Hope Retainer Ring - Review

Jun 12, 2014
by Matt Wragg  

Pinkbike Product Picks

Pinkbike Product Picks 2014


Hope Retainer Ring

We first showcased Hope's prototype Retainer Ring at Core Bike this year and they haven't hung around getting them to market. They are machined in the UK from 7075-T6 aluminium and hard anodised for longevity. Like other chainrings of this type, it uses an alternating narrow/wide pattern on the teeth which, when paired with a clutch-equipped derailleur, helps keep your chain on without the addition of a retaining device. It is available in 30, 32 and 34-tooth options for 104 BCD cranks, and it will work with 9, 10 or 11-speed drivetrains. Our 32-tooth test ring weighed in at 41g (actual weight). MSRP: $74.00
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We know that a lot of people have been waiting for Hope to produce a narrow-wide chainring. The machining is everything we could have wanted from Hope and it doesn't disappoint out on the trail.



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesIn the last few years, Hope have massively expanded their product range and it's great to see the UK manufacturer flourishing like this, because we have a soft spot for small engineering companies producing bike parts. The Retainer Ring is everything we wanted it to be - the quality of machining looks to be top notch and we love the understated, laser-etched graphics. Out on the trail, it simply works well. During our time with it, we had zero problems with dropped chains and quickly forgot about the chainring completely - which is always a good sign. We reckon that making a 30-tooth option was a good call too, because many riders still seem reluctant to make the jump to one-by drivetrains for fear of not having a low enough climbing gear, but paired with a 40 or 42-tooth cassette extender, we think that most riders should have a wide enough spread of gears to confidently ditch their front derailleurs. - Matt Wragg



162 Comments

  • + 105
 I hope my chain stays on. Wah Wah Wah.
  • + 27
 Badum-tss
  • + 92
 Don't be so narrow minded. This has a wide range of uses.
  • - 27
flag Spykr (Jun 12, 2014 at 22:34) (Below Threshold)
 Get out.
  • + 40
 If it does fall off you should give them a ring and complain.
  • + 35
 But if they put you on hold you might just have to grit your teeth and find a link to their web page.
  • + 92
 All these puns are really starting to grind my gears. Seriously, I don't know how you crank these out so quickly and chain them together so readily.
  • + 12
 These puns are the reason why I love this website hahaha
  • - 17
flag Sir-Dirty-BIker (Jun 13, 2014 at 0:16) (Below Threshold)
 Bacon
  • + 17
 @sir-dirty-blker Don't chain-ge the topic!
  • + 35
 Theres too much tension for the topic to shift
  • + 14
 Some people are just single minded
  • + 19
 Who in the hell neg props bacon haha
  • - 5
flag riish (Jun 13, 2014 at 5:02) (Below Threshold)
 i hope we can keep this one going!
  • + 10
 Now this is a review I can really get my teeth into.
  • + 3
 Sounds a bit of a crank to me
  • + 5
 mmmm bacon - nom nom nom
  • - 1
 At least Dave is a fan of the good stuff! Peace brother! tup
  • + 20
 All these puns make me want to embed a chainring into an orphan's skull...


did I do it right?
  • + 7
 I hope this thread continues to crank out the narrow and wide minded views, while staying on task and not dropping off subject.
  • + 0
 at least the puns are not referring to "looks like a Trek"......
  • + 15
 Looks like a Race Face
  • + 4
 And you wonder why all you guys are single...
  • + 2
 Who said we're single mate?
  • + 0
 @BeRudeNot2

