Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    I just got one of them fancy oval chainrings from Absolute Black. I found out about it thanks to MTBR and their facebook page.

    My new bike has a 1x11 drivetrain, and while it's good for Annadel, I was thinking about my 3rd lap at the Boggs race and how I'll probably be wishing for an easier gear. I considered getting a 30-tooth ring for that, but I thought I'd give the oval ring a try.

    At its widest point it's like a 32-tooth ring. At the narrowest it's like a 30-tooth ring. It's not the same as Biopace. Biopace was "clocked" different--meaning the wider part of the ring was at a different point relative to the crank arm. Basically when your crank is just above horizontal you're at the widest point in the ring, and when it's just past 6:00, you're at the smallest.

    The Absolute Black ring doesn't require a change to the chain length, and as you pedal the rear derailleur moves only the tiniest bit. In fact single speeds are one of the target audiences.

    I did the same 23 mile loop at Annadel two weeks in a row--last week with the round 32-tooth ring, and today with the oval ring.

    First of all, just riding flat, it doesn't feel weird. After a few pedal strokes, you don't even notice it. It feels natural.

    As for climbing, it felt slightly better--on climbs where I often am wishing for a lower gear, I was fine today. I also was much faster on all the strava segments. Now this could totally be a placebo effect--I was excited about a new bike part, so I pedaled faster. Who knows.

    I have bad arthritis in my left foot, so pedaling hard can be painful. This chainring definitely made a difference there. I imagine it might also help for those with knee issues.

    As far as I can tell there are no drawbacks, other than the cost and all the biopace jokes you'll get. If you see me at Annadel you can try it out.

    Here's a pic:
    https://i.imgur.com/LRBiRcX.jpg
    功夫大师喜欢骑着他的自行车在山上。

  2. #2
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    Thanks for this review - I'm strongly considering one. You still like it?

  3. #3
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    Nice review.

    I've been a fan of oval rings since 2012. I've primarily only used them in single speed applications.

    In 2012, I won the Pro SS category in the Tahoe-Sierra 100 mile MTB race with a Rotor Qring 34t. So it was like a 36t in my powerstroke and 32 in the deadspots. Worked like a champ. This was in the days before narrow/wide tooth profiles even became a thing and I no issues at all with chain retention.

    More recently, I set my single-speed cyclocross bike up with a Rotor QCX1 cyclocross specific single ring. It is a 44T, so it is 46t powerstroke and about 42t through the deadspots. I recently (last weekend) raced the Tainthammer 110 mile gravel race and got 2nd place overall while riding SS. I really thing it helps lessen my fatigue and it does seem like it smooths out my pedal stroked when spinning like mad at high cadences trying to stay with the geared riders. It works.

    Absolute Blacks looks nice, but I like the ability of the Rotor rings to fine tune the "clocking" of the ring to best match your pedal stroke. Rotors are more expensive though. Expense is the only con I have found so far.

    Here's a photo of the setup I used last weekend at the Tainthammer.

    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review-qcx1.jpg

  4. #4
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    thanks for your input! rotors are a little pricey, but probably worth it...

  5. #5
    Hoolie Ghoulie on Strava.
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    Thanks for the review.

  6. #6
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    You got my single speed attention. Do these make climbing easier, or just smoother?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    You got my single speed attention. Do these make climbing easier, or just smoother?
    It's more efficient, and I noticed that climbing was easier. They say it's similar to going down a tooth in the front ring.
    功夫大师喜欢骑着他的自行车在山上。

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    You got my single speed attention. Do these make climbing easier, or just smoother?
    I just got one for my SS. Only a couple rides on it so far, but I think it lets me stay in the seat longer as the trail points up. Similarly, it feels really good when you are at that standing and barely turning the cranks over angle. I'm digging it. Did take a while to dial in the chain tension and will take more attention as the chain wears since the tension varies a little as it rotates.

    Now, I am not a full time single speeder. I've got one primarily for winter riding. If you have full time SS legs, I don't know if it would be as much of a help, but it does not feel weird at all.

    Buying process from AB was good. They confirmed the order and let me know things were a bit backlogged, but met their committed date a couple of weeks out. The ring ships by post from Poland where it is made. I like how the treads and spacers were built in.

    Huge thread on the SS board BTW.

