We’ve got our hands on two chainrings from Absolute Black, one in oval and the other in round. Designed in the UK and manufactured in Poland, they are something to behold with the patterned CNC work. Each has a standard narrow-wide tooth profile that can accommodate both 11 and 12-speed chains. Although not tested here, Absolute Black has also recently launched a tooth profile designed to fit with the new SRAM T-Type Transmission.
Oval chainrings aren’t a particularly new invention, but Absolute Black has long been a proponent of elliptical chainrings. The goal of an oval chainring is to lessen the dead spot at the top and bottom of your pedal stroke. The oval shape effectively reduces the size of the chainring by a few teeth — compared to a round one — as the cranks pass 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock to even out the power and reduce any spikes. Absolute Black claims its oval rings improve efficiency and, with a smother power input at the cranks, also improves traction, as any power spikes in steep, loose terrain can make the back wheel break traction.
The chainrings come in a veritable rainbow of anodised colours if you’re that way inclined, we decided to stick with the classy black and silver options. Our 34T rings weighed 51g and 52g, respectively. Fitting to a SRAM GX crankset was straightforward, simply removing the crankset and the three torx bolts holding the existing chainring on, swap it over and re-install.
You’ll find compatible mounting options to fit just about any common crankset on the market from Shimano, SRAM, RaceFace and a number of other manufacturers.
Made from CNC 7075 Aluminium, the chainrings are said to be durable and have shown no signs of premature wear on initial testing and we’re yet to drop a chain.
The oval-shaped ring does feel a bit weird at first, especially at higher cadences, however by the time you make it up the first singletrack climb you won’t notice the difference.