not all single here...been with my missus 15 years and she even rides bikes too Wink
  • + 2
 I'm.... forever alone...
  • + 2
 We're clutch so we can afford to be single
  • + 5
 If you like it put a ring on it.
  • + 2
 t'was a crude attempt at a joke. I was not questioning your virility Wink
  • + 34
 Looks like a chainring
  • + 16
 MSRP: $74.00 for a thin piece of machined aluminium. LOL!
  • + 4
 ^richierocket: I feel ya especially when I can pick up a rear chain ring for my mx bike for less then 65 bucks
  • + 4
 Consider the mic dropped.
  • + 4
 When the Raceface N/W ring came out, it became a question of whether it would function as well as SRAM's super expensive XX1 rings. And then it did a great job. Now, more and more people are making these... so does anybody know a narrow/wide ring that DOESN'T do its job? That's what we need to know now...
  • + 4
 the RF ring is pretty much exactly the same for way less $. although hope has a gold color ring which looks dope with renthal and kashima
  • + 3
 as far as I can tell my race face ring is not hard anodised and is already showing more ware after 2 months use than my old renthal ring did after 2yrs plus usage, I,m hoping renthal make a narrow/wide chainring soon
  • + 1
 @mark3 How much wear does a chainring get that never has to deal with shifts? The single rings on my dh bike never really had any wear, when obviously my trail bikes all have hammered chainrings. Is it a bashguard issue?
  • + 1
 i've seen some NW rings that have taller teeth like the wolftooth components ring. seems like a good way to keep a chain on along wiht it being nw.
  • + 0
 the wear occurs on the outer edge of the teeth when the chain is at the most extreme angle, 1st gear and 10th gear, also there's quite a bit of wear on the front of the tooth that does all the pushing forces when pedalling, as far as I'm concerned race face should of deburred/ smoothed off all the sharp edges from the machining and then HARD anodised the ring not used soft decorative anodise and then the chainring would of been a lot better imo, yes the race face is cheaper than the hope but I'd bet its no where near as well made as the hope ring will be
  • + 3
 The built-in shims on the RF not only keep the chain away from the crank spider, but also offset the ring closer to the center of the rear cassette - reducing the chain angle and wear. That was a big driver for getting the 30T over the 32T (+ washers = creaking),
  • + 1
 I've got raceface narrow wide rings on both my bikes. 34t on my anthem (1x10) and 32t on my reign (1x9). They line right up in the center of the casette on both.

I've got 500 miles on my 34t and of course, some of the anno is worn off but my 11t on my casette and chain are worn out (xt casette, xtr chain) wayyyy before the narrow wide.

