber part of society, makes them kneel and put head down, analogical to ideas like Masturbation will get you to hell. If angels will tell God I am interfering with myself, then will you tell Richard Dawkins that I have bad genes?
  • - 7
flag gabriel-mission9 (Jan 9, 2015 at 11:00) (Below Threshold)
 Dawkins is an idiot. A sort of atheist fundamentalist with as little subtlety or insight as the religious fundamentalists he loves to hate. Darwin would have made for a better analogy. Probably not the place for this conversation, but the man bugs me and I couldn't resist.
  • + 2
 i dont think this makes sense. the concept of smaller vs larger chainrings may benefit you in terms of having more power (smaller chainring) or speed (larger) where the oval would change the length of the lever arms (in sense that theres a small and a large chainring on one chainring, changing the 'chainring size' per one cycle of pedaling. However, the crank itself isnt going to be an oval crank. the pedaling is still going in a circle under the same spindle.
i suck at explaining stuff. i hope it makes sense to somebody. hahah

am i misunderstanding this concept?
  • + 5
 Oh that gimmick they use to race Grand Tours on... That gimmick!
  • + 7
 I have been using an oval front ring for close to years. It is not a gimmich it is simple science, i don't why so many people can't figure this out. I get more power on steep climbs with less fatigue which is helping my knee rehab with a tear in my ACL and a shitty meniscus. Overall my legs are less tired and sore than they were before...
  • + 1
 even on an MTB Reelchef67? it makes complete sense to me for road though. I"ll have to give it a go again then.
  • + 5
 If it makes sense on road, why won't it make sense off the road?
  • + 7
 On steep techy north shore climbs it works very well. Gives me a little more mash when u are in the power section of pedal stroke. IT works very well.
  • + 6
 Honestly this seems like more of a "feel" thing than any kind of performance gain. It still will take the same power output to get to the top of the climb regardless of how smooth you can put the power down. Kudos for the idea, but I think I'll stick with good old fashioned round chain rings.
  • + 19
 The reason it helps is because when your pedals are close to vertical you have very little power so the ring is thinner (equivalent to a smaller ring) there to increase torque and to get your pedals horizontal faster where you have more torque. Does that make sense?
  • + 4
 Yeah, I get the idea, but it doesn't "increase the torque" it just levels the curve out making for what someone could argue is a more efficient pedal stroke. But at the end of the day you still have to pedal your weight up the hill and that's just simple math when it comes to power output, you'll use the same amount of energy with or without the oval chainring, hence why I think it's more of a feel thing, not an actual performance gain.
  • + 11
 Soooo, I asked a pro roadie about those. Last year he rode for NetApp Endura. He says very few roadies use them, he never used them. Sooo... If Oval supposed to give you power to ride two teeth more with same exertion as article would suggest, that would mean thaaat... It would be quite a significant advantage on 250km race and 3000km+ tour whiiiile people win on round chainrings... Irrelevant? If you like it use, just don't behave as if you were a rocket scientist or SR71 designer talking to a bunch of peasants who just cannot grasp how genius is that thing you determined to make sense?
  • + 3
 Hahahaha nice bitch slap Waki.
I can see the potential attraction on larger (ie road) rings and with a smaller 1 tooth difference between the two ring 'diameters', but that begs the question "why bother at all?". My memory of Biopace was that it was an interesting idea that f*cked with my young knees...
  • + 3
 I am in no way sure about this but I believe a lot of TDF riders this year were running oval rings with the logos covered up. Not sure about this so someone who cares more may want to verify, but thats what I heard....
  • + 5
 I thought Fabien Barel used an oval chain ring? No?

I would certainly try it first before dismissing it. Especially when one is getting older and one's knee has had an acl tear.

Besides, I thought it was more about how the power is generated and it's delivery rather than the amount generated that was key?
I would assume that the amount of power generated roughly remain the same?
  • + 5
 @Median Yes it does increase the torque its like running two different rings at the same time. When you are in weak spot of pedal STROKE it gives you a smaller ring , then when in the power section of stroke gives you a larger ring
That is why a 30 tooth oval is said to be like running 30/32 ring at the same time..
Biopace had it backwards..=Failure
  • + 1
 Quick Google 2014 Tour de France Time Trial - oval rings spotted: one! Yea we got one of the illuminati! Flat tracks, next to zero variables. Quick Google "Giro 2014 Time Trial" oval rings spotted: none.

Human has dead spots in his pedal stroke oooor we are turning circles? Look some people will love it, good on them, just please don't convert everybody saying that ovals are a step forward for everybody. If they are a step forward for RC or someone else I will not doubt it, I only doubt that pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo.
  • + 2
 Pay close attention to your pedal stroke at a very slow speed and then tell me if you have constant pressure and power on the pedals. You don't, so yes, there are dead spots and yes this will probably help when set up properly. But like RC says it's a different feeling that comes with an oval ring so maybe road guys just don't want to get used to the switch
  • + 1
 @thisspock, I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say "pay close attention to your pedal stroke", I would argue that concentrating on that would help the majority of most recreational riders. I also think that the flat pedal crowd would definitely benefit more from this than anyone else, but when I am clipped in and spinning I actively try and optimize my pedal stroke and don't think I would like the feel of an oval ring, nor do I believe the benefits would be as great unless I was running flats.
  • + 2
 pay attention to your pedal stroke - that is one big chunk of muscle memory to create, while I can imagine that a roadie could do it, I can hardly see it for even an expert mountainbiker. There was an article somewhere where they said that there are three groups of peadallers: great, average and terrible, with terrible being people fixated about efficiency of pedal stroke without any knowledge about it. Just as I read it I looked around town and saw an old lady doing a perfect BMX gate start off the traffic lights, pulling bars while putting power down and a bloke looking like elite commuter sprinting out seated, spinning like an idiot. The best guideline is this: ride as much on flat pedals as you can.
  • - 2
 There was an article somewhere that said the exact opposite of just about anything anybody ever says when it comes to the internet. It's not a question of muscle memory, just being aware if you are mashing the pedals vs. spinning efficiently. When you're clipped in you can pull as well as push and sometimes that helps in keeping your momentum and can help take the load off the muscles that do the majority of the work. Now if paying attention to how I pedal makes me terrible at it I suppose I'll take that with a grain of salt, however I do believe being aware of what your legs are doing helps, not only with being efficient, but also awareness of where in the stroke you are and that may help with pedal strikes too. BTW, no thank you to the flat pedals, those, like oval chain rings, are a question of taste and feel and I prefer to be clipped in.
  • + 4
 Flats for life!
  • + 0
 Legit or no, I'll be placing this on my list of items not to buy.
  • + 4
 Science!! You can prove anything with facts
  • + 2
 Comparisons with road should always be taken with a pinch of salt. They have different challenges. As someone says above, the same amount of work needs to be done to get to the top of the hill, so maybe oval rings don't save much on energy. However in MTB we have a degree of technicality in climbing, where a more even torque output is more valuable and therefore an oval ring could help. Moreover roadies use front derailleurs and I don't suppose they work reliably with oval chain rings.
  • + 3
 MMM it all depends, I find low cadence to be much better while climbing through a rockgarden than high cadence because
A - on a technical climb one might want to stand up as much as he can to move senter of mass forward to imrpove overall balance and increase steering precision of the bars and balance. Additionaly standing pedalling allows you to use a bit of trial moves because you can dramatically shift your weight back and forward, which is extra important in slippery conditions.
B - you get less chance of pedal strike as it is easier to time pedal strokes (thus you can use longer cranks = more leverage)
C - lower gear allows you to have pretty much all the power on tap so if you need to get over a log or a rock step you can easily do it. If you spin too fast you will never be able to get that front wheel up for desired amount of time.
D - you get more traction as same amount of maximum power is applied on longer deistance. I must say that practising gate starts a bit immensely improved my technical climbing. Where I live, if you ride a trail, most climbs are steep, rocky and rooty as hell.

