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  1. #1
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    Anyone Try Oval Chainrings?

    Hey everyone,

    Having bought into some of the hype over oval chainrings (maybe placebo effect, maybe mind over body, maybe physiologically they just work, if it works for Froome...?), Santa brought me a 32T BLACK by Absoluteblack Narrow Wide Oval Single Chainring that I have yet to install. Yes, you called me on it, I have no credible excuse for not having done so.

    In any case, has anyone installed an oval chainring on a Tranny or Mojo of any kind? I'd be curious to hear your real world impressions, especially on a Mojo HD and how it affects pedaling, suspension performance and traction when you are descending, on flats and climbing. From what I've read, the feeling might be more natural and maybe even more efficient - it'd be great if someone quantified the differences on Strava (controlling for full moons and the gain in pedaling power over the riding season, of course!). It would also be great to hear about the difference between many teeth your normal chainring has vs. the oval chainring.

    Looking forward to your insights,

    Dan
    Ibis Mojo HD 650b conversion
    Ibis Tranny

  2. #2
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    I'm no scientist, I have an one on my Tranny29 and one on my RipleyLS and one my single speed, they all feel great and I can't really tell any difference, lol.
    I took them off my road bike because shifting sucked.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    fuggansonofahowa
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    I have Wolftooth and Garbaruk. I like them. I can't say they are game changers. The effect is subtle. As most say, I do feel less fatigue at the end of a mountain ride. But I'm also in better physical condition than previous, round-ring rides. I do like that these two rings improve overall chainline. Hoping this helps with wear.

  4. #4
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    I've had one on my ripley and now my hd3. I initially thought it helped with climbing and some knee pain I was having--maybe real, maybe placebo. Mostly now, it just feels normal and I don't think about it.

  5. #5
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    I started running an AbsoluteBlack oval on my HD early summer last year. I put it on to try it out, liked it, and then ended up having a rough knee injury (minor PCL tear, major MCL stretch injury and bruising). The biggest difference was during recovery, that the oval hurt a lot less than a round ring, specifically on the rear of the knee. Nowadays I still notice some discomfort on round rings and none on the oval.

    That said, if my knees were perfect, I'd still ride one. I'd really recommend at least trying it, especially if you've already ditched the front derailleur. The oval-ness will be invisible to you after about 3 minutes of pedaling.

    Gearing-wise, I went from a 30T round to 32T oval (11-40 rear) and I did immediately notice the slightly harder gearing while sitting on steep climbs. I disagree with folks who say things like "an oval makes a 32T as easy as a 30T" or to bump up your tooth count just because you're switching to an oval. Harder gearing is still harder gearing, just delivered more smoothly. Seriously, if you run a 32T now (for example) and don't want harder gearing, ride a 32 oval (30T equivalent radius in the easy part and 34T in the tall part)

    I did also get a 34T oval and upped my cassette to 11-45, but that had more to do with getting more top-end for certain descents (while keeping a similar low gear) than anything oval-related.

    I do like the oval for low-traction climbing. It really does make it harder to break the rear tire free when you need to deliver power to get up and over things (wet logs, rocks, steep loose sections, etc). You can buy into that part of the hype. It's not a miracle, and you still need technique, but you'll clean tech climbs if you were on the cusp of doing so with round rings.

    For suspension performance, I imagine it does the same thing as putting on a round ring the same diameter as the tall part of the oval. It moves the chain contact point upwards, so you get less anti-squat than an equivalent round ring, and the suspension stays (very slightly) more active under power. Slightly better for picking through rocks, slightly worse for bob-free climbing. I personally wouldn't worry about it. The effect is slight, and I didn't feel any change in suspension feel or efficiency, uphill or downhill.

    I don't think you'll find any information quantifying efficiency differences. My opinion is that any differences you see would be indirect, through reduced joint fatigue. Any attempt to measure them would get drowned out by differences in sleep and nutrition. You won't magically get 25 free watts.