However, I'd much rather have a hard anno'd part. I'd even pay extra if RF offered it.
  • + 4
 a big driver for getting a 30t over the 32t: I'm fat as f*ck
  • + 1
 The Chromag ring is almost the same price with even more tech built in. Anyone try one yet?
  • + 1
 Been running a wolf tooth 34tooth for the last month. Not a single chain drop. Put on this 30t for a race today and it dropped twice. Once on a gravel fire road and the other time on single track smooth trail. Massively disappointed as it was in a race.
  • + 1
 the hope 30t or race face 30t?
  • + 1
 The hope. Just realised the us chain slack in the small cog. This was possibly the cause. Must check and update.
  • + 26
 Why not 36? Is that not enduro enough?
  • + 15
 +1
(Or 2 as the case may be)
  • + 2
 I would imagine demand for 36 is limited. I tried running 36T N/W with a 42T Wolftooth and just ran out of gears on the steeps, actually ended up with a 32T and I have only ever spun out over 30mph so pretty happy with that!
  • + 1
 Sourmix, 32-42 is the sweet spot when you don't have a 10t cog. I run the same ratio.
  • + 4
 I don't get this, I run a 36t ring with a 11-36t cassette and rarely find myself limited on hills. I do prefer a lower cadence but even so I'd have thought 36 to 42 would be fine for pretty much anything?
  • + 4
 @Barnseyhcxc:
Not round here on my local trails, particularly the 'off piste' tracks. The steep stuff I'm talking about is loose, so doesn't stand hiking out of the saddle and I think I'd blow my kneecaps half way over the hill if I tried sat down!
  • + 1
 According to Hope there is a 36T option.
www.hopetech.com/product/retainer-ring
Available in black, silver or gold
Available as a 30t, 32t, 34t and 36t chainring size
104PCD 4 bolt pattern
Designed to run with conventional 9spd, 10spd or 11spd set-ups
Weight from: 41g
  • + 1
 Sourmix: if your knees hurt from pedaling in the saddle you are doing it wrong... try raising or lowering your seat post until you get to the sweet spot. I used to have a ton of knee pain on my road bike until I got fitted and they moved my saddle just a tiny bit down and voila all better. It's worth a shot at least.
  • + 1
 Gooldilocks, no knee pain - just hitting the limit of what gear can actually be turned!
  • + 2
 Ah copy that! disregard my comment then!
  • + 2
 Never ran out of gear climbing with a 36x42. Actually never ran out with a 36x36 either. I have ran out of high gear with a 36x11. I love the 10t high gear with X01/XX1. Everybody is different, I figure that I'm the odd man out. I never trained for cadence at all though.
  • + 3
 you guys living flat places should try a steep 1000m ascent. Then come back and tell us how it went with your 36t ring.
  • + 1
 Oh, I do 1000m ascents with 36t. Some of us travel frequently to legit mountains.
  • + 1
 It all depends on where you usually ride, what wheelsize you have, how light your wheels are and what grip your tires deliver. A guy with a full suspension 26" bike with carbon wheels who lives at 2000m altitude will get away with a 36T-42T ratio. For me, living in Belgium (flatland), having Crossride wheels on a 29er hardtail, a 36T in steep sections would simply kill me.
  • + 11
 No mention of the Hope 30t having the offset built in to avoid the chain catching on some cranks spiders. The Racface Narrow Wide has this and an added bonus is the ring is threaded too, so no fiddling about with two sided chainring bolts. If the Hope does have both of these features then this isn't much of a review!
  • + 5
 fucking hell how right you are. my last narrow wide was a raceface 32t with the 2 piece bolts and it was a complete pain in the ass if you didn't have a proper tool to tighten them all the time. replaced it with a raceface 30t with the threaded bolt holes and it was such a relief. i'd assume Hope did engineer the correct slot clearance for the chain otherwise you really couldn't use it.
  • + 1
 depends on the bolts you use. mine were easy because I could use a knife to hold the back ones in place but the OE shimano ones that come with the double you need the tool. Put the raceface 30t on my son's bike which made life really easy Big Grin
  • + 2
 dglobulator- the 30T ring has both points you've highlighted. I've got one of these on my 29er enduro and it helps with the climbing no end. The down fall is that you don't climb with as much efficiency as you'd want and you then drop down all of your gears straight away when you want to get the power down on the decents. I'm going to try a normal 11-28 cassette on the back to see how that feels. I understand everyone is different so it would be interesting to see how it pans out.
  • + 2
 Cheers gazmataz, I have the Raceface 30T so I know what you mean. My original point still stands though, if the Hope ring has captivated threads, and the off-set for the 30T, then this is a shit review! I can now consider this as a replacement for my Raceface when the time comes where as when I first read this I had no idea!
  • + 3
 If you read the review, it says at the start that I tested the 32t ring, not the 30t.
  • + 1
 Does the 32t have captive threads?
  • + 5
 No, I would have mentioned them if it did.
  • + 8
 Right, ok Matt, I took this as a general review for the range when it was actually quite specific to the 32T. Bearing that in mind I will retreat back into my corner, with egg on my face, and retract the 'This is a shit review' comment, and hope you're not too offended.
  • + 3
 The 30t Race Face has a considerable offset to allow the chain to ride to the inside of the tabs on your crank arm. This makes for a pretty thick ring, and a perfect opportunity to thread the ring for chain bolts, eliminating the need for longer bolts than what you have in your toolbox or already mounted. I have the 30t Race Face and it's a nice piece of hardware, that being said, I don't mind a traditional set up because I bought the five dollar tool years ago.
  • + 6
 I was pissed of and fed up of the noise from my e-thirteen chainguide so when I ripped my sram x9 clean off my bike I decided it was time to go for it and change back to shimano (far better) and go for the zee. I also wanted to ditch the chainguide and heard about these narrow wide chainrings eliminating the need for any chainguide at all.
I went for the hope featured above and went for the 32t 104 option in black matched with 11/36 cassette and zee clutch mech!
After 3mnths of hard riding I havnt dropped a chain once, believe me I have tried my best but nope, nothing!!!
This is a great upgrade if u want a silent drivetrain or your thinking of switching over to 1x10....u won't go back if you do make the switch.
Not only way it quieter but it seemed there was a little less drag too! Instead of climbing in 1st I am now climbing the same climbs in 3rd, everything is smooth as butter.
The hope chainring retainer is well made, light enough & seems very strong! I havnt noticed any wear yet after 3mnths hard trail riding.
If your scratching your head thinking about bying one then just go for it u won't be dossapointed.
I was very sceptical but I was proved wrong.
I am very happy with my new 1x10 and would never go back now.
Nice tip! If you go for the zee clutch mech, pair it with the new saint shifter.....wow, super sharp clean shifting and it also has a 1click two drop feature which saves seconds over a full ride, just all round great stuff from both shimano and ofcourse HOPE! Smile
Sorry for lengthy post but it may help somebody who was in the same predicament as me.
Have fun guys n gals from Wales.
  • + 1
 i,ve been riding a 30t hope retainer for 3 months. if you,re freewheeling through rough trails i havent dropped the chain. if i try pedalling through rough trails the chain will come off (xtr rear derailleur on max tension). if i was doing a week in morzine or other high mountains/ rough trails i'd fit a chain device.
in terms of use its showing no signs of wear so far
  • + 1
 I Run a Race face nw and zee combo at moment but will likely change for Hope when next upgrade drive. They do work superbly in all conditions but personally I find its good to change your chain frequently, I do mine after 3 months that's probably about 500 miles for me combo of enduro and bike park type riding. I find beyond that its prone to chain drop and problems. Also it might be unrelated but my zee clutch is much more reliable on this set up. When I had a chain guide I wentvthrogh zee clutch fails after 3 months or so.
  • + 1
 I think just less drag on the system makes everything work better and last longer. The chain angle into the mech is lower without the bottom guide too.
  • + 1
 Ps....people who are complaining about dropped chains.... Ide suggest you double check your clutch tension which is easily done, also some guys need to remove one or two more links, just make sure ur not at the very extreme of the mech in the biggest gear! Ok Smile
  • + 5
 I thought this ring name was hope "adoy" but it's not. Maybe "ǝdoɥ".
  • + 1
 On this subject, does anyone else with N/W setup find riding in wet gritty mud makes the transmission grind and crunch more than a more traditional setup? I suspect it's the reduced space in between the chain and the teeth and might mean more wear but I've only been riding this stuff for a few weeks.
  • + 1
 yeah mine does creak a lot with the grit that gets on the chain, it does my head in some times as before the narrow wide ring was fitted my bike was silent
  • + 1
 I've got a 29er hardtail with 1x10 set up and an all mountain 150mm 26er running 2x10. What people don't seem to understand is that while a 1 times set up is less complecated and lighter, it is not as efficent way to ride with your legs spinning more with the smaller ring up front. It does not work for everyone depending on fitness and riding location.
  • + 1
 Depends on your build too. I have very strong legs but I feel like my cardio will never be really good, so low cadence work seems to suit me better as I get less tired overall. I also found you get stronger faster when switching to 1x10, so you actually end up with a high cadence using a 1x10 setup, while using 2x10 ended up feeling like a handicap, as I never really got stronger while using easy gears for high cadence on a 2X10. I now climb hills on a 32t->36t ratio that I couldnt on a 24t->36t setup (2x10) so thats proof enough to me even though that's all anecdotal evidence.
  • + 1
 On the hardtail was set up as 32T front 11-36 cassette but added a 42T big ring. With my fitness improving and trails drying out I've upped my front ring to 34T and love it. Less spinning, more cranking, less tired, more attacking the hills.