  9. #9
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    I'm sold...just ordered one. I'll chime in as I start winning races across the country.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  10. #10
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    Funny, I got one of these and had the exact opposite impression in terms of "feeling easier". I actually thought it felt harder. I could feel the 34T portion of the 32 oval. Did a race where about 1 hour out of 3 was spend in my 32 front, 42 rear granny gear. I was faster up the climbs, but I also felt I put out more effort, and my heart rate showed it as well. It kind of felt like I was just riding in a 34 vs the 32.

    I DID feel the smoothness and I did feel like I had a bit more traction while seated at low cadence, but things certainly were not "easier"

    The next is to ride back to back with a 32 round, 32 oval, and my 34 round and check/see the feel to confirm.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by trhoppe View Post
    Funny, I got one of these and had the exact opposite impression in terms of "feeling easier". I actually thought it felt harder. .
    Double check that you have the ring mounted correctly. The very first time I mounted up a Rotor Qring...I was in a hurry, and I mounted it incorrectly. I essentially oriented so that it was doing the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do! So my first ride on it (on a SS with pretty easy gearing for a trail that I know very well) was very difficult! It sucked. At first I just thought I was fatigued or something and then I double checked the ring and found that I mounted it wrong. So I fixed it...mounted it correctly...and boom...my issues went away.

    I thought that was a good unintentional test actually. The theory being that when mounted correct, it helps your pedal stroke....so if you mount it bass-ackwards like I originally did, it will be much harder...and it was.

    If that isn't the issue...then I have no other explanation.

  12. #12
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    I have 2 of these rings. Both are 32T. For reference I was riding 30T before. On the geared bike it felt like about the same effort as before but I felt like I was able to ride further before I got tired. On the SS the 32T felt harder than the 30T and It took a couple rides before I can make it up the same hills that I was routinely making with the 30T. Oh and it didn't make me faster at all. But overall I like it since I feel like it makes me less fatigued.

  13. #13
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    You can't mount the AB ring wrong. That's one nice feature

  14. #14
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    Third season here on a Rotor 34 Single with a Rohloff 16t out back. I am more of a spinner and feel it has an edge in that realm for sure. I also run flat pedals, this is an area these guys don't really market too but in my experience is surely helps. Especially spinning through technical terrain, you just stay more connected as its easier to get through the dead spots in the pedal stroke.

    I am sold, not going back. For me chain rings last much longer due to not having derailleur type shifting, so the ring lasts and well worth the money.

  15. #15
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    I love my AB oval ring. It really helps on the techy up hill. Its weird as it actually makes your pedal stroke feel rounder than a round ring. the other benefit i have found is i feel i can lay down a little more power coming out of a corner.

    I have a deal set up with AB, if you order through the absolute Black website and write MarinCA in the note on the purchase they will re-imburse you 50% of the shipping costs Also feel free to pass this code along to any riding friends!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    You got my single speed attention. Do these make climbing easier, or just smoother?
    I've had this on my SS 29er for some time and written comments in two other AB oval ring threads. I've also used it with a fixed rear and it works that way as well.

    Long story short: the ring allows to stand and mash without losing traction that easily, because the power stroke time is extended. The dead spot time is reduced, so once you've mashed one pedal down, you get to begin with the second pedal sooner.

    This kind of slow grinding and mashing is not efficient, but as singlespeeders we don't have a choice when the climb is tough. The oval ring definitely helped me with climbs.

  17. #17
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    Thanks, I think I may try a GXP direct mount ring out. I'll use the code. How much does the tension change? I run my chain a hair lose anyway (never dropped even once).

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    You got my single speed attention. Do these make climbing easier, or just smoother?
    It doesn't get easier, you just go faster

  19. #19
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    I think the climbing is a little easier as it is a little smoother! I did nothing with my chain coming off a 30t and a 32t round ring and it's been great.

    Cool every little savings helps👍

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Hack View Post
    How much does the tension change? I run my chain a hair lose anyway (never dropped even once).
    I'm also used to a little slack on the chain. With the AB oval tension does change a bit so I took care to adjust the tight spot a bit higher - of course I don't want to destroy bearings or cause resistance to turning the cranks, so it's certainly not like a guitar string. Then the slack spot was still equal to what I normally run with a round ring and never dropped the chain.

  21. #21
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    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review

    Here we go...

    Absolute Black Oval Chainring - my review-uploadfromtaptalk1424727685708.jpg
    I'm not sure how this works.

  22. #22
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    Hey...I accidentally bought the wrong Chain Ring from these guys (UK else I would ship it back). Does anyone want to take it off my hands...you can bypass the long wait: Oval XX1 style, 104BCD (brand spanking new) Green. 32 T.

