OChain Crank Spider [Rider Review]

Our "Rider Review" article series features the honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.

For those who love to geek out on optimizing their bike's suspension, the O-chain helps separate the chain playing a part in the suspension kinematics and helps prevent pedal kick back as well. See what one of our customers think!

OChain [Rider Review]


I’ve been curious about O-chain for some time. It seems to be a polarizing product but while following Neko Mullaly’s thought process on his DH bike development and his article on O-Chain on Worldwide Cyclery’s blog, I had a nagging feeling it would really make a difference on my bike. When WWC had a sale on it, I jumped on the opportunity to try it out.

I ride a Privateer 141, which has fairly high anti-squat values (starting at ~165%+ and down to 130-140% at sag). I believe this is one reason why the 141 is praised as such an efficient climbing bike, especially for the weight, but I believe the compromise is that a fair amount of pedal kick back is built into the kinematic as a result. I think this is what makes the 141 a great candidate for the O-chain.

A common question is “why not just run a low engagement hub out back”. I’m currently running a DT Swiss 350 rear hub with 36T ratchet. It’s not the highest engagement hub out there (10 degrees), which theoretically should also help with pedal feedback. I did notice on some rides before I ran the O-chain, the rear felt, at times, active, fluttery, and smooth while on other sections of trail, it would feel harsh and “locked-up”. I’ve learned that it really depends on how close the ratchet is to the next engagement point. It could be 1 degree away. It could be 10, leading to this random, varying degrees of feedback on the trail.


The video makes this really apparent, as the pedals spin back to varying degrees depending how close the hub is to engaging.

Now with the O-chain on, even at the 4-degree setting, the O-chain dramatically reduces kickback. But I think the effects of the O-Chain really come to life at the higher degree settings and thankfully, the new O-chain R makes it really simple to swap between them.

I'm currently running it in the 9-degree setting. Most of my rides are “winch and plummet”, so I am not bothered by the additional slack I need to make up while I sit and grind up fireroads before I drop into technical singletrack. But I can imagine if I was to ride trails with more technical singletrack climbing, I’d want to dial it back to the 6- or 4-degree setting.

OChain [Rider Review]

On the descents, I notice the O-chain’s benefits the most in two areas. 1) Cornering through technical sections: I notice I can push into the bike’s suspension when cornering through rough sections of trail without my bike "fighting" against me, generating more grip and confidence in return. 2) On steep, rooty, braking bump sections of trail: I can charge through sections of trail and get on the brakes without feeling like my bike was locking up. There is significantly less harshness felt in the pedals. The biggest benefit in both scenarios is that I can simply focus more on the trail and my inputs into the bike vs. feeling disrupted by the inputs my bike was sending back at me.

I am really happy with the O-chain so far. But is it for you? I think it really depends on what bike you’re on and what you prioritize. Suspension systems are a system of compromise. Some bikes manage pedal kickback in a variety of ways, each adding their own measure of complication to the system, whether it’s through high pivots and idlers or additional linkages (e.g. VPP, Switch Infinity). There is no free lunch here, and the tradeoff is usually weight and added maintenance somewhere in the system.

Final Thoughts

With the O-chain, I’ve personally made the choice to add some measure of complication and weight to an otherwise simple suspension platform. And in doing so, I really feel like my bike has come alive and I am riding it to a limit I never experienced without it. That tradeoff has been worth it to me.

OChain [Rider Review]

December 04, 2023

Drivetrain › Ochain › Rider Review › Suspension ›

Top Products For You...