    So TLR, I honestly think they're an improvement if you're 1x anyway. Don't expect miracles, but you should really try it.

  6. #6
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    Yes. On every bike (including my HD3). Love them
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  7. #7
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    I have Garbaruk Melon 30 on my HD3. I have no data to support my impression that it pedals smoother and helps with traction .. but I like it and I am keeping it. (Not sure it helps with knee pain as the modest amount I was suffering from all but disappeared when I switched from Frogs to Shimano pedals.)

  8. #8
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    Got an AbsBlack oval on my E29 and round on all my other bikes. Took it off shortly after putting it on, then gave it another try. On flats and descents, I don't notice really anything beneficial, just that the bike can feel like it surges more with a normal pedal stroke at lower than cruising speed. When it comes to mashing up hills, I notice that my pedal stroke is less up and down, and more spin, letting me carry a flat land gear longer into it. Bike still noticable spurts forward on the power stroke, maybe more noticeably. I see the science behind the traction claims though, as I can't argue against a higher gear reducing torque, and therefore lowers the chance of spinning out the rear tire on a traction-sensitive climb. Not sure how it plays with my suspension's anti-squat levels. I notice my clutch RD moving when spinning the cranks, but not sure if it's minor enough to not wear out the roller bearing-based clutch, but not going to run oval with my Shimano clutch RDs. No other real evidence to show it has any downside, other than higher cost, and its chainring clearance needs being 2t higher. Can't verify any knee pain nor endurance effect, nor Strava based record breaking effect.

    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  9. #9
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    install it - you will like it. Not an over the top game changer, but works as most everyone claims - and if Hokie is riding em - good enuf for me and should be for anyone!!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamper11 View Post
    and if Hokie is riding em - good enuf for me and should be for anyone!!
    wow. i'm flattered.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  11. #11
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    HA - you did reverse engineer and regression test to validate right?

  12. #12
    Rocks belong
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    Wow. Is the dork gene that strong with me?
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  13. #13
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    The dork gene is strong with this one... engineer you must!

    in house happy hour - IPA and cold meds!

  14. #14
    fuggansonofahowa
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    From humble, flattered, contributing poster to dork - I think this thread is off the rails.

    Get on with the oval chainring. Even if placebo, you won't be dissatisfied.

  15. #15
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    I'm sold on oval

    I'm also on the oval bandwagon. I've tried both the absoluteBlack 32t (104 BCD) and 30t (SRAM GXP) models on my Ripley. I wish all my bikes were 1x just so I can go oval.

    I won't bother covering all of the benefits since they've already been stated. However, I will share one observation of the oval ring that can be viewed as a drawback. If you believe that the oval ring evens out power delivery to the rear wheel throughout the entire pedal stroke, this also means you have a greater opportunity for creating wheelspin at any point in the pedal stroke instead of just the usual 3/9 o'clock pedal position on a normal ring. For example, on a steep climb where you're mashing out of the saddle, you might actually slip the rear wheel while your pedals are at the 12/6 o'clock position. This almost never happens with a round ring given that this is where your legs are at their weakest. Anyway, I had this happen a few times with an oval and while I found it annoying, it is by no means a showstopper and can usually be avoid with correct gear selection and climbing technique.