On the full sus was running 39T outer ring but changed it down to 37T, best thing I have ever done as it allows all but the steepest hills/hardest rides to be ridden in the outer ring
  • + 1
 Twenty plus years ago, the original Onza had their buzzsaw chainrings with extra deep teeth (not a narrow/wide, just regular narrow teeth but like twice as tall as regular rings) which did much the same thing, held the chain on better. Of course that also worked against you if you tried shifting onto/off them but it was possible to do still, unlike narrow/wides.
  • + 9
 Cool.
  • + 3
 I'd rather keep a bash guard so it makes sense to just keep a chain device too, besides that despite all the hype of narrow wides I have seen chains drop
  • + 1
 I,ve dropped my chain 3 times with my race face narrow/wide ring and xt clutch mech, never dropped it once with my e13 lg1 and normal mech, but I do prefer not having a chain guide
  • + 1
 I'm really looking forward to not running my top guide, still going to keep the bottom on on though.
  • + 1
 They typically drop when it's really muddy and you try to pedal backwards or are climbing. Weird. I def ran across the line with a dropped chain during a race. I highly recommend a top guide. Bottom guide won't do any good, and that's where the extra friction will come from as well.
  • + 1
 Are you sure the chains are not too long? Rode DH trails on my AM setup with only a clutch and a 2x10, no guide, never had a dropped chain when it used to drop all the time without the clutch. Now running a NW w/ clutch (sram x9 + Wolftooth 32t) on a 1x10 setup, never had a problem either.