Gills - ther is NO scientific evidence what so ever that would prove that stomping on the pedals is less efficient than more even pedal stroke and that is 100% disconnected from what kind of pedals you are running. In fact there are two half-scientific proofs made lately that show that A-flat pedal is on par with clipless when it comes to environment with little variables (road and fireroad riding in particular) and the second one showing that standing pedalling takes minimaly more energy than seated pedalling. James Wilson vs rest of the world 2:0. Clips allow you to stay on pedals while you pedal in rough and allow you to stay over the front of the bike more in attack position in rough. They are invaluable for aggro hardtail riders.
  • + 3
 To not talk with my arse instead of my mouth:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNedIJBZpgM&list=PLUdAMlZtaV11LAqXNLDr38oTXh9RuyiRY
www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVxGFOb1KTY&list=PLUdAMlZtaV11LAqXNLDr38oTXh9RuyiRY&index=2
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jh-5TYAtJI&index=1&list=PLUdAMlZtaV11LAqXNLDr38oTXh9RuyiRY

Most recent take on all of things in MTB looks more or less like that: I believe everyone has their own preference but I think I know best and three arguments later everyone goes into everyone should do like I do! My take is: everyone take it easy! You take it easy damn it!!! Calm down now!!!
  • + 1
 Science aside, my previous experiences with 90s biopace will probably keep me away from oval rings. But if I buy a bike with them on I probably wouldn't spend money changing them either
  • + 1
 That's like saying "The quality of my betamax player was terrible so I am not going to get a bluray player."
  • - 2
 It's absolutely nothing like. If I have to explain why your view of comparison is somewhat skewed
  • + 1
 @waki: I'm not sure I mentioned a benefit being higher cadence; only more even torque output.

Others have suggested an oval ring encourages them to pedal at a lower cadence. If true then you would be arguing the case FOR oval rings.

In any case I'm interested to see what Nino and Julien do over the next two years. If this product benefits anyone it should be them.
  • + 1
 Ummm, talking about the Tour . . . Wiggins and Froome both used oval rings to win the damn thing. And I think they might be pros of some sort. So it is hardly going to be detrimental to your performance to use one.
  • + 27
 RC,
Do you think the oval chainring favors flat pedals or clipless? And did you experience any knee discomfort due to the "quick" transition through the deadspot?
  • + 13
 Also ,sprinting? Like would it be an advantage for gated racing like 4X???
  • + 2
 Possibly?????
  • + 3
 In 4X I guess you'd prefer a chainguide over an oval chainring?
  • + 2
 Narrow wide works great, only have a top guide just for peace of mind. Plenty of riders running guide free now
  • + 2
 If you ride clipless go out on your bike and pedal with one leg in a low gear. You should experience a bit of free motion when you start to pick up. I think the chainring should minimize that wasted energy
  • + 2
 @igottaride @nojzilla these oval chainrings were originally developed for road use (clips) to aid climbing out of the saddle. It also helps sprinting so i would think help in 4x (never used it apart from road)
  • + 2
 I would think the dead spot would alleviate pressure on the knee joints.
  • + 8
 @gottaride, I did feel a twinge at the top of my kneecap when I first started using it that was caused by the quick acceleration after the sprocket passed the major axis. It is a timing issue and moving the saddle forward slightly remedied that. Up-shifting a little earlier to maintain steady pressure on the pedals also helped. No issues now.

The transition through the dead spot is not quicker - prehaps a bit slower than with round rings, but the lower effective gear at that point evens out the rider's torque output under power. Round rings feel smooth when lightly loaded, but force the rider to pulse when climbing or putting maximum watts into the pedals, Oval rings pulse slightly when lightly loaded, but create a smooth, even power output during high-watt efforts.

I have not ridden one with flat pedals, but I'd guess that oval rings would help, considering that using flat pedals tend to reduce the duration of the power stroke through one revolution of the cranks.
  • + 4
 I ride a AB oval ring with flats and it feels great. When I stand to pedal it feel like I get a smoother pedal stroke and less of the non circular feel you can get with the round ring. I also feels like you get a slight power boost especially when hammering out of a corner.
  • + 1
 I have been testing a similar version of this for a couple of months now with flats , and I really like it. I find that it makes the most difference when you're sprinting and riding aggressively. It does seem to help on technical climbs, but not on long fire road climbs, or when you're sitting and spinning. Pretty much the opposite of what RC found...
  • + 2
 Oval the threads I've read, this one is definitely the punniest.
  • + 1
 @igottaride - Oval rings tend to make riders want to push harder gears because they can do so with a "smoother" feeling (sorry for poor terminology). Any knee discomfort is usually a result of riders pushing harder gears than they're used too, as oval rings tend to make them do. I had the same problem at first with my Rotor rings, but all discomfort went away after learning some self-control with gear selection.
  • + 1
 RC- You're adjustments illustrate why I feel these are a great idea in need a refinement. The refinement would come as a way to index them a few degrees either way. This is why I think their real future is on bikes with a spiderless connection like Raceface and SRAM and E13 cranks. This would allow an easy indexing feature.
  • + 13
 This isnt biopace it's 90 degrees rotated, you should read the readily available research and theories behind it, or better yet buy one and see for yourself before salted a legitimately good product!! I was sceptical when I purchased mine due to the amount of negativity oval rings attracted, but I'm really glad I trusted my instincts on this. Sure it's not ground breaking but it makes climbing easier and less frustrating to get to the good bits!
  • + 2
 Do you have any links to the research? All the stuff I have found seems to indicate there is no measurable difference. Most of what I have found echoes this:

The primary aim of our study was to examine supra-maximal cycling performance and related mechanical variables in trained cyclists using a new prototype chainring (PC) designed to produce a higher mean net torque (T N mean) than a standard chainring (SC). The main feature of the PC is that crank-arm alignment and lever-arm length change as a function of the crank angle during the pedaling cycle. The PC presents two features theorized to effect cycling performance: (1) out of line of pedal cranks resulting in an decrease in the dead points, and (2) a change in crank arm length inducing a torque different from that of SC during the down- and up-stroke of the pedaling cycle. To investigate this theory, we examined eight male cyclists who performed a 1-km “all-out” cycling test in the following order: SC, PC, and SC. Performance was measured as the time (s) to complete the 1-km test. Mechanical variables included torque (N m−1), crank velocity (rad s−1), and power output (W). We performed our statistical analysis using a two-way ANOVA for repeated measurements and Newman–Keuls post hoc assessment. Our results showed that performance was similar for SC (69.41 ± 6.69 s) and PC (73.33 ± 4.58 s). Torque, crank velocity, and power output were also similar throughout (P > 0.05). We conclude that despite the theoretically benefits proposed by the inventors the new PC investigated in our study failed to improve cycling performance or mechanical variables during a supramaximal test when compared with SC.
  • + 8
 So would you say that for riders who are reasonably strong and maybe a bit on the heavy side, but who are not very good at spinning at high cadence, this would play to their strengths? (I fall into that category - definitely not that much of an endurance athlete, and not super technical in terms of my pedaling). Also, I guess this means it would be a good fit with flats rather than clipped in riding?

I have an Absolute Black NW ring in 64BCD (and their bash guard in 104BCD) that I used to convert my 2x entry level SRAM crank into a ghetto 1x setup. It's held up very well and hasn't dropped a chain once (with an x9 clutch rear derailleur).
  • + 2
 I have the same question.
  • + 1
 Shorter crank arms will promote higher cadence, because there's less range of movement and deflection required from the legs - meaning your legs have less distance to travel per rotation and joint angle is reduced. You can also do similar by moving the ball of the foot further ahead of the pedal spindle.

Oval/asymmetric style chain rings tend to make people push harder gears, which won't necessarily translate to a natural selection of higher cadence. You'd have to discipline yourself into pushing a higher cadence.
  • + 7
 I bought one as an experiment and will try it this weekend, but it won't be on my local trails, so it'll be hard to compare. Good to hear it favors mashers vs spinners as I am def. the former.

@RC: Did you time yourself on any familiar climbs for comparison? It's ALL about Strava after all. [winky winky]
  • + 15
 So, apparently the spelled out version of the Wink is dead creepy. [winky winky]
  • + 2
 I bought one to try too, but I'm waiting till the mud season is over before putting new drive train parts on. They're fairly popular with the North American pro-xc guys. It seems like it would help with technical climbing (as the review said), but I typically prefer a higher cadence, so we'll see how it works. I find my pedaling is stronger and more efficient when I focus on pushing hard through the downstroke rather than trying to 'spin circles'.
  • + 4
 @Patrick9-32: You should come visit. I live in an unmarked white van down by the river. I PROMISE there's no danger with this stranger! [winky winky]
  • + 6
 Flat bars less travel oval chainrings its like we are going back to where it started.
  • + 3
 Don't forget dinner plate cassettes
  • + 3
 I can see it now..... Hey bro, what shape sprocket you running on your new AM rig? Well, as a matter of fact I like to run circles for the flat, ovals for climbing, and squares for downhill.... I'm actually looking into that new sprocket shift level that dynamically changes sprocket shape, so I can run a 1 by geometric sprocket that changes shape based upon my shifts.

Wheel size debates.....now this! God help us!!!
  • + 2
 Where do you get your square rings?
  • + 3
 OK - so I bought the 30t oval for my hd3, 1x11 X01. Ring shipped from poland to the mtb mecca of santa cruz in 12 days. Ordered on 5/20/2015, arrived today 6/1/2015. Installed instantly thx to RaceFace Next SL cinch. Takes about 5 seconds to get use to it. Impression is that its friggn amazing. What it does is allow you to maintain a constant level of pressure on the peddle for more degrees of rotation. My test tonight was low gear climbs. The reason traction is improved is that you maintain a higher and more constant speed/pressure going over gnarly terrain - like roots. Roots I would normally steer around, I would simply hit straight on, because I had enough speed/momentum to carry instead of deflect. I was quite surprised that the oval ring actually gave me more line choices. If you had a long approach you need to spin up, it was not as noticeable, but shorter power bursts were more effective, and allowed you to carry more speed. And, you should all know that carrying speed without going too anaerobic is critical to dropping the competition. Potential issue is that since its steeper in certain clock positions, its harder at those clocks than the old round ring (duh). This means that in your historically most powerful clock position, you have harder push there and this could be harder on knees, so depending on trail irregularity, you can occasionally experience weakness at those clocks. Because of this I would hesitate to automatically buy a larger ring. But my first impression is that this is minor compared to the gains from being able to apply more power over more degrees.
  • + 2
 My cadence is smoother and less "forced." I feel like every full rotation of the cranks has more thrust and sustainable momentum - pure gold, climbing the techy steeps. I cannot get over how eerily dead-silent the AB oval is, combined with the XX1 drivetrain now. No chain slap, no chain drop, no chain suck....no nada, you'd think it's belt drive.
  • + 2
 Running a 32t oval AB on the 29er single speed and a 34t oval on the 26er SS. Was running the 34 on the 1x10 hard tail and noticed an improvement in climbing traction even with higher cadence. The single speeds had a very noticeable improvement in traction that was even more apparent when changing back to round rings. When these rings wear out they'll be replaced with more AB oval's.
  • + 4
 I'd like to try it at the $50-ish price point. I don't care what the science or reviewers say, I'd like to throw my leg over it and give it a ride for myself.
  • + 2
 www.rotorbikeusa.com/qrings_MTB.html

Rotor has been making them for years. Many threads of useful user information on MTBR and other forums. Note the multiple holes for changing position of the axis relative to your crank arms. Allows you to adjust to your comfort and capabilities. For 2x drivetrains, but some users reporting 1x setups. Importance of this product is the introduction of narrow wide tooth profiles for 1x, however misses the mark with no adjustability.
  • + 2
 Aside from all the witty comments I just wanted to add…

