The idea of this design is that the 32T ring feels more like a 34T in your peak power zone but a 30T in the dead spot of your stroke. Theoretically, this makes for much more natural rotations by distributing the power more effectively.
Putting on the oval ring was simple enough – just like every other 104 BCD chainring really, except you need to make sure that the arrow bit lines up directly behind the crankarm. I got a little confused by the term arrow, until I realised that you’re actually looking for a little bump on the inside of the chainring. Another handy little feature is that the bolts screw directly into the chainring for a secure fit.
Initial Review of Absoluteblack Oval Chainring
The first ride was weird, I’m not going to lie. Taking off is interesting, as certain points definitely have more impact than others, but once you get going it doesn’t feel very different at all. In fact, you begin to forget that you’re running an oval chainring all together.
Until the climbs that is!
Wow, this has a huge impact on your climbing which shows not just in how much easier you reach the peak, but also by how much faster you get there! I felt as though steep climbs were much more fluid and less jerky and when you’re up out of the saddle to climb you really begin to notice the difference.
One downside I have found is that you quickly spin out on the descents, making me think I should have considered the 34t. This is reinforced with the fact that when climbing I’m often in lower gears than I was with a standard 32t – next time perhaps.
Does it Work?
I’m going to be brutally honest – I don’t know. My heart is telling me yes, my head is telling me I haven’t got a clue. My Strava times when climbing are definitely faster, but I still feel absolutely knackered after conquering the Beast. I wouldn’t ever say that the oval chainring is black magic that transports your bike up hills using wizardry, but I’d claim that it definitely makes a difference.
If you’re already running 1x then you’ll undoubtedly see a bit of an improvement, however if you’re moving away from 2x or 3x I don’t believe that the oval will have a significant impact. That’s more to do with the fact that the whole drivechain is different so it’ll all feel a bit strange at first.
Would I recommend this product? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. In fact, I already have recommended it to friends and I don’t plan on moving away from it anytime soon. To me it definitely makes the climbing that little bit easier and at the end of a long ride I don’t feel as though my legs are in bits, so something is obviously working! Sure, it looks a bit weird and if you ride with old-timers then you’ll get a couple Biopace jokes, but you just watch their faces on the climbs!