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.
Oval Chainrings are a blessing for riders looking for a little extra help while pedaling. Wolf Tooth Components has been making them for years and is a go-to for us and customers looking to get that extra benefit out on the climbs. Our buddy Brian has been through 3 different Oval rings from Wolf Tooth and just put it on his latest build. Let's see what he thought!
Oval? Elliptical? PowerTrac? Wolf Tooth’s out-of-round chain ring is the one for me. Absolute Black and SRAMs oval chain rings use a more aggressive “ovality” and timing than Wolf Tooth’s Oval. For me, this means mounting up a Wolf tooth oval chain ring results in a smooth, natural feeling pedal stroke without the wonky feeling that more oblong chain rings can exhibit. Generally, I tell folks that you don’t notice much difference in your cadence over your stock round chain ring when you mount it up, but when you hop back on a bike with a round chain ring, suddenly the difference becomes clear.
"My primary motivation for going oval is to relive knee pain from long rides, however, the efficient power transfer on technical and loose climbs has become a chief testimonial in my sales pitch to other riders. When I ride my 2x10 fat bike for extended periods of time, my knee pain returns."
Chain sizing is easy. If you have a 30T Round, a 30T Oval will use the same chain length. Picking a size, 30T, 32T, etc. is a bit more subjective. In short, it just depends on if you have gas left in the tank with your current drive train ratio. General rule of thumb is that you will feel the “harder” part of the elliptical stroke more than the “easy” part of the stroke, so if unsure, stay in the same tooth count that you are currently running. I’m running a 30T on my Yeti SB130LR which is 29er with SRAM Eagle 10-50T cassette. For my most recent build, a Yeti SB165MR (Mullet Ride), I’m going with a 32T paired with a SRAM Eagle 10-50T cassette. Why the difference in size? The SB130LR has a 29er wheel in back while the SB165 has 27.5". Wheel size plays a factor in gear ratios. I use this gear ratio calculator to make comparisons. This particular set up yields almost identical gear ratios between the two bikes.
There are some details you need to pay attention to when ordering. Firstly, mounting options vary among crank manufacturers, so be sure sort that out. Also remember to look for boost or no-boost chain line options to match your bike. If you are unsure, the boys over at WWC will help you drill down.
"This is my third oval chain ring from Wolf Tooth and I couldn’t be more pleased. Their drop-stop tooth profile works in concert with a good derailleur clutch to keep the chain put when things get rowdy, and stay rowdy. Chain Drop is a non-issue. And if you’ve read reviews critical of oval chain rings wearing clutches out quicker, go to YouTube and watch a video of your drive train when things get bumpy. Geometry changes due to suspension compression, and the general smacking about are far more exhaustive on the clutch than an oval chain." - Brian