The not-so-minor details
Wolf Tooth chainring
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Simple, cheap and user-friendly chain retention. Makes single chainring conversions available to just about anyone.
We did drop the chain once, so maybe consider running a top mounted chain guide if you're super worried.
When prototypes of ‘narrow-wide-narrow-wide’ tooth chainrings (ala SRAM XX1) began popping up, our initial thoughts were, “Gee whiz, why did SRAM not patent that design?!”
SRAM’s XX1 chain retention system is brilliantly simple and effective; the alternating width teeth lock into the chain links for excellent security, even without a chain guide. Now there are a few brands releasing slight variants of the design, making single-ring chain guide-free drivetrains available to a wider audience, not just XX1 or X01 users. Wolf Tooth Components, from Minneapolis in the USA, are one such brand, with their nicely finished, reasonable weighted and well-priced offering – the Drop Stop.
Fitment to our Shimano XTR cranks was as simple as fitting any chain ring. We removed the e*thirteen chain guide (about 60g worth), left the fairly well worn-in chain and cassette on, and that was it. We then took the bike to our local trails, the roughest ones we could find. and rode all day without a single chain drop, quickly forgetting about the lack of chain guide. The ring did exactly what it claimed on the box, and without the chain guide there was less noise too.
After using the chainring at the Flow Rollercoaster Gravity Enduro where the speeds were high and conditions rough at times, we became a real fan. Over the whole weekend the chain stayed put. It was not until coasting through a rocky section at Old Mans Valley in Hornsby that we finally dropped a chain, which really surprised us. Maybe the clutch mechanism in the Shimano XT derailleur could’ve been tighter or perhaps a mid-cage derailleur may have helped with chain retention, but we did drop the chain.
Was this incident enough to convince us to run a chain guide? Probably not – compared the number of times you’d expect to drop a chain with a double or triple ring setup, once in maybe 15 hours of riding is not a big deal. But still, it wouldn’t have happened had we kept the chain guide on… It’s your call! A slight risk of chain drop, versus the weight savings, trendy looks and clean lines of no guide.
Wolf Tooth state that anyone with a Shimano Shadow + (clutch mechanism) derailleur or SRAM Type 2 derailleur can convert to a single ring setup by only changing the chain ring.
Don’t get us started on why we like single rings! Sure you may lose some gear range, but with a 34 tooth ring, on a Shimano 11-36 tooth cassette, it’s all good – you can get up or down nearly anything. The simplicity and confidence you gain with just one ring up the front is worth a try, and in this case it’ll only set you back a cool $79. The options are endless too, with Wolf Tooth rings fitting most cranks and in a wide range of sizes.
The unique wide/narrow tooth profile of Wolf Tooth chainrings helps prevent chain-drop when running a 1×10 or 1×11 gear setup. No front chain-guide is required provided you have a clutch-type rear derailleur. Our chainrings have been thoroughly tested with SRAM XX1, X0, X9 Type 2 as well as Shimano Shadow Plus rear derailleurs.
Wolf Tooth chainrings are machined from 7075-T651 billet aluminum on precision CNC equipment and anodized black. Our tooth profile requires much more machining time and tighter tolerances than a standard chainring but the results are worth it. Say goodbye to bent and misaligned chain-guides and say hello to easy drivetrain setup and maintenance. Best of all, you are not locked into just one drivetrain brand or a specific crankset — we make chainrings to fit almost everything.
All Wolf Tooth Components products are proudly made in the USA.