Are oval chainrings are the future for mountain biking?
Designed in the UK and made in Poland, the Absolute Black oval is a heavily machined aluminium chainring and is lighter than any other GXP spiderless ring on the market.
It uses the now-common narrow/wide tooth profile for improved chain retention, and comes in an oval shape that the Absolute Black claims evens out power delivery. The idea is it maximises the downstroke and minimises resistance by offering an easier and harder portion of gearing throughout the pedal revolution.
After you adapt to the slight pulsing, the oval ring clearly results in smoother power delivery and better traction — it feels like you can push a stiffer gear, or ride up steeper pitches without wheel-spinning.
Watch how to pedal effectively with Brendan Fairclough here
If climbing is a big part of your riding then the oval concept is highly recommended, but it may be best to pair with clipless pedals as I’m not convinced the oval effect feels as urgent when really stamping down hard on flats.
It may be coincidental, but the chain also got dropped on a rough DH track (even running a chain device), which hasn’t happened to me for a long time with a standard narrow/wide design.
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