    PM me if interested - Thanks!
    I'm not sure how this works.

  23. #23
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    ^^ Josh, let me check things when I get home, but I think that should work for me. I wanna be famous!



    VV He said duck tape!
    Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice--pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

  24. #24
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    COOL man! I'm excited to try it out but only if I don't have to use duck tape.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  25. #25
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    Krap, Josh. My cranks are the spline kind, not the spider arms. Guess I'll have to order my own...
    Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice--pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

  26. #26
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    ive got 4, 1 on all my bikes...wouldn't ride without it....ok, probably would, but on a SS MTB these help sooooo much

  27. #27
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    Just saw on the absolute black FB page that different sizes for GXP direct mount are close

    "30T is already in anodizer and 28T in production."

    Don't forget the code MarinCA to receive a 50% rebate on shipping if purchased through the AB website!

    Curious has anyone tried it?

  28. #28
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    I ordered one but it was the wrong size (XX1 on their site doesn't mean XX1 the product). Guy basically told me to sell it. I wasn't having luck selling it so ask to return it (on my dime) and they never responded. The product looks cool but the service was shit in my opinion.

    If I was going to go down this road again, I would avoid just due to the fact they are UK and if you make a mistake, you're kind of screwed. Just my $.02.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    I ordered one but it was the wrong size (XX1 on their site doesn't mean XX1 the product). Guy basically told me to sell it. I wasn't having luck selling it so ask to return it (on my dime) and they never responded. The product looks cool but the service was shit in my opinion.

    If I was going to go down this road again, I would avoid just due to the fact they are UK and if you make a mistake, you're kind of screwed. Just my $.02.
    Sorry to hear that. I too had a very poor customer service experience with Absolute Black.

    I ordered one on 1/22/15, and they told me that it shipped on 2/5/15. The only update on my tracking # was that the package sent from Poland on 2015-02-05. As of today, 3/10/15, the package is still not delivered and no further updates on the tracking # for over a month.

    I have emailed Absolute Black and was told to be patient and wait a few more days. They stated that it is not their problem, but a problem with USPS. I called USPS and they stated that they never received the shipment from overseas. I requested a refund or a re-shipment from Absolute Black on 2/26/15 and never got a response. I ended up having to file a claim through Paypal to try and get my $ back.


    Too bad, I really wanted to try out this chain-ring.
    Marty

  30. #30
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    Hi Marty,
    You already got an information that your ring is on the way and will be with you tomorrow like I wrote numerous times. Like others told you in different threads you need to be a bit more patient as USPS is slow at the moment and we can't speed it up. So not sure why you write on every single thread you can find with the rings about your terrible experience.
    We have sent the goods on time, provided you tracking number and explained it will take longer than normally as USPS is processing parcels very slow from some time.
    I hope you do write back tomorrow that you actually received the goods same way as you wrote you are not happy with our service.

    Marcin

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    I ordered one but it was the wrong size (XX1 on their site doesn't mean XX1 the product). Guy basically told me to sell it. I wasn't having luck selling it so ask to return it (on my dime) and they never responded. The product looks cool but the service was shit in my opinion.

    If I was going to go down this road again, I would avoid just due to the fact they are UK and if you make a mistake, you're kind of screwed. Just my $.02.
    Hey, We always propose customers to sell their mistakenly purchased products as it is simpler and cheaper for you.
    If you did not manage to do it jst write me back and we will sort it out. I simply may have missed your email as we get more than 400 of the every day so it is not easy to cope with.

    Send me an email once again and I will send you the returning address. That is not a big problem.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tehan View Post
    Hey, We always propose customers to sell their mistakenly purchased products as it is simpler and cheaper for you.
    If you did not manage to do it jst write me back and we will sort it out. I simply may have missed your email as we get more than 400 of the every day so it is not easy to cope with.

    Send me an email once again and I will send you the returning address. That is not a big problem.
    Thanks but my problem is that your website was confusing and I had many people tell me that they agreed that, in my situation, your site did not do a good job of communicating appropriate parts and ensuring confusion is minimized.

    The right move would have been to offer to pay to ship it back. It sucks but you then get a grateful/happy customer who praises your stuff all day long and you actually end up selling more product. Your people chose to explain the different sizes, that the site is not confusing, and my best bet is to sell it (fail). And then not respond to my request to ship it back on my dime.

    I have since sold it at a loss. I am happy my friend gets to try it as it seems cool but unless you want to give me a smoking deal (PM me), I'm not sure there is much else to talk about. Missed opportunity for both of us.
    I'm not sure how this works.

