Praxis Works' Direct Mount 3-Bolt Road Wave Tech single chainring comes in a range of sizes ideal for gravel riding or cyclo-cross, and with its new tooth layout chain retention is excellent on or off-road. You certainly pay for it though.
I've recently been testing the Praxis Zayante Carbon chainset which uses the direct mount setup that this Wave ring needs to fit, so it made sense to bung it on and have a play on and off-road. We have the largest here at 42T; you can get a 40T or 38T too.
Direct Mount is a three-bolt system found at the rear of the drive side crank, around the circumference of the bottom bracket. The chainring here bolts directly to the crank, creating a nice stiff setup. It's not something we've seen much of on the road but it's been used by the likes of SRAM in its off-road stuff for a while.
Praxis recommends you use a clutch rear mech with the Wave chainring, something like Shimano's new Ultegra RX, to keep plenty of chain tension. After all, if you are running a single chainring you aren't going to have a front mech so when everything is bouncing around on the gravel tracks the chain can bounce off easily.
The test bike I was using was my Kinesis T2, my do-a-bit-of-everything winter hack with a standard Shimano 105 rear mech, and as Praxis is full of praise for its Wave tooth design I thought I'd see just how good it is.
A lot of brands use a wide/narrow setup for single rings: the teeth alternate between being wide and narrow basically. But Praxis' Wave pattern sees the teeth being offset to either the left or the right chainring face.
This way the chain is being held tight by each alternating face over a large surface area, but with enough gaps to shed mud and the like from gravel or cyclo-cross riding. Only touching the inside of the chain plate on each alternating tooth also means there isn't quite so much wear.
On the road I had no problem with the chain jumping without a clutch mech, as there was very little vibration. The standard mech kept plenty of tension so the shifting was still fine at the back and the chain ran quietly at the front.
If you're after a single ring for touring, I'd say you'd be fine with this setup.
Even taking to towpaths and light gravel routes, things were fine. I never unshipped the chain unless things got quite bumpy – loads of successive knocks and jolts one after the other, for instance, when travelling at speed.
For the rougher testing I nabbed a mate's cyclo-cross bike with a SRAM 1x system and requisite rear mech, and I was impressed with its ability to keep things in check, although using it alongside the wide/narrow ring that the bike was originally running there was no massive difference.
For rings like this, durability is going to be the big issue as they are going to see a lot of mud and grit through the winter period. The Wave is stamped and machined from 7075-T6 aluminium alloy which is then anodised for a hard finish, and it has stood up well to the running of the chain as it is virtually unmarked, although the test period has been pretty dry and dusty.
The Praxis costs £75, which isn't unheard of for a single chainring: the Wolf Tooth Components ring was a similar price, although AbsoluteBlack's CNC'd version is just under £60, which I think is a little more realistic. After all, Praxis' own mountain bike versions of the Wave are just £54.99, so I can't see why the road version needs to cost so much more.
Does the job very well but it is quite an outlay for a single ring
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Praxis Direct Mount Chain Ring Wave 1x42t
Size tested: 1x42t
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Praxis says, "Whether you're cylocrossing in mud or grinding gravel, Praxis 1X rings are ready for action with the Wave™ tooth profile. Licensed and developed in conjunction with Mountain Racing Products, the Wave™ profile applies alternating lateral force to each chain link to actively retain the chain to the ring – going beyond narrow/wide implementations that rely solely on friction, while allowing room for mud, debris, and grit to escape. The Wave™ design also wears more slowly than competing designs by spreading the load over larger surface areas. Plus our 1X rings are machined of top quality plate 7075 T6 aluminum for superior stiffness and hard anodized to take a beating."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
38T, 40T, 42T | 3-Bolt Direct Mount | 7075-T6
Wave™ Tech tooth profile
Stamped and machined manufacturing with hard black anodizing for durability
REAR DER- Must use a 'CLUTCH' type rear derailleur. Example Shimano Shadow or SRAM Type 2
In rough terrain, or just for security, we still recommend use of an upper guide
In very rough terrain, or just for pure security, we still recommend use of an upper guide
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does everything you need for a single-ring setup.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Mmmmm......
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Praxis is a nicely finished single chainring with technology that seems to work, but it's expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!