Review – AbsoluteBLACK Oval Chainrings

Review AbsoluteBlack Oval Chainrings Tim Wiggins
The potential benefits of oval chainrings are numerous — from reduced strain on the knees, to greater power output, and improved efficiency. I have been riding with absoluteBLACK Oval Chainrings for more than a year now; on gravel bikes, road bikes, and mountain bike. The benefits are notable, and I have now voluntarily adopted the oval asymmetric chainring design on all my bikes.


Discovering the Benefits of Oval Chainrings

I started using absoluteBlack oval chainrings on my Kona gravel bike; the 1x narrow/wide chainring was an economical replacement for a worn out SRAM Force 1x standard shaped chainring, and it offered me the opportunity to test the oval chainring design.

The cyclocross/gravel single chainring from absoluteBLACK has a neat mounting system, whereby the chainring bolts screw straight into the chainring itself — offering a simple and clean look to the crank-set. The alloy that the chainring is made of also seems to be more robust than other offerings, and has indeed proven more durable. This was a good start to a blossoming experience…

The performance of the absoluteBLACK oval CX chainring proved impressive.

First, I found that there was a notable reduction in the feeling of muscle and knee strain; this is something that can be a concern riding on variable terrain with a limited 1x gearing set-up. I put this reduced strain down to the fact that oval chainrings seem to encourage a higher cadence when riding; I believe this is because you get through the slower least powerful part of the pedal stroke quicker.

Second, I found that the absoluteBLACK single chainring improved traction when riding a gravel / cyclocross bike off-road. This I attribute to the smoothing effect that the oval chainring design has on your pedal stroke; providing a more constant power output throughout the pedal rotation. A more constant power output reduces the risk of wheel spinning on areas of poor grip.

Finally, I found that using absoluteBLACK oval chainrings improves power output, and ultimately speed. This is the result of a combination of the above two effects; a more efficient higher cadence pedal stroke, and a more efficient transmission of that power as a result of improved traction, results in a higher power / speed output.

Are there disadvantages of oval chainrings? The most notable is that using a single 1x oval chainring means that there is an increased chance of dropping a chain. This is because on the smaller diameter part of the chainring the chain is under reduced tension; encouraging it to bounce around, and thereby increasing the chance of it jumping off the teeth. However, this does only have a significant effect when the chain is nearing the end of its life — when the narrow/wide teeth on the 1x chainring are not holding the chain optimally.


Absolute Convert

After my positive experience with absoluteBLACK oval chainrings on my gravel bike, I started using them on my mountain bike and road bike as well — the three effects were predictably also evident here.

My most recent conversion (and the one that means I am now running these chainrings on all of my bikes), is the conversion of my Kona Rove expedition bike to absoluteBLACK oval. After returning from the #CelticCrossTrail, I decided that the benefits of reduced strain, improved efficiency, and greater power output were also highly valuable for a touring set-up too. My knees suffered on the long distances and steep gradients encountered on the Celtic trip, and I hope that using an AbsoluteBlack oval chainring will reduce the risk of injury on future long distance rides.


To sum up, I am an oval convert. The range of oval chainrings from absoluteBLACK has substantial benefits, with very few disadvantages.

There are numerous providers of oval chainrings on the market, but the ones from the absoluteBLACK team seem to last longer, and be simpler to set-up than their competitors. So, if you are looking for a good upgrade to your drivetrain, then look no further.

>> View the absoluteBLACK range at absoluteBLACK.cc here <<

Review AbsoluteBlack Oval Chainrings Tim Wiggins

Review AbsoluteBlack Oval Chainrings Tim Wiggins

AbsoluteBlack provided two sets of oval chainrings to Life In The Saddle for testing and review

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