  33. #33
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    Does the CEO of Specialized or Trek ever get on here and respond to all these questions and complaints? This guy is at least making a good faith effect here.

  34. #34
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    not really sure what you mean. Title says it is 104bcd, description says it is 104bcd , specification table says it is 104bcd, when you purchase the ring then description at checkout says it too very precisely, so not sure how this can be taken for something else other than 104bcd chainring.


    Same with the size. Custoemr needs to know what size he needs as we can only offer an advise and sizing for him available.

    I already wrote to you at the time of advise that we will send it with free shipping if you manage to sell it and buy new one.

    We really can't be responsible for customers mistakes and then offer free shipping both ways. If the product is faulty or we shipped wrong one, yes I will cover it. But only in such case.

  35. #35
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    I checked out the site and found it easy enough to understand (although a bit different). This is on my list of things to get for my race bike.

  36. #36
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    Just my 2 cents- had excellent customer service from them. My order was a week over due, emailed, got a response following day and the packaged arrived the next day.

    Still haven't tried the oval yet due to weather and waiting for herniated disc to f'in heal!

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by squashyo View Post
    Thanks but my problem is that your website was confusing and I had many people tell me that they agreed that, in my situation, your site did not do a good job of communicating appropriate parts and ensuring confusion is minimized.

    The right move would have been to offer to pay to ship it back. It sucks but you then get a grateful/happy customer who praises your stuff all day long and you actually end up selling more product. Your people chose to explain the different sizes, that the site is not confusing, and my best bet is to sell it (fail). And then not respond to my request to ship it back on my dime.

    I have since sold it at a loss. I am happy my friend gets to try it as it seems cool but unless you want to give me a smoking deal (PM me), I'm not sure there is much else to talk about. Missed opportunity for both of us.
    I've ordered 2, 1 for my XX1 cranks and one for my Shimano XT cranks. It's not his fault you find it confusing. How is it so many other people manage to order the right ring?

    He offered free shipping on the second one. His advice about trying to sell it first was trying to save you the cost of shipping. It sounds like you received great customer service, just want to whine over someone not picking up the dime for your own mistake.
    Ripley LS v3
    OG Ripley v2 handed down to son

  38. #38
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    I installed my absolute black chain ring today and love it, setting 3 personal bests on strava. However, when I go into higher gears the derailleur is very chatty and the chain starts slipping. Is this a derailleur issue, or should I tighten the chain?

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by icamponyourMOM View Post
    I installed my absolute black chain ring today and love it, setting 3 personal bests on strava. However, when I go into higher gears the derailleur is very chatty and the chain starts slipping. Is this a derailleur issue, or should I tighten the chain?
    Did you use brand new chain with new chainring? As used chains will not work great with new gear.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by tehan View Post
    Did you use brand new chain with new chainring? As used chains will not work great with new gear.
    I got a brand new chain with the new chainring, so I don't know if it is an issue of chain length or if I should adjust my derailleur.

  41. #41
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    I don't know how long chain you have now but I would also look at how old your cassette is. You said slipping before, which indicates that something is worn already and the only part you did not change here is cassette then. If new chain is jumping on some cogs then cassette is worn for sure.

  42. #42
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    ^ I agree, it's probably your cassette. did you check your old chain to see if it was over stretched?
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  43. #43
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    I've ridden my AB 32T oval ring on several bikes now... A 2014 Trek Remedy 27.5, a 2012 Santa Cruz Tallboy and currently on my Diamondback Mason B+ bike. All with a 11-36T cassette and a 42T wolftooth cog.

    It climbs like a 31T and has the speed of a 32-33T. I'm very happy with mine.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  44. #44
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    Alright I'll check my cassette out and see if I need a new one. Thanks!

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuruAtma View Post
    I just got one of them fancy oval chainrings from Absolute Black. I found out about it thanks to MTBR and their facebook page.

    My new bike has a 1x11 drivetrain, and while it's good for Annadel, I was thinking about my 3rd lap at the Boggs race and how I'll probably be wishing for an easier gear. I considered getting a 30-tooth ring for that, but I thought I'd give the oval ring a try.

    At its widest point it's like a 32-tooth ring. At the narrowest it's like a 30-tooth ring. It's not the same as Biopace. Biopace was "clocked" different--meaning the wider part of the ring was at a different point relative to the crank arm. Basically when your crank is just above horizontal you're at the widest point in the ring, and when it's just past 6:00, you're at the smallest.