I get the occasional dropped chain riding a chainguide with both a top and bottom retention device on my DH rig and sometimes I get a tangled mess in there. When my cassette/derailleur will be done (should be soon enough), I'll definitely going to switch to clutch+NW on that rig too. The AM setup has me convinced It will be good enough.
  • + 1
 NW chain rings are known to drop chains on rare occasion still, even with the right length chain. Mine is def the right length. Only way to have a chain issue like that with a top and bottom guide is if the guide isn't set up properly. There should never be any issues with chains when running a full chainguide.
  • + 1
 just switched to a raceface narrow-wide and the difference is immense. The teeth are so much wider and beefier its amazing. It almost feels like you get more torque on the wheel when you put the pedal down. Such a genius and simplistic idea I really hope it catches on
  • + 3
 I don't think you get more torque...so many companies have n/w rings now I wish they came in more varieties like up to a 40 tooth, and multiple BCDs like 120 and 130 so I can keep using my 2012 SRAM cranks
  • + 4
 race face do these

104 BCD (4 bolt) 30, 32, 34, 36, 38
110 BCD (5 bolt) 38, 40, 42
130 BCD (5 bolt) 40, 42, 44
  • + 2
 I agree w/ you Jimmy0. My n/w ring hasn't come in yet but it's a 38T. I'm currently running a 40T and anything less than 5th gear is way to easy so it should be interesting. 104 BCD by the way.
  • + 1
 I've been running a stock Truvativ 32t ring and blackspire stinger for years and have yet to drop a chain! I ride some pretty gnarly trails here in the Fraser Valley (Vancouver area).
  • + 1
 Do you ride a hardtail?
  • + 1
 Does narrow/wide work as well as a conventional chainguide? I'd imagine you still run a bash guard?
  • + 2
 Just my experience here, but paired with a zee derailleur I've had 1 dropped chain in about 9 months of use. Bike park, dj, #enduro. Highly recommended. I am considering throwing the bashguard back on, just to keep the ring/chain protected.
  • + 1
 @Matt Wragg: It's "no problems" not "zero problems".

I've got one of these on my enduro bike paired with a Zee mech and KMC 10 speed chain. Rather surprisingly, the chain has only fallen off once, when I was dropping the bike to get the water off after washing it. Out on the trail in dry and mud, it hasn't fallen off yet. My mate told me his (not Hope) one drops off about once a ride. I still don't have the confidence to pin it over bumps though, so I'm planning to get an MRP AMg in the next few weeks.

One thing that surprised me about this ring is it's made of aluminium and it is actually a lot harder than my steel chainring bolts. I know this because one of the female sides had a splayed flange and this ring took it off when I tightened it down.

