Review – Absolute Black Oval Chainrings (CX Narrow-Wide)

Review – Absolute Black Oval Chainrings (CX Narrow-Wide)
I have been using oval chainrings on my road, gravel, and cyclocross bikes for six years now. I have tried multiple brands, and the offering from AbsoluteBLACK is one of the best designed and best value elliptical chainrings out there. I fitted the Narrow-Wide Absolute Black CX Premium Chainring to my Kona Private Jake to give it a thorough test.

Oval chainrings claim a number of benefits: such as reduced fatigue, higher cadence, and more efficient power output. I have tested them on everything from ten mile time trials to my ultra-distance rides such as the Ride the Trafalgar Way and #BlackForest400; for me, the biggest notable different is a higher average cadence, especially when fatigued. A higher cadence means reduced strain on your muscles, a more efficient engine, and a faster ride; considering these notable benefits, I have taken to using oval chainrings on all my road and gravel bikes.

The Absolute Black oval chainrings are a well thought out, and well-designed option in the elliptical chainring market. The brand was the one that made oval chainrings popular in the off-road contingent; noticing that with smaller chainrings such as those used on a CX or mountain bike, the ovality of the chainring needs to be larger, to keep the same effect and benefit. With this development in mind, the AbsoluteBlack range seem like an obvious choice for a CX bike.

The AbsoluteBlack CX Premium Chainring is a narrow-wide design, to be run as a single chainring on a set-up such as SRAM 1X, or a Shimano converted 1X drivetrain. The narrow-wide tooth pattern grips the inside of the chain and means that there is no need for a chain-catcher even when just running a single ring.

Fitting a 40T Absolute Black CX Chainring to my Kona was incredibly easy. Unlike most chainrings that rely on two part chainring bolts to hold the chainring onto the crank spider, the AbsoluteBlack design has threads inside the chainring bolt holes, so you just screw the chainring bolt through the inside of the crank spider directly into the chainring itself—no more double hex key or torque wrenches required.

Once fitted, the chainring looks smart and stealth-like; with a smooth outer surface thanks to the lack of outside chainring bolts. There are also no garish decals or torque settings scribbled on the outer surface of the chainring, and that gives a refreshingly clean profile.

Out on the trails, the Absolute Black Cyclocross Oval Chainring feels great and performs well. The ovality is similar to other brands' CX chainrings that I have tried (such as ROTOR), and the narrow-wide teeth have never once dropped the chain, even with overly aggressive shifting and riding.

The chainring is also proving impressively durable; there is little sign of wear to the teeth, even after 2500 kilometres. The chainrings are machined from high-grade aluminium, and this appears to provide a good balance between weight and durability.

New chainrings are never cheap, but the AbsoluteBlack Oval CX Chainrings come in at around £60 per piece. Given the ease of fitting, performance on the trails, and durability discussed above, this seems like an acceptable price tag.

The fitting design and great functionality of the AbsoluteBlack chainrings makes them a winner in my opinion; demonstrating great research, development, and design from the team that were pioneers in the oval chainring concept.

View the absoluteBlack Oval Chainrings here

Review – Absolute Black Oval Chainrings (CX Narrow-Wide)


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