MTB experts absoluteBLACK are keen to spread the word and that word is oval. Oval rings made a brief, un-successful appearance as Shimano’s Biopace system. However the shape of the rings were wrong, they got a lot of bad press and the idea disappeared. Since then they’ve been making a comeback, with companies like Rotor and Osymetric having their products ridden by some high-profile pro cyclists. We’ve taken delivery of a range of absoluteBLACK Oval Chainrings and aim to see what effect they have on our riding.
absoluteBLACK are a UK based company that design their product here, then have the rings produced in Poland from German materials, with the final finishing taking place in the UK, a true European product. absoluteBLACK were initially an MTB focused company – producing disc rotors, bash rings and 40T expander sprockets – but have now taken their off-road knowledge and are applying it to road and cyclo-cross set-ups.
Like all oval rings, absoluteBLACK’s rings aim to eliminate the dead spot in your pedalling action, delivering smoother power and saving your legs. This is something that off-roaders have found very useful, allowing them to maintain traction through smoother power delivery – a jerky pedal action will cause your tyre to lose grip on loose surfaces.
How will this help road riders though? absoluteBLACK say that they will be of benefit to recreational and sportive riders, by encouraging a smoother pedalling style and making climbing easier; they also claim that they can help reduce knee pain in some cases. All of which sounds good for any rider, but the thinking is that elite riders have already developed perfect pedalling and climbing style, so they are of limited use to them – didn’t stop Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome using them with some success though.
absoluteBlack sent us two sets of chainrings, a 38T CX Oval looking very bright anodised in red and a 52-36T road double in high gloss black. I’m looking forward to trying out the CX Oval over the coming months in events like the Wiggle South Downs Sting and CX Century. Local MTB riders have told me that using oval chainrings on their single ring set-ups have made a noticeable difference, so I’m hoping to see a similar improvement on my ‘cross bike.
One of our contributors will be taking the 52×36 set out to Mallorca for six weeks, where he will report back on how they perform. absoluteBLACK say that it’s not just steep climbs in the granny ring that benefit from oval chainrings, riders should expect to see improvements on big ring power climbs as well. The 52T ring has six chain guides machined on to it’s inner face. These are designed to improve shifts between the rings. A lot of people immediately mention the fact that oval rings suffer from poor shifting, while forgetting that standard, round rings also suffer from dropped chains – look at the after market sales of chain guides for road bikes – so we will be looking to see if this is any worse than normal.
Keep an eye out for how we get on with these absoluteBLACK rings, maybe you’ll see me climbing, smoothly and powerfully past you at an event soon!
|Hargroves Cycles||Chain Reaction||Wiggle||Merlin Cycles|
|Evans Cycles||ProBikeKit||Cyclestore||Rutland Cycling|
|Ribble Cycles||AW Cycles||Biketart||Leisure Lakes Bikes|