For those of you that have been hiding under a rock for the past year or so I’ll give a very quick explanation of ‘narrow/wide’ chainrings. They are simply chainrings that have alternating teeth, narrow then wide (or thick then thin if you like), so that they provide a better ‘fit’ with your chain (which if you look at it has alternating narrow and wide links). The benefit is that these rings really help stop you dropping your chain if you are running a single ring. When done right, and combined with a ‘clutch’ rear mech, they work so well that for anything apart from DH racing you really don’t need any kind of chain device.
Now I don’t want to get into the legal minefield that seems to be surrounding this design of chainring, but I will say that SRAM deserve massive credit for being the first people to put this idea into practice on bikes as part of their XX1 groupset. Since that time the number of ‘alternatives’ has grown massively, and whilst some of the other offerings seem to be a slightly more simplified version of the XX1 design (and consequently don’t offer quite the same level of performance), this Blackspire one appears to be almost identical.
Here you can see how the curve of the teeth is smooth on the rearward side, but then has a definite step in it on the other side. This is something that we haven’t seen on many copies before, but it’s definitely present on XX1 rings. The teeth are also noticeably taller than a regular chainring.
This shot shows how the rear of the ring is different to the front, and just how much intricate work has gone into this ring. It even has the little scallops at the bottom of each trough to help remove any filth.
These rings are available to fit a regular 4-bolt 104mm BCD spider in 30-36t sizes, and the ring shown above is the 30t version which has built-in spacers (your chain would hit your spider otherwise). These 104mm rings are all available in black, blue, red or green.
As well as the rings mentioned above Blackspire will also be offering 80mm and 76mm (XX1) BCD rings in 26-32t sizes, but these will only be available in black.
Considering the amount of machine work that has gone into each of these rings, and the fact that they are made at the foot of the North Shore Mountains in British Columbia, we think these rings offer great value for money, and we wouldn’t be surprised if those subtle shape details result in slightly better performance compared to simpler versions.
Price: £28.99 – £51.99