    The Absolute Black ring doesn't require a change to the chain length, and as you pedal the rear derailleur moves only the tiniest bit. In fact single speeds are one of the target audiences.

    I did the same 23 mile loop at Annadel two weeks in a row--last week with the round 32-tooth ring, and today with the oval ring.

    First of all, just riding flat, it doesn't feel weird. After a few pedal strokes, you don't even notice it. It feels natural.

    As for climbing, it felt slightly better--on climbs where I often am wishing for a lower gear, I was fine today. I also was much faster on all the strava segments. Now this could totally be a placebo effect--I was excited about a new bike part, so I pedaled faster. Who knows.

    I have bad arthritis in my left foot, so pedaling hard can be painful. This chainring definitely made a difference there. I imagine it might also help for those with knee issues.

    As far as I can tell there are no drawbacks, other than the cost and all the biopace jokes you'll get. If you see me at Annadel you can try it out.

    Here's a pic:
    https://i.imgur.com/LRBiRcX.jpg
    I realize this thread is kind of old but I'm planning to do something similar to you: Ripley w/ stock e*13 TRS+ triple, 104 BCD 32T AB Oval mounted in the middle position. One difference is that I'll be running a 11-42 m8000 cassette, but hopefully that shouldn't matter. I have a few questions for you:

    1) The 32T oval features built-in 2mm spacers, which I'm assuming means it will bring the chainline in from 50mm to 48 mm. Did you have any chain ring/chain stay clearance issues w/ the Ripley?

    2) How is the drivetrain performance when the chain is at either extreme of the cassette (i.e. cross chaining) - is the shifting still smooth, does pedaling sound crunchy, etc.?

    3) Other long term thoughts: How's the chain ring/chain wear, how often do you drop chains, etc.?

    4) How was Boggs? Did you feel like you had enough low gearing after x hours into the race?

    Thanks!

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by burndtjamb View Post
    I realize this thread is kind of old but I'm planning to do something similar to you: Ripley w/ stock e*13 TRS+ triple, 104 BCD 32T AB Oval mounted in the middle position. One difference is that I'll be running a 11-42 m8000 cassette, but hopefully that shouldn't matter. I have a few questions for you:

    1) The 32T oval features built-in 2mm spacers, which I'm assuming means it will bring the chainline in from 50mm to 48 mm. Did you have any chain ring/chain stay clearance issues w/ the Ripley?

    2) How is the drivetrain performance when the chain is at either extreme of the cassette (i.e. cross chaining) - is the shifting still smooth, does pedaling sound crunchy, etc.?

    3) Other long term thoughts: How's the chain ring/chain wear, how often do you drop chains, etc.?

    4) How was Boggs? Did you feel like you had enough low gearing after x hours into the race?

    Thanks!
    1. Yes, I needed some extra spacers for the chainring. I had the guys at the bike shop do it since I didn't have the tool to take off the old chainring. There is pretty tight clearance between the ring and the frame, but it works and hasn't been a problem.

    2. Smooth shifts in every gear, no crunch.
    3. I haven't dropped a chain at all. I just got back from 3 days of riding Mammoth bike park, and it was all good. The chain wear is not any different than normal. In fact my chain seems to be lasting a long time.
    4. Boggs was hard, but that was me, not the bike. The oval ring helps, but it's not magic. I needed some magic during that race I'll be doing the Annadel race next month which has more reasonable climbs.
    功夫大师喜欢骑着他的自行车在山上。

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuruAtma View Post
    1. Yes, I needed some extra spacers for the chainring. I had the guys at the bike shop do it since I didn't have the tool to take off the old chainring. There is pretty tight clearance between the ring and the frame, but it works and hasn't been a problem.

    2. Smooth shifts in every gear, no crunch.
    3. I haven't dropped a chain at all. I just got back from 3 days of riding Mammoth bike park, and it was all good. The chain wear is not any different than normal. In fact my chain seems to be lasting a long time.
    4. Boggs was hard, but that was me, not the bike. The oval ring helps, but it's not magic. I needed some magic during that race I'll be doing the Annadel race next month which has more reasonable climbs.
    Thanks for the quick reply. Regarding the spacers - was this needed to account for the chain line or because the chain ring bolts were too long? If it was for the chain line, I'm assuming they were installed in such a way that the ring moved closer to the center of the bike - is that correct?

    Good luck at Annadel - I'm considering doing it as well but need to get back in shape first

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