There’s a new name in the oval chainring market: Absoluteblack. The company has just launched a range of road bike oval chainrings, and we had a first look when founder Marcin Golec popped down to the road.cc office the other day to show us the new products.
The company has been making oval chainrings for several years now. If you dabble in mountain biking you might very well have come across the name. Now the company has launched a range of road oval chainrings.
Oval chainrings have become increasingly popular in the road market for a couple of years, and there are several well-known brands specialising in non-round rings. We probably don't need to mention them (Rotor). It does seem road cyclists are more open to trying new products these days, especially if they might increase their efficiency, power output or speed on the road bike.
What sets Absoluteblack apart, Marcin tells us, is a desire to make oval chainrings more accessible to a broader segment of road cyclists. Other brands might focus on the needs of professionals and very serious amateur racers, but Absoluteblack feels the benefits of oval chainrings extend to regular cyclists, especially time-poor cyclists that don’t have the luxury of riding dozens of hours a week. They're also more competitively priced as well.
What are the benefits of oval rings and why might you want to change? Absoluteblack reckons its chainrings can help to improve cadence, provide smoother power delivery and reduce the level of effort required. Who doesn’t want to be able to pedal more smoothly?
“Many road riders have a tendency to ‘mash’ their pedals and need help to perfect their spin and smooth out power delivery,” says the company. “Absoluteblack’s Oval Road chainrings incorporate the optimum ovality, to work with human physiology, delivering a spin sensation that feels ‘rounder than round’. Climbing takes less effort and knee strain is reduced.”
The company has also worked to make installation of its oval rings easy. The rings only have one mounting position, because Absoluteblack has “optimised the timing position of the chainrings” for you, avoiding any confusion in installation and leaving you with the simple task of getting out on the road and enjoying their supposed benefits.
I imagine there are some sceptical people reading this article, and it won’t be long before somebody mentions Shimano’s doomed Biopace (if you’re too young, read this). For that reason, we’re going to get some in for a test and we’re going to see what they’re like. We’re very interested to see if they live up to the claims put forward for switching to oval.
The chainrings are designed in the UK and manufactured in the EU. They’re beautifully machined and the attention to detail extends to the shifting ramp, which sounds like it has been a labour of love to perfect. Shifting performance is claimed to be on a level with Shimano.
The company does a range of rings, with a Premium Race Rings costing £121 a pair, and a newer Winter Training range costs £97 for a pair.
This Premium Shimano 110/4 BCD chainring fits Dura-Ace 9000, Ultegra 6800 and 105- 5800 chainsets. A 34/36t chainring costs £39.95 while a 50/52t chainring costs £82. There’s also a 110/5 bcd range of rings as well.
This Aero SRAM Oval 1x Direct Mount chainring is a 50t and costs £105.
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.