    On a side note, I was happy with the chain line (48mm) of my aB 32t 104BCD, which I retrofitted to the stock e*13 TRS+ cranks. When I replaced the cranks and went with a SRAM XX1, I noticed the aB 30t GXP mount places the chain ring several mm outboard (50mm), which creates a slightly worse chain line (i.e. the chain is biased towards the smaller cogs in the back. I replaced my cranks so I could run a 30t in order to minimize cross chaining - ironically, now my 30t is further outboard and basically my chainline hasn't really improved. Hopefully this won't create shifting/wear issues in the long run. And of course this all happened a few months before Wolftooth came out with a 30t oval that works on a 64BCD crank!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by burndtjamb View Post
    On a side note, I was happy with the chain line (48mm) of my aB 32t 104BCD, which I retrofitted to the stock e*13 TRS+ cranks. When I replaced the cranks and went with a SRAM XX1, I noticed the aB 30t GXP mount places the chain ring several mm outboard (50mm), which creates a slightly worse chain line (i.e. the chain is biased towards the smaller cogs in the back. I replaced my cranks so I could run a 30t in order to minimize cross chaining - ironically, now my 30t is further outboard and basically my chainline hasn't really improved. Hopefully this won't create shifting/wear issues in the long run. And of course this all happened a few months before Wolftooth came out with a 30t oval that works on a 64BCD crank!
    what crankset are you using now?

    I didn't know Wolftooth had a 64bcd 30T oval. I run 30T GXP on both of my bikes b/c that was the only way to get a 30T oval. I would like my chainline to be further inboard.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazarus2405 View Post
    For suspension performance, I imagine it does the same thing as putting on a round ring the same diameter as the tall part of the oval. It moves the chain contact point upwards, so you get less anti-squat than an equivalent round ring, and the suspension stays (very slightly) more active under power. Slightly better for picking through rocks, slightly worse for bob-free climbing. I personally wouldn't worry about it. The effect is slight, and I didn't feel any change in suspension feel or efficiency, uphill or downhill.
    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Not sure how it plays with my suspension's anti-squat levels. I notice my clutch RD moving when spinning the cranks, but not sure if it's minor enough to not wear out the roller bearing-based clutch, but not going to run oval with my Shimano clutch RDs.

    @lazarus2405 and @Varaxis -

    These are interesting observations. I've heard claims from one of the oval ring manufacturers that the chain length should stay the same, oval vs. round, because what is elongated on the part of the chainring with the larger radius would be exactly offset by the reduction from the part of the chainring with shorter radius. That must not be true in the real world as, per Varaxis' video, the derailleur clearly oscillates due to some variance, whether it is imperfect offset or, as lazarus2405 suggests, the change in angles at which the chain hits the rear cog on the top and bottom (maybe those are one-in-the-same? I can't think through the bourbon right now.)

    In the end, it's good to hear that oval rings seem not to have a noticeable effect on suspension performance - maybe, some premature wear and stress on derailleur clutch. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out over the course of the riding season. I'll mount my this weekend and give it a whirl and report back.

    Thanks, again, everyone for your thoughts. Keep 'em coming!
    Ibis Mojo HD 650b conversion
    Ibis Tranny

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 06HokieMTB View Post
    what crankset are you using now?

    I didn't know Wolftooth had a 64bcd 30T oval. I run 30T GXP on both of my bikes b/c that was the only way to get a 30T oval. I would like my chainline to be further inboard.
    I'm on the XX1 (GXP, Q168) w/ the 30t. I wish someone would design a spacer for the SRAM direct mount chainrings, or chainring manufacturers would sell them with multiple offsets beyond standard and boost.

    Here's the wolftooth 30t 64 BCD: Elliptical 64 BCD Chainrings – wolftoothcomponents.com

    From the looks of it, the chainring is offset towards the outside and gives you a ~47mm chainline for a triple and ~48 mm chainline for a double.

  19. #19
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    My wife has a AB 28T 64bcd oval on a 3x and the Chainline is superb for climbing
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  20. #20
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    If you are running a double on the front these are an option if your cranks are the new XT or XTR with 96BCD Ari Corone

  21. #21
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    I have one on my Santa Cruz cross bike (and a regular one on my Tranny, FWIW).

    In short, I can't feel any difference, and I'm glad I have it. I needed to gear down on my CX and with all of the purported benefits of oval rings, I thought I should give it a try.