In 1989 when I bought my first mountain bike, which was a Peugeot Barracuda, it came with an oval crank set. This technology certainly helped the pedaling action for efficiency and out right sprinting performance, of course then I was younger and I played football (round ball) that certainly helped with my fitness but I do recall, especially in races, that I could climb and power along the straights with ease. I am glad they are returning.
  • + 1
 Their customer service is absolute crap. They shipped me the wrong product and now they don't answer when I want to ship it back. I wish I could review on the quality of the products but I cannot install this on my rig. Screw them, and buyer beware!
  • + 1
 I ran one of these in 32T for a little while on my single speed. I can say that I did notice an increase in traction on steep, loose climbs. Beyond that, not much else as far as advantages go. According to Marcin (the designer) the 32T oval is the equivalent of a 34T round ring at the peak power spots in the oval, and my legs felt it late in the ride, and post ride more so than a 32T round ring. Also, my preferred rear cogs didn't play well with the chains that the AB rings require (10 or 11spd), so for those reasons, I've returned to round chain rings.
  • + 2
 hipguy: Typo, thanks for the catch.
  • + 2
 You're welcome. Thank you guys for all the awesome content to get me through winter!
  • + 2
 our rings can use any chain you like hpiguy - 1/8" 1/3/5/7/8/9/10/11 spdded pick what you like. Except half links from narrow/wide reason.
  • + 1
 It should give position options like RotorQ. I used the original Rotorq rings eons ago. With an SRM I was seeing about 5w increase on the rollers (controlled environment). Real world, who knows. They were really expensive and after bending two of them in crit Field sprints gave up on it.
  • + 1
 As a very serious SS racer, the thought of gaining extra top end is very appealing, but after many years of training to turn perfect circles Im very hesitant to make the jump. Any elite level ss racers tried one of these. If there is a transition period in getting used to this ring does that mean I then need to get oval rings for all my rigs, things would get expensive real quick.
  • + 2
 it really works. There is 5-20 min adaptation time. After that you will not feel it. If you then ride your other bike with round rings you will again need to adapt for few minutes. So you can upgrade your chainringsgradually once they wear out.

In pro peleton it is widely known that some use round rings for training and ovals for racing.

Many even have oval granny ring only and round big ring so the Sponsors can't see it but they benefit on uphillsSmile
  • + 1
 @betsie

I count 2 high profile teams using oval rings in your link, and there are plenty of high profile riders that use them...

Brad Wiggins, David Millar, Richie Porte, Jani Brajkovic, Chris Froome, Chris Sutton, Geraint Thomas, Greg Henderson, Lars Petter Nordhaug to name a few.

Many Olympic gold medals have been won on an oval system too. There is a lot of team politics that affect what riders run etc, which we dont need to get into.

Moral of the story is: If you dont want them, dont buy them. I am stoked that round rings work for you, and I'm stoked that i have the option to run them.

Cheers!
  • + 1
 Old enough to have used biopace, no experience with the latest and greatest in oval rings, this quote from the article made me go hmmmm....
"I discovered that sliding my saddle one centimeter forward made for smoother pedaling. I also learned that the oval ring favors a slightly lower RPM as well as a steadier cadence, so I found myself shifting more often to stay in the sweet spot."
Works with plain old round rings too Smile
  • + 1
 what you write is true for slower cadence. This is one of benefits of ovals - reduce time and effort in dead spot.

But at high/very high cadence there is a limit to your body. Leg will simply not be able to micro accelerate more in dead spot as your big momentum from high cadence will leave the leg outside of your control. The inertia of your leg will just push it over dead spot naturally with constant speed as you are not able to react quick enough. Or another words leg will not be able to follow quick enough so you end up pedaling at the same speed. Not sure if my explanation is clear enough as english is actually not my first language.
  • + 2
 I've found I change gear more(34oval 10/42) during climbs, feels better burst out of slow corners.
Higher cedance vs standard 34T
  • + 1
 Thanks RC! I very much agree with "Controlling rear-wheel traction was made easier..." I do think that it was meant to be written than a 32t feels similar to a 34t at its major axis and 30t as its minor axis.

I have used this exact product (104 bcd 32t) on my 29" FS 1x10 since October and tried it on my old SS. I have several hundred miles on the ring and no issues.

Chain retention should have been mentioned. Even with two different times of forgetting to turn the clutch back on, I have not dropped a chain. This thing holds the chain perfectly for me.

There's some RD movement with the 32t and a long cage...I know a long cage on a 1x10 is taboo. The movement is minor. Minor enough that I ran it SS without any chain tension issues.

