I had my first ride today with my oval chainring.
I thought it would be interesting for you to see how I found it.
First up…a little backstory as to why I changed.
At the moment I’m on Shimano XT 1×11 with a 10-42 tooth on the back and a 34 tooth on the front.
I was finding on steep climbs and especially longer days on the bike that my legs were burning out sooner because I was having to really push to get power down into the pedals on the steep stuff (and I have fairly strong legs…can squat over 110kg etc.)
I found that my legs were tiring out too soon…and to be honest
I just didn’t need the high end gears. When I first went from 2x to 1x I didn’t want to spin out on the descents…but the ONLY time I actually needed those top gears was on the roads on the way home where it really doesn’t matter.
I decided to get a smaller chainring for the front…but I needed a new cassette as well.
So…after some research I got a 10-46t for the back (an extra 4 teeth at the lowest) and a 32 Tooth Absoluteblack Oval Chainring for the front.
I wasn’t really expecting to see a huge difference with the oval chainring…but was expecting the lower gears to come in handy on the climbs.
Well first of all…the extra 2-4 gears at the bottom end
REALLY helped. I was much quicker on the hills and tired much later on. Now I expect my legs have got stronger from the 34 tooth over the past year so dropping to 32t was a welcome change, but I noticed a real difference.
I just found my legs got tired a good 25% later on the climbs and I didn’t reach the point where I was putting as much power through the pedals on the steep stuff…I felt there was a little left in my legs on the really steep short sections of climbs.
So first of all – dropping from 34 to a 32 has been great.
Now onto the oval chainring.
I really like it!
The biggest difference I noticed was how it modulates the power better so your back wheel doesn’t spin out.
Now I ride flats and I’d class myself as a good climber…I’m
good at modulating my power in the real wheel on the slippy and loose stuff. It’s rare my back wheel spins even on really loose terrain.
With than in mind – I found that the oval chainring did a lot of the work for me.
Most of the climbs today were loose with thousands of small rocks. I found I could almost forget about modulating my power and keeping the pedal strokes smooth and literally just focus on pedalling and the way the power was distributed through the whole of the pedal stroke was much smoother and kept traction with less effort on my part.
Another thing I noticed is how at the very top of my pedal stroke
(when my foot is high) it feels tougher to push down…and then
as you get through the stroke it eases off.
The 32t oval ring is supposed to feel like a 34 tooth at the strongest part of the stroke and a 30t at the weakest part.
I can vouch that it feels like that.
Overall I think you aren’t going to get an Oval chainring and have it be completely ride changing… however I think if you tried it you’d want to stick with it.
It’s a bold claim for my first ride with an oval but I can’t see me ever going back to round now.
The benefits are definitely there to notice on just one ride and from what I can see there are ZERO negative effects to having one.
For 40ish quid I think the benefits of keeping traction more easily, modulating your power/spinning in circles with less effort and the benefits of making your pedal stroke more efficient just seem like a no-brainer.
Consider me converted.
I’d recommend it.
Editor: The item was bought by the writer of this article. This is not a paid article. We will have a full review of the absoluteblack oval chainring in the coming weeks