    I can't say I've experienced any measured benefits or performance gains, but shifting rocks, my knees don't hurt, and I don't think about it.

    jake

  22. #22
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    Got me thinking about making the switch. Got a question, I have a Ripley LS with a 30t chainring, so with WT 30t if I read it right the elliptical is 32t on the high points and 28 on the low point. Looking at my current 30t chainring it occurs to me that it maybe a tight fit on the 32t side, so do I go with a 30t ?

  23. #23
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    I've get a 32t wolftooth oval on my ripley LS mounted to xt cranks with the spacer on the non drive side and it works fine.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 65mtn View Post
    I've get a 32t wolftooth oval on my ripley LS mounted to xt cranks with the spacer on the non drive side and it works fine.
    I'm a bit ignorant about chain lines, would this change the spec'd 49mm chainline ? Guess what I am trying to figure out is if I can put a 30t WT on my Ripley LS with RaceFace Cinch cranks ? If so, does it require any spacing and would it change the chainline if I did ? (Dang gearheaditis is kicking in)

  25. #25
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjMountain View Post
    I'm a bit ignorant about chain lines, would this change the spec'd 49mm chainline ? Guess what I am trying to figure out is if I can put a 30t WT on my Ripley LS with RaceFace Cinch cranks ? If so, does it require any spacing and would it change the chainline if I did ? (Dang gearheaditis is kicking in)
    I have the wolftooth 32T oval on my Ripley LS (not boost) with RaceFace Next. Clearance was fine. You should be good to go with the 30T.
    Wow, GJ, Fruita, and Moab trails are riding great. This is a killer spring for riding!

  26. #26
    The MTB Lab
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    My thoughts on a OneUp version:

    The OneUp Narrow Wide Traction Oval Chainrings isn’t a game changer, but it certainly smoothed my spinning and slightly increased my legs efficiency. I did find it problematic for my riding style in super techy terrain when I’d catch the power spot at the wrong location. I did ride at a faster clip on the flats and more moderate terrain and I felt less fatigued in those situations.

    Just In - OneUp Components Oval Chainrings

  27. #27
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    I'll add my 2 cents...been on an absolute black 32t oval for around 2k miles on my mojo. Cranks are SLX dérailleur is XT and cassette is X01.

    I concur that it is not a massive game changer. No automatic PR's to be found with the changeover. I also agree that there is some noticeable benefit on long moderate grinds and with traction on short steep bursts.

    A couple of things that give me pause...I often ride a MUT or some road to get to the trail head...I do this locked out...I notice that when I switch from a bike with oval to one with round or back that I create bob from a less than ideal pedal stroke. I tend to adjust fairly quickly now but it did take me 3-4 rides to find that slightly strange new rhythm.

    The other...long medium steep fire-road slogs seem harder at first...when you are down in 1st or 2nd and pedaling at something less than the optimal rpm you really feel the 34t ovalization and I initially found myself stomping a lot.

    With that said, my next ring will be another oval for all the reasons so well articulated by others above.

  28. #28
    a.k.a. TeleRAnger
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    Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, tastes great...
    Way back in the Time Machine, my 18-speed Jamis Dakota had them [original Biopace]. And my Specialized Sirrus had them as Biopace-II [less oval 'improved' version].
    By the time of my next bike purchase, they were extinct.
    You can understand my cynicism, right?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tihead View Post
    Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, tastes great...
    Way back in the Time Machine, my 18-speed Jamis Dakota had them [original Biopace]. And my Specialized Sirrus had them as Biopace-II [less oval 'improved' version].
    By the time of my next bike purchase, they were extinct.
    You can understand my cynicism, right?
    I'm hooked on the Kool-Aid so I'll leave you with this:

    We acknowledge many people do not fully understand the difference between Biopace and modern oval rings