I won't try and make claims that this will make you faster. I really like how it 'feels' when pedaling and the increase in rear wheel traction while climbing. I used a 34t Rotor Q ring (similar clocking) for a while with a MRP guide and now I get to drop to a 32t, lose the chain guide and drop some weight.
  • + 1
 I am currently using one of these (34T not 32T) and it is great. I completely agree with what has been said, that speeding up and slowing feeling initally, it felt like my legs were sea sick! But very soon got used to it and it feels very smooth. I am also finding myself changing gears more often but I guess that's no bad thing! (Haven't had any issues with chain retention - using XTR clutch RM)
  • + 1
 I'm rocking the Absolute Black 34 tooth oval on my NS Snabb T--- I think it helps in the climbing. it's really hard to tell --- to get a true test, you'd need to identical bikes, one with oval, one with round... identical environment for the climbing test..and the identical physical condition... OK, you can talk till you're blue in the face, IOM, that's just not gonna happen but, hey -- sure as heck I can climb the snarkies with my NS
  • + 1
 Anyone try one of these on a Fat bike on snow? As Mattin mentioned above, it seems that my legs are tiring even though it seems easier to move through the power stroke. When spinning a lighter gear i seem to be bobbing more with the larger tires, first time trying an oval ring and just pulled the big tire bike out last week so i might be premature for any conclusions on my end.
  • + 1
 I would love to try an ovular front sprocket, they make perfect sense. It's basically like going into an easier gear when your legs are not making power, and a harder gear when they are, maximizing efficiency. Think of it this way, when your cranks are vertical you're not making any power, so you'd want to decrease the time spent with them vertical, and maximize the time with them horizontal, which is exactly what an ovular chain ring does. It's a great idea, especially for cycling where power is always at a premium, and anything helps.
  • + 1
 My main problem interest would be to see if a 30 or 32 chainring can give me a wider effective gear range with an 11-42 cassettte in my 27.5 Yeti SB5. I'll have a round 30. So if I get a 32 oval would it be lower than
The round 30 in my granny?
  • + 3
 Any difference in the ring's performance if you stand to climb rather than remain seated?
  • + 1
 I would assume it would work great standing. When I stand and pedal my power is delivered each time I push down, not in smooth circles.
  • + 2
 I stand most of the time and use these rings. The main advantage and the reason I got it was to improve climbing loose terrain. It certainly works for that. Frankly it feels more natural than a round ring to me. I don't know that I'd say it makes you faster or more efficient but I prefer the feel of the oval. It makes difficult climbs more fun.
  • + 1
 it works great when standing and seating. Loads of SS people using it now as well and they are happy.
  • + 0
 Oval chainrings take a while to get use too, i think its about 500 miles until your legs get use to them but every rider i have spoken to who uses these rings doesn't have one bad thing to say. Always something positive, making climbing easier, up to 30% more power, (stated by the higher end companies like rotor who have been making them for years) no dead zone in the crank rotation, also Fabien Barel has been using these for ages and swears by them. heres one on his bike from a company o'symetrics, but more of an extreme version.
  • + 0
 I ran a 34t Qring with a 1x10 Shimano setup. I didn't know there was a competitor for Rotor, which is a good thing as their stuff is overpriced. I found that it was too easy to put power down climbing. Many times the rear wheel would spin out when standing. These things really work and actually make climbing easier, but I had to concentrate on not spinning the wheel so much that I went back to a round ring. They probably would work great for XC and guys who don't stand to climb. They were easy to get used to and I never noticed any bouncing in the saddle or anything else weird. It's the opposite of Biopace! If Wolf made one I might try it again.
  • + 1
 Cuddly toast... will stick with my 6 year old iron horse azure and old school kit for xc. It is fun for xc and does the job for me. Enjoy your oval chainring. Each to their own.
  • + 0
 One hell-OVAL gimmick! And brings back bad memories. I tried this back in the 80's when bmx racers were trying to get any edge to get power on the upstroke on the flat sections -- didn't work well because of the variable chain tension and because there was a lack of chain tensioners made for BMX bikes back then. The inconsistent rotation and feel was just plain bad when applied to a sprinting bike sport. That's why you don't really see them used on velo bikes. The only thing that worked that caught on was using toe straps -- which is why you see modern bmx racers being clipped in.
  • + 2
 it's not the same what you rode 30 years agoSmile
  • + 2
 It sounds like it would help on technical climbs where you need an even pedal stroke and your cadence is slow enough that the dead spot gets in the way.
  • + 1
 I'm currently running a 28T spiderless Bling Ring up front. Hoping that they consider sizing down their rings, since the whole idea with 1x for me is to reach the granny range.
  • + 0
 This looks just like BioPace. The oval appears to be in the same place too. Look at the pic on Sheldon Brown site sheldonbrown.com/biopace.html the oval is kinda tipped backwards in comparison to the crank arm when horizontal. Perhaps this one has a slightly different shape or something but it's basically the same principal

Dont you think if an oval chainring was so great, BioPace would have just been modified instead of eliminated?
  • + 2
 cars from last century also look "just" like new cars. So they all must be rubbish right?Smile

Shimano made huge mistake and it was very hard to for them to convince people that idea was good but execution not. Same with convincing you now - in this regards nothing changed.
  • + 1
 Every ten years or so someone comes up with a funny shaped chainring and uses innocent bike riders as guinea pigs to test it whilst destroying their knees. Does it come with an asymmetric bash guard too?
  • + 1
 @RichardCunningham ok interesting sounds like a good option for weekend warriors who want to climb just that bit better. but im curious if this chainring can shave anything off a world class xc riders' lap times?
  • + 3
 Two of the last three Tour we France winners won using oval/asymmetric style chain rings (Osymetric to be precise). There's some modern testing data available showing there theoretically is performance gains, but it ultimately comes down to rider preference. For some riders the feeling just doesn't work for them. So what of XC MTB'ing? Well, until recently, Shimano didn't have 1x systems. The shifting performance of oval rings is not that great (risk of chain drop), and for SRAM sponsored riders, there haven't been any narrow-wide oval rings. In the future they may come, who knows.
  • + 2
 de* , stupid autocorrect
  • + 0
 BUYERS BEWARE! I ordered one on 1/22/15 and Absolute Black claims that it shipped on 2/5/15. The tracking # provided shows no shipping progress and appears to be lost. Several emails to Absolute Black requesting they ship a new item or refund my $. As of 3/10/15 I still do not have my order or a refund. I have had to file a claim though Paypal to try to get Absolute Black to resolve the issue. Looks like a great product, but extremely poor customer service from this company.
  • + 1
 Ned Overend (aged 55) 2010 US Nat SS MTB Champ.
34-tooth Rotor 110BCD shaped road chainring
www.bikeradar.com/au/gear/article/pro-bike-ned-overends-specialized-rockhopper-sl-singlespeed-27076
  • + 1
 if it helps make technical trails more manageable then great but what about frame compatibility?there are those frames where the design of the chainstay is in line of that of the ring?.
  • + 2
 Would love to give the oval a go, any brands make direct mount rings for raceface cranks?
  • + 1
 Do want
  • + 3
 i did`nt read the past post but.... BIOPACE IS BACK BAAAAAAAABYYYYYY
  • + 1
 My Rotor ring works on my singlespeed, so tension differences are pretty minimal. What difference does derailleur oscillation matter, at all, anyways?
  • + 2
 It might add to the fatigue of the spring. And it might eat up a (tiny) bit of your energy.
  • + 3
 Clutch type rear derailleurs create a momentary resistance which the rider must overcome, when shifting causes the chain take-up cage to swing forward. If an oval ring caused the cage to pendulum ten degrees with every rotation of the crankset, it would create a lot of unwanted drag. Single speed riders will tell you that all chainrings have a small amount of eccentricity, because they must adjust their chain tension to compensate for it. Chainrings can cause a tiny amount of derailleur swing because they are not machined perfectly on center, or because the crank spider is not on center.
  • + 1
 Or if the fit isn't really tight between the ring & the crank, it can get mounted slightly(or more)off center. I've had DJs that would almost bind because of how off center the ring was mounted.
  • + 3
 Can you still run a chain guide?
  • + 0
 It is called marketing folks. You should buy it. I had it on my 1985 Ross Hi-Tech MTB and could really tell the difference...well kinda...so...not really. My knees are fine...well pretty much.
  • + 2
 Wouldn't mind ovaluating one of these rings to see if they are truly ovalutinary
  • + 1
 Oval' erything dis time mang, you know wut I'm talkin about... oval rims, oval chain, oval ohlins' shox n' oval seatpost for my girl, its Gucci!
  • + 2
 I look forward to ovaluating these things myself -- might help me ellipse my times on the local climbs...
  • + 1
 I had the exact same experience as RC did with the oval rings. Awesome at low cadences when climbing, but I found myself bouncing in the saddle at high cadence.
  • + 1
 For anyone that wants to try one type in MarinCA in the notes when you purchase through the AB website and you'll get a 50% rebate on shipping costs
  • + 1
 "ovalized sprocket will not affect chain length, or cause the rear derailleur's take-up arm to oscillate as the bike is pedaled" Think it will work on a single speed?
  • + 1
 From their site "It also does not require chain tensioner when using in singlespeed application"
  • - 1
 Could this idea also be good for 1X gearing: You make the teeth of the front cog slanted forward a little to help with chain retention, as well as it being N/W or ovalized? Probably need to chain the chain design a bit, but could possible help.
  • + 0
 I think I like this idea. For a shorter guy like me at 5'8.5" it seems to make sense. I've also been toying with the idea of stepping up to a 32 or 34 from my current 30.
  • + 1
 So, I've got a 30T on 1x at the moment, purchasing this the article suggests I should step up to a 32T oval, will this increase the max speed when in the smallest rear sprocket, without compromising climbing ability in the largest sprocket - confused?
  • + 2
 if 5'8" is considered short then i must be a little person/midget
  • + 1
 Providing that the two chainrings have the same number of teeth, one revoloution of the cranks moves the bike forward exactly the same distance. Most riders can climb about the same with an oval chainring that is two teeth larger, so making that choice effectively increases your top range without adversely affecting your climbing.
  • + 1
 I agree. it looks so funky, (only the fresh prince could get away with this.)
  • + 2
 what about pedaling downhill to carry or gain speed? how awkward is that?
  • + 1
 It's not
  • + 0
 I tried one of these and it felt like it was creating suspension bob when I pedalled. Maybe it's better on the climbs but I didn't get it at all.
  • + 1
 Isn't it a Polish company?? When I got my oval ring from them it was from Poland.
  • + 2
 Machined in Poland designed in UK, I believe.
  • + 1
 Interesting, I just happen to need a new chainring. Maybe i'll give a whirl on my banshee rune.
  • + 1
 For the 104 BCD 32 teeth its $82.90 USD with shipping.
  • + 1
 yeah, slightly bummed out about the price as we know there are cheaper options. if they throw in the shipping for free i'd buy it.
  • + 1
 Yeah that's what I was thinking too.
  • + 1
 I bought a B-Labs oval ring and l bet the performance will be about the same.
  • + 1
 That is a performance over 1km trail. Not the long term effects on the rider.
  • - 2
 Ha ha .... i still have a biopace ring from the 80's... made sense but it didn't sell... just like "rapid rise" rear D's. .. i still have a Shimano Hone rapid rise... never used it.... that ABC stuff is sweet. .. those hubs they have are insane.
  • + 5
 Biopace had the opposite positioning to what the current rings have. If I remember correctly, with the effective larger chainring where the cranks are vertical and the effective smaller chainring where the cranks were horizontal. Sort of bass ackwards.
  • + 0
 yeah, that RINGS a bell... was it Suntour doing it? I don't remember --- the rings I have don't have any markings.... I used one of them to make a wind chime do-hicky thing.
  • + 2
 Rapid rise never made sense for actual mountain biking, because it favored one type of discipline. Pair it with dual control and it made for the worst riding experience I've ever had.
  • + 2
 ha ha ha.... I had it with an XTR, I'd go to "drop the hammer" and shift the wrong way.... man, that would kill the mo jo...

RR was good for climbing, that's about it.
  • + 1
 Yup, hence being catered to that 'one' discipline that thinks climbing is the most important part of the ride ;-)
I did the same thing, over and over. Hard to erase what both is logical, and what one's used to. Dual control was a whole bunch of evil to anyone who moved around on their bike, like merely bunny hopping....BRAKES!
  • + 2
 ha ha --- glad I wasn't the only one with that problem ---- I thought the idea was good (for climbing) but I just couldn't get used to it....I used to race XC back when this stuff was out, the rare chance I had to pass someone because I didn't "sand bag" like everyone else did, I'd go to rip past someone, shift into a lower gear accidently and look like a tool. ... I heard you gotta do something at least 90 days before you can undo anything you learned a different way so I gave it some time before I ripped it off my bike and tossed into the bargain bin I had at the shop. I wonder how people heard me yell out "ahhh, f*cking bitch" because I miss shifted into the wrong gear while doing just simple shit....
  • + 1
 slight tangent --- I run brakes moto style NOT because I used do the motocross thing but because I cut half my thumb off on my left hand --- index shifters on the left hand are a pain in the butt simply because I don't have the reach. I like index shifting better than twist but when I'm sporting front gears, I always do micro-shift twist shift for the front D, index for the rear D. hard to explain.. the dexterity of my left hand has become different because I need to use my fingers differently now. I use the front brake much more than the rear brake so I prefer using my right hand for the front brake (basically, moto style). frankly, even with a complete digit on the left hand thumb, I think I would still run my brakes moto style.. if you're right handed like me, I think it makes more sense. + it keeps people from trying to test out my bikes (Hey Mike, can I try out your bike?... sure, but I gotta warn ya, brakes are reversed...... oh, no thanks"). I never have any problems jumping on a bike and riding with them set the American way but, it's funny, people who try to test out my bikes are always grabbing too much front brake.
  • + 1
 Just curios. How does it work with Shimano RD with clutch?
  • + 1
 When does the enduro specific version come out?
  • + 1
 oh, i guess that 35tooth e13 ring was oval too.
  • + 1
 Sweet review. Answered my questions about these things.
  • + 1
 Wonder if you can get these in SA?
  • + 1
 I definitely want to give one of these a go.
  • + 1
 How does this effect lifespan on clutched derailleurs?
  • + 1
 "the ovalized sprocket will not affect chain length, or cause the rear derailleur's take-up arm to oscillate as the bike is pedaled"

So it's no different to a regular chainring in that respect.
  • + 10
 That quote is BS. My XO1 RD's cage is a like a pendulum when pedaling with an AbsBlack 34T oval ring. It swings about 10mm to and fro. It's very hard to miss.
  • + 1
 Good point, I also wanted to ask this question. So where is the truth? In theory, if the cranks are exactly oval the number of engaged theeth should be (almost) the same thoughout the revaletion. But only almost because the angle of atack of the chain will change. So the length of chain will change and the derailleur would oscilate. Could anybody who has tried it out prove this please?
  • + 2
 IMHO Varaxis has got to be closer to correct than the article. He's got one and has visibility of its performance. A mate's oval ring makes his chain shake to boogery twice per rev. Its an awkward line of sight following him riding just to one side so I cannot guarantee the derailleur cage oscillates but he does lose his chain too often (BTW not using a narrow-wide ring). It helps deter me from adopting. Anyway I thought that the benefit of being able to stamp skillessly more effectively at low revs at very very slow speeds uphill - great and crucial for some - was only a trade-off for worse, lumpy, effectiveness at high revs elsewhere. Swings and Roundabouts. Faites vos jeux, monsieurs.
  • + 2
 It's definitely moving in that clip, not much but still. The only reason I ask is the only clutched derailleur failure I've seen seemed to be a fatigue issue. It (Saint) was on a DH bike that gets park ridden nearly daily (park owners) and just exploded near the clutch on a timid section at the beginning of a trail.
  • + 2
 I've noticed that oscillation before on my bike that has a standard round ring.
  • + 3
 @Varaxis So far, I only have expereinced a tiny bit of derailleur wiggle and I have been testing a number of different oval chainrings. I'd like to see a pic of your wiggly drivetrain setup to investigate further.
  • + 1
 On a 32T ring the cage deflection won't be anywhere near as noticeable as say a 53T road chainring (those road derailleurs get a heck of a workout), but you should back some of the tension off the derailleur clutch of you think it's stressing anything.
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham i.imgur.com/0nDpEAX.jpg Extend the cage out from that video and you'll notice more swing at the lower pulley, that and going 32-36T (34T Oval) is probably more pronounced than the 32T oval version. ~10mm may be a little bit to you, but the point is that it's undeniably noticeable. Video being processed: vimeo.com/116704494
  • + 1
 Guys, cage swings because of changes in linear speed of chain during revolution. Linear speed is correlated with radius of rotor which varies on oval chainrings, thus you see an oscillation of the cage while rotating the cranks at constant angular velocity,
(chain goes faster on the taller part of rotor and slower on the lower part).

You can reproduce this effect on circular rotors by rotating cranks fast for half a rev and then slow - which is basically what happens when you ride. Mount a cam on your chainstay and you should be able to see this oscillation on bike with circular rotor.
When riding on oval rotor you will spin cranks faster on lower part of rotor and slower on higher part, thus making chain go at steady pace which won't cause the cage to move.

Summing up when spining cranks at steady pace by hand (like in the vids you linked), oval produces cage swing and circular doesn't, but in real life (when pedaling hard) it's vice versa, so addressing your concerns, the oval should be healthier for the derailleurs.
  • + 1
 You sure did waste a lot of time writing this BS, Lipton. Pedaled slow, clearly saw it swaying, and even felt the resistance of clutch. I wound up taking off chainring and now I'm back on my 36T round. Thinking about putting the oval on my single speed, as it seems to work better with uneven pedal mashing.
  • + 1
 Hurts my eyes... don't care if it works. Smile
  • + 11
 Joking ... lighten up.
  • + 1
 Is it narrow/wide,or is it upper guide compatible?
  • + 7
 "Chain control is assured by a narrow-wide tooth profile"
  • + 2
 Cheers,missed that
  • + 1
 no worries :-)
  • + 1
 "Chain control is assured by a narrow-wide tooth profile, which is a good thing, because oval rings are tricky to protect with a conventional guide" from article.
  • + 1
 While chain length isn't going to oscillate, chain line will, but by a fairly small amount. So if you wanted to run a top guide as well, as long as it was compatible with the "smallest" ring this ring emulates, you probably wouldn't have a problem.
  • + 1
 This is all getting abit too heated! oval n out people!
  • + 1
 I had oval chainrings on a late 80's trek mountain bike. It's nothing new.
  • + 3
 If those were narrow-wide too I'm going to eat my shoe.
  • + 5
 Could have been with a welder and a grinder. But they weren't. I wouldn't recommend eating a dutch shoe either. Might have splinters on the way out.
  • + 1
 I totally get your point and agree with you it's nothing new. Rather the return of something old.
  • + 1
 Someone please think for me...

Will this work with my SRAM XX1 cranks?
  • + 1
 They just released a direct mount for XX1 cranksSmile if you try one type in MarinCA in the notes when you purchase through the AB website and you'll get a 50% rebate on shipping costs
  • + 2
 oval my dead body
  • + 1
 But I like the blue one more. Looks nice.
  • + 1
 do they should have a free test oval chainring price ? on it
  • + 1
 Impressed with mine!
  • + 1
 ya mums tits
  • - 1
 Meh.... I'd try one and write up a review if I was sent a demo ring for free.
  • - 1
 1989 called and they want their shitty technically inferior design back!
  • - 2
 anyone recall why biopace died?
  • + 5
 I am old enough to have seen many a good riders knees wrecked by biopace.
  • + 1
 I'm sorry, it was an honest question. I mean am I wrong about biopace dying? Thanks for the reply betsie. I'm not opposed to new tech but this is old tech made to look new with n/w profile, is it not? Why will this succeed where biopace failed?
  • + 2
 Biopace clocked the oval in a different position, which makes a huge difference on kinematics.
  • + 1
 If memory serves, bio-pace was hard on your knees as a result of favoring a slower, sub-60 RPM, cadence. Given RC's 'pulsing' comments it may still be true. Spinning sub-60 on a symmetrical ring will grind on you, but asymmetrical rings seem induce a slower cadence due to the 'pulsing'. I guess long term testing will let us know if someone got it right this time.
  • + 0
 I would be very hesitant before buying it.
Do they have clinical data that proves beyond reasonable doubt that it will not cause the same issues as biopace? Of course not, a clinic would cost them over $100000 (one hundred thousand dollars), without data to support something that has been proven to cause damage no longer causes damage then I for one will not invest.
its a personal choice but the risks far out weigh any potential advantage.
  • + 1
 From what I've heard the Biopace as shaped exactly in the opposite direction: where your feet move horizontally, the Biopace was slower, instead of faster like this one.
  • + 1
 ding ding. Biopace! It would make it #24 on this list. justsomething.co/23-craziest-japanese-inventions-you-never-knew-existed
  • + 1
 @betsie, yes, in fact they have done a whole bunch of peer reviewed studies. Rotor has run plenty of in depth studies through a Spanish university, that focus on the bio mechanics of what is happening. Here is an example of one of the studies they have looked into. This is hardly marketing speak and techno babble.

www.rotorbikeusa.com/images/science/pdf/sscivol06no01paper04.pdf
  • + 2
 I'm not sure 6 weeks is enough time to produce any meaningful data for the long term effects (negative or positive) of an asymmetrical ring; cyclists ride bikes for years (or a lifetime) versus weeks...
  • + 2
 True, @ZzzzingZing, i just happened to pick the first study that i found in google. Fabian Barel mentioned that he uses oval rings because of recurring knee problems that he has had. Look at his 2009 World Champs bike, that was specifically meant for a very pedally course.
  • + 1
 Cuddlytoast. If they were that good and beneficial all the pro's in road, xc, enduro, cx would have been riding them since biopace and since that 2009 champs.
The fact is that they have not. You have to ask yourself why? Is it marketing, just someone tweeking something....
What will it give me.... next to nothing if anything at all.
I love looking at every reinvention of the wheel. It's up to the consumer if they buy into it.
  • + 1
 @betsie, if you look closely at the pro pelaton for racing, lots of the field runs sharpie'd out oval rings on race day.

cycletechreview.com/2012/news/oval-chainrings-good-tour-de-france
  • + 1
 Not convinced they did in the tdf 2014
road.cc/content/feature/122089-bikes-tour-de-france
  • + 3
 They really do work Betsie.
Propeleton is not a best place to look at because it all comes down to sponsoring and who pays for it - not what is best.... Only few have a voice big enough to ride some other sharpied out oval rings. Others are told by Sram/ Shimano/Campagnolo that they have to use what they are given by them or no sponsoring. Simple as that.
We face same problem in mtb. Big S's have very strict rules about sponsoring so if an athlete will use something else they will cut him off. So for smaller companies it is really hard to buy several whole drivetrains for pro riders just to promote a chainring from it. This is true for Rotor, O.symmetric or for us.

If you believe that hard that it does not work let's do experimentSmile I am willing to sell you one quite cheaply just to convince you that this is not just marketing talk... and you will share your thoughts in 3 weeks time here with us. Sounds fair?? This is NOT old Biopace. Comparing mine with Biopace does not even make sense for the skilled in the art.
  • + 2
 There is by now many independent studies done on oval rings by famous Universities. To read you have to pay as thats how they recoup their work. So, yes not many documents available as freebie. I think with current speed a year from now this will be the next big thing in mtb like narrow/ wide simply because it helps you pedal on uphills and the rear wheel has a lot more traction! You also feel that the pedal movement is a lot smoother - you will hear that from almost every single oval user.

Reason many people still are hesitant to try ovals is Biopace story from 30 years ago. This is NOT the same even if it's called Oval...It's like saying modern cars are rubbish because cars from 1920 year were rubbish.They have 4 wheels, steering wheel and an engine! - surely same thing, how they can be possibly betterSmile

They do not generate more power, or another words you will not generate more power. The way they work is you will be able to keep same speed you had for longer on the ride. So if you measure the time on the distance you will cover it quicker with the oval ring just because you will be able to keep constant speed for longer....
How this happens? Because ovals force you to use more muscle mass that with round rings to do same work. So they actually work less per 1cm3, and get tired to lesser extent.
You will get used to pedaling oval within 5-20min. Given that you rode round rings for many years this is nothing. But true benefits will come after 3-4 weeks when your muscles will physically adapt to it(because you now utilize more muscle mass than before and some of them may get sore for few days as they have not been used much before). Same analogy if you run 10km today and never run before such distance. Your legs will get sore for 2-3 days but then you will be able to run more.

thanks
Marcin
  • + 1
 Ok, here is an experiment, you give me one once the snow has gone, I will test it and send back to you {I am a staff development engineer so not about to run off with a chain ring}
Only issue is that I am unfit (well unfit for me) just now, so would make natural gains anyway, I cant cycle any of the distance to work due to the snow at the moment, so only turbo and recumbent exercise bike at home are available to me.

If we wait until the snow has gone then I could do a few laps of Glenlivet over a few weeks, they would be dark/cold laps so pretty slow, not been there since June 17th's KOM lap for any real fast laps as I have not been injured properly again, so riding Dh most of the time (we are lucky enough to have some tracks near the coast with minimal snow).

www.strava.com/segments/5985777

Glenlivet currently has some trees down from the storms and a considerable amount of snow. (I would guess up to 2ft minimum).
  • + 1
 To be honest it wasn't the article that convinced me. It opened my eyes though that it should indeed be better for climbing, but I thought it was nothing different as the old ones, except for the narrow-wide part.

Reading your comments here AboluteBlack, makes me see you really know your stuff and really stand behind it, and are not just copying an old design and trying to make it new by adding the n/w to it. Your knowledge and very good explanation is the part that convinved me to give one of these a try on my mtb when my current n/w chainring will need to be replaced.

Also I didn't realise that you can run this on a single speed set up without needing a chain tensioner.



The thing that I'm wondering, would this also improve for high cadense riding on flat? Like when riding on the roads or velodrome with a cadense of 100RPM?
  • + 3
 What I wrote is just a tip of an iceberg. This topic is soo massive that it would take many pages to explain it fully. And even then many will say they are not convinced, as "it can't work when it didn't with Biopace"

Whole problem with Bipace was that when they launched it, it was at the top groupset (like usual) and Pros didn't like them from obvious reasons (wrong clocking etc). But Shimano kept pressing and released that into many groupsets later as well, with no option for round rings for a while. So naturally many people didn't like it and somehow put all non circular rings into one basket for such a long time. Most just parrots what they heard and never tired them...


If you want to read real testimonials look here at mtbr:
forums.mtbr.com/singlespeed/oval-rings-unfair-advantage-singlespeed-932469-24.html

there are enough people with their experience to read about.

To answer your question. As long as you have resistance on the pedals you do not feel the oval. That means if you pedal at 100rpm and still feel resistance to push more then all is good. A little bob may be noticed when you spin, but you have enough speed that your pedaling actually do not add any speed. (like when riding down). But same thing can be observed with round rings. Give a go on rollers and once you reach 120-130rpm most people star jumping on the saddle as there is not enough resistance on pedals.
  • + 1
 sorry I actually did not answer the question.
It will bring very small if any benefits at very high cadence. But it will not bring any disadvantages either. Reason for that is leg has already enough speed(momentum) to "fly" over dead spot, so there is not much to improve here.

Where you see biggest benefits is where you have cadences lower than 60-70rpm which is what most people pedal at when riding in terrain (except some pro XC riders maybe).
The slower you pedal the bigger the benefit is because it helps to overcome the dead spot. As the slower you pedal the more time leg spends in dead spot - so naturally if you can improve this bit and leg goes quicker here a bit then you gain more fluidity in pedaling motion.

This is why Ovals are such a great benefit to MTB (not road bikes), but somehow were used for years only on the Road. This is also why it is hard to prove big benefits as most studies focused on the road bikes only, where the cadence is fairly high and steady (and this means not many benefits from ovals).
  • + 1
 Cheers for the answer! That does make a lot of sence.

What I'm thinking about is that theoretically the cranks should fly faster over the dead spot, creating a bigger percentage of time where you can add decent pressure to the pedals. But no idea how that would work out in reality (if muscles can keep up well etc).

I've heard plenty of reasons from you for me to give one of your oval rings a try when my current n/w chainring on my mtb wears out.

Cheers! Beer
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