In this post I’m going to test and review the Absolute Black Oval Chainring to see if it does make climbing easier and pedalling more efficient.
Absolute Black Oval Chain Ring
In this post I will go into some details about why I love to ride with an oval chain ring and hopefully give you enough details for you to try one yourself.
Why use an Oval Chain Ring
There is a ton of information out there on the benefits of using an oval chain ring but I purposefully didn’t look at any of it before trying one. The reason I did this is because I wanted to see if I could feel any benefits without being tainted by any marketing or scientific research that may skew my opinion or make me look out for changes I otherwise wouldn’t notice.
I’m not saying this is an approach everyone should take it’s just one I decided to. If you would rather do research before buying a product then Absolute Black has a whole page dedicated to the benefits of going oval. Check it out here But in short they’re supposed to make it easier and smoother to climb resulting in less effort required so you don’t get tired so quick.
The oval chainring
The chain ring arrived next day from Absolute black in minimal packaging (which I love because save the planet). I also ordered one of their tin stickers and a sweet red stem cap for my hardtail.
The chain ring is beautifully CNC’d then anodised black. It looks like they’ve the extra mile to mill away any uneccessary material to reduce weight without weakening the product. The chain ring I have is a 30 tooth, BB30 oval ring which fit’s my cannondale Jekyll. It is super light coming in at 52g (may vary based on the type and tooth count).
The absolute black chainring was really easy to install. There’s only one way it can be installed and there are plenty of guides on the Absolute Black website such as this one to help you if you do get stuck.
Testing the oval vs round
To test the oval chain ring I took it to my local trails (QECP Hampshire UK) as this is somewhere I’ve ridden many times and have a load of strava recordings of. Plus I know the trails really well so wouldn’t be caught out by any surprises. As we all know Strava can be wildly inaccurate when using different devices so I made sure I used the same recording device and used the same bike and kit I always do.
First impressions of riding the oval chain ring were that it didn’t feel too different. Pedalling still felt natural so there wasn’t really any period of having to adjust or get used to it. The difference came as soon as I started to climb. Pedalling felt more efficient and it seemed to let me put the power down where I needed to. At the top of the climbs I still felt how I always do which is what you would expect from trying to climb as quickly as possible but I had an incling that I had gotten to the top quicker.
Riding the oval on flat sprints also felt more efficient and I was comfortable riding my usual way. It also felt less fatiguing but I have no evidence to prove it. I don’t think the oval made too much difference on the downs as gravity is already doing a lot of the hard work.
After the ride I uploaded the data from my garmin to strava and was quite suprised to see how much of a difference the oval made on the ups. As you can see from the images below there are some significant gains when using the oval chain ring on climbs. I’ve picked two examples to show out of many. Both these examples have lots data showing on average with a round chainring average speed is 6.3-6.4 mph but with the oval average speed jumps up to 7.4-7.8mph.
So in summary the oval chainring from absolute black is a brilliant product. Not only is it really nicely made and looks awesome but there are noticeable gains when pedalling up hill without any changes to your riding style. I would recommend this product and I will be ordering another for my hardtail soon!
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