  30. #30
    a.k.a. TeleRAnger
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    I'll also add... that at the time Biopace was the 'latest and greatest', there were a group of people mounting the chainrings totally out of phase [5-bolt rings - one hole, 72-deg off?] from Shimano's intended phasing who claimed even higher efficiency when mounted this way. My experience was just running the Biopace rings per Shimano's intention, so I may have missed that experience opportunity.
    Personally, I never liked the way Biopace pulsed upon deceleration from a high cadence and was just fine when they faded away. Can't say my riding speed changed in either direction with or without Biopace...
    I'm content to sit on the sidelines, throwing both rotten and ripe tomatoes, sans oval rings, because my Ripley LS [brace yourself] has a 2X drivetrain, with 22/32 chainrings and a 11-36 cassette. And even more shocking, I'll throw on a Ti 21 granny ring for bikepacking events.
    Chronically cynical,
    -B
    Quote Originally Posted by burndtjamb View Post

  31. #31
    DLd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tihead View Post
    I'll also add... that at the time Biopace was the 'latest and greatest', there were a group of people mounting the chainrings totally out of phase [5-bolt rings - one hole, 72-deg off?] from Shimano's intended phasing who claimed even higher efficiency when mounted this way. My experience was just running the Biopace rings per Shimano's intention, so I may have missed that experience opportunity.
    Personally, I never liked the way Biopace pulsed upon deceleration from a high cadence and was just fine when they faded away. Can't say my riding speed changed in either direction with or without Biopace...
    I'm content to sit on the sidelines, throwing both rotten and ripe tomatoes, sans oval rings, because my Ripley LS [brace yourself] has a 2X drivetrain, with 22/32 chainrings and a 11-36 cassette. And even more shocking, I'll throw on a Ti 21 granny ring for bikepacking events.
    Chronically cynical,
    -B
    Today's oval chainrings are the opposite of Biopace, so if you didn't like Biopace, it's likely you would like the new Oval. They work great on my Ripley LS. Great bike, by the way, eh?
    Wow, GJ, Fruita, and Moab trails are riding great. This is a killer spring for riding!

  32. #32
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    Pulled The Trigger

    Broke my chain last weekend and could not see putting a new one on the worn cassette. Was hoping to hold off on replacing them until the XT 11 x 46 come out this summer. Anyway, decided to go ahead and upgrade the drive train to a 11 x 45 with the Wolftooth 45t Cassette cog and change out the chainring to a 30t Wolftooth Elliptical chainring.

    Installation was easy for the cassette modification and my bottom bracket needed a spacer added to get the chainring right so it did not hit my chainstay. Shameless plug here for River Rats Bikes in Sacramento, Randy hooked me up and dialed it in.

    First ride impression. Like others have said, it is not a huge game changer. It was a lot smoother than I expected, not really the surge my minds eye had come up with. I felt that the bike did climb better on grades without going into the granny 45t gear and technical climbing is where I noticed the most change. I felt like it powered through the climbs much better and the bike was getting the power transferred much better than before.

    This was just my first impressions, but like others, I think I am sold and will have one on my bikes going forward. FWIW, the 45t Wolftooth cog rocks! Nice to have a bailout gear again

  33. #33
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    NSof5- So you replaced the 40 or 42 cog on your XT cassette with a Wolftooth 45t? When you back peddle does the chain drop of the 45t?

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve_MTB_22 View Post
    NSof5- So you replaced the 40 or 42 cog on your XT cassette with a Wolftooth 45t? When you back peddle does the chain drop of the 45t?


    The Wolftooth 45t is optimized for a 11 - 40 cassette (works with 11 -42). Adds 45 to end of cassette and removes 17t & 19t with 18t and spacer. To make it work with the 45t it pushed "B" adjustment almost to the limits (that's what LBS said). Have not had a chain drop issue as of yet, I really like the new gear range much better than the 11 - 42. The 40t sprocket is great for most of my climbing and the 18t provides a great mid-cassette sweet spot, and to have a bailout gear again for grinding was worth the investment.

    Here are the modified cassettes:
    1-40: 11-13-15-18-21-24-27-31-35-40-45
    11-42: 11-13-15-18-21-24-28-32-37-42-45

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