Recommended!
  • + 2
 No chainguide needed. With a clutch derailleur(shadow plus/type 2), there is no need at all.
  • + 3
 Zee derailleur with raceface narrow wide for several months of rocky downhill and no dropped chains
  • + 2
 Never dropped a chain with N/W and a clutch mech, when I used to run a triple up front the chain would jump chainrings at least once per ride on the roughest stuff. I run a bash purely to save my £50 chainring from my clumsiness!
  • + 1
 Exactly what i did. Great setup
  • + 2
 @jaaame

that doesn't mean its harder than steel, it just means your c/r bolt was broken. If you hit a pane of glass with a football, the ball will break the glass, doesn't mean the balls harder. easiest quick way to do a "which is harder" test is see which will scratch the other.
  • + 1
 RaceFace NW with a Clutch XT derailleur. I ride fairly rough terrain on the reg and have not dropped a chain all season, and it is very quiet. I love it.
  • + 1
 Steel can be more compliant, where aluminum in this case is made for stiffness.
  • + 1
 I think weight is probably the main concern here
  • + 1
 its safe to say that all these narrow wide rings work as designed. lets get on to reviews of other components please. thanks
  • + 1
 am running one of these (32T) with a shimano 105 rear mech with 8 speed on my hard tail with no dropped chains yet.
  • + 1
 I bought one of these, dropped chain on the first ride (yes my mech was set up properly blah blah).
  • + 1
 was you mech set up though? Kev said your shit at fixing bikes like...
  • + 1
 I also suck off men for a fiver... Said Poo Sam
  • + 1
 Funny, I don't remember saying that actually
  • + 3
 sorry Kev has pinkbike raped me
  • + 1
 Yeah, that's why my bikes actually work when I ride them...
  • + 2
 Didn't see you on your bike much in France.
  • + 1
 my bikes work when I ride them too... must just be Rob
  • + 1
 The question that needs to be answered is: does is come in 94 bcd or gxp so we can use it with X01????
  • + 2
 Thats a Raceface Narrow wide.
  • + 1
 Can someone please explain to me how can a f-ing piece of ridiculously small amount of metal cost $75? Ludicrous...
  • + 3
 I'd rock it. Hope FTW
  • + 1
 Could have sworn they made a 28 too?
  • + 5
 That wouldn't work except on smaller BCD then 104. or direct mount.
  • + 1
 I've got one. 34T. Zee Mech. It works. End of.
  • + 1
 Just a more expensive narrow wide than race face so what's the point
  • + 1
 I love mine! not one dropped chain yet!
  • + 1
 What people still don't get it, muppets!
  • + 1
 Think I will stick with my raceface narrow wide Smile
  • + 1
 Can't wait for the 33t version
  • + 1
 an odd number narrow wide? What are you smoking?
  • + 1
 Come on dude you gotta make the odd joke
  • + 1
 While I phosphoric color
  • + 1
 Looks good.
  • - 1
 Hey look, another exact copy of the SRAM version, doing the exact same job, but with a normal BCD for less money!
  • + 4
 Doesn't have x-sync which does nothing. And its not less money, but sure looks great! and its hope, everything hope is better
  • + 2
 Sram's are a different tooth design and with a worn clutch bearing that has lost spring tension they start to fail regularly.
  • + 8
 its a chainring..... what do you expect
  • + 2
 PhSyCoMoToxX: you can adjust clutch tension to account for wear... it's not rocket science.
  • + 1
 What is X-Sync?
  • + 1
 Nobble: you can not do that on a sram derauiler
  • + 1
 Yes you can, you just have to take the cap off.
  • + 1
 Nobble - It's definitely a lot more complicated than that and you void your warranty pulling it apart, whereas on a shimano they are designed to be easily tightened
  • + 1
 it's really not, you remove the cap and there's a torx head underneath that you can use to adjust it. there was a tech tuesday that showed you how to do it.
  • + 1
 I've been told by my LBS to just leave it because it voids the warranty to pull that cover off
  • + 0
 How long before someone asks "can I get it